Ogyen Choling Museum

Situating on top of a mountain dominating the Tang River and the valley, Ogyen Choling (Palace) Museum is a very unique museum in Central Bhutan exhibiting the traditional Bhutanese living condition of a noble family in 1800s.

The history of Ogyen Choling began with the visit by a Tibetan master of Buddhism in 1300s. Its position above the valley is an auspicious location which symbolizes the top of an elephant head with the mountain as the back. The place was blessed and regarded as a Tibetan saint Dorji Lingpa’s center. The better known history is that Tsokye Dorji, the fifthteenth generation of Dorji Lingpa, who was the Governor of Trongsa at a time had passed his position to the father of the First King of Bhutan in 1800s.

The original Ogyen Choling was destroyed in the devastating earthquake in 1897. This current estate was rebuilt in 1898 and completed in 1899. As basic and old as the housing estate seems, Ogyen Choling is considered a valuable religious center and a historic estate in Bhutan. The heirs of this noble family continued to keep this estate and the temple, turned part of the main house into a museum in 2001 and run a heritage guest house. The museum relies on admission tickets and donations to run the museum as well as to support the needy in the community.

It is an interesting private museum that exhibits a lot of things about the living and trading in Bhutan history.

Ogyen Choling
Tang valley is one of the four valleys in Bumthang. It takes about 1 hour to drive through a dirt road from the main town area. This village is close to the bottom of Ogyen Choling.
唐谷 (Tang Valley) 是不丹中部布姆唐4個河谷之一,距離市中心約一小時的路程。這是鄔治初林 (Ogyen Choling) 山腳附近的村庄。
Ogyen Choling
Ogyen Choling is a complex with two main buildings in the middle surrounded by 2 serviced buildings.
Ogyen Choling
The main building is a 4 storey large block of building with traditional Bhutanese style construction. Only part of the main building is turned into a museum and open for visit.
Ogyen Choling
The museum tour is a guided tour. Since only part of house is open, the exhibition rooms are locked before and after the tour visit. You cannot roam around by yourself. Well, it’s like a maze anyway.
Ogyen Choling
While Bhutan is mostly self-sufficient, there are a few things they trade with the neighboring countries: Tibet and India. Back in the old days, they trade rice for salt from Tibet. There is an extensive display of all tools and storage of rice for rice trading in the museum.
Ogyen Choling Museum
These rattan containers are for trading use.
Ogyen Choling Museum
Drinking bottles in the old days.
Ogyen Choling Museum
In addition to rice trading, Ogyen Choling was also a big landlord that hire local carpenters, blacksmiths, silversmiths, leather and weaving workers to produce various products for sale and trading. Bhutanese use cattle and yak skins to produce a wide variety of household and travel products.
Ogyen Choling Museum
The museum retains the original structure and living condition since 1800s. Most of the display rooms rely on natural daylight for viewing. So it’s best to visit during the mid-day.
博物館的特色是保留1800 年代的建築和生活情況,所以大部份開放的展覽廳都是利用天日陽光透過細小窗戶照明,所以最好是白天前來參觀。
Ogyen Choling Museum
The original kitchen was outside the house to avoid fire accident. The kitchen in the museum was created for exhibition purpose.
Ogyen Choling Museum
The upper two floors are the accommodation for the noble family and important guests. This is the admin office of the head of the house. This seat is a single chair on the floor with a small table in front. Please notice the nice ceiling decorations which is similar to those in a temple hall.
Ogyen Choling Museum
Since Ogyen Choling has a strong linkage to Buddhism. It has its own wood block printing press for making prayer flags and printing scripts. There is also a library (more like cabinets) of Buddhism scripts in the museum.
Ogyen Choling Museum
The museum exhibits a collection of musical instruments and costumes for the sacred religious dances which were used before. Some of them are still in use today for some festivals.
Ogyen Choling Museum
The second main building is the two storey temple (Tsug Lhakhang) on the right of the photo.
Ogyen Choling Museum
The temple (Lhakhang) is a public place for the local community. There are prayers and people come visit every day.

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