Location: North-eastern Bhutan
Distance from Trashigang: 53km (1hr 45mins)
Elevation: 1,871m, 6,137ft
Trashi Yangtse is located in the far east of the country and borders the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Although the Dzong is not as stunning as the rest, there are other structures which are a valued asset and of great historical significance.
The Chhorten Kora, a stupa patterned after the Bodhnath in Nepal is a very significant configuration to the Bhutanese as well as the people of Arunachal Pradesh. The annual Chorten Kora festival is renowned and people from all walks of life gather to enjoy the fiesta every year.
1. Trashi Yangtse Dzong
2. Chhorten Kora: – Lama Ngawang Loday wished to construct a replica of the Boudhanath stupa of Nepal in Kholongchhu valley in memory of his late uncle Lama Jangchhub Gyeltshen and to subdue a demon dwelling at the site where the Choeten stands today. Guru Rinpoche and his brothers had constructed the Boudhanath stupa popularly known as Jarung Khashor in their previous lives.
Lama Ngawang Loday and his friend Lama Zangpo from Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh set on a journey to Boudnath. Both returned home with a model of the Choeten, which was quickly made out of radish. They were determined to construct similar Choeten in Tashiyangtse and Tawang. Consequently, Lama Zangpo constructed at Pangchanang valley in Tawang, which is known as Gorzam Choeten today. Lama Ngawang Loday constructed another in Tashiyangtse valley and was called Duerong Choeten. Later on it came to be popularly known as Choeten Kora. It is said that they modeled the stupa on a raddish and by the time they arrived home, the radish-model had shrunk distorting the shape. As a result, the Choeten particularly the one at Tashiyangtse underwent some changes in its design especially at the level of galleries.
The construction of Choeten Kora took 12 long years. It was supported by disciples of Lama Ngawang Loday and devotees from Tashiyangtse, Tashigang and Kurtoe valley, and also by people from the neighbouring tribal communities of Tawang. His Holiness Je Yonten Thaye made his second visit to the valley, consecrated the Choeten by offering Mandala of Dechhog Paochigpa, and blessed the people in the valley. After the construction, the demon that harmed the people was subdued and banished. Thereafter, it is said that the people in the valley continued to live in peace and harmony.
The pinnacle of the Choeten Kora was originally carved of huge stone. Later, Lama Shacha Gyelpo, who was originally from Sewla Goenpa, Punakha, known as the most learned and wealthy of Rigsum Lam replaced it with a gilded Cupola. It is said that the people who were involved in the work could not think of a way to bring down the stone pinnacle. So, Lama Shacha Gyelpo performed prayers during the day and it is believed that the stone miraculously descended by itself at night. It is still found beside the Choeten. Pilgrims and devotees who circumambulate the Choeten also go round the stone pinnacle.
Another legend says that while the construction of Choeten reached its dome, a eight year old girl believed to be a Dakini from Tawang came and volunteered to buried alive inside the dome. On this account, the 15th day of the first lunar month the festival of Cora is called Dakpe Kora (circumambulation of the Choeten by the Dakpas) and Cora festivity on the 30th day is known as the Drukpe Kora (circumbulation by the Bhutanese). The festivals are held every year and hundreds of devotees from far and near congregate at the Choeten. They believe that making prostrations and praying with pure mind at the festival would enable them to realize their aspirations in this life.
he Sertog or the golden cupola was re-gilded in 1999 by the Dzongkhag Tshechu Tshogpa. The pedestal and wooden framework of prayer wheels, stone-slab roofing and pavements around the Choeten was restored in 2000-2001.
3. Gomphu Kora: – Gomphu Kora Lhakhang is located about 12 kilometers from Chazam in Tashigang towards Tashiyangtse. The Gomphu Kora is a sacred site where, around 850 AD, Guru Rinpoche subdued an evil spirit he chased all the way from Lhasa Samye,Tibet. Guru Rinpoche meditated for three months in the cave after he had suppressed the demon but the demon once again came out of the cave in the form of a serpent. Guru got up to subdue the serpent and the imprint of the Guru?s hat and body are left on the rock which could be seen today also the imprint of snake as well. Kapaliphu cave is located about 200 meters above the lhakhang is where Guru spent three months in mediation.
It is believed that Gyenen Chophel alias Yonglha was a classmate of Guru Rinpoche at Nalanda University. However, Yonglha was misled and he followed the wrong path and thus went against the Buddha Dharma. Yonglha has also attained very high level of spiritual powers so much so that he was equally competent in the confrontation where it took Guru this long to suppress him. Yonglha figures quite a high level among the Drukpa Kaju guardian deities.
When King Trisong Detsen was on his deathbed, he requested Guru Rinpoche to grant him longevity. The Guru sent his disciple, Nanam Dorji Dudjum, to fetch a Tshebum- a vase containing the water of immortality, from Draphug Maratika in Nepal. When Nanam Dorji Dudjom reached Gomphu Kora, Trisong Detsen passed away and the Tshebum was hidden by Guru Rinpoche inside the large rock behind the Lhakhang. Today, during the auspicious days of the month, water trickles out from a small crack at the top of the rock. It is considered auspicious if one reaches the spot while the water is trickling, as it is believed to be the holy water coming out of the hidden Tshebum.
The Kora festival at Gomphu Kora was initiated 400 years ago after the Lhakhang was built by Ngagi Wangchuck and consecrated by Terton Pema Lingpa. Unlike other festivities in the country the Gomphu Kora is popular for its culture of nightlife, which has evolved around the festival. Mask dances were introduced in the 1990?s.
The Gomphu Kora Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals in eastern Bhutan providing a welcome break for locals to trade, socialise, and celebrate before the start of the farming season. The festival draws people from remote villages, school children, village youths, businessmen, civil servants, and the Dakpas of Tawang. Traditionally, the festival was an occasion for the people of eastern Bhutan, to choose their spouse and also to rejuvenate the degrading stock. As the local inhabitants have the system of practicing a custom whereby marrying ones cousin is considered good through a tradition of ?Sergi Mathang? (golden spouse). These is unsound practice from scientific point and probably people already new its negative impact, so such a festival was used to renew the breed by encouraging casual relations during such festivals. However, today with the onslaught of ?HIV/ AIDS? and the ?STD?, it is proving to be problematic for the society.
There are also many Nyes around the Gomphu Kora. Most of which are along the river bed which extends from Tsergom in Jamkhar Geog and goes right upto Ombha, Gongza under Toetsho Geog. Further the Guru Rimpochey has also visited many other places where the Nyeslike Rigsum Goenpa, Pemaling, Pelri Tse, Dechenphodrang, Kharchen Dra(Bumdeling) are also blessed.