YANA information
Architecture in Bhutan
Dzongs Chorten - Chhoeten
Mani-walls Palaces
Village Houses
Bhutanese Achitecture

Mani-walls are stone walls that support a number of stones carved with sacred formulas. These formulas are either those of the three protective Bodhisattvas (Chenrezi, Jampelyang and Chhana Dorje) or a simple prayer Om Mani Padme Hum, from which the name has been derived.


Ugyen Pelri Palace Paro Ugyen Pelri Palace in Paro

Construction of palaces took place with the coming to power of the Wangchuck dynasty, starting with Jigme Namgyal, the father of the first king. It can be explained by the fact that from the end of the last century the country experienced a period of stability and peace, and the need for fortress type Dzongs had diminished. Palaces were built between 1870 and 1940 and are mostly found in the Bumthang and Trongsa regions.

Their basic pattern is very similar to that of a dzong. A central building houses the residence of the master, and the upper floor, the private chapel.

It is surrounded by a courtyard enclosed by an outer structure in which the servants' quarters and the kitchen are located. The palaces have been richly decorated with woodwork, and even the outer building has been embellished with numerous painted windows.

The palaces of Lamey Goemba, Wangdue Choeling, Ugyen Choeling in Bumthang; Kuenga Rabten, Samdrup Choeling south of Trongsa Dzong and the mansions of Gangtey in Paro are good examples. Ugyen Pelri Palace in Paro is different from these palaces in that it was built on the model of the Zangdopelri (the celestial abode of Guru Rinpoche) by Paro Poenlop Tshering Penjor around 1930.

Village Houses
House in Bumthang
Village houses are not built of the same material all over the country. While the western region favors compressed earth (mud) for the walls, the central and eastern regions use stones. In eastern Bhutan, bamboo is an important raw material for any construction. In southern Bhutan, houses have mud walls with thatched roofs.

However, houses all over the country display distinctive uniform features: rectangular shape, two or three stories high, upper floors almost totally made of a framework of wood and plastered bamboo panels, pitched roof and trefoil shaped windows.

The upper floor is used as living quarters and private chapels while the lower floor is used mainly for keeping domestic animals and for storage. During the past twenty years, the design and structure of the Bhutanese architecture have changed, especially in urban areas due to the availability of new materials like cement, steel rods, metal sheets and slates as well as due to the change of purpose of the buildings. In urban houses, the ground floor these days is often used for shops. However, the traditional features of architecture have been maintained. As for the rural houses, they have improved tremendously. Glass paneled windows, smokeless stoves and improved latrines are becoming more common; painted designs are applied more and more lavishly; and the roofs are made of corrugated metal. As with the dzongs, the rural houses also contribute in giving the landscape in Bhutan its charm and uniqueness.

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