If you would have chuckled seeing penis paintings and souvenirs (Phallus) while roaming in Bhutan streets, then the answer to all your curiosity lies in Chimi Lhakhang. One of Bhutan‘s best temples and also most unique temples, Chimi Lhakhang stands on a hillock, few kilometers before Punakha.
Temple is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley, fondly known as ‘Divine Madman’ because of his non-conventional and ‘outrageous’ style of teaching. He was a social critic and openly challenged the hypocrisy of the established orders. Thus, the use of his Phallus (Penis) as a ‘flaming thunderbolt’ weapon symbolizes the discomfort that society experiences while facing the truth. Devotees take blessings from the wooden effigy of the lama’s thunderbolt, preserved in the lhakhang.
Chimi Lhakhang is also known as the ‘Temple of Fertility’. Couples come to the temple before the birth of baby to select their names while newborns are brought by parents for blessings from Lama. After getting down on the main road (Thimphu Punakha Highway), it is a half an hour pleasant walk through Lobesa village to reach the Lhakhang.
The time we visited Chimi Lhakhang, new paddy crop was being planted. A water stream was flowing by our side as we walked through the valley amid paddy fields full of water. Bhutanese women were knee deep in the fields planting the saplings of next paddy crop.
Walk to Chimi Lhakhang passes through Lobesa village and you get a beautiful glimpse of rural Bhutan as you come across the farms and houses with unique Bhutanese architecture (huge white walls with wood carving on doors, windows and roof). And yes, Phallus (Penis) is very comfortably painted on almost every second house as you walk along.
Path to Chimi Lhakhang is lined up with prayer flags which flutter as strong wind passes through them. Just stop and stand amid these prayer flag poles. You will love the sound as wind passes through the flags.
Chimi Lhakhang compound is vibrant with colours with prayer flags fluttering on the compound edges and young monks running around from one direction to another. You will love to sit under the big tree in the center and watch around the dynamic yet peaceful atmosphere of the temple.
Photography is not allowed inside the temple but it is equally dynamic with young monks reciting hymns and playing instruments in front of the statues of ‘Divine Madman’ and his dog Sachi. You will also be rewarded with blessings from the lama’s wooden and bone phallus.
History of Chimi Lhakhang
Divine Madman’s most outrageous and sacred actions included taming of demons and demonesses that were tormenting the Bhutanese people. He subjugated the infamous and much feared demoness of Dochula and buried her on the mound where Chimi Lhakhang was built in late 15th century by his cousin brother, Lam Ngawang Choejey.
How to reach Chimi Lhakhang
Chimi Lhakhang is located on Thimphu Punakha Highway, some 10 kilometers from Punakha. We had taken a shared cab from Thimphu to Punakha (Nu. 300 per person) and got down at Lobesa village (Sopsokha) after a 2.5 hours ride from Thimphu. You can see the temple from the highway itself and then it is half an hour walk to the lhakhang along paddy fields through the village.
Beware of dogs as you walk through the village.
On our way back, we got lift from a Bhutanese gentleman who dropped us at Khuruthang (Residential town for Punakha). There is also a path by side of the village through which cars and mini buses were going up to the temple.
Directions: Get down at Lobesa here and then walk down through the village to Chimi Lhakhang. Walk straight through the village. This walking path is not shown by Google maps. For car, take the round path as shown by Google maps.