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The Construction of the Settlement

The village Rukubji is located in central Bhutan at about 3000 meters above sea level. As with all the old village settlements of Bhutan, the location of Rukubji was carefully planned and suited to the topographical conditions. For the inhabitants, the religious reasons for the choice of their place of settlement are seen as just as important.

The village lies on a extended plateau whose edges fall off steeply into two river valleys. The end of the area of the settlement was formed by the confluence of the two rivers.


The entire area of the village is unterstood metaphorically as the body of a goddess in the form of a snake. The village inhabitants are convinced that once Guru Rinpoche, in the form of an owl, conquered this snake goddess in a magical fight. In this way, the entire area was freed of evil spirits and demons.

Today, the snake is pinned down by a village Buddhist temple that was built exactly upon her eye. As an expression of Buddhism formed in stone, this temple pins down this pre-Buddhist deity to her place as with a nail.

In the last decades, however, there were great problems with another protective deity, the Yül lha* Dramar Pelzang.

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The village Rukubji and its fields lie on the body of a demonic snake. According to this, the position of the temple on the head of the snake can be interpreted as the victory of Buddhism over the demons.
Photograph by Marc Dujardin