Of fact and fiction
Thembang literally translates to Yuchho-pema-chen, which means a Lotus-like village. It was once ruled by a king who is fabled to have swooped down from the skies and during the medieval ages, it sustained the kingdom of Bapu, who was a direct descendant of the King of Tibet. Thembang is composed of four Bapu clans – Khochilu, Sharchhokpa, Atajaipu and Dirkhipa, and four Gilla clans namely Lhopa, Merakpa, Nyimu and Sharmu.
As an aftermath of having witnessed numerous wars on its land, a strong fortification with two stone wall gates (northern and southern gate) were constructed by the villagers of Rahung, Khutam, Bhud and Khowna, who were under the sovereignty of the Bapus during that time. A loud cry was called out as a warning every evening, before closing the gates.
In 1913, upon returning from Tibet during their Tsangpo Exploration, Lieutenant Bailey and Captain Morshead of the British India Survey, had made Thembang their home, giving name to the popular trekking route now known as the Bailey Trail. During the Indo-China War of 1962, the village was subject to a fierce battle between the Indian and Chinese armies.
A brief lay of the land and its captivating people
The village is guarded by two stone gates, constructed in 1100 CE. The one on the southern end of the village is meant for emergencies or escapes. The fortification or Dzong, consists of stone masonry and wood architecture, as per the Monpa tribe's tradition. Carved stone blocks, mani walls (stone walls with prayers engraved on them), traditional wood engravings, paintings and manuscripts etched as murals and graffiti can be found on all the gates and walls of village homes, rendering it an 18th century village citadel.