Heritage: Guru Rinpoche’s contemporary king Khikha Rathoe also lived in Bumthang at one point of time. The ruins of his palace at Jalikhar in Bumthang still stands.
Khikha Rathoe was born to one of Tibetan King Thrisong Detshen’s queens. According to legend, Khikha Rathoe had a mouth that resembled a dog’s snout and a head that looked like a goat’s.
The two-storey palace, which is today roofless, is surrounded by massive but crumbling traditional walls despite numerous renovations carried out by Khikha Rathoe’s decedents who lived here until recently.
However, Bumthang dzongkhag is working towards restoring the palace to its former glory. The dzongkhag has already acquired around 54 decimals of land around the palace. Four affected landowners were provided with land replacement and also paid compensation of Nu 4.6 million for structures and crops.
Dzongkhag architect Tshering Dendup said that they are waiting for the new lagthram after which they will start working on the restoration project. “We have not been able to decide anything as of now,” he said.
Singye Dorji, 78, popularly known as Gari Singey is one of the few remaining in Jalikhar village that can narrate the story of how Khikha Rathoe ended up in the village.
He said that Khikha Rathoe was a reincarnation of a demon and therefore an enemy to Buddhism. Guru Rinpoche sought to subdue Khikha Rathoe, during Guru Rinpoche’s third visit to Bumthang.
Guru Rinpoche travelled to Beyul Khenpajong where Khikha Rathoe then lived. Guru Rinpoche disguised himself as an inventor and someone who opposed Guru Rinpoche. He asked for Khikha Rathoe’s military support.
Khikha Rathoe accepted the request and asked what more he could do. The disguised Guru Rinpoche said that he knew how to build vehicles and wooden aeroplanes out of wood.
Khikha Rathoe asked him to build an aeroplane since there were no roads for vehicles.
Guru Rinpoche then took the king and his ministers high into the sky in the wooden aeroplane. Because of the height, the aeroplane began to catch on fire as a result of the sun’s stronger rays.
When Khikha Rathoe begged the disguised Guru Rinpoche to lower the aeroplane, Guru Rinpoche refused.
Khikha Rathoe then asked the disguised inventor if he was in fact Guru Rinpoche, who replied that he was and that he was there to subdue him.
Guru Rinpoche then dropped the wooden aeroplane in a valley in Bumthang.
Singye Dorji said the gewog was named following the sound that the aeroplane made when it landed on a rock: Tang.
The next morning, Khikha Rathoe was aimlessly walking around with a drinking water container hung around his neck, which his mother had given him when he left Tibet.
He reached Badala, a place between Chamhkhar and Tang, and took a nap. The water spilt from his container began flowing over the hills.
Believing that it was a sign, Khikha Rathoe, followed the water and reached Jalikhar. Popularly known as Khikha Rathoe Drubchu (holy water), the spring can still be seen near the palace today.
Singye Dorji said that Jalikhar village used to be called Gyalyonkhar, meaning residence of the king and ministers, as king Khikha Rathoe and his minister lived here. The village between Jalikhar and Chamkhar is called Gongkhar. This was because their senior most minister lived here.
Bumthang was called Chamkhar in the time of Khikha Rathoe because his wife (Cham) was from this place.
Nima Wangdi | Chamkhar