BHUTAN – Kyichu Lhakhang Bhutan is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, dating back to the 7th century. It was built with the purpose of subduing a giant female demoness who obstructed the spread of Buddhism throughout Tibet.
Kyichu Lhakhang Bhutan (also known as Lho Kyerchu or Kyerchu) is a majestic temple dating from the 7th century and is revered as one of the most sacred places in Bhutan.
Located in the town of Paro, some sources claim that the temple is one of the oldest, while many argue that it is the oldest (it’s hard to determine due to the unrecorded age of many temples in Bhutan).
The temple was originally believed to have been built at the left foot of a giant ogress – or demoness – who obstructed the spread of Buddhism when the ogress lay across the land.
It is said to be one of over 100 temples established to subdue the demonesses so that Buddhism could flourish.
Kyichu Lhakhang Bhutan is believed to have been a smaller architectural structure when King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet had this sacred building constructed in 659. However, numerous saints and Buddhist scholars have contributed to the site until it became the grand temple it is today.
Legend has it that the Second Buddha, Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), an important historical figure, visited Kyichu Lhakhang in the 8th century and concealed treasure teachings around the temple.
The building underwent a major renovation in the 1830s, and in 1968, Queen Mother Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck ordered its expansion in the style of Guru Lhakhang: a nearby prayer hall featuring statues of Padmasambhava and Kurukulla, a lotus deity, tightly holding a bow and arrow made of lotus petals.
Architecture of Kyichu Lhakhang Bhutan
Outside the exquisitely gilded main temple door of Jowo Lhakhang is an original statue of Jowo Jamba (also known as Jowo Shakyamuni or Jowo Rinpoche) cast in the 7th century.
His beauty forms the most sacred sculptural masterpiece in the region, and the wooden planks on the floor bear the wear of centuries of veneration at his feet.
Nearby, a statue of Chenrezig, known as the embodiment of compassion of all Buddhas, has 11 heads and a thousand arms.
The monasteries within the temple nurture a contemplative space surrounded by fruit-bearing trees and prayer wheels, where monks quietly turn them as they move around (rotating in sync with the temple’s rotation).
The inner courtyard features a fresco depicting King Gesar of Ling, a warrior believed to have inspired the longest epic poem in history.
Kyichu Lhakhang Bhutan is a 10-minute drive from Paro. Visitors are welcome from 9 AM to 12 PM and from 1 PM to 5 PM.
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/LDeHZT1x5SvQcvkJ7
Explore Further: Monasteries and Temples in Bhutan.