Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
A Survey of Bonpo Monasteries
by Dondrup Lhagyal, Phuntso Tsering Sharyul, Tsering Thar, Charles Ramble and Marietta Kind
Edited by Samten G. Karmay and Yasuhiko Nagano
National Museum of Ethnology and THL
Reproduced with permission from the authors
under the THL Digital Text License.

Li thang County

(176) Mi rgod Temple

1. Name

Ri bo lha khang

2. Location

The temple is located 8 km from the county town.

3. History

According to oral tradition, the temple was built in the Fire-Rat year of the 9th Rab byung (1516) by La dkar bsTan pa’i rgyal mtshan53 who was a monk of sMan ri Monastery (No.1). He first took residence in a village known as sDe le gong and later established a hermitage on the sacred mountain of gNas chen Ri bo brag dkar.

The hermitage was transformed into a temple belonging to the local community. According to legend, the cave where the hermitage was located was so small that a yeti enlarged it, which is why the hermitage is also known as Mi rgod ri khrod, the “Yeti hermitage”.

Mount Ri bo brag dkar is believed to be an abode of the goddess Srid pa rgyal mo. The present temple was rebuilt in the 1980s. The present master of the temple is Rig ’dzin rgya mtsho.

4. Hierarchical system

  • one khri pa (replaced every five years)
  • one dbu mdzad (replaced every five years)
  • one dge skos (replaced every five years)

5. Current number of religious practitioners

There are fifty religious practitioners in the temple most of whom are laymen.

6. Current education

There are no organized classes.

7. Educational exchange

The temple has no particular ties with any other establishments.

8 / 9. Rituals

The temple does not hold any regular annual rituals.

10. Books held in the temple

The temple has no books but the practitioners have their own ritual texts.

11. Income and expenses

The temple depends on donations from its followers.

12. Local community

The local lay community consists of five villages: sDe tshal with twenty families, sDe slas with fifty three families, Ra kho with thirty-seven families, Khri mo with one family, Lha khang with twenty-five families.

The local population is very mixed. It includes, in addition to Tibetans, many Han and Yi followers of Bon. The temple claims that in addition to the families mentioned above there are around two hundred families of mixed nationality in Nas chu township, around one hundred families in Shar kha township, one hundred and sixty families in Sa snga rong village and more than a hundred families in Kho tsha in Mu li county.

13. Local festivals

The mountain behind the temple is Ri bo brag dkar. It has a la btsas at the top. The local deity of the mountain is generally propitiated on the 1st, 13th and 15th days of each month although there is no prescribed date. There are four mountains surrounding it at the cardinal points: Dung ri dkar po, gSer ri dkar po, Zang brag dmar po and Brag mar yu ring.

14. Occupation of the local people



(1) Interviews

With Nyi ma rgyal mtshan (b.1928) in autumn 1997, a teacher at the temple


[53] Ri bo lha khang (mi rgod sgrub phug yang zer) by rDo rje rig ’dzin, MS., p.1

Note Citation for Page

Dondrup Lhagyal, Phuntso Tsering Sharyul, Tsering Thar, Charles Ramble, and Marietta Kind, A Survey of Bonpo Monasteries and Temples in Tibet and the Himalaya (Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 2003), .

Bibliographic Citation

Dondrup Lhagyal, Phuntso Tsering Sharyul, Tsering Thar, Charles Ramble, and Marietta Kind. A Survey of Bonpo Monasteries and Temples in Tibet and the Himalaya. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 2003.