The Phallus Valley
Published on 11th June, 2017 by Tshering Dorji Bhap
Filled up with phallus all over the valley, there stands the Temple of Fertility (Chime Lhakhang) on a round hillock which is viewed by the locals as a shape of a woman’s breast. There was a time when the Divine Mad Man (Lama Drukpa Kunley) subdued the demon of Dochula using his magic thunderbolt of wisdom (Penis) and trapped her inside a rock close to where the temple now stands. The temple was built in 1499 by his cousin, The 14th Drukpa Hierarch,Ngawang Choegyel, after the site was blessed by the Divine Madman. The great saint was known as the Divine Mad Man for his unorthodox ways of spreading Buddha’s dharma through songs, wine and outrageous behavior. The Divine Mad Man was born into the branch of the Noble Gya, clan of Ralung, Tibet in the year 1455, he became a monk at Ralung Monastery, later became a very popular poet and he was also known for his method of enlightening other beings, mostly women, which earned him the title ‘The Saint of 5000 women’. After mastering his Buddhist teaching in Ralung monastery under many great Masters, he was supposed to travel around and spread the teachings. It was believed that when he was not sure about his destination, he shot an arrow from Tibet and was landed in Toep Chandanang valley, minutes’ walk from the Fertility Temple. Following the path of the Dharma arrow, the Divine Mad Man came to Bhutan and spread the Buddhist teachings through his unorthodox ways travelling around the country.
The Divine Mad Man is credited with introducing the practice of phallus painting in Bhutan. It is believed that the phallus can bring good luck. Today, one can see the paintings of phallus on the outside walls of houses, one can also see carved wooden phallus hung in people’s homes as well as outside. The wooden phallus are also placed in the middle of fields to act as a scarecrow. During Tshechu festivals, the masked clowns also decorate their headgear with phallus painted cloth and dance with their holy whips and wooden phallus. The phallus is also used during rituals to chase away the evil spirits.
The Temple of Fertility is believed to bless couples who seek fertility and it is frequently visited by childless couples. Some of the tourists from different parts of the world with difficulty in conceiving baby, visited the Fertility Temple and been blessed with the phallus. There is a photo album with pictures of the newly born babies with gratitude notes and to my shock, even the tourists believed in the fertility blessings and the number of the babies born after the blessing is quite a lot!
The Fertility Temple is located in Punakha district in a valley called Sopsokha, an easy fifteen to twenty minutes hike in the valley through agricultural fields of mustard and rice will bring you to the beautiful Temple of Fertility. After turning the rows of prayer wheels and feeling the peacefulness of the place, one can visit the temple inside. The walls inside the temple are full of paintings depicting the biography and the teaching of the Divine Mad Man. One can also see the statue of the Divine Mad Man, his original walking stick, bow and arrow inside the temple.