Approaching Karpo Lhakhang, whose name means “White Temple” in Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan, a large and ornate gate greets visitors immediately.
Looking straight ahead, the rectangular, heavyset temple appears with red and white colors and a golden crownlike projection on top. Roughly 60 monks and teachers currently live here, and two new temples are under construction on either side of the main one.
Inside the building, an elaborate and vividly colored display of deities, human masters and holy teachers explodes from the walls. Daily, monks perform ceremonies complete with baritone chanting and haunting musical instruments.
A great Tibetan ruler and lama, or Buddhist teacher, named Songtsan Gampo supposedly started construction of the temple in the 7th century. According to local legend, two birds, one black and one white, emanated from his consciousness and flew from Tibet to this location. The white bird landed on the site of Karpo Lhakhang, hence “white temple.” Locals built Nagpo Lhakhang, the “black temple,” where the black bird landed.
Residents of the monastery believe that local deity Aptshong Du gives them protection from sickness and ill fortune. Businessmen of the area even come to make wishes for success in commerce.
Visitors from foreign lands will delight in the natural beauty and powerful sense of calm radiating from Karpo Lhakhang.