Thursday, April 11, 2019

Kuenga Rabten Palace, the winter residence of Second King of Bhutan


(Kunga Rabten Palace)
Kunga Rabten palace is situated 25 km away from the main Trongsa town on the way to Zhemgang. His Majesty the Second King Jigme Wangchuck built this beautiful palace in the year 1929 when he was 24 years old and used as his winter residence. Her Majesty Ashi Phuentsho Choden, the senior Queen stayed with His Majesty here. 
(His Majesty the Second King and Her Majesty Ashi Phuentsho Choden)
The Palace was built under the guidance of Dasho Jamyang, the lord of Chume valley in Bumthang who is also father of Her majesty Ashi Phuntsho Choden.
(Palace Entrance)
The palace is located in a strategic place surrounded by beautiful valley. It is the biggest structure in that area. The Palace is surrounded by stonewalls that has spy-holes, which were used by the royal guards. A gallery runs around the courtyard on three sides, and the tall main building is located on the fourth side as two protruding corridors. It looks like a U shaped house.
(Palace seen from courtyard)

A Lopen who look after the monks at Kunga Rabten briefed me that the ground and first floors of the place were used as a storeroom and a military garrison, respectively, when His Majesty and the Queen were staying at the palace.
Today I saw the ground floor is vacant and the first floor was used as classroom for the monks. On the second floor, there are three adjacent rooms. The main entrance that lead into the central room is called Sangye Lhakhang, which is the main temple. The altar looks very unique with full of curving. The main statue is lord Buddha, which was brought from Trongsa Dzong. I offered butter lamps and prayed at the altar.
(Sangay Lhakhang)
(Main statue Buddha)

Next to the Sangay Lhakhang was the private residence of King Jigme Wangchuck and Ashi Phuntsho Choden. At present, His Majesty’s room is well maintained, with everything remaining as though His Majesty the Second King is still living there.
(His Majesty's Bed room) 
(A sacred Stupa inside His MajestyMajesty's bed room) 
(Altar inside His Majesty's bed room)

This sacred room was the main attraction for me. I have spent quite a time to explore every thing in His Majesty’s room. I am very happy and fortunate to be at the resident of His Majesty the Second King.
(Inside His Majesty's Bed room)

On the adjacent there is another room facing His Majesty’s room. I was told it was Her Majesty Ashi Phuentsho Choden’s room and at present it is used as office room of the monks.
Beside there is another room tthat houses the library. On enquiry, this library is a branch of the National Library. It is a depository library and has only Chokey collections. Whenever National Library purchases Chokey books one copy each out of three copies  is kept at Kuenga Rabten palace as part of the National Library’s collection. My old Driglam Namzha teacher, Lopen Tenzinla is looking after this library.
(Painting on the walls at Sangay Lhakhang)

During the second King’s time in Kuenga Rabten, other rooms were used as guestrooms or rooms to grant audiences.
(Zhandrung Rinpoche's paintingon the wall in Sangay Lhakhang)
On the other side of the Place this is big ground, it is used for games and sports. The ground is clearly visible from His Majesty’s room. Near to the place entrance there is also an archery ground.
(play ground facing corridor of His Majesty's Bed room)

At the entrance of the Palace there is small cypress tree (around 120 mm diameter and 4 m height) and a small stone platform. The tree was used for tying His Majesty’s horse. The stone platform was used as an aid for mounting on the horse by His Majesty’s the King. In spite of passing so many years the tree hasn’t grown up. This is one striking feature. 
(The tree and the stone platform)

At present, the palace is looked after by monks from the central monastic body in Trongsa. Around forty monks are living at the palace. The big hall next to His Majesty’s living room was used as living room for the monks.
If you pass by Kuenga Rabten, Please make a visit to our second King’s palace and take memory back to 1929 era.