Restoration Of The Yongla Goenpa In Pemagatshel, Bhutan Finally Completed
Considered as one of the most sacred goenpas that protects the security of the country, the Goenpa also serves as the residence of the Pemagatshel Rabdey.
By Thinley Dorji | BBS
Located in the district of Pemagatshel in eastern Bhutan is the Yongla Riwo Pelbar Dargeychhoeling Goenpa or the Pelri Goenpa, widely known today as Yongla Goenpa.
Perched majestically atop a mountain, one can catch a glimpse of the temple at the junction known as Tshelingore where the road diverts and leads to Pemagatshel, as one travels over the national highway linking Samdrup Jongkhar to Trashigang.
The Yongla Goenpa is believed to have been built by the second Yongla Lam Dorji Jamtsho in 1736. That was exactly a year after the death of Khedrup Jigme Kuendel.
Source: Map of Bhutan
He was the one who had identified, meditated upon and blessed this sacred place following the instructions based on the vision of his master Rigzin Jigme Lingpa 1729-1798, a great tertoen (treasure revealer) and Nyingma master.
Brief history of the Yongla Goenpa in Pemagatshel
The founder of the monastery, Kheydrup Jigme Kundel was from Darlung Kha in Wang, Thimphu in the 18th century. It is believed that Jigme Lingpa instructed Khedrup Jigme Kuendel to identify a place resembling Tsari in Tibet that looked like ritual dagger (Phurpa). The purpose was for him to spread his Buddhist teachings.
Jigme Kuendel reportedly travelled from Tibet through Bumthang until he reached the present day Yongla, accompanied by Khandro Dechen Gyalmo.
When Jigme Kuendel asked the Khandro if this was the place prophesied by his master, the Khandro said, ‘Yong Yong’, meaning ‘Yes, Yes’. Hence, the name Yongla was derived.
Convinced that he was in the right place, Jigme Kundel meditated immediately. As time passed, words spread and people from the nearby villages approached him blessings and teachings which Jigme Kundel graciously gave.
Significance of the Yongla Goenpa for the Bhutanese
Considered as one of the most sacred gonpas that protects the security of the country, the Goenpa also serves as the residence of the Pemagatshel Rabdey. It is also a place for people to perform important religious rites.
Unfortunately, the Goenpa suffered major damages during the 2009 earthquake and the main lhakhang (temple) was completely damaged.
The reconstruction of the Yongla Goenpa began in 2011, which was initiated by the Dzongkhag Administration but was later handed to a private contractor in 2015.
The construction was faced with numerous challenges as the shortage of skilled labourers and geographical condition impeded restoration works.
Restoration work finally completed on the Yongla Goenpa
“The road condition to the Goenpa was not good and there was a water shortage. Earlier they were depending on rainwater for drinking as well as for construction. I remember the contractor had to fetch water for construction from the valley,” said Phuntsho, the Dzongdag of Pemagatshel.
Despite the challenges, the Goenpa has been restored to its former grandeur. The government spent around Nu 165 M for the project. Beautification works were also carried out around the monastery.
The Goenpa has also been connected with proper water supply. A spacious hostel for monks and residential homes for lams have also been constructed.
“Right from the surroundings and all the way down to Rashori, the road areas are divided among the schools. They were asked to keep the area clean and to plant decorative plants; flowers and fruit-bearing trees along the roadside with help from the regional forest officers,” the Dzongdag added.
This article first appeared in BBS and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.