Phurpa Lhamo |  Gasa

Over 70 monks of the Gasa Dratshang, some of whom are sleeping under the ladders, are looking forward to the completion of their residence near the dzong.

Today, around 15 monks live crammed in a single room inside the dzong. Others share rooms with their teachers. Around 15 teachers resides outside the dzong.

Gasa Dratshang Umzey Tshering Dhendup shares a small room with three students.

“While it isn’t allowed, some of the students have made rooms under the ladder to sleep in the dzong,” he said.

He said that the lack of rooms would not be an issue once the new drasha or residence is complete.

While the construction work executed by the Department of Culture (DoC) will complete this month, clearing the site and laying slabs will take another two months.

After the completed structure is handed over to the dratshang, apart from a few rooms, two monks are expected to receive one room.

A monk prepares hot water

A monk prepares hot water

The Umzey and the Lam Neten will also receive a separate office space, which is today accommodated within their rooms in the dzong.

Today, apart from a couple of monks who share rooms with their teachers, the monks have to use a common toilet outside the dzong.

“The toilet is also used by dzongkhag administration staff during the day and the distance is also quite far,” Tshering Dhendup said.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also agreed to fund a geyser for the new drasha. Today, monks collect firewood from the nearby areas to heat water for bathing.

“We have requested for another geyser in the new drasha but it hasn’t been approved yet. We have washing machines but the students have to heat water to take bath,” Tshering Dhendup said.

The new residence will also have separate rooms for each class and a library.

The dratshang received Nu 1.2 million (M) from a tourist couple to establish a library. While the dratshang has already bought Nu 400,000 worth of books, the remaining fund will be used to buy furniture for the library.

Today, the dratshang is seeking additional budget for furniture such as beds for the monks.

Work to construct the residence began in 2016 with a budget of Nu 126M.

According to the project manager, Sonam Tobgay, retaining labourers as the project came to an end was a major challenge.

“Because the dzongkhag is small, it is difficult to retain workers and the pay is also less. We have proposed to the culture department to increase the wage for the workers—both skilled and unskilled.”