Nestled on the lush green meadow along the bank of meandering river Chamkar is Kurjey Lhakhang of Bumthang Valley. Kurjey Lhakhang is located at a distance of 5km from Jakar town and 1km from Jambay Lhakhang. Enclosed by 108 miniature chortens known as Duduel or Jangchub Chortens Kurjey Lhakhang is an essential sacred historic monument of Bhutan. Kurjey Lhakhang or Kurjey Monastery of Bumthang valley is the final resting place of the remains of the first Three Kings of Bhutan. Kurjey Lhakhang with its astounding architecture and sacred relics has lured many travelers towards it. Kurjey Lhakhang derived its name after Guru Rinpoche meditated in a cave to subdue the angry spirit.
There is a fascinating legend behind the construction of Kurjey Lhakhang. As per the traditional legend, during 8th century, Sindhu Raja, the king of iron castle of Bumthang, fell ill, and one of his attendants invited the revered tantric Guru Padmasambava, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan to cure Sindhu Raja with his supernatural powers. Guru Rinpoche found out that the King’s illness was caused by the local deities including the powerful Shelging Karpo. It is said that the King after his son’s death desecrated the abode of the chief deity of Bumthang, Shelging Karpo, who then angrily took the revenge by turning the sky black and stealing the King’s life force, bringing him to near death. After finding the cause of the illness, Guru Rinpoche chased the deities into a cave, and meditated inside the cave for three months. Guru Rinpoche then subdued the deities including the powerful Shelging Karpo and left his body imprint ‘kur’ (body) ‘jey’ (imprint) inside the cave, thus giving the name Kurjey. Beside the Monastery visitors can see a tall cypress tree that is believed to have sprouted from the walking stick of Guru Rinpoche which was planted to seal the agreement of Shelging Karpo agreeing to being the protective deity of Buddhism. During the visit of Kurjey Lhakhang visitors can see the lhakhang is made up of three buildings. Guru Lhakhang is the oldest structure which was built in1652 by Mingyur Tenpa, while he was Trongsa Penlop and before he became the 3rd Desi of Bhutan, around the cave where Guru Padmasambava meditated. Sampa Lhakhang is the second lhakhang which was built in 1900 under the commandment of His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuk, the first king of Bhutan. The third lhakhang, Ka Gon Phur Sum which means Three Mystic Revelations of The Eight Pronouncements (Kagye), Abhipraya Samaja (Gongdue) and Vajra Kilaya (Phurpa) was built in 1984 along with the 108 chortens under the order of Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Kesang Wangchuck.
The mystic aura of Kurjey Monastery has ensnared the heart of many travelers where they can still feel the presence of revered Guru Padmasambava in the cave where he left his imprint. From astounding legend about the protector deity to the breathtaking architecture and sculpture depicting Guru Padmasambava subduing cycle, Kurjey Lhakhang with its magnificence never ceases to amaze the visitors.
Tourists can visit Kurjey Lhakhang throughout year but morning time during the prayer hours is considered the best time to visit Kurjey Lhakhang.