The Surkhangs were an important Lhasa family with members in prominent government posts. They were from the midrak (mi drag) rank of aristocracy. The family originally came from Ladakh and settled in Lhasa during the time of the Seventh Dalai Lama Kelzang Gyatso, who gave them an estate. One explanation for the family's name is that when they came to Lhasa, they lived near the corner of the Jokhang (jo khang) and people began to call them Surkhang, that is, 'corner house.' Surkhang Wangchen Gelek, an influential Kalon of the 1940s and 1950s, was from the Surkhang family. The family residence, Surkhang House, was demolished in 1993.