Chendebji Chorten – Trongsa, Bhutan - Atlas Obscura

Trongsa, Bhutan

Chendebji Chorten

An 18th-century Nepali-style chorten built to subdue demons and evil spirits. 

Sitting in a verdant valley, Chendebji Chorten was built in the 18th century by the Buddhist Lama Ngesup Tshering Wangchuk to ward off evil spirits and demons. Unusually for Bhutan, this chorten—a shrine to an important Buddhist monk—is styled after Bouddhanath Stupa in Nepal, including the signature eyes looking at the four cardinal points. 

Fitting with the tradition, there is a relic inside the chorten. In this case, it is the skull of Tenzin Lekpai Dhundrup, a powerful figure believed to be the reincarnated guardian of Tibetan Buddhist teachings. Next to the chorten is a long prayer wall adorned with holy Buddhist scriptures. Chendebji Chorten attracts a large number of pilgrims during Sambha Lhundrup Molam Chenmo, a festival held during the ninth month of the Bhutanese calendar, during which devout Buddhists make their wish prayers. 

Several legends surround Chendebji Chorten. One of these is that the chorten was laid on top of an evil spirit in the form of a giant snake, which was squashed and defeated. Another legend maintains the monument was placed in the exact spot where the three edges of the sky meet. Yet another claims the chorten was built to subdue a demoness that used to torment the area. These legends are not perceived as incompatible, but mutually reinforcing, all pointing at the supernatural significance of this holy site.

Know Before You Go

Traveling from Thimphu, Chendebji Chorten is located 25 miles before reaching Trongsa. It's visible from the main road.

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