Anything restrictive is more appealing. In December 2021, a monk from Daga Trashiyangtse Dzong, Kado, told me a story. Tha Namkhai Dzong in Larjab gewog is one such place.
Pilgrims return home after looking at the cliff; if they are lucky, they can spot a bell hanging from the sheer precipice. No one dares to climb the cliff. A few years ago, a man from a nearby valley gave it a try. He was stuck in the middle of the cliff. Since then, a series of misfortunes followed him.
Tha Namkhai Dzong, as the name suggests, looks like a fortress miraculously suspended from the sky. The love of Bhutanese for stories and spiritual symbolisms makes it more special. The place is extraordinary.
Tha Namkhai Dzong is at the same height as the Dakini’s site above the ruins of Tsirangtoed in Tsirang and is considered a Guru’s blessed site. It is part of the three-sister pillars (Do Namkhai Kaw and Do Kelpai Goenthem) positioned in different locations as part of a larger tripod across places in Dagana.
The place can be approached from either Burichhu in Tsirang on foot or drive through Drujeygang-Tsangkha-Larjab gewogs in Dagana. Although it is a steep climb from Burichhu, many prefer to hike than take a risky drive through a steep and narrow road in the forests.
The journey is a feast for the hungry eye, the winding Tsirang-Thimphu highway, the turquoise Sunkosh, and tiny houses dotting the places. Thasa Chiwog, with just about 25 households, is the closest to the site.
It is said that one day, a fortunate being would reveal treasure from the place. The key to the treasure trove is said to be currently sealed inside a lake in the Sunkosh. Legend has it that the key fell into the lake when Guru Padmasambhava flew towards Tha Namkhai Dzong from the Dakini’s site in Tsirangtoed.
The local lore has it thus: “Under the frog-shaped stone is the hidden treasure; in Tanabji, there is a turquoise, and the key is in the lake.”
The rock from where a bell can be seen hanging is said to resemble a frog. A clapper in the shape of a peepal leaf can be spotted hanging by the cliff. People believe that the sound of the bell can be heard when the wind hits the clapper. People say that only the fortunate ones can hear the clear ringing of the bell.
It is said that the protective deities closed the sacred sites. Ruins of retreat houses can still be seen in the area today.
Guru Rinpoche’s meditation cave is inaccessible.
Kado said according to a legend, a fortunate cow herder from the village mistakenly entered the cave while looking for his cattle. It is said that he attended a feast with celestial beings who told him not to reveal the dzong to other people.
After coming out from the cave, the man, who lost track of time and place, to his surprise, discovered that already three generations had passed.
Below Tha Namkhai Dzong is Zhabjethang, named after a footprint left by Guru Rinpoche. To the northwest of Zhabjethang, there is a body print of seven dakinis, believed to have left when they were prostrating to a treasure box located towards the left side of Tha Namkhai Dzong.
Every year, on the 10th day of the second month of the traditional calendar, Tanabji people conduct a tshechu.
Biographies of prominent Buddhist saints such as Drubthob Thangtong Gyalpo, Gangteng Tulku Gyalse Pema Thinley, and Zhabdrung Jigme Chogyal, record their visits to the site.