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Guide to visiting Bhutan’s Fertility Temple : Chimi Lhakhang

Chimi Lhakhang Guide Cover Picture

The Chimi Lhakhang is a fertility temple dedicated to the saint Drukpa Kunley, who the Bhutanese people call the ‘Divine Madman’. Known for his eccentric ways, the Divine Madman is said to have killed a demon from Dochu La with his ‘Flaming Thunderbolt of Wisdom’, which has come to be represented by the ‘Phallus’. Thus the phallus has become the symbol to honour the saint and is seen to be painted on all the buildings in the village surrounding the temple. It is now one of the most popular tourist spots in Punakha and a must visit place when visiting Bhutan.

Suggested Read : To the Land of the Thunder Dragon – A Bhutan Travel Blog

Childless couples and families with children visit the temple seeking blessings. The temple is also famous for some interesting rituals that take place here. One of such rituals include tapping the head of devotees with a 10 inch long wooden phallus as part of blessings! Though best known for his unorthodox ways and sexual overtones, The Divine Madman remains one of the most loved figures of the Bhutanese culture.

How to reach Chimi Lhakhang?

The Chimi Lhakhang is at a distance of around 28 km from the Punakha town. Visitors from India and Bangladesh can reach Punakha by road. Tourists from other countries will have to fly to Paro and then travel by road to Punakha. As the tourism policy of Bhutan requires foreign tourists to have a pre-arranged tour, transportation will be arranged by the agency itself.

We recommend the trail starting from Sopsakha village through Teoprongchu Village to reach Chimi Lhakhang

A walk through the Sopsakha Village

Often known as the ‘Phallus Valley’, Sopsakha is a traditional Bhutanese village at the foothills of the round hillock housing the Chimi Lhakhang. The buildings on both sides of the path have colourful phallus paintings. The creativity of the people of Sopsakha when it comes creating Phallus art is just mind blowing. From paintings to pendents to wooden sculptures – they have it all.

Sopsakha Village route to Chimi lhakhang
Sign board showing village trail

Village side of Teoprongchu
Paddy fields on the way

A small walk down a slope from the main road leads you to a beautiful village scene. Houses and surrounding them are beautiful golden and green paddy fields. A narrow path cuts through the paddy fields. A short walk through the fields will lead to a sign encouraging tourists to take a walk through the village.

Once you enter the village, cute little souvenir shops line the way, all selling ‘phallus’ handicrafts. One of the best things to witness here is the village live paintings. Artists sit outside their homes and make some beautiful art, which they sell for a living.

Phallus paintings on the way to Chimi Lhakhang
Phallus paintings

Phallus souvenirs shop in chimi lhakhang
Phallus souvenirs shop

Phallus art
Phallus art

Up the trail

A short walk uphill will lead to the actual trail. Vehicles are not allowed from this point on. Small souvenir stalls line the path. They sell all sorts things like phallus sculptures, pendents, key chains, lucky stones blessed from the temple and even soft shawls made of silk and hair of baby yaks! At the end of the muddy path is a stone stairway up the hill and its very easy to make this hike up.

Way to Chimi lhakhang temples
Way towards temple

Street vendors on the way
Vendors on the way

Prayer flags dot the way as you climb up the hill. As you reach closer to the temple, you will find a huge prayer wheel with inscriptions on it. A complete rotation of the prayer wheel will ring a small bell attached to it, and according to Buddhist belief, it is said that spinning a prayer wheel with double the blessings!

Baby Yak wool Shawl
Baby yak wool shawl

Chimi Lhakhang

Built in the year 1499 by Ngawang Choegyel, the Chimi Lhakhang is a traditional Bhutanese temple. The first thing you will see as you step into the temple courtyard is the huge Bodhi tree at the center. Prayer wheels line the outer walls of this gold-roofed temple. One will also come across a stupa, where the demon defeated by Drukpa Kunley rests.

Inside the temple, there is a simple prayer room where you can see statues of Guru Padmasambhava and Drukpa Kunley. Photography and videography are strictly prohibited within this quiet and peaceful temple.

Chimi Lhakhang Temple
Chimi Lhakhang Temple

Chimi Lhakhang entry time and rules

  1. The temple is open from 6 am to 6 pm everyday and there is no entry fee.
  2. Cameras and tripods are not allowed inside the temple, so do not to use them inside.
  3. Shoes must be removed before entering the prayer room.
  4. Different places have different customs and traditions that may seem bizarre to you, but do not make fun of it!

Best time to visit Chimi Lhakhang

The best time to visit Chimi Lhakhang is during the autumn season in October when the paddy fields are a beautiful green and golden color and during the spring season from March to May. As Punakha lies at a relatively lower altitude, the Punakha weather is pleasant and crisp.

Where to stay?

For pre-arranged tours, accommodations are arranged in 3-4 star hotels and transpiration is also taken care of in Punakha. For travelers from India, Bangladesh & Maldives can find out the best hotels in Punakha below.

Chimi Lhakhang Hike Facts

  • Hike time – 20 minutes
  • Chimi Lhakhang altitude – 1200 feet above sea level
  • Level of difficulty – Very easy
  • Fitness – Anyone with basic level of fitness.

Nearby attractions

1. The Punakha Dzong lies at a distance of 7.5 km from the Chimi Lhakhang. It is famed to be one of the biggest and oldest Dzongs in Bhutan. It is a beautiful example of the Bhutanese style of architecture and one of the most popular tourist spots in Bhutan.

2. The Punakha Suspension bridge lies at a distance of 25 km from the Chimi Lhakhang. At 160 m length, the Punakha Suspension bridge is one of the longest and oldest suspension bridge in Bhutan. Adorned with colorful prayer flags, this bridge is an important tourist spot in Bhutan.

3. The Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten is beautiful temple dedicated to fighting evil and bringing harmony to all living beings. Home to some of the most beautiful mythological murals, this temple is still unknown to most tourists! If you are planning to visit read this complete guide to hike Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten.

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