Changangkha Lhakhang – the oldest temple in Thimphu

posted in: Asia, Bhutan, Heritage | 45

If the Chimi Lhakhang temple in Bhutan is renowned to bless childless couples with a bundle of joy, there is another temple in Bhutan that bestows a blessing on these young wonders. Considered as the oldest temple in Bhutan, the Changangkha Lhakhang has built an unshakable faith in the people. It is here that people bring their children to get special blessings. Visiting this temple got me more than these blessings. What I saw and felt here definitely made it count as one of the key things to do in Thimphu.

Changangkha Temple in Thimphu, Bhutan

About Changangkha Lhakhang

Well, technically the fertility temple of Punakha – Chimi Lhakhang was built much after the Changangkha Lhakhang. This temple was built in the 12th century while the fertility temple came to existence in the year 1499. There is technically no connection between the two but given that they are meant for children, I could not help but equate the two. It seems as if Changangkha Lhakhang is the ultimate destination to bless the gift that the fertility temple bestows on you. 😉

The fertility temple in Bhutan is renowned worldwide for its miracles. Childless couples across the world have been rewarded for their belief in the temple. The symbol of phallus is attached to the temple. Why this unique symbol? What is the significance? The answers to all this in this unique post about the Chimi Lhakhang Temple.

P.S – it not just the temple that you will enjoy reading about but also, the gorgeous journey to it. 

Kids get blessed by the protector God at Changangkha Lhakhang

Enough about my views. Let’s get to the actual facts on the Changangkha Lhakhang. The temple exists right in the center of Thimphu, high up on a hillock. It was built on the site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo. There isn’t anything else that I know about the history except that it is said that the protector deity here –Tamdin blesses the child. As per our guide – it is the spiritual home of Children and hence, everyone in Bhutan brings their kids here to get the deity’s blessing.

Climbing up the ancient temple

It was post noon and we had our bellies full after a delicious Bhutanese meal. Eyes heavy and comfortably snug in the car, shielded from the cold outside, I was almost about to doze off when screech! We stopped! A long flight of stairs seemed to be leading up to a modest looking Bhutanese building. “This is the oldest temple in Thimphu and the most important one. Welcome to Changangkha Lhakhang” – announced our driver cum guide.

Changangkha Lhakhang as we ascended

It just took a few steps to realize that the long flight of stairs were actually quite high and ancient too. The unequal size of the stairs made the ascent a mini hike – albeit one that we needed to digest our rich intake. The melodious chimes of whirling prayer wheels greeted us as we entered a small gate. We had reached the Changangkha Lhakhang.

The Central courtyard of Changangkha Lhakhang

Meditation hall in Changangkha Lhakhang

If you are expecting an elaborate set-up like the Tashichodzong or the Punakha Dzong, you will be a tad bit disappointed. Changangkha Lhakhang is a simple set with oodles of positive vibes. Follow the line of Prayer wheels through a narrow doorway and you will be standing right in the middle of their main courtyard. It is quite like a small home courtyard. The building against which the prayer wheels continued is the main temple while right opposite to that is the meditation hall and the monk quarters.

The main temple windows

There were very few people around when we visited and that added to the calm around the place. Only a few naughty kids walked around the place, spinning the prayer wheels while old monks smiled at them, indulging them to play in their spiritual space. I loved the little corners of the courtyard with its pretty potted plants. My favorite – the giant lilies blooming in white!

The Temple & Chief Deity

As is the norm in Bhutan, photography within the main temple is not allowed. What lay within this temple were huge statues of the Guru Rinpoche and the other Buddhas. Along with that is one of the main deity – Tamdin – the one who protects the kids. Walls were covered with gorgeous murals and a few Thangkas added the glitz as they strung down the ceiling.

Loved the doors and the unique door frame with deities of the sacred room

The main ritual here is that of blessing a kid. Every kid is blessed by the traditional dagger called Phurba. They are given a sacred thread by the monks. Newborns were brought here –  not just to be blessed but also, to be named. Changangkha Lhakhang was known for its auspicious naming ceremony where the temple astrologer looked at the dates and gave a name to the baby. Even if you are not seeing a name, based on your birthdate, the astrologer will give you a lucky flag that you can then hang at your place.

Prayer Wheels & Good Vibes

Prayer wheels around the main temple of Changangkha Lhakhang

I followed the ring of prayer wheels that went around the entire temple – feeling a strange peace. It wasn’t just the prayer wheels but the flickering butter lamps lit at corners with pictures of a deity. The fluttering prayer flags also, seemed to be working its magic but transferring some of its positive energy to me. The panoramic view of Thimphu from high up here made me feel like I was in cloud nine – satisfied and at ease with the world.

Butterlamps lit around a deity's picture

Unlike all the other heritage destinations that had me in a frenzy with its multitude of stories and things to see, the Changangkha Lhakhang made me feel calm. It may not have the numerous tales but it had oodles of peace. Frankly, it is this simple charm that makes me recommend adding this to your Thimphu Sightseeing. So go and add this pin to the same.

How to get to Changangkha Lhakhang?

  • Thimphu though the capital city of Bhutan, does not have its own airport. The closest and the only international one is at Paro – 50 km from the city. You can get here by hiring one of the local cabs.
  • Refer to this Bhutan guide on the other ways of getting in Thimphu.
  • Once in Thimphu, the Changangkha Lhakhang can be spotted high up on a hill in the center of the city.

Stay in Thimphu

  • Thimphu offers you accommodation in various budgets. You can book a Thimphu Hotel through any of the well-known websites.
  • If you are on a Government Package, your hotel will already be a part of the tour.

Travel Tips

Government Packages, Visas, Permits, Places to visit in Bhutan and more  – these are common queries that you will have about Bhutan. This is where you need to check out this ultimate Bhutan Guide.

  • Changangkha Lhakhang is not a long climb. However, the steps are very uneven and some of them quite high. Be cognizant of the same when heading here.
  • Cover your shoulders and legs when visiting the temple.
  • You will have to leave your shoes outside the temple when entering it.
  • Keep aside 45 mins for a basic visit. It is quite peaceful to sit up there and enjoy the views around. A little time for that too would be nice.
  • The Temple opens at 6 am and closes at 6 pm. There are morning and evening prayer ritual that you might find interesting. Head over between 6 am to 8 am for the morning one and between 5 pm to 6 pm for the evening one.

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.
Share the Thrill of Travel

45 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.