Fortress of Bhutan: Must Visit Dzongs in Bhutan
Posted on 15/01/2020
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Fortress of Bhutan: Must Visit Dzongs in Bhutan
Punakha Dzong was first built in 1637 by Zhabdrung. Since its commission, the Dzong has witnessed historical events that have shaped the future of Bhutan greatly. The Dzong served as a military barrack during the 1639 and 1644 Tibetan invasions and successfully defended the country. In 1907, the first King of Bhutan was crowned at the Punakha Dzong. Punakha was Bhutan’s first capital, with Dzong serving as the central government seat and national parliament session.
Zhabdrung instructed the chief carpenter to dream about the Dzong’s architectural design, which despite numerous fires, flooding, and earthquakes, was restored to its original glory.
The gigantic structure is built at the confluence of two rivers and is approached by a traditional cantilever bridge. Paro Dzong has courtyards, towers, shrines, an assembly hall, and a Machen temple and is a place where the embalmed body of Zhabdrung is housed. Every King and Chief Abbot begins their reign by offering prayers at the shrine.
A five-story structure existed before the construction of the current Dzong. The structure belonged to one of the descendants of Phajo Drugom Zhipo, the founder of Drukpa Kagyu School in Bhutan. In 1644 the fort was offered to Zhabdrung upon which the construction of a bigger fortress began. In 1906, the Dzong was destroyed by fire burning down all sacred relics and statues. Only the Thongdrol, a giant applique was recovered which is put on public display once a year during the Paro Tsechu. The district administration levied special taxes across the country and rebuilt the Dzong to its former specification immediately. The Dzong houses the district administration and the central monk community. The Dzong has a 5 storied central tower that houses numerous temples of great lamas and a shrine of the guardian deities. The popular Paro Tsechu festival is held at the Paro Dzong.
The approach to Paro Valley from Tibet is guarded by the Drukgyal Dzong. Paro Dzong is located in Paro district, it is a strategic defense fort on a ridge, with towers guarding its entrance. Drukgyal Dzong was one of them. was built to commemorate the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetan invasion in 1649.
The Dzong had three courtyards, an administrative residence, and a central tower housing Bhutan’s sacred deity shrine. It is believed that the central tower was built over a lake. This Dzong also had a secret passage from the Dzong to the river bank which can still be seen today. After successfully serving as a military barrack during numerous Tibetan invasions, the Dzong was destroyed by an unfortunate fire incident in 1951. After leaving it uninhabited for over half a century, the Dzong is finally being restored to its former glory.
Dobji Dzong is located 11 kilometers from Chuzom (Confluence) en route to Haa Valley. It was built nearly a century before Zhabdrung’s arrival in Bhutanwhich was built by Tibetan Lama Ngawang Chogyal, following a sacred stream in Tibet. The stream is said to have erupted out of a rock near the current site of the monastery. Over 100 carpenters and masons traveled to Bhutan to construct the Dobji Dzong. The stream is still visible today and regarded as holy water by the locals.
The Dzong was a former monastic residence, later central prison in 1976. The Dzong has a five-storied central tower that currently houses sacred shrines and the raven crown.
Trashi Chho Dzong
Trashi Chho Dzong translates to the Fortress of the auspicious religion. The current Dzong was subsequently relocated and reconstructed. The original Dzong stood where the current Dechenphdrang monastery stands today. It was known as the blue stone Dzong. Zhabdrung seized Blue Stone Dzong, rebuilt it, and named it Trashi Chho Dzong, symbolizing Drukpa dominance.
Fire incidents led to Dzong relocation, with the temple enhanced and renovated, with the last major overhaul initiated by His Late Majesty the Third King in 1962. The Dzong was completely rebuilt using traditional methods highlighting the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. The Dzong was built without the use of any nails or blueprints guided by experienced local carpenters. Trashi Chho Dzong houses the Throne room, King’s Office, central monastic body, and Thimphu Tsechu festival in the courtyard.
Now that you know the Fortress of Bhutan: Must Visit Dzongs in Bhutan, we are waiting for your arrival in Bhutan.