Prakhar Palace

Prakhar, or Pra, is a picturesque village in the Chhume valley, perched on a small plateau located at the curve of the river. The village composed of seven large stone houses, has easy access on foot from the main road (10mn walk).
A feeder road has also connected the village since 2006.
Prakhar Ngatshang is a complex of temples and a mansion (ngatshang), which belongs to the lineage of religious lords, as a reminder of the time when the village of Prakhar was the seat of the lords of Chhume Valley.

Prakhar Ngatshang was built at the end of the 16th century by Tenpe Nyima (born in 1569) who was the grandson of Pema Lingpa, a saint of Nyingmapa school (1450-1521). According to the legend, Tenpe Nyima received a prophecy saying that he should build a temple in the lower Chhume valley where two rivers meet next to a black rock. As he undertook the task, the temple somehow seemed to grow bigger every night, and the villagers observed white monkeys working on the temple after dark. The name of the place Prakhar which literary means, “white monkey” is derived from this story.
The first building of the temple, called Zha khakhang, built in the 16th century, has three storeys with the upper storey containing beautiful 16th century paintings of the life of Padmasambhava.
The main building, the ngatshang, was built in the 1930s by the then Lord of Chhume, Dasho Gonpo Dorji, a descendant of Pema Lingpa. It has living quarters and an impressive main tower (utse), which contains two temples. The largest has exquisite paintings of teaching cycles of Padmasambhava.
Next to the main building is a chapel housing a chorten where the body of Tenpe Nyima’s father, Thugse (“heart son”) Dawa Gyeltsen (1499-?) is entombed. This room also contains superb wall paintings, and it was restored by the second King’s senior Queen, Ashi Phuntsho Chogron (1911-2003) who was the half sister of Dasho Gonpo Dorji. She also built the water prayer wheel in the 1940s.

Architectural style / school and related art works:
The modest architecture of the 16th century Zha lhakhang represents the typical ancient Bhutanese style while the Ngatshang, built in 1930s, belongs to the architectural genre of the palaces built in Bumthang and Trongsa region in the first half of the 20th century.
Prakar Ngatshang has beautiful wall paintings in both the main temple and Zha lhakhang. Those of the Zha lhakhang date back to the 16th century and are particularly unique and remarkable. The metal work on the statues and the chorten is also exquisite.
Masks made of paper mache and dance costumes are kept in a storeroom.

Social cultural function
Till date, the temple complex is owned by the same noble family who built the temples. The temple is the venue of an important festival of Prakhar, durchoe, celebrating the anniversary of the death of Thugse Dawa Gyeltshen, and sponsored by the same family who still owns the place. The festival takes place on the 17th and 18th days of the 9th month in the Bhutanese calendar, which is October-November. The dancers and musicians are monks from the nearby monastery of Nyimalung, also founded by Dasho Gonpo Dorji in 1938.
The whole Chhume valley community attends the festival, which is privately sponsored by the family.

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)