History of Chimi Lhakhang

History of Chimi Lhakhang

Bodhi Tree outside Chimelhakhang Temple

Chimi Lhakhang was built in 1499 by Ngawang Choegyel, the 14th Drukpa hierarch. However, it was Drukpa Kunley (1455–1529), the maverick saint (also known as the ‘Divine Madman’) who first built a chorten at the site. 

According to local myth, a vile demoness by the name of Loro Duem resided in the high pass of Dochu La and she used to terrorise all those who attempted to cross this pass. There were two other demonesses who lived in two smaller passes. As a result, the folks in the valley lived in constant fear and misery.

When Drukpa Kunley first stepped foot in Bhutan, he heard about these demonesses and the sufferings they have been causing. Thus, he made his way to Dochu La and upon his arrival, the three demonesses recognised him and his divine power. They tried escaping to the valley but two of the demonesses ‘dissolved’ into the body of Loro Duem.

Chimelhakhang entrance

Upon reaching the plains of Lobesa, Loro Duem morphed herself into a dog to disguise herself. However, Drukpa Kunley recognised Loro Duem and subdued her with his “Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom” which is said to be the phallus, thus, the symbol of Chimi Lhakhang. Drukpa Kunley then buried the demoness under the mould of a hill that resembles the breast of a woman. He then uttered the word ‘Chime’ which means ‘no dog’ and built a black chorten on top of the mould.

Prior to killing and burying the demoness, Drukpa Kunley made the demoness to pledge service to the Buddha and to become the protector of the dharma. She is now the local deity known as Chhoekim who is the guardian of Chimi Lhakhang. 

Later in the 15th century, Drukpa Kuenley’s cousin Lam Ngawang Choegyal built a temple in honour of Drukpa Kunley and named it Chimi Lhakhang, literally translated as ‘No Dog Temple’.

Chimelhakhang temple