Drukgyel Dzong in Paro, Bhutan
Explore the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong
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About Drukgyel Dzong in Paro
Drukgyel Dzong stands in the upper part of Paro district as a reminiscence of a glorious past and a tragic present, much like most constructions of the medieval age. The other dzongs that one can see in Bhutan are fully or partially functional, with monastic bodies and government departments operating from within the complex – but not Drukgyel Dzong of Paro. The skeletons of an old fortress and monastery were all that this place was, before the State and the Royalty decided to start a complete renovation project of the Drukgyel Dzong in Paro, Bhutan in 2016. This is mainly to fix the damage done by the big fire in 1951 caused by a butter lamp, which destroyed it to a large extent. Before that, it was used as an administrative centre. The year 2016 was chosen to mark two great events in the history of Bhutan – the arrival of Ngawang Namgyel to Bhutan in 1616 AD and also the birth year of Guru Rinpoche.
For this reason, the interiors of Drukgyel Dzong in Bhutan might be closed to the public for a while. However, even in their diminished and ruinous forms, the fortress-monastery resonate a sort of poignant beauty that match perfectly with its role played in the past of Bhutan. Though there is no way to know it for sure, Drukgyel Dzong history says that it was probably built by Tenzin Drukdra in around 1659 at the behest of Ngawang Namgyal, who later went on to unify all the fiefdoms of Bhutan and set up the sovereignty.
The fortress was built to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan forces from the north. The position where it stands used to be a very strategic one when it came to warfare with the powerful Northern Province. A special feature of Drukgyel Dzong is the false entrance-looking door, which only leads the enemy forces to an enclosed courtyard and trapped them inside. The Tremo La trail from Tibet enters the Paro Valley via this point, and once the invasions ceased and peace prevailed, this point was used for trade relations with Tibet. On the way up to the dzong, one can see a small chapel and a chorten, along with remains of old towers and walled tunnels – all crumbling under the weight of time, overgrown with weedy greens, but still standing tall enough to prove how well they served for the defence of Bhutan.
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FAQ's of Paro
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Why are the interiors of Drukgyel Dzong closed? Is it still worth a visit?
Because of the burden of time and the fire in 1951, Drukgyel Dzong has suffered considerable damage, and the government is carrying out reconstruction projects inside. For this reason, the place is closed for a while, but a visit to the premises is very much worth the trip. The trek up to the monastery is beautiful too.
Why is Drukgyel Dzong more like a fortress than monastery?
Drukgyel Dzong was originally constructed as a line of defence against the Tibetan armies. For this reason, its walls, towers and other constructions resemble that of a fortress to withhold attacks and sieges.
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