Three floors, 27 rooms, and one great storehouse of history, Bepzur Chukpo’s Mansion, a family home turned museum at Tang Gewog in Bumthang has so much to offer about medieval Bhutanese culture and lifestyle.
Five minutes drive uphill from Tang Gewog connectivity road; visitors will be greeted by 67-year-old Dorji Lhamo who is now the owner of the gigantic house.
She reckons the house to have been built six generations ago. While there isn’t any written document about the history of the house, people believe it to be the home of Zimpon Thraipai Raza who served as the chamberlain of the first king of Bhutan.
Inside the house are various displays of traditional wares, baskets, clothes, and tools among others. Dorji Lhamo took her visitors to every room of the house and showed around. Often, she smiled in reminiscence.
“This is what we used in olden days in place of beam balance. We used to measure meat and other things with this tool. There were not many clothes then, we used this as pillow. We place our tego or hat on it and sleep,” said Dorji Lhamo.
Inside one of the rooms is a display of the tools used for making the famous traditional food known as Puta, a noodle made out of buckwheat. Dorji Lhamo recalled how life used to be when people had to feed upon traditional cuisines.
“We had a harsh life then. We had to carry rice and chili across the Rudungla. It was Khuley (pancake) or Keptang as breakfast and dinner. For lunch, we had Choydam. These days, children get to eat rice in every meal. I think they are living in luxury under His Majesty’s leadership”.
Dorji Lhamo once wanted to dismantle the house to build a new one. However, the Wangchuck Centennial Park came to its rescue and restored the house in 2011. She now lives next door with her husband and children.
Her siblings have also moved out to settle in new homes nearby. They gather once a year in their ancestral home to celebrate the Thuksey Dawa Kuchoe, a ritual performed in the memory of Thuksey Rinpoche who was the reincarnation of Tertoen Pema Lingpa’s son, Thuksey Dawa.
The house has a footprint of Thuksey Rinpoche embedded on the floor of its altar which is forbidden from the visitors.
Though the glory of the house has been fading over the generations, it still is an archive of the prized culture and the rich history that the people of Tang valley hold dearly.