A fund raising event is being planned for the lhakhang housing more than 40 monks

Preservation: Financial constraints have been hampering the reconstruction of the 15th century Citokha Lhakhang in Nyisho gewog, Wangdue.

Only 30 percent of the reconstruction has been completed.

An earthquake in 2011 completely destroyed the lhakhang housing 40 monks. Following which officials from the dzongkhag and culture department inspected the damage and declared it unsafe. A complete renovation was recommended.

Lopen Dendup of Citokha said between 2012-2013, timber and stones for the renovation were collected. “We approached the government for funding support but didn’t get any,” said Lopen Dendup.

The main renovation works started in July 2014, with initial funding support of Nu 1.5 million (M) from the civil society organisation. The same year, a fund raising held in New York City for Citokha Lhakhang collected around USD 13,000. Tshering Zam from Gangtey village living in New York initiated the event, said Lopen Dendup.

However, that was not enough, as more than Nu 16M was required to complete the two-storey lhakhang. “We started facing financial shortages since August 2015,” said Lopen Dendup. “Currently the construction works are stuck with several problems, and we even failed to pay labour payments for the month of March, which comes to around Nu 450,000.” There are between 50-70 labourers involved in the renovation.

Lopen Dendup said they have completed only around 30 percent of the works. Nu 10M more is needed to complete the lhakhang.

Sigay, a former councilor who owns a stone quarry at Khelakha on the Wangdue-Trongsa highway has contributed around 100 trucks of stone for the lhakhang. But they are still short of stones.

Lopen Dendup said since they don’t have any funding support, the five-member steering committee looking after the reconstruction project is now planning a fund raising event at Youth Development Fund hall on April 23.

The fund raising will be only for the completion of the lhakhang. It will not include the renovation of the two-storey drasha, which was also completely destroyed. Currently, the monks are residing and studying in a makeshift shelter near the reconstruction site, said Lopen Dendup.

He said since Gangtey Trulku looks after the lhakhang, people tend to assume that the trulku has lots of money. This very notion makes it difficult for them to get funding, as even private individuals don’t contribute thinking that the trulku has enough money.

However, he said this notion is wrong, as the trulku has 36 lhakhangs and goempas across the country to look after. As per 2014 figures, there are more than 1,200 monks and nuns studying and living in these 36 lhakhangs and goempas. The trulku not only takes care of daily expenses of all these lhakhangs and goempas, but also looks after food and monthly stipend of the monks, said the lopen. Therefore it is difficult to fund every renovation works, as the trulku also depends on donors.

The two-story Citokha Lhakhang was initially constructed in the 15th century by Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo, and was later taken care by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

Fourth Druk Desi Tenzin Rabgay, later handed over the lhakhang to the second reincarnation of Gangtey Trulku, Tenzin Lekpai Dendup. It was believed that Desi Tenzin Rabgay was impressed with Gangtey Trulku’s miraculous Torma performance at Punakha dzong.

There are more than 40 monks who are between eight to 22-years of age from the various parts of the country. The present Gangtey Trulku established the shedra around a decade ago.

Located around 30km away from Bajo town, the lhakhang and its shedra provide religious services to the people of Nyisho, Phangyul and Kashi gewogs, said Lopen Dendup.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue