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Restoration of Taktshang
The Royal Family in Taktshang
His Majesty the King, Their Majesties the Queens, the Chairman of the Lhengye Zhungtshog, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, the Home Minister and government officials offered prayers at Taktshang Monastery.
Taktshang His Majesty also inspected the progress of the restoration work on the monastery which was damaged by fire in April 1988 and spoke to the clergy, officials, engineers and architects, the traditional craftsmen, and workers at the restoration site during the royal visit. His Majesty emphasised the importance of the task of reconstructing one of the most sacred nyes in the Buddhist world and expressed his satisfaction with the significant progress which had been made.

His Majesty said that the restoration of the historic monument would also strengthen the faith of the Bhutanese people and benefit the country.

Taktshang monastery Taktshang
With the spiritual essence of the nye remaining inviolable and the Pelphug (sacred cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated in the 8th century) undisturbed by the fire, the reconstruction work focused on the outer structures around this most sacred sanctum of Taktshang. Apart from the Pelghug, the Kudung (relics) of Langchhen Pelkyi Singye were untouched, and many nangtens were recovered. The Nye Khang, dedicated to Singye Samdrup, the guardian deity of Taktshang, was not damaged by the fire. The Drubkhang where Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye was believed to have cut his hair as a symbolic gesture to anchor the foundation on the edge of the cliff was left intact and did not need restoration.

The actual restoration work began in April, 2000, after a Sa Chhoe Jhin Gi Lap (blessing of the site) service by His Holiness the Je Khenpo and a Tshewang by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye.

Within seven months, several important structures were completed. Among them was the Taktshang Pelphug which houses three lhakhangs: the Phurpai Dubkhang on the ground floor where Guru Rinpoche meditated; the Guru Sungjoen Lhakhang, situated on the first floor of the building and named after the image of the Guru which is believed to have spoken; and the Guru Tshen Gyed Lhakhang, on the top floor, named after the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche.

Sertog of Chimi Lhakhang in Lobesa
The Guru Dorji Droloe Lhakhang has also been completed with some improvements made on the overall design. The sertogs (gilded pinnacles) for the Pelphug Lhakhang and Guru Dorji Droloe Lhakhang were installed on December 10, 2000. The extension of the Guru Tshengyed Lhakhang, where the annual ceremonies are performed, was carried out without compromising the overall design of the lhakhang. "The new structures will be an exact replica of the old monastery," said the Tensoi Lapon, Dasho Zepon Wangchuk. "The work is progressing so well that we might complete the restoration well ahead of schedule." The next phase of the reconstruction is focused on the Kuenrey and Chorten Lhakhang.

A fire proof structure (methub) will be constructed in the Chorten Lhakhang to safeguard the sacred nangtens from fire and theft.


Fire in Taktshang

The restoration of the Taktshang Monastery was commanded by His Majesty the King soon after the fire disaster in 1988 AD. It was a royal command that the original aura, authenticity, and architectural splendour must be preserved at all cost. The project was immediately mobilised to restore the monastery and to preserve and strengthen Bhutan's unique spiritual heritage.

The project has been widely seen as an act of devotion, involving all sections of Bhutanese society, and as a homage to the nation's heritage. It also proved to be an opportunity for Bhutan's traditional artists and craftsmen to hone the skills inherited from their forefathers down the ages. With the full support of the government, and the efforts of craftsmen and workers, a large number of people have made voluntary contributions to the restoration project with cash offerings, labour, or by providing meals to the workers.

With the absence of adequate architectural Document of the monastery's structures, designers studied the damaged parts, consulted all the caretakers and the craftsmen who were involved in the maintenance of the monastery to perfect the replication of the original designs. Overhanging rocks loosened by the fire delayed the work and the sheer cliff and narrow footpath posed a severe problem for the workers, but all those involved told that these physical challenges were easily overcome through their spiritual devotion. A number of government departments are also involved in the restoration of Taktshang Monastery.

The initial survey was conducted by the Department of Geology and Mines, the construction of the road and bridge to Ramthangka was done by the Department of Roads, the finances are controlled by the dzongkhag administration, and power is provided by the Department of Power. Traditional skills are harmonised with modern technology and all the materials are transported to Taktshang by trucks and then by cable crane 3000 feet up the sheer cliff face.

The physical restoration of Taktshang Monastery has cost about Nu. 39 million. Nu 22 million was spent on the construction of the bridge and road to Ramthangka, on the base of the sheer rock face where the Taktshang Monastery sits. The total cost is estimated at about Nu. 80 million with the restoration of the nangtens, images, and chhoeshams. The legend of Taktshang (Tiger's lair) dates back to 747 AD when Guru Rinpoche (Padma Sambhava), in the wrathful form of Guru Dorji Droloe, is believed to have arrived at this site on the back of a tiger and subdued the evil spirits in the region.

The Guru then meditated in the holy cave which is the site of the Pelphug Lhakhang. According to Tantric Buddhist mythology, the vanquished local deities became the protectors of the dharma and one of them, Singye Samdrup, is recognised today as the guardian deity of Taktshang. Guru Rinpoche is also believed to have concealed among the rocks of Taktshang various forms of Dharma treasures known as Ters which were destined to be discovered later by Tertons (treasure discoverers) for the propagation of Dharma.

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