About Kyichu Lhakhang
Kichu Lhakhang, also known as Lho Kichu Temple is a historically significant temple located in Lango Gewong of Paro, a city in Bhutan. It is one of the oldest temples in the country dating back to the 7th century. The history of this monastery is riveting and was ministered by a great deal of popular figures such as Guru Rinpoche and it is one of the famous places to see in Paro.
Kichu Lhakhang is actually composed of twin temples. The original one was built by the first Buddhist King of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and the other was built in the year 1968 under the jurisdiction of Queen Mother of Bhutan, Ashi Kesang Choden.
The temple is filled with rich history and intricate murals of formerly decorated Kings. There are statues and sculptures of great Buddhist teachers as well. These statues include the renowned Guru Rinpoche, and Kurukulla who is holding a bow of arrow made of flowers. Beside the statue of Guru Rinpoche is a shrine containing the ashes of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the revered Nyingma Buddhist Scholar.
How to Reach Kyichu Lhakhang
By Road: The distance from the airport to Kichu Lhakhang is 5 kilometers and hence, hiring a cab/taxi is the most efficient way to reach the temple. After exiting the airport, the tourists can catch up with the Paro-Thimphu highway and turn left. Furthermore, only a few kilometers away on the left, stands the Kichu Lhakhang temple.
By Foot: Some tourists prefer to hike to the monastery from the Paro International Airport. By hiking, tourists can experience and view the incredible scenery, the Paro terrain, and its incredible countryside. Approximately, it takes an hour to hike to the temple from the airport.
Best Time to Visit Kyichu Lhakhang
Spring: It is recommended to travel to Kichu Lhakhang during the months of November-April (Spring and Winter). Paro valley looks breathtaking during the spring. It is especially ideal to travel during this time as the hiking from the airport to the monastery can be experienced without the summer heat or heavy rainfall.
Rainfall: Paro experiences extreme rain during the months of June-September. It is not ideal to tour Paro during these months. The trip cannot be appreciated fully with muddy roads everywhere due to rain. Also, more often than not, tourists find themselves being cooped up in the hotel because of heavy rainfall.
Summer: It is usually sunny during the daytime of months June, July, August, and September. Although there is a lot of precipitation during this time, the daytime is incredible for hiking and going on trails outside the Kichu Lhakhang.
Winter: The winter occurs here during the months of November, December, and January. It is usually snowy in Kichu Lhakhang and the himalayan regions of Bhutan. It is incredible to tour during this time as the twin temples offer numerous activities during this season.
What Not to Miss at Kyichu Lhakhang1. Statues inside the Temple: The most obvious attraction at the monastery are the statues of Guru Rinpoche and Gautama Buddha. Another major attraction is the statue of Kurukulla (Red Tara), holding a bow and arrow made of flowers.
2. Orange Trees: Another tourism-magnetizing attraction is a pair of orange trees that bear oranges the entire year, regardless of the season. They are situated in the courtyard of the Kichu Lhakhang.
3. The National Museum of Bhutan: The National Museum of Bhutan is unmissable when touring the city of Paro. It enriches the art, traditions and cultures of Bhutan over the years. Although constructed in 1649 as a watchtower against Tibetan soldiers, the building was converted to The National Museum in 1968.
It houses a lot of paintings, murals, art pieces, animal masks and many more historically striking artifacts. It is a heavenly place to get to know the rich culture and religious past of the country.
4. Tiger’s Nest Monastery: Tiger’s Nest, also known as Paro Taktsang is one of the most sacred and historically significant sites in Bhutan. At an altitude of 900 meters overlooking the beautiful Paro Valley, this monastery is considered extremely exceptional and religiously momentous because it was visited by Guru Rinpoche. Paro Taktsang is almost 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the Kichu Lhakhang.
Things to do in and near Kichu Lhakhang
1. Hiking and Camping: Tourists can hike and camp to nearby attractions like the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, and the National Museum of Bhutan. It is a day’s trip and tourists can group together and embark on a trek together.
2. A tour of Bhutan’s cultural importance: Tourists can travel outside the Kichu Lhakhang and visit the nearby villages. This offers the tourists to ascertain the importance of Bhutan’s history and culture.
3. Discerning the Chenrezig: It is crucial for visitors to look up at the sculpture of the incredible Chenrezig. It is especially eccentric because it has 1000 arms and 11 heads.
Other Essential Information About Kyichu LhakhangLocation: The Kichu Lhakhang Temple is located in Lango Gewong of the Paro District in Bhutan.
Opening Hours: The timings to visit this breathtaking monastery is 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
Entry Fee: There is no entry fee for tourists or locals to visit the temple.
Average Temperature: The average temperature of Kichu Lhakhang varies from month to month and season to season. June, July, and August are the warmest months in Paro with temperature rising to 18° C. The coldest months are December, January, and February when the temperature plummets to -6° C. Rainfall is mostly experienced during the months of June, July, and August.
Distance from the nearest airport: The distance between the airport and the monastery is 5 kilometers (3 miles). The nearest airport to Kichu Lhakhang is the Paro International Airport. Tourists can fly to Paro and rent a cab to Kichu Lhakhang.
History of Kichu Lhakhang
It is believed that Songtsen Gampo built Kichu Lhakhang in order to overcome a giant demoness that spread over the entire Tibet. She was supposedly thwarting the expansion of Buddhism in the Himalayas. Therefore, in order to quell her, the first Buddhist King of Tibet constructed 108 temples, Kichu Lhakhang being one of them. This temple is one of the oldest and most significant temples in Bhutan. It is believed that during the war with the demoness, Songtsen Gampo created 108 temples in one night and Kichu Lhakhang was one of them.
Kichu Lhakhang is said to be a compound of twin temples. Apart from the original temple built by Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, Ashi Kesang Choden built the second temple in 1968. The reason why Kichu Lhakhang is considered a remarkable and a significant monastery is due to its visits by various important Buddhist scholars over different times. Over the years, this magnificent monastery has been visited by Guru Rinpoche, Lam Kha Nga, Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, and Je Sherub Gyletshen who helped in expanding the exterior of the temple.
Architecture of Kichu Lhakhang
This architectural marvel is believed to have been built overnight by the First Buddhist King of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and has been considered an architectural benchmark for all the newer monasteries. Kichu Lhakhang is an incredible blend of Buddhist eccentric culture and distinctive religious heritage. The main entrance way is coated with gold, and the floor is built with wood decorated with turquoise and numerous other gems. It takes you into an intimate courtyard filled with murals of King Kesar, who was famous for inspiring an epic poem considered to be the longest one in the world.
In 1968, Ashi Kesang Choden expanded the temple in order to house the statue of the eccentric Kurukulla handling flowers in the form of bow and arrows. The temple also houses some of the oldest and most intricate statues of Guru Rinpoche. The architecturally significant monastery has the statue of Gautama Buddha and the original builder, Songtsen Gompa as well.