Lhading goenpa, the temple of flying gods and goddesses
April 23, 2021
It is a privately owned temple located in Paro, about 13 kms away from Drukgyel Dzong. The road is not pitched and is quite bad at few places so the journey takes about 45 minutes from Drukgyel Dzong. Considering the road condition, I would definitely recommend taking a vehicle with higher ground clearance and also planning your trip during dryer months. The drive during rainy seasons would be a nightmare so it’s best to avoid that.
After crossing Drukgyel Dzong (i.e., heading towards Tsento village), there are direction boards along the way so it’s easy to reach the place without getting lost. The drive is meandering and on rough roads passing through forested areas and a few local villages. It is one of the lesser known places in Paro, possibly due to the difficulty in the past to reach there. However, the roads are much better now and there are plans of having it pitched in the near future, so a trip to Lhading is now no longer a difficult task.
About 2 kms before reaching the temple, the road diverges into two; one leading to Lhading and another leading to a chorten near a small village. The chorten was constructed by Lama Drukpa Kunley (popularly known as the Divine Madman) and has a tiny altar and a Thangka (a scroll painting) of the Lama. The drive after the junction has more rough patches so if you end up taking a smaller car, you can just hike up till Lhading from here.
The chorten dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley
It is said that following a prophecy by Sacha Penchay, Pawo Tagsham Chen and his consort Khandom Metok Selden from the Sacha family came to Paro (from Tibet) in search of the destined place. While residing in a village below the current temple location, the Drupthob had a dream of gods and goddesses flying above a space. The next morning, their horse refused to head downwards and kept heading up eventually leading them to the current location. When they reached there, they saw a lake in the area; and the Pawo recognized the place as the one from his dream. He prayed on a handful of grains and offered it to the lake, which then turned into a field. Following this, he constructed a temple in this field so it came to be known as Lhading which translates to “gods and goddesses flying above”.
The temple at Lhading
According to the attendant monk, the wooden floors of the old temple had frequent water damage and kept rotting which is believed to be because the temple was built on top of a lake. So when the temple was later renovated, the floors were replaced with stone slabs.
The main relic at the temple is a wish fulfilling Jowo Shakyamuni Statue and Gyalwa Ri-nga statues(the five wisdom Buddhas) all crafted in Tibet and brought to the temple. Legend goes that one of the five wisdom Buddhas flew away leading to the remaining being sealed by Lama Drukpa Kunley. The thumb impression of the Lama can currently be seen on the statues. A statue was later built as a replacement for the one that flew away and can be seen to be slightly smaller than the other four.
There is also a large religious scripture (sutra) inside the temple that is said to be written in a day by a Buddhist practitioner after the death of his mother. There is a belief that if you can lift the text and place it over your head, your sins from the past three hundred lifetimes would be washed away. However, the attendant monk said that one should pray and hope to receive the blessings of the knowledge contained in the scripture instead of trying to lift it up.
Lhading is said to be a very sacred place, so much so that just hearing the name of the temple will enable a person to attain the wisdom of enlightenment. So visiting this place is an act that will definitely accumulate lots of good merit. And just below the temple, there is a small Drupchhu (holy water) to further cleanse away one’s bad merits.
From the temple, you get magnificent views of snow-capped mountains in the distance. I tried asking the attendant monk but he seemed to have no idea which mountain range it was. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty sight and makes for a beautiful photo backdrop.
The view from Lhading goenpa
People say that one is supposed to visit the Lhading temple and the Tamchog Lhakhang on the same day to cleanse away all your sins. As for me, I didn’t know that until it was too late but will surely go again someday and visit both places on the same day.