Hidden Temple of Thimphu – Hongtsho Trashigang Goemba


Last updated on February 20th, 2018

There is a story how a chamberlain crossed Nobding when he was ordered to deliver royal parcel at Trashigang Goemba. I think he must have assumed the address of ‘Trashigang Goemba’ to be in the East. So he had attempted to travel all the way to Trashigang Dzongkhag to delivering the parcel. I wonder how he reacted when he realized he didn’t get the actual address right.

Therefore, just like that chamberlain you shouldn’t mistake Trashigang Goemba with Trashigang of Eastern Bhutan. Trashigang Goemba I’ll be talking about isn’t in the East. Instead it’s in Hongtsho under Thimphu Dzongkhag. It’s towards right hand side of Thimphu-Punakha Highway and below popular Dochula Pass and Druk Wangyel Lhakhang. It’s opposite to Hongtsho Goemba.

Trashigang Goemba view

Hostel building of Trashigang Goemba monks.

This less known temple is now a home for about 20 monks and 5 nuns. They are studying Buddhist scriptures and best meditation practices.  It has historical anecdotes of many Je Khenpos (Chief Abbots) of Bhutan. It was started by 12th Je Khenpo Lam Kunga Jamtsho in 1786. Bhutan history has that many Bhutanese Lamas who meditated at Trashigang Goemba later became Je Khenpos of Bhutan.

Temple at Hongtsho

Trashigang Goemba main temple – Front View.

It’s located on a secluded hill. Its mountainous backdrops, heavenly views, beautiful seasonal flowers and soothing chirruping sounds of various birds make it one of the best tourist attractions of Thimphu. And the presence of 300 years plus canvas paintings and statues of many Je Khenpos, all tell the vast chronicles of Bhutan’s history especially that of 17-18th centuries.

Who started Trashigang Goemba?

Lam Kunga Jamtsho started Hongtsho Trashigang Goemba in 1786. It was initially started as his meditation centre after he retired as 12th Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) of Bhutan.

It’s said that before he actually became the Je Khenpo of Bhutan, he mediated at Lungchutse Goemba. Lungchutse Goemba is the residence of Tertoen Drukdra Dorji. He has experienced a very distinct vision in his meditation which then spiritually inspired him to start Trashigang Goemba.

Trashigang Goemba image

Trashigang Goemba Temple side view.

He named Trashigang Goemba as Lhadzong Trashigang which loosely means a ‘Fortress of Goddesses built on a hill of Fortune’.

Bhutanese consider Trashigang Goemba as one of the best places for meditation. It’s often said that people who spend final years of their lives at Trashigang Goemba would receive so much blessings from gods which would then help them to get rebirths in better realms.

Hongtsho Goemba

An old house/meditation house at Trashigang Goemba.

Therefore, almost 10-15 Je Khenpos of Bhutan have spent their retired lives at Trashigang Goemba under meditation.

Why Trashigang Goemba is sacred?

When you visit Trashigang Goemba, listen to description of the temple attentively. I am sure you’ll feel religiously aroused. You’ll find so many reasons to relate yourself with those Je Khenpos as you proceed. How far they’ve come despite being ordinary people will really inspire you.

Trashigang Goemba Monk

A monk seen walking behind Trashigang Goemba.

You can see statues of all the Je Khenpos of Bhutan who have mediated there and then attained enlightenment. You too can get down on carpet and try following their footsteps of rediscovering yourself through meditation.

Temples at Trashigang Goemba

Hongtsho Trashigang Goemba has four compartment of temples accessible for public. First top compartment has death remains of 15th Je Khenpo Lam Kunzang Gyeltshen. It also has the statues of other Je Khenpos like Lam Kunga Jamtsho, Lam Jamgoen Yeshi Dorji and Lam Pelden Singye. We can also see statue of Jetsun Drolma (mother of liberation).

Travel to Trashigang Goemba

Trashigang Goemba monks’ hostel building from another angle.

In adjacent top compartment, there is the statue of Dorji Chang (Primordial Buddha). We can also see statues of 19th, 22nd, 31st and 34th Je Khenpos of Bhutan. They have also mediated at this Goemba.

old weapons at Trashigang Goemba

Ancient guns and shields seen at hallway of Trashigang Goemba Temple.

In third compartment (second floor), you can see the line of statues of Phakpai Neten Chudrug (16 Arhats). They are 16 close disciples of Gautama Buddha who have promised to remain on Earth until all sentiment beings attain liberation from the cycle of births and deaths.

Trashigang Goemba temples

Small chorten (stupa) in front of Trashigang Goemba Temple.

It’s in this compartment you can sit in silence and try short meditation. The floor has warm carpet. If you feel sleepy in middle, you can get up to see the artistic paintings of its wall.

The main shrine (Goenkhang) or bedroom of Trashigang Goemba’s protective deity is in ground floor. Female visitors cannot enter. However, you can remain in its hallway observing different ancient guns, shields, spears, hats and other war weapons of Bhutan used duringthose times.

How to travel Trashigang Goemba?    

Trashigang Goemba indeed offers good trekking in Thimphu for its visitors. There are two trails to travel Trashigang Goemba. If you’re solely on pilgrimage, you can take Hongtsho Trail. The distance is about 2 kilometers from the main road. However, it’s not a wide and peaceful road.

Thimphu valley view

View of upper Thimphu as seen from Hongtsho Trashigang Goemba.

If you want to have short hiking, landscape photography and bird watching experiences, then you can take a trail from Dochula Pass. You get to visit Dochula Pass, Druk Wangyel Lhakhang and Lungchutse Goemba as its excursions along the Hiking Trail. This is one of the popular Thimphu Day Hikes for tourists along with Cheri Monastery Hike.

Hongtsho Goemba

View of Thimphu Hongtsho as seen from Trashigang Goemba.

You can also travel Trashigang Goemba from Hongtsho road as it’s one of the short treks in Bhutan. However, I don’t recommend it for people who want scenic landscape views, adventure and pleasure. The road cruises through narrow ridges and woods. And also there are no other tourist attractions along the trail.

Tourist attractions near Trashigang Lhadzong

If you travel Trashigang Goemba on leisure, there are other places of interest near it. The most important ones are Hongtsho Goemba, Dochula Pass, Druk Wangyel Lhakhang and Lungchutse Goemba.

Dochula Pass

We can visit Dochula Pass after visiting Trashigang Goemba.

Tourists hike to Trashigang Goemba from Dochula Pass keeping Lungchutse Hike as its excursion. The trail to Lungchutse Goemba is through pleasant forest of spruce, rhododendrons, hemlocks and junipers. Lungchutse Monastery Hike along with Dochula Hike can be undertaken in a day. Bhutan Tour Companies treat it as one of the Bhutan day hikes.

You’ll come across few small huts along the trail. They are meditation houses. You should maintain silence. And just few minutes away from Trashigang Goemba, there is a lush green meadow which is a good spot for outdoor lunch.

Druk Wangyel Temple

Druk Wangyel Lhakhang is just above Dochula Pass’s 108 chortens.

You can then descend from Trashigang Goemba through Yusipang. You will enjoy distant views of Thimphu valley and Hongtsho Goemba. During spring, hanging clouds over hills will add more to beauty of common landscapes of Bhutan. You can then stop a taxi at Hongtsho and drive to Thimphu.

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About Author

An auditor by profession, but a traveller, blogger and photographer by passion. This site was created to share travel stories of various destinations within Bhutan and also travel tips of travelling to Bhutan. Read More>>

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