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Chimi Lhakhang Monastery (Fertility Temple)

Chimi Lhakhang Monastery, also called Chime Lhakhang, is a well-known Buddhist monastery on top of a hill in Punakha.

Chimi Lhakhang Monastery (Fertility Temple) Punakha, Bhutan_Attractions_Chimi Lhakhang_1

Credits: @lualuali

Bhutan's 14th Drukpa hierarchy, Ngawang Choegyel, commissioned the building of the monastery in the late 15th century. Prior to the construction, the compound was blessed by Lama Kunley.

Lama Kunley was infamously known as the “Mad Saint” due to his eccentric and unusual methods of teaching Buddhism. He embraced singing, humorous and extreme behaviours which many regarded as bizarre and shocking.

He later promoted the wide use of phallus symbols as wall paintings and wooden phalluses on house roofs. The monastery has since become the storehouse of the original wooden phallus that Kunley brought back from Tibet. Enhanced with a silver grip, it was used to bless people who visit the temple.

Over the years, women have been coming to the monastery looking for fertility blessings to conceive children. It has become a tradition to hit visitors on the head with a 25-cm wooden, bone, or ivory phallus. There's a belief that this practice would improve fertility, especially for women.

Where is Chimi Lhakhang Monastery?

This unique monastery is in the vicinity of Sopsokha village, approximately 10km from Punakha. You can take a 20-minute walk from this village while soaking in relaxing views of rice fields and colourful prayer flags along the way.

Traditions practiced in this Fertility Temple

Besides the intriguing practice of hitting the head of fertility-seeking pilgrims, Chimi Lhakhang monastery has one other unique tradition. Visitors could select the name of their future newborn by randomly picking one of the prepared bamboo slips with Bhutanese names of boys and girls.

Why visit Chimi Lhakhang Monastery?

Even if you’re not looking for fertility blessings, the temple is still a good Punakha attraction.

Where else in the world can you find so many pen*s wall paintings and drawings? Also, how else will you get the once-in-a-lifetime experience to have someone hit you on the head with a wooden phallus and blessed with a genuine prayer? Lastly, the journey to the temple and the surrounding magnificent views is already an attraction in its own.

Alternatives

A similarly fun and intriguing monastery in neighboring Tibet is the Sera Monastery. Every afternoon, you can watch Buddhist monks debating animatedly with each other over various Buddhist principles. A visit to Sera Monastery is included in almost all Tibet Tour Packages, whether it's a Tibet Group Tour or Tibet Private Tour.