Tatsherla Nagtshang (rTa Tsher La Snag Tshang)


The Tatsherla Nagtshang is located five kilometers away from the Trongsa-Zhemgang highway in Langthel gewog. A feeder road connects the Nagtshang to the highway. It is a three-story traditional Bhutanese house with magnificent wall paintings. It is surrounded by five households of lay practitioner (gomchen) families, who have all served since the time of the time of Lam Kuenga Gyeltshen, the founder of the Nagtshang.


The construction of the Nagtshang is attributed to Lam Kuenga Gyeltshen, who lived in the 16th century. He was the son of Thugse Dawa Gyeltshen, who was the son of Terton Pema Lingpa (1450-1521).

According to prophesy, the main relic of Namphur in Bumthang, a statue of Yidam Tandin, simply flew away and disappeared. Kuenga Gyeltshen, the lama of Namphur at that time decided to search for the missing relic. He used a piece of dough to locate the path of the relic by praying in four different directions. It is believed that when he prayed towards the South, the dough changed into a stone, thus symbolizing the path of the Yidam Tandin. He then followed the path and reached a village that is currently known as Tatsherla.

Earlier, the village was popularly known as Gonsa; however, after the visit of Lam Kuenga Gyeltshen and the establishment of the Nagtshang, it was renamed as Nedon Grupey Gatshel. The name of the village was again changed to Tatsherla, because while the lama was searching for the relic, he finally reached a place where he found the relic lying on a cypress tree, and at that time a group of horses neighed three times. As Yidam Tandin is symbolized by a horse, he took it as a good omen and renamed the place as Tatsherla.

Lam Kuenga Gyeltshen realized that his destiny was there, and the relic was thus kept in the Nagtshang, and the Choeje in Tatsherla’s Nagtshang is believed to be from Kuenga Gyeltshen’s lineage. The Nagtshang became Kuenga Gyeltshen’s winter residence, and he spent his summers in Namphur, Bumthang. As the lineage of this figure has a strong connection to Terton Pema Lingpa, the Nagtshang belongs to the Peling tradition of the Nyingmapa religious school.

Architecture and art work

The main relic, the statue of Yidam Tandin, is kept on the 3rd floor of the Nagtshsang, with a Buddha statue. On the right side, there are statues of the three deities of Long life. The holy stone that came from the dough is also in the temple, as well as the teeth of Kuenga Gyeltshen’s horse, which is kept on the same story; these two relics are not for public display. The only wall painting is of Kuenga Gyeltshen in the Nagtshang.

The second story of the temple now serves as a guesthouse for the Nagtshang, and there are no statues or other relics on this floor. The ground floor is used as a store room.

Social and cultural function

The Nagtshang belongs to a private family from the Tatserla Choeje lineage, and is looked after by them. The lineage of the Tatsherla choeje started from the time of the grand son of Terton Pema Lingpa. The present linage holder Choeje Ugyen Tenzin’s daughter, Deki, and her husband, Lhendupla, looked after the Tatsherla Nagtshang, but when Deki passed away, the Nagtshang was then looked after by Lhendupla and his daughter, Dechen Choden.

The Nagtshang organises five major functions for the community each year. On the 5th day of the 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar, Kuenga Gyeltshen is believed to have passed away; hence a death anniversary (Kuchoe) is organized in his honor. The famous Tatsherla blessing is also given during this ritual. On the 10th day of the 2nd and 3rd month of the Bhutanese calendar, a religious ritual named Choepa is conducted. In the 4th month, the same ritual is performed, but on the 15th day of the month. Previously, a Pronda tshechu was also organized on the 5th month; however, this tradition was discontinued due to lack of funding and attendance. In the 8th month of the Bhutanese calendar, the descending day of Lord Buddha (Lhabab duchen) is celebrated in the Nagtshang. From the 11th day to the 15th day of the 10th month in the Bhutanese calendar, a five day ritual is held in honor of Kuenga Gyeltshen. The five day ritual is held in both the Nagtshang and Tatsherla lhakhang: three days in the temple and one day in the Nagtshang, while one day is reserved for preparation for the ritual.

The Nagtshang additionally provides a venue for both social and religious gatherings of the Tatsherla community, and is a good platform for interactions to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of the community.


Lam Tashi Wangdi, Age 85,Langthel, Langthel Gewog, Trongsa District

Ap Lhendupla, Age 50,Langthel, Langthel Gewog, Trongsa District


Sangay Phuntsho, Assistant Lecturer, Institute of Language and Culture Studies, 2014