Kyichu Lhakhang or Kyerchu Temple is located short distance north of Paro town. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful temples. The temple is popularly believed to have been built in 659AD by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet, to pin down ‘the left foot of the supine Ogress’, which was thwarting the establishment of Buddhism in Himalayas. Kyichu is said to be one of the main 12 temples of the 108 temples that were built overnight across Tibet and borderlands. The temple was adopted by different sects and many important Buddhists teachers spent time here and unearthed concealed teachings (terton). The inner hall of the main Jowo Lhakhang shrine conceals the original 7th century Jowo Jamba Statue. Its central image of Jowo Jamba is flanked by eight standing bodhisattvas and by statue of Zhabdrung and Guru Rinpoche. The outer hall of the Jowo contains statue of Chenrizig with 11 heads and 1000 arms. Attached to Jowo Lhakhang is Guru Lhakhang temple, which was constructed by Queen Mother Ashi Kesang Wangchuk in 1968 and its principal image is 5m statue of Guru Rinpoche . Also here is a chorten, containing ashes of of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, a highly revered Buddhist master, and spiritual teacher of Queen Mother who passed away in 1992 and was cremated nearby.
Kichu Lhakhang was originally a small structure at the time of its establishment. Over the years the temple was visited and blessed by many famous Buddhist saints including Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century, Lam Kha Nga and Phajo Dugom Zhigpo to list few. Many of them also expanded the temple in size and grandeur over the period of time. One such personality was Je Sherub Gyeltshen who lived in the 18th century. He extended the Jowo Lhakhang and added many new statues. The latest extension was carried out in 1965 under the initiative of the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck. She added another new structure to the temple known as Guru Lhakhang.
As one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the temple has many relics. The inner hall of the main Jowo Lhakhang conceals the valley’s greatest treasure, an original 7th century statue of Jowo Sakyamuni, believed to be cast at the same time as its famous counterpart in Lhasa. Guru Lhakhang temple contains 5m high statues of Guru Rinpoche and Red Kurukulla. Also in here is the chorten containing the ashes of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, a revered teacher who was cremated nearby in 1992.