Tunglabi Tsho (Lake)


Tunglabi Tsho (lake) is in the deserted Tunglabi village, and it is found below Goenpong temple and just above the road that leads to Bardo village. It is about 87 km away from Zhemgang town. The lake is rectangular in shape and covers an approximate area of 15m in length by 5m in breadth. The lake is in the middle of paddy fields and it is surrounded by cliffs on two sides.



No one knows how the Tunglabi lake was formed; however, the villagers believe that it is the soul lake (bla tsho) of Guru Rinpoche. The people of that village believe that Guru Rinpoche supposedly said, “In the village known as Tunglabi, there is my soul lake,” and since Guru Rinpoche visited Bhutan in the 8th century A.D., the conjecture is that the lake may have formed during Guru Rinpoche’s first visit to Bhutan. The villagers consider the lake very sacred. Unlike other lakes which have myth or stories, Tunglabi lake does not have any myth or stories.

The oral source said that at one point in time there used to be a settlement in Tunglabi, but today not a single household is found. The village was located on a hillock and people had built their houses on the ridge. Because the settlement was on the hill, people probably found it difficult to travel, or transport things, so most of the villagers slowly migrated to other parts of the country, while some villagers settled in a new location nearby their old village. Today, the new settlement is known as Bardo, and Tunglabi is just a name without a village, or even a single household. Now, only the lake is found in the middle of the barren paddy fields.

According to the oral source, at one point the lake was very large, but today it has become small and it is covered with weeds and grass. As per the informant’s account, in the olden times there was a cow herder in the village whose cows often got drowned in the lake when they went to drink water. The cow herder believed that the lake was not a good one, so he planted weeds around the lake to make the lake small. From that time onwards, it is believed that the lake had become small.

Contributions of the villagers

For many years, the lake was neglected and nobody took the lead to clean up the lake. However, the informant said that a few years ago the villagers of Bardo took the initiative to uproot the weeds from the lake and cleaned up the lake on the command of the spiritual teacher Penor Rinpoche.

In 2015, the villagers volunteered and put a fence around the lake and the cost of the fence was covered by Dorji, a villager from that village.


Sonam Phuntsho, 67, ex-Chimi (ex-People Représentative)


Yonten Norbu, Asst. Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa,

Royal University of Bhutan, 2018.

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