The famous Changangkha Lhakhang is an ancient fortress-like temple that is strategically located on a ridge above the city of Thimphu, south-east of Motithang. This famous temple hums with pilgrim activity. The temple was built in the 12th century on a holy location that was chosen by Lama Pharjo Drukgorn who lived in Ralung in Tibet. The temple has served several functions over the years, and it continues to be one of the oldest and amazing structures in Bhutan.
Traditionally, parents used to come here to get auspicious names for their newborn babies or blessing for their young kids from the protector known as Deity Tamdrin. The children were blessed by Phurba the ritual dagger and given a holy thread that would protect them all the time. The books found in this temple are larger than the usual Tibetan texts. The temple also offers an excellent view of Thimphu from the courtyard.
Location and Opening Hours
Changangkha Lhakhang is located about 1km from downtown Thimphu, and it is near most of the hotels and other accommodation facilities in Thimphu. It will take you approximately ten minutes to reach the temple if you are driving from town. Alternatively, you can also walk to the temple, and a good pace walk will take you approximately 30 minutes from the town center to the temple.
Although the walk to the monastery from the city center may be strenuous since it is uphill, you will forget about everything once you reach the temple and start enjoying the stunning view Thimphu. However, walking from the temple to the town center should take you approximately 15 minutes since it is downhill.
The temple opens early in the morning and will close late but the closing hours will mostly depend on the daylight. The temple doesn't allow visitors to get in after dark. Therefore, it is good to be at the temple before 6 pm if you want to access it. The good news is that the monastery is open seven days a week all year.
What to Expect
There are lots of activities that take place inside the temple every day. You will see parents approaching the inner sanctum to ask the holy protector Deity Tamdrin to bless and protect their young children or to request special names for their newborn babies from the resident monks. The parents usually offer incense, whiskey, biscuits, and sacks of snacks in exchange.
Everyone who enters the temple bows to the portrait of the king before they turn around to bow three times before the centerpiece of the sanctum which represents a statue of the thousand-armed deity of ultimate compassion, Chenrezi. As a visitor, you will feel the vibe of compassion that permeates the whole place.
A few years ago, the government-owned corporation, Bhutan Power Corporation lit up the entire temple from below with exciting white lights that make its upper walls of pure wood to appear as burnt orange while all window recesses are lit in red.
Special Events and Ceremonies
Special Buddhist rituals are usually organized in this temple from time to time. You will be lucky to witness an excellent event if your visit coincides with a Buddhist ceremony. The monastery is usually busy during the auspicious Buddhist days when thousands of devotees throng the place.