In Bhutan, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche established Karma Drubdey Nunnery in 1968. Located east of Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, in the Trongsa District, it sits above the winter palace of the second king of Bhutan, Jigme Wangchuk. It is said that on the day Rinpoche founded the nunnery, many auspicious signs appeared and the people of the area rejoiced. The first retreat center, Drolma Choling, established 1988, made it possible for four nuns to do a two-month retreat. In 1998, a larger retreat center was built, Ngon-ga Choling, and eight nuns went into retreat. In 2001, a third retreat center was built, Kunzang Ngayab Choling and so the nunnery grew.
Today there are about one hundred twenty-seven nuns living, studying and practicing dharma at Karma Drubdey Nunnery. They range in age from ten years old to seventy years old. The longest serving nun has been at the nunnery since 1968, forty-five years of serving Rinpoche and helping to establish the tradition of female monasticism in the Kagyu lineage.
In 2009, Khenpo Rinpoche sent four nuns to study at Dolma Ling Shedra in India with the plan that they would return and teach the other nuns in the future. However, in 2011 Ani Yeshe, under the direction of Khenpo Rinpoche, established a shedra, Shedrub Pheljeling, a Buddhist school of higher education at Drubdey Gompa with eighteen nuns beginning their training under Khenpo Ugyen Tenzin.
Now, in 2013, there are forty-one nuns studying at the shedra, including three from Tek Chok Ling who requested to move to Drubdey Gompa to study. Eight nuns are practicing the six-month ngondro retreat and eight nuns are practicing the three-year retreat. Two nuns continue to study at Dolma Ling Shedra and one nun is studying in Sri Lanka under a Bhutanese Government Scholarship. The rest of the nuns, sixty-seven are engaged in monastic practice and study.
Over the last year and a half almost all of the nuns traveled from Bhutan to Tek Chok Ling to see Khenpo Rinpoche. Some of them were meeting him for the first time; others had not seen him for over six years. This was an exciting and tremendous opportunity for teachings and training. The nuns shed many tears when they left!