The Land of Thunder Dragon in the Himalayas, Bhutan is a heavenly place to visit. A country that gives priority to the happiness index. In addition, this country is full of stupas, Buddhist monasteries, and artwork. So, expect all the places to be tranquil and serener. But, there is one less known and a unique monastery by the name Chimi Lhakhang, with a lot of penises around. Yeah, you heard that right.
HOW DO WE GET THERE?
Chimi Lhakhang, located in the Punakha requires district level permission. However, a tourist guide will help you with the necessary permissions. The charge is per day stay in Bhutan and can be super expensive for outsiders other than few countries in the Indian subcontinent and a guide is a must. Chimi Lhakhang is on the way to Punakha Dzong. It is just over 100 kilometers from Paro and 65 kilometers from Thimphu. But it takes 2-3 hours to drive in the mountains. Meanwhile, reaching the Chimi Lhakhang monastery from the highway is an approx one-kilometer hike. The hike is scenic, crossing the paddy fields, via the Yowakha village full of handicraft stores, paintings, and prayer flags. Also, the hike can be even more picturesque if you take the back entrance, next to the Puna Tsang Chu river.
monastery and the short story behind
Chimi Lhakhang monastery is no different from other monasteries, it just has a lot more penises. This monastery also known as the Fertility temple, originally built back in 1499 AD on a short hill. This penis-focused monastery is dedicated to Buddhism’s “Divine Madman”. In addition, he was ‘the monk of 5000 women’, his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism by singing, humor and outrageous behavior, was shocking and with sexual overtones.
He is also the saint who advocated the use of phallus symbols as paintings on walls and as flying carved wooden phalluses on house tops at four corners of the eaves. The monastery is the repository of the original wooden symbol of the phallus. The wooden phallus has a silver handle as decoration. People are blessed with the wooden phallus, who visit the monastery on pilgrimage, particularly women seeking blessings to beget children. More on inside the temple structure and tradition refer to the wiki.
Other places to visit nearby
About 15 minutes drive from Chimi Lhakhang is the beautiful Punakha Dzong, where the royal wedding takes place. Therefore, for tourists, this is a must-visit place. After that, a kilometer drive from here is a beautiful campsite where you can stay overnight, right next to the river. Also, on the other side of Punakha Dzong is the Punakha Pho Chhu suspension bridge. However, vehicles are not allowed on top of this bridge. Cross the bridge and have some local tea on the other side of the river in a traditional style.
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To conclude, a visit to this place is unique, if you consider all the images that are put up in each and every house. Also, considering the story you get to hear of the divine madman. Above all, as this is a fertility temple, people from all around the world visit this place hoping to get the blessings to beget children. Also, do not forget to visit one of the local handicraft stores on the way to this temple. Even the world-famous Thangka paintings (more details) are available. Check out the YouTube video below and please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel.