Chendebji Chorten


The chorten is situated at the point believed to be where the three ridges and the three edges of the sky meet. It is an important chorten in Bhutan, and is recognizable by its roundish shape and the eyes painted on its sides, which bears similarity to the Jarung Khashor (Bodhanath) stupa in Nepal.


According to the story of the second Gangtey Trulku, Tenzin Lekpai Dhundrup (1645-1726), Lama Ngesup Tshering Wangchuk constructed the Chendebji stupa. Lama Ngesup Tshering Wangchuk was a descendent of the Bemji Choeje in Trongsa, whose ancestor is said to have been a Tibetan King named Trisong Detsen. Lama Ngesup Tshering Wangchuk brought a model of the Chendebji stupa from Nepal, and this model is still kept in Gangtey Gonpa, which is located in Wangdue district. It is similar to the Jarung Khashor/ Bodhanath stupa of Nepal, which was built by a woman named Yum Jazinma (which translates to “the poultry lady”), who was actually the incarnation of a Dakini, and her four sons, one of whom being reincarnated as the Tibetan King, Trisong Detsen.

The Chendebji chorten was built in order to subdue Ngala dudm, the dreaded demoness of the Chendibji area, and bring peace to the valley. The relics inside the chorten were all provided by the Bemji Choeji. The skull of the second Gangtey Trulku Tenzin Lekpai Dhundrup was also put inside the chorten as a relic.

 Architectural Style

The main chorten is similar in structure to Jarung Khashor/ Bodhanath stupa, which is an important pilgrimage site in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal. A traditional Bhutanese chorten was built by the Royal grand-mother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck in 1982. A large prayer wall can also be seen beside the main chorten.

Social and Cultural Function

The site is important for religious practices. The Dangla lama initiated prayers on the fifth month of the Bhutanese calendar, constituting the origin of a tshechu (tshes bcu). His students and people living nearby continued this tradition until 2009. From 2009, a committee called ‘Sampalhendrup Tshogpa’, headed by the Gangtey trulku, looks after the Sampalhendrup moenlam (bsam pa lhun grub smon lam), wish fulfilling prayer, and the Baza Guru Dungdrup prayers which are conducted annually at the Chendebji chorten, on the ninth month of the Bhutanese calendar on the Descending Day of Lord Buddha.

In 2012, the prayer was performed by total of 500 monks, lay-practitioners from Gangtey, Dangla, and Ngala in the Black mountains, and nuns from the Tang Pema Choeling nunnery. The preparation of the moenlam is done on a rotation base, with the 2012 prayer having been organized by Tangsibi Gewog. In 2013, it will be organized by Sephu Gewog.

The chorten, which is located in a picturesque gorge, is also an important stop for guests and tourists alike. It is commonly used as a picnic stop, and a restaurant has been established nearby.

Lama Tenzin Dendup, Head of Simphu Lhakhang, 2013

Kinzang Dorji
Asst. Lecturer, Institute of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, 2013

Yannick Jooris

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