Pangri Zampa Lhakhang - The College of Astrology
Locals visit the monastery every year to learn about their yearly predictions about their luck, money, health, career and many more. Tourists who are interested to learn about their future predictions must visit the Monastery in Bhutan.
Located around 8 KMs North of Thimphu is the institute of traditional astrology. It is the only college of astrology in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.
The founder of Pangri Zampa Monastery named the temple as Druk Phodrang. It means the ‘castle of Dragon’. When Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (Unifier of Bhutan) arrived Bhutan in 1616 AD, a group of five lamas of different religious sects was its owner. However, they abandoned the monastery with fear of the growing power of Zhabdrung. So its name became Pangri Lhakhang- temple on an abandoned mountain.
Later the monastery also acquired the name as Pangri Zamdong since its location faces the bridge connecting Dechencholing and Kabesa village. However, in due course of time, its name became Pangri Zampa Lhakhang/monastery.
It is now an educational institute of the central monastic body for learning traditional astrology of Bhutan. Most importantly every year, this institute releases official Bhutanese calendars. Thus institute decides dates for important national events of Bhutan. The dates for past national events like coronation day of 5th king of Bhutan, the royal wedding and auspicious occasion like the naming ceremony of the crown prince were commissioned from Pangri Zampa Lhakhang.
Locals visit the monastery every year to learn about their yearly predictions about their luck, money, health, career and many more. Every year nine-day ritual is performed for the wellbeing of all sentient beings and for the peace and prosperity in the country. If one is able to attend the ritual or at least offer prayers it will help in cleansing their misfortunes for a year. Also, it will not be necessary to conduct any rituals at home for Bhutanese.
Besides rich history and ritual, Pangrizampa Monastery is known to tourists as the college of astrology. Tourists who are interested to learn about their future predictions visit the Monastery. On request, the monk/lama read the guests past and future life as per Buddhist believes. There are anecdotes where tourists were blown away by the revelation by the astrologer.
Attractions Near Pangri Zampa
The Cypress Tree
The giant cypress tree that is in front of the main temple is said to be the oldest tree and perhaps the biggest on Bhutan. According to an oral tradition, a raven that came guiding Zhabdrung to Bhutan disappeared in its trunk.
Drolma Zhingkham Lhakhang
In few minutes walk from Pangri Zampa Lhakhang is Drolma Zhingkham Lhakhang. Royal Grandmother built it dedicating to 21 images of goddess Tara. In a distance of about 2KM from there, Dechenphu Lhakhang is the residence of Ap Genyen- the main protective deity of Thimphu.
Kabisa Choki Traditional Art School
One can alternatively visit Kebisa village to have visual experiences of rural village living styles. In Kabisa Choki Traditional Art School, you can see student’s embroidery, tailoring and sculpturing. They also learn other arts that form part of Zorig Chusum- 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
Students also practice arts of drawing, canvas paintings and weaving. The artistic silk of those students and their products on display are wonderful. Therefore, you will find hard not to appreciate their skills and wonders of Bhutanese traditional arts and crafts.
If you go for hiking, Tango and Cheri Monastery are the nearest destinations from Pangri Zampa Monastery. From Dechenling, it takes 40 minutes’ drive till the base of Tango & Cheri. Chari Monastery was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel on the prophecy of Guru Padmasambhava and it was at Tango that Zhandrung Ngawang Namgyel meditated and wrote Nga Chu Drugma – My Sixteen Accomplishments. The 3 hours Hike to Tango and Cheri is a major magnet for both locals and tourists in Bhutan.
Writer Sherab Dorji