Welcome to a time of stability, harmony, and peace. On the left bank of the Mangdechu, above the Trongsa-Zhemgang highway, is where you’ll find Dangdung Lhakhang. From Trongsa town to Zhemgang, the travel takes about two and a half hours. The temple is a modest, two-story, traditional Bhutanese structure that is situated on the opposite side of Koshala Pass, which connects Trongsa and Zhemgang.
Although no one is certain of the precise date the temple was constructed, residents of Dangdung Village credit Terton Pema Lingpa (1450–1521) with building it. The second floor of the temple is supposed to have been added in the 1950s after initially being thought to have only one. Guru Rinpoche’s visit to the temple’s location is what gives it its hallowed status.
Guru Rinpoche is thought to have given the settlement its name, Dangdung (dvang dung), while he was traveling north and passing by the location of the current temple. The village, which was perched atop a conch-shaped mound (dung dkar ltar ‘khyil ba), gave the impression of being an incredibly serene paradise. There is still a chorten standing where Guru Rinpoche allegedly saved a woman from a demon, according to legend. Locals point out that there are numerous other sacred sites in and around Dangdung as additional proof of Guru Rinpoche’s presence.
Terton Pema Lingpa visited the location and stayed there on his way south from Kheng Tama to Dangdung. A dark house in the village, which is thought to have been Pema Lingpa’s kitchen, is one piece of evidence of his stay. Terton Pema Lingpa is said to have meditated on a rock in the midst of the settlement. Formerly known as Phugphel (phug ‘phel), it is now more commonly referred to as Phogphel (phog ‘phel). As a result of poor maintenance, Phugphel became polluted; nevertheless, the villagers are currently attempting to restore it in order to honor its sacred status. The horse of Pema Linpa is said to have been housed on a lovely field called Tajong (rta ljong), which is located next to the rock.
Guru Rinpoche and the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel are the two principal statues in the temple. Both Nyingma and Kagyu lineage artwork can be found at the temple. Bhutanese deities are depicted in murals on the walls of the ground floor. The Bum Drima (bum ‘bris ma), a 100,000-verse work of handwritten Transcendental Wisdom credited to Pema Lingpa himself, is the temple’s most important artifact.
The temple gives the residents a place to organize social events. There is no monastic organization, thus the villagers currently look after the temple individually. The community sponsors the rites performed in the temple.
In addition to local social gatherings, the temple hosts a number of other events. The Dangdung prayers (Mani), which are held over the three winter months, are the most significant (no specific date). In the second, third, and fourth months of the Bhutanese calendar, the neighborhood also organizes a ceremony known as Chodpa (mchod pa). A Mewang (me dbang), or fire blessing, is carried out in the eleventh month of the Bhutanese calendar.