A left detour from Thimphu-Kabesa road near Drolma Zhingkham Lhakhang leads to Pangri Zampa Lhakhang. You can also leave your car at Dechencholing Market and then continue walking. It won’t take you more than 10 minutes to get there. Pangri Zampa Monastery is just above Dechencholing-Kabesa bridge.
The founder of Pangri Zampa Monastery named the temple as Druk Phodrang. It means the ‘castle of Dragon’. When Zhabdrung came to Bhutan, a group of 5 lamas of different religion sects were its owners. They abandoned it for the growing power of Zhabdrung. So its name became Pangri Lhakhang – temple on an abandoned mountain.
In middle, it also acquired a name as Pangri Zamdong since its location is face-to-face with a bridge connecting Dechencholing and Kabesa village. However, in due course of time, its name became Pangri Zampa Lhakhang or Pangri Zampa Monastery.
It’s now an educational institute of Central Monastic Body for learning traditional Astrology of Bhutan. Every year, this institute releases official Bhutanese calendars. This institute decides dates for important national events of Bhutan. The dates for past national events like Coronation Day of 5th Druk Gyalpo, royal wedding and naming ceremony of the crown prince were decided by them.
History of Thimphu Pangri Zampa Monastery
In 1529, Tibetan Lam Ngawang Chogyal with his son Nagi Wangchuk came to Bhutan. They settled in Thimphu and built a small temple on the present location of Pangri Zampa Monastery. He named it as Druk Phodrang – Castle of Dragon. The name was a derivative of one Tibetan monastery’s name that was popular when Lam Ngawang came to Bhutan.
The descendants of Lam Ngawang Chogyal looked after the temple until Lam Kha Nga overtook it. However, when Zhabdrung came to Bhutan in 1616 A.D and then subsequently when he started unification of the country, these lamas had to give Pangri Zampa Monastery to him.
In another line of an oral tradition, it’s said that when Zhabdrung was in Tibet he had a consistent dream of raven ushering him to south. When he travelled south following that good omen, it’s said that a real raven came guiding him till Pangri Zampa Monastery.
Zhabdrung built another temple in the compound and became Zhabdrung Lhakhang. During his time, it was more of his residence. And later Desi Tenzin Rabgay made it a temple of offerings. Bhutan history has that Je Jamyang Gyeltshen, the 18th Chief Abbot of Bhutan also lived there in later years of his life.
Temples at Thimphu Pangri Zampa Monastery
In due course of time, new buildings and temples came up at Pangri Zampa to accommodate growing number of monks studying Traditional Astrology of Bhutan. Now there are dormitories, stores, kitchen and dinning blocks. It’s under Central Monastic Body of Bhutan.
The main temple of Pangri Zampa is a 4 storey building. During the times of Zhabdrung and Dual governance system in Bhutan, ground floor was a store. But today it’s a classroom for monks studying traditional astrology of Bhutan.
Its fourth floor is the main sanctum. It has statues of Drukpa Kagyu lamas. The second and third floors are special chapels of Bhutan’s guardian deities; Yeshi Gonpo and Palden Lhamo.
A temple next to this main temple is Zhabdrung Lhakhang. It was a residence of Zhabdrung after he came to Bhutan. In those days, Bhutan history has that there was a lake beside it. So the mermaid of this lost lake is said to be the guardian of this temple.
Zhabdrung Lhakhang has four levels. Its top floor is the personal meditation room of Zhabdrung. One of the main relics of this temple is Zhabdrung’s statue. It’s said that initially it was facing its entrance. It now faces south, straight to Thimphu River.
There is a belief that windows of this hall should always remain open as to give an easy entrance for the mermaid of the lost lake. It’s said that the mermaid often comes to make offerings during dawn.
Other Attractions near Thimphu Pangri Zampa
The giant cypress tree that is in front of the main temple is said to be the oldest tree and perhaps the biggest in Bhutan. According to an oral tradition, a raven that came guiding Zhabdrung to Bhutan disappeared in its trunk.
I am not sure if it’s right. One of the Bhutan’s earlier names as ‘Tshendhen Kyipai Jong’ meaning ‘the land of cypress’ is said to be due to this tree. But for the sake of argument, there are many similar cypress trees in Bumthang and Wangdue.
In few minutes’ walk from Pangri Zampa Lhakhang is Drolma Zhingkham Lhakhang. Royal Grandmother built it dedicating to 21 images of Goddess Tara (Drolma Nishu Tsachig). In a distance of about 2 KM from there, Dechenphug Lhakhang is the residence of Ap Genyen – the protective deity of Thimphu.
If you go for hiking, Tango and Cheri Goemba are the nearest destinations from Pangri Zampa Monastery. You have to drive till Dodena for about 40 minutes. From there it’s about 3 hours’ hike.
You can alternatively visit Kabesa village to have visual experiences of rural living styles. In Kabesa Choki Traditional Art School, you can see students learning embroidery, tailoring and sculpturing. They also learn other arts that form part of Zorig Chusum – 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
Students also practice arts of drawing, canvas paintings and weaving. The artistic skills of those students and their products on display are wonderful. Therefore, you’ll find hard not to appreciate their skills and wonders of Bhutan’s traditional arts and crafts.
Recommend to read following travel experiences and exciting travel stories from Bhutan:
- The largest Guru Nangsi Zilnon Statue – Travel map to Lhuentse Takila.
- Hidden temple of Thimphu – Trashigang Goemba.
- Photography Hike to Phajoding Monastery.
- Trekking to Great Dungtsho – Bhutan’s lake amidst rocky castles.
- Paro Tshechu in the past and present.
- Gasa Tsachu – an ultimate Tourist attraction of Gasa Bhutan.
- Paro Dzong under flooding light at night.
- Place of interest in Thimphu – Dodedrak Goemba.
- Faces that will interest you to travel Bhutan.
- Bumdeling – The winter residence of Black-necked Cranes in Bhutan.