Zhemgang Dzong

Landmark in Bhutan

Lama Zhang Dorje Drakpa who lived in the 12th century founded the Zhemgang dzong. Lama Zhang Dorje Drakpa, a renowned scholar-sage of Drukpa kgyu school of Buddhism, originated from Tibet and travel to present Zhemgang in 1163. Lama Zhang set up a hermitage in on the present site of the Dzong and settled there for many years. In 1655 CE, a one-storied Dzong was built on the hermitage to defend the land against invaders led by Choestse Penlop.Khenrig Namsung is the ancient name of Zhemgang Dzongkag. It literally means the three divisions of Kheng: Upper (Chikhor), Middle (Namkor), and Lower (Tamachok) Kheng.

Popular legend described the death of Lam Dzang. Through yogic power, lama Dzong realized that his brother, a courtier of the powerful Khaling overlord, Lango, was in serious danger. Lango was a sadistic creature, with a human body and the head of a bull, who delighted in eating human flesh.

Lama Dzang devised a scheme to save his brother without offending Lango. He wrote a letter to Lango saying that his health is waning and would like to have his brother by his side. On another letter to his brother, he warned his impeding danger. Unfortunately, the letters were mistakenly delivered. Upon reading the letter meant for Lama Zhang’s brother, Lango was enraged and devour Lama Zhang’s brother. Lango also sent a courtier to kill the Lama.

The villagers were also forced to help the courtier. They stormed the hermitage and run directly into the overwhelming powers of the Lama. Using his yogic powers, he flew to Wamdokpa. The villagers followed in pursuit but were unable to kill him. Observing the plight of his pursuers, pity swayed Lama Zhang into making his final decision. Lama Zhang surrendered his life, strangely instructing them to kill him by stuffing a ceremonial scarf down his throat. Today, the village where Lama Zhang was killed is known as Trong, an honorific word for kill.

The annual Tshechu of Zhemgang was introduced after the inception of the Rabdey in 1966. It is held for five days, from the 7th to 11th of the 2nd Bhutanese month.