Temple of ‘Divine Madman’ in Bhutan : Chimi Lhakhang

It had been a balmy evening in Punakha. Somewhere along the way, our guide Sangay had pointed out that next morning our walk to ‘The Fertility Temple’ would begin from a particular place. He also mentioned that the temple was made in memory of ‘The Divine Madman’. It had sure aroused my curiosity; for a genteel country like Bhutan this description felt like a happening thing. A temple dedicated to an outrageous Lama, Drukpa Kunley – Chimi Lhakhang is located on a small hillock hardly 15 kms away from Punakha. (Lhakhang means monastery.)

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Lush rice fields in a terraced formation on the way to Chimi Lhakhang Temple.

Next morning, after a short drive through Lobesa we had reached a place called Sopsokha village. From here, it was a short walk through terraced rice fields and a path that led to the Buddhist Shrine. Considering our very own folklores in India, I knew what a fertility temple meant. Couples desirous of having a baby would seek their blessings at a place like this. In that sense, after having seen other Dzongs in Thimphu and Punakha, I wasn’t exactly excited to see the temple but the hike seemed nice and I started wandering through the narrow lanes of Sopsokha.

Read : Bhutan : Experiences & Tips

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Bhutan has very pronounced colours and sharp features of the prayer wheels. A lovely frame outside the main monastery of ‘The Divine Madman.’

What immediately captured my attention was murals and graffiti on the walls with giant phalluses. Kids were playing and life seemed to go on in the most normal manner possible. For a moment it felt awkward, but because the incidence of the murals was on almost every wall it became fun to look at. There were doors with phalluses on both sides and then there were shops with wooden imitations of the male sexual organ.

Check : Srinagar – Leh Highway, in Pictures

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Somewhere beyond those houses is the Fertility Temple. It is a popular tourist destination and also a revered local favourite with a lot of success for women desiring a child.

Note : This post contains graphic drawings of the male phallus/penis. Do not scroll down if you are uncomfortable with such images.

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Just as I entered the walking path from Sopsokha village. The string around the phallus is called the sacred thread.

A Brief History of Chimi Lhakhang Temple : 

Lama Drukpa Kunley (1455 – 1570) was an enlightened Buddhist master who practised the Vajrayana form of Buddhism. He followed a non conventional and outrageous style of teaching. Drukpa Kunley roamed around the countryside and indulged in song and dance, alcohol and women and basically seemed like a very cool Lama! In short, he meant to go beyond the norms and conventions set by the society.

Read : Wanderings in Lahaul : Kardang Monastery

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A chorten surrounded by prayer flags … surreal views when the rice fields are lush and green. And the skies in Bhutan are something else! Very pretty indeed.

Among Lama Drukpa Kunley’s most important achievements is taming the fierce demon of Dochu La pass. He imprisoned her and buried her in the main chorten where Chimi Lhakhang was built in the year 1499. Drukpa Kuenley’s cousin brother Ngawang constructed this monastery.

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Lots of handicraft shops selling thangka painting and other curios on the way to Chimi Lhakhang temple.

Lama Drukpa Kunley’s phallus is also known as the ‘flaming thunderbolt’ and is essentially worshipped here. Lamas inside the monastery distribute sacred threads among the pilgrims as a part of the offering.

Also read : Trekking from Purne to Phugtal Monastery, in Pictures

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Epic shot!

Continuing the story in pictures…

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There’s a huge Bodhi Tree in the compound. Chime Lhakhang monastery as seen from the outside.
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A giant Buddhist prayer wheel with inscriptions, on entering the monastery compound. The hike takes around 30 minutes from the last road head.

The walk to Chimi Lhakhang passes through a path lined with trees after the mid-way point. It comes as a welcome respite from Punakha’s warm weather. Highly recommend carrying a bottle of water for the walk. It is best to do the hike after breakfast, so that one may complete the sightseeing in around 2-3 hours.

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The chorten on the right is said to be the original one made by Drukpa Kunley. Chimi Lhakhang was made in the year 1499.

There are a few eateries and shops where one can eat local Bhutanese dishes, right at the start of the trail.

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Literally every wall in the vicinity of the fertility temple is adorned with a representation of the male phallus.
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Hahaha, my first reaction was a wry smile.
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Door leading to the monastery. Bright, vivid colours are a hallmark of all Buddhist monasteries.

I literally skipped and ran on my way back to the place where our vehicle was parked. Also because I figured it may be a tad uncomfortable for my co-travellers when I was documenting these walls with phalluses. I mostly clicked all these pictures on my way back.

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Every house in Bhutan seems very similar in the architectural style. I totally loved their doors and windows.
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I found the prices at the handicraft shops to be exorbitant and was happy to stay outside and just keep clicking these quirky photographs!
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There is no shortage of restrooms here! There was no public toilet facility, but every handicraft had a restroom for tourists. I saw a lot of foreigners too visiting this place. Chimi Lhakhang sure seems to be a big draw on the popular tourist circuit.

The drive from Thimphu to Punakha across Dochu La pass was pretty and became even better with the lush greenery in the rain.

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The cool breeze across swaying rice fields felt like bliss.

This sure turned out to be a big surprise… Know of any quirky things around the world?Would love to check in the comments below.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. How fascinating is this!! So glad that someone is penning down these quirky experiences from across the globe 🙂

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    1. Hehe, so glad you found this interesting. I’m not even sure how do I promote this on social media.

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  2. I know there will be many difficulties and challenges but I am determined to do it. If it does not succeed then it will be a lesson for me as well.

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  3. Veda says:

    This is the worse and most gross place in Bhutan. Also its for childless couple so there is always a feeling if you go there that it will be a Bad omen if you already have a child and still visit this place. If you still interested in watching penis with sperm all around then please visit this place.

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