Chhimi Dema

Tramtsithang Choeten stands on a hill facing the Gangtey-Phobji village. For casual or occasional visitors, and even to the locals themselves, it’s a forlorn little landmark of remote consequence. Thrice it fell to thieves and vandals but each time it was given a new life. If you go to Phobjikha or Gangtey valley, just because it is there overlooking the vast habitat of the famed and admired cranes, you’ll most likely snap a photo with it for remembrance’s sake.

Who built this choeten or when remains shrouded in mystery. The popular belief is that it rests on the chest of a much-feared demoness of Langlaygang, and is therefore a powerful symbol of victory over darkness and evil. The story begins with the meeting of two star-crossed lovers.

Tramtsithang Choeten

It is a fine autumn day circa the 1600s. Gangtey Monastery’s annual tshechu, held in the eighth lunar month, attracted people from the nearby villages. Dungchoe Chubi Dendup from Drangha village in Phobjikha gewog looks for his beloved Sangwa Kuengi Yonten in the crowd. Among the crowd, the lovers struggle to find time alone.

“I will wait for you at the base of Langlaygang tomorrow, as the sun rises from behind the mountain,” whispers Chubi Dendup to Kuengi Yonten.

The next day, Chubi Dendup arrives at the base of the mountain after completing his work and waits for Kuengi Yonten. In Sangtana in Gangtey, Kuengi Yonten is tied up with household chores.

After what appears to be an interminable wait, the lovers finally meet. But it is not Kuengi Yonten who has come. The demoness of Langlaygang, who eavesdropped on the lovers at the tshechu ground, has turned herself into Kuengi Yonten.

When Kuengi Yonten arrives to meet her lover, she finds his body dead and cold.

The sorrow she felt upon finding her lover dead is lost to history retold, but her boldness is still remembered.

Gangtey Monastery

Kuengi Yonten carries the body of her lover to Khawang Lhakhang, built in the 14th century, for a funeral. But to her dismay, no one answers her.

Finally hearing her calls, the statue of Jowo tells her to take the body to Gangtey Monastery where the second Gangtey Trulku Tenzing Legpai Dhendup resides.

In Gangtey Monastery, the Gangtey Trulku tells his attendant that they have an “important” guest visiting today. “Don’t let them enter the monastery. I’ll attend to them myself.”

As instructed, the attendant asks Kuengi Yonten to wait.

Gangtey Trulku performs the funeral rites for Chubi Dendup and takes Kuengi Yonten as his disciple.

Kuengi Yonten meditates and receives the powers to subdue the demoness. She takes down the demoness on the hill where the choeten stands today.

Why couldn’t the lovers meet that day?

Kuengi Yonten is believed to have been a khandro (dakini) destined to take a religious path and subdue the demoness.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk