Nestled on the hem of a rocky terrain at an elevation of 1350mt is an essential Nyingma Monastery known as Drametse Lhakhang. Located 18km from Mongar on the highway towards Trashigang, Drametse Lhakhang is one of the largest and most important monasteries of Eastern Bhutan. Drametse Lhakhang was built in 16th century under the commandment of Ani Choten Zangmo, the grand-daughter of the famous Bhutanese saint Pema Lingpa. The lhakhang is deeply associated with Terton Pema Lingpa and the peling tradition of Buddhism. Peling tradition symbolizes the aura of Bhutan Monarchy. The word “Drametse” in Bhutanese language stands for “peak without enmity”.
Drametse Lhakhang is said to house wide range of spiritual treasures and other sacred objects and is the source of spiritual inspiration to the people of Drametse and neighboring communities. The complex consists of a three-storey temple in the center of a courtyard surrounded by residential quarters, offices, and classrooms on the periphery. The thick walls of the buildings, made out of stone laid in clay mortar, are coated with characteristic white and red-pigmented lime wash. In the interior of the lhakhang, carved, painted wood columns support painted beams and the building’s unique “flying” roof, a low-pitch roof that extends far beyond the edge of the walls without being attached to them. The interior of Drametse Lhakhang never ceases to amaze the travelers, which shows the ancient culture and tradition of Bhutanese religion. The three storeys monastery includes a chapel in the ground floor with the statue of Guru Rinpoche in the center, Kudung stupa of Ani Choten Zangmo and statue of Pema Lingpa. In the middle floor, visitors can see the chapel which is adorn by the statue of the defender divinity Palden Lhamo and Tandrin (Hayagriva), and on the top floor, the chapel houses Goenkhang Chenmo (chapel of protecting deities) with statues of three local protector divinities Pekar, Drametse and Tsong Tsoma, and Tsheringma Lhakhang, houses images of long- life deity, and also five versions of the Himalayan protector Tsheringma. This Nyingma Buddhist site predates the 17th-century consolidation of Bhutan into a single kingdom and remains the seat of the living lineage of the famous religious master Terton Pema Lingpa. Drametse Lhakhang is the place where the Mask Dance of the Drums was originated from in 16th century. The dance of the drum now is listed under the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The dance of the drum held every year in Drametse Lhakhang is to pay tribute to the great revered saint Guru Padmasambava.
Taking a stroll around the white washed lhakhang or inside upon the wooden floored corridor, the tranquil ambiance with the soothing sound of monks chanting the prayer engulf anyone with the feeling of serenity. Drametse Lhakhang with its age old tradition still followed by the young monks has been preserving the ancient form of dance and artifact within its mural covered walls.
Drametse Lhakhang can be visited throughout the year but if the travelers want to make most of their trip to Mongar, late spring from April to May when the valley is bursting with the color riot of vibrant rhododendron and juniper is considered the best time to visit Drametse Lhakhang of Mongar.