Heritage: To preserve an ancient abandoned choeten, some 25 students, members of the Tarayana club from Decheling lower secondary school have been voluntarily looking after the choeten for last four years.

The students along with their Tarayana coordinator volunteered to take care of the choeten after they came across it neglected and partially covered by the forest.

Coordinator and teacher, Ugyen Dorji, said they have committed to whitewash and clean the choeten every year. The goal is not to desert the choeten and to keep its nangtens safe.

He said they volunteered because the main objective of the club is to preserve religious monuments or historical places apart from helping communities. He clarified that the goal is not to claim ownership of the choeten.

The choeten, according to locals in the area, is called Jarung Kashor, and resembles the famous Boudha temple in Nepal.

However, details about the choeten’s history are scarce.

The choeten is located more than an hour’s walk from the gewog centre at Dungphu. Decheling lower secondary school is located in Decheling gewog in Nganglam dungkhag.

There are no settlements around the choeten except for gungtongs (empty houses).  Most of the community were not even aware about its existence, which was why the choeten was neglected.

The volunteers whitewash the choeten with financial help from the gewog administration.

“When the club first knew about the choeten and members saw it covered with bushes and on the verge of ruin, we also wanted to create awareness on the importance of taking care of such monuments among the students,” said Ugyen Dorji.

He said they would seek help and maintain the choeten every year as committed.

Meanwhile, Decheling gup, Sonam Rinchen said that people believe the choeten was constructed sometime in the eighth century to ward off evil and bad luck.

The gup said they have decided to allocate a certain percentage of their budget this time so that the volunteers can use it not only for the choeten but other important religious monuments in the gewog.

“The choeten was not completely ignored because we did whitewash it once in 2014. We’ve also made sure it was not vandalised,” the gup said.

Yangchen C Rinzin |  Samdrupjongkhar