Zangdopelhri Lhakhang, in the center of Phuentsholing, sits inside a quiet, sunlit park in town. Around the four-story building, visitors chant and spin rows of shining prayer wheels, offering prayers of well being for the world.
Benches and tables fill the park, offering places of rest for humans while the natural area also gives haven to animal friends. Just two lamas live here, with no other monks in residence.
Because of the monastery’s immediate proximity to the Indian border (within a hundred meters), Zangdopelhri provides a peaceful refuge for Bhutanese and Indian citizens alike, plus foreign visitors. An Indian man from just over the border in Jaigoan says he comes to escape from the constant noise of his hometown: “There is nowhere as peaceful as here.”
Out in front of the temple, whose construction concluded in 1971, a bubbling fountain jets a stream of water next to a statue of Tara. This deity of the local Buddhist tradition represents divine motherly and welcoming qualities, and certainly, visitors feel a warm welcome here.
Sonam, an elderly Bhutanese woman, has been coming to Zangdopelhri for many years from the north of Bhutan; when she was younger and couldn’t travel by car, the walk from her hometown took nine days in each direction.
She expresses a beautiful sentiment as well as gratitude for a simple luxury we take for granted: ”Our hearts brought us here to pray. I am grateful to the 3rd King for making roads.”