Interior of Kuje-Lhakhang: with hole supposed to have been caused by the reclining of the first Guru Rimpoche [Bhutan]
Photographer: White, John Claude
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the interior of the Kurjey Lhakhang temple in the Bumthang region of Bhutan taken by John Claude White in 1905. This is one of a set of photographs documenting White's mission to Bhutan to invest Ugyen Wangchuk, the Penlop (Governor) of Tongsa (Trongsa) in central Bhutan, with the order of Knight Commander of the Indian Empire. Bumthang consists of four lush valleys, Chhume, Choskhor, Tang, and Ura, with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000 ms. It is home to many prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. Kurjey Lakhang is one of the most sacred temples in Bhutan because it enshrines the body print of the great 8th century Buddhist sage Padmasambhava, known in Bhutan as Guru Rinpoche or 'precious teacher'. He was an adept in Tantric Buddhism from the Swat Valley (now in Pakistan), and was instrumental in founding the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery at Samye (777-779 AD), south central Tibet. He had a huge impact on the religious future of Bhutan and the Nyingmapa religious school he founded is still a powerful force in central and eastern Bhutan. It is said that he came to Bumthang in the mid-8th century and meditated, leaving a jey (imprint) of his kur (body) in the rock. This is preserved in a cave in the oldest of the three buildings which make up the temple-cum-monastery complex.