Yungdrung Choling Palace


Yungdrung Choling is located in Langthel Gewog in Trongsa Dzongkhag on the highway to Zhemgang. It is approximately twenty-seven kilometers away from Trongsa town. The palace is about a fifteen-minute walk from the road point, and there is now a feeder road that connects the highway to the palace. 


The palace was built by the Trongsa Penlop (governor) Ugyen Phuntsho, who was a descendent of the great saint Terton (gter ston) Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) and the Tamzhing Choeje, in around 1839. The kudung (sku gdung), or bodily remains, of Terton Pema Lingpa was brought to the site from Kheng Tama, where it had been located after being taken from Tamzhing in Bumthang. The place for the kudung was chosen in accordance to a prophecy by the seventh incarnation of Pema Lingpa (Sungtrul), Ngawang Choki Lodre (1819-1842), which states: “if the body is surrendered to the central government the independence of the central region will be lost.”  It was also prophesized that if the kudung, which is refuge to all, was stored in a place in the south facing the great Black Mountains, to the right of the place that resembles a sleeping elephant and a skull, the wellbeing of the Palden Drukpa and the secular and spiritual rule would be maintained.

The palace was damaged by the 1897 earthquake and was restored after that by Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck, the future first King.

In 2009, under the Royal Command of the Fifth King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, a small monastic institution was established and two monks, Machen Zimpoen (ma chen gzim dpon) and Soelpoen (gsol dpon), look after the kudung. The kudung is offered the three meals daily. 

Architectural style/School and related work

Yungdrung Choling presents the typical features of a palace in Bhutan. The main building in the centre is enclosed by a paved courtyard, two-storey buildings on two sides and walls on the other two sides, forming a rectangle. On one side of the courtyard stands the utse (dbu rtse), the main building in which the kudung is preserved. In the same building there is a separate apartment for the Royal Family. This apartment has a beautiful altar room typical of those in traditional Bhutanese houses.

The three-storey building is constructed out of stones and wood. On the ground floor, long narrow windows reach the second floor. There stands a heavy wooden door as the entrance to the main building. The wall paintings on the walls of the palace show the real essence of traditional Bhutanese artistic work. On the right side of the entrance is a brief biography of Pema Lingpa written by Thukse Tenpai Gyeltshen, the reincarnation of Pema Lingpa’s son. 

Social Function

The palace is a private property and belongs to the family descending from King Ugyen Wangchuck’s daughter, also from the Pema Lingpa lineage.

An annual Tshechu (tshes bcu) is performed in the palace on the eleventh month in the Lunar Calendar, with the exact date varying. Previously only lay-practitioners used to perform the Tshechu, but with the establishment of the monastic institution, the Tshechu is now performed in a collaborative manner by monks and laymen. The dances performed during the Tshechu are similar to other religious dances in the country, but are believed to retain the unique tradition of Pema Lingpa dances.

Pema Sherub, Yungdrung Choling village, 2012

Dechen Choney, Lecturer, Institute of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, 2012

Yannick Jooris

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