Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel breathes last in Punakha Dzong in 1651.
(Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal)Our country was unified and established the sovereignty status in the commotion of all nations by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. In spite of being a sovereign country Tibet continued to attack Bhutan mainly to kill Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and take back the most sacred Rangjung Kharsapani which he brought from Ralung, Tibet.
(Rangjung Kharsapani)During Zhabdrung 35 years' rules there has been numerous ferocious attack from Tibet, which was successfully repelled by Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Finally, Tibetan gave up, they knew it was difficult and impossible to uproot Zhabdrung Rinpoche.
Undoubtedly, Tibetans would have attacked Bhutan immediately had they knew the demise of Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Under such environment when Bhutan grieves the great loss of its benevolent leader anything could have happened since Tibetans were the enemy of Bhutan and would have pounced on opportunity.
During that era, the stability of our country was purely resting on the presence of Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Therefore, Zhabdrung's death was kept top secret.
Late Zhabdrung's closest aids announced that Zhabdrung had entered in strict retreat and they have maintained that for more than 50 years issuing edicts in his name until 1705 when it was formerly declared.
Zhabdrung's body is still intact and preserved as "Machey" (Machey means 'sacred embalmed body') in the Machey Lhakhang in Punakha.
(Zhabdrung Rinpoche’s sacred Machay)In 1995, His Majesty the Fourth King rebuilt the present new casket and sacred Machey was placed inside. The casket is sealed and may not be opened hereafter. Along with Zhabdrung's Machey, Terton Pema Lingpa remains was also preserved.
(Machey Lhakhang)Other than two guardian lamas, only His Majesty the King and His Holiness the Je Khenpo can enter the Machey room. Both His Majesty the King and His Holiness the Je Khenpo must come to take blessings and Dar from the sacred Machay before they take up their offices.
Zhabdrung's Machey is therefore an important remains of a Great Rinpoche that will continue to bless the Kingdom. This calls for great purity and sanctity of the place and so sanctorum is not open to all.
So when visiting Punakha Dzong don't expect to enter the Machey room. Your visit near to the Machey Lhakhang is enough to receive Zhabdrung blessing.
(Punakha Dzong)Bhutan has all remains of its protectors. May Peace continue in the Kingdom of Bhutan.