Lighting 108 Butterlamps Sacred Kyichu Lhakhang

Sacred Kyichu Lhakhang Grounds, Paro Bhutan
Sacred Kyichu Lhakhang, Paro Bhutan

Just outside Amankora Paro is one of the oldest and most important temples dating back to the 7th Century, the Sacred Kyichu Lhakhang. On the temple grounds of the sacred and incredible Kyichu Lhaklang, is a unique round building where the Butterlamps are made and lit.

Lighting 108 Butterlamps is an experience of a lifetime. The Butterlamp or karme represents the dispelling of the darkness of ignorance. The lighting ceremony is an offering of light to the deities and is one of the most common means of increasing one’s merit. It also helps focus the mind and aid meditation. A tranquil location for this ritual, especially on the day of the First Snowfall in Bhutan, a National Holiday.  

It is believed that ignorance creates darkness on a physical and mental level. Hence by offering Butterlamp as the place lightens up it will let you move from darkness to light and ignorance to wisdom on a mental and physical level. This is done in a very spiritual manner, the person who offers the lamps whispers or murmurs a prayer after the lamps are lit.

Butterlamps are utilized in many monasteries throughout the Himalayas. The lamps traditionally burn clarified yak butter, but now often use vegetable oil or vanaspati ghee.

According to the Root Tantra of Chakrasamvara, “If you wish for sublime realization, offer hundreds of lights”. The monks in the monastery manage the actual lamps, taking extreme care to avoid starting one of the devastating fires which have damaged many monasteries over the years.

Lighting 108 Butterlamps, Kyichu Lhakhang Paro Bhutan

Kyichu Lhakhang location is in the north of Paro town. It is one of the ancient, quiet and beautiful temples in Bhutan, it is considered to be the sacred Jewel of Bhutan.

As one walks toward Kyichu Lhakhang, the environment is quiet and serene. An ancient monastery is a place that you will find elderly pilgrims often walking around the temple as they spin the prayers wheels, always walking in a clockwise pattern.

Lighting 108 Butterlamps, Kyichu Lhakhang Paro Bhutan

The Kyichu Lhakang conceals the statue of Jowo Jamba originally from the 7th century. The icon is one of the greatest treasure of the valley. There is also another statue of Chenrezig outside the shrine that has 1000 arms and 11 heads. The wooden floor has grooves worn by the generations of prostrators and the main entrance door is coated with gold. Kyichu Lhakhang holds ancient relics and the floor of the main temple constructed with wood decorated with turquoise and other precious stones and gems.

Lighting 108 Butterlamps, Kyichu Lhakhang Paro Bhutan

On the outside of the temple, there are two orange trees that bear fruits throughout the year. There are also monk houses, prayer wheels, Lenza script on tiny prayer wheels.

 On the outside of the temple, there are two orange trees that bear fruits throughout the year.
Sacred Kyichu Lhakhang, Paro Bhutan

Kyichu Lhakhang is a place of art and culture that is very important to historians, art connoisseurs and visitors all around the globe. The oldest monastery is an incredible place for a visit.

We were blessed by a snowy afternoon for our Butterlamp lighting, adding to the serene surreal experience in a chilly round structure, the first architecture of this style we had encountered in Bhutan. 

Leaving the Temple compound in a gentle snowfall, we passed a single monk making his way into the peaceful grounds for his afternoon prayers. Perhaps an appropriate departure to our extraordinary exploratory Amankora Journey. 

Solo Monk entering Sacred Kyichu Lhakhang 

On each arrival at an Amankora Bhutan resort, you are provided with a list of optional excursions, an intimate method of learning about the history and culture of Bhutan and its people.


On A Line, Bhutan

I’m intrigued by suspended clotheslines found on my Journeys, it’s unexpected to see laundry hovering across balconies in chic cites like Lisbon and Porto, my eye is instantly drawn to clotheslines. Havana is another captivating city for photographing clotheslines. Like Christo and his banners of undulating color, clotheslines speak to me in a language not understood by most. I’m enchanted by the color, the movement, the nonchalance of one sharing their personal garments for all to see.

Clothesline Paro, Bhutan

Hanging laundry on a clothesline at one time, was considered a woman’s domestic duty, an intrinsic part of caring for a family.

Intimate articles are hung to dry on wooden fences and ropes – a humdrum daily task in some parts, one is sharing for all to see. Some lines are hastily hung, sloppy style or someone didn’t anticipate how useful the line would become and under estimated the need for a taunt line. A gentle gust is all it takes to bring trousers to life.

On a frigid snowy day, a toddlers pink jacket is frozen solid to the clothesline. Some lines are strictly a matter of convenience, a banister here or a barbed wire fence near your grazing ponies.

Frozen Clothesline Paro, Bhutan.

Maybe it’s the linear and diagonal patterns that speak to me, abstract figures of dancing clothes.

What do the clotheslines of Havana, Lisbon and Bhutan have in common? They all tell a story. From great painters, who painted clotheslines, laundry in the sun Monet and Gauguin.

There is something intriguing to me. Maybe it’s the nature of a primitive method of drying one’s clothes, although I hang my linen sheets on a suspended line in the summer sun. Temporary art installations, in the Bhutanese snow, they remained frozen on the line – the snow melted the next day, the locals knew the clothes would dry again as the sun shone, why go out in the snow to remove them?

Nomad clothesline on a barbed wire fence in Paro with their ponies grazing in field.

When my fellow Amankora traveler joined me, we practically squealed when we shared our list of ‘must have’ photos while we traversed Bhutan with the Amankora travelers – we both love photos of clotheslines, who knew I would meet a stranger in Bhutan and bond over clotheslines?

The Bhutanese photos on the barbed wire fences are the clothes of the nomads who travel to enjoy the warmth of the flatlands from the highest Himalayan peaks. Trekking with their yaks, ponies and mules, beads, and woven yak wool pashminas – the last photo was sent to me by our dear guide, Sangay, who most likely thought we were both a bit camera crazy – but he has now focused on clotheslines!

Clothesline in Gangtey Village. Amankaro Gangtey

A double bonus is a photo of drying clothes and drying chilies!

Punakha Clothesline with symbolic phallic symbol painted on home.
Nomad Clothesline outside Paro. Photo credit my guide, Sangay Dorji, sent after my visit.