Zhuk Drak Temple – Taktshang Lhakhang in Bumthang?

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When I travelled Bumthang and asked my friend which nearby temple I should visit first, he was immediately suggesting me Zhuk Drak Lhakhang.

I have heard many things about some historically popular temples in Bumthang. But I have never heard anything about this temple. I was wondering the reasons for which he was actually suggesting it.

Welcome in Zhuk Dra temple

A stream that flows through a wooden phallus welcomes Zhuk Drak Temple visitors.

On asking him the specialty of the temple, he said that it can be the Taktshang of Bumthang. Moreover, he was saying that is one of the most sacred temples of Bumthang out of four. Other three are Thowa Dra, Kunzangdra and Chu Dra Temples.

He said it’s a temple first founded by Guru Padmasambhava and is also built on a precarious cliff. I believed his words and agreed to visit it. He also accepted my request to be my guide.

My journey to Zhuk Drak Temple from Chamkhar

If you stay in Chamkhar town hotels, you have to go north of town following the route that leads to Kurje Lhakhang.

It’s approximately about 15Km drive from the town and have to cross Chamkhar Chu above Mebartsho and a small village called Chhoekhor.

Temples like Paro Taktshang

Zhuk Drak Temple just like Tiger Nest Monastery of Paro is also built on a precarious cliff.

The road connectivity is available till the base of the temple. However, since the temple is built on a higher level cliff overlooking Chhoekhor valley, we have to go on foot from the base. The distance is very short. It’ll not take 30 mins even on a lethargically casual walk.

Historical details of the Zhuk Drak Temple

Zhuk Drak means a cliff (Drak) where Guru sat (Zhuk). Guru Padmasambhava is revered as prophesied second Buddha in Buddhism. He also holds special place in the heart of every Bhutanese.

It’s believed that Guru visited Bumthang on a request by Chakhar King Sindhu Raja to see the main cause of his non-recovering persistent ailment.

Bumthang Zhuk Drak temple on hilltop

Zhuk Drak Temple as seen from a hilltop that is opposite to the cliff that holds this temple.

It was during this, Guru has mediated in and around Bumthang. He has also mediated on a cliff where present temple is being located.

Bumthang local people later built a temple on this site as an icon of reverence for Guru Padmasambhava. Today it’s a meditation centre for locals and also a pilgrimage site for Bhutanese.

Is Zhuk Drak the Takshang of Bumthang then?

Paro Takshang is built on a cliff overlooking Paro valley so much as Zhuk Drak is built on a cliff overlooking Chhoekhor valley – both temples are located on a higher gradient hilltop.

Chhoekhor village

Choekhor, a small village under Bumthang can be seen from Zhuk Dra Temple window.

Zhuk Drak and Paro Taktshang are both founded by Guru Padmasambhava. And also both the temples have statues of Guru Padmasambhava as main relics – but that of latter is smaller comparatively.

Main relic in Bumthang Zhuk Drak and Paro Taktshang

It’s believed that it was Guru who founded this temple. So his statue is kept near entrance.

However, if we look into the size of the temple, Paro Taktshang is larger than Zhuk Drak Temple. Paro Taktshang has three main departmental structures whereas Zhuk Drak is a single structural temple.

The walking distance to reach the main temple is longer in case of Paro Taktshang. Some people take at least 2 hours to reach Taktshang from the base. But to reach Zhuk Drak, it won’t take more than 30 mins.

Condition of Zhuk Drak in winter

I would suggest you to visit this temple when you reach Bumthang. I assure that you’ll not be spiritually satisfied for being able to visit yet another Guru Rinpoche blessed temple in Bhutan, but will also get some physical exercises.

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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 travelling to various destinations within his country with the people who want to know more about Bhutan. Read More>>

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