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The 17th century old Daga Trashiyantse Dzong
With 120 workers at the site, work to conserve one of the country's most important cultural heritages the 17th century old Daga Trashiyantse dzong has begun.

Starting March last year, the project has today completed constructing the retention walls and foundation for the monks' hostel. The Nu 125 M project will construct a hostel or Drasha to house 100 monks and then work on the main structure of the fortress, said project manager Kinley Gyeltshen.

Of the 207 monks registered with the dzong only 40 live within it, he said. "The rest are spread among the shredras and temples in Dagana," he said.

Given the living conditions of the monks it was important to get the hostel constructed first home and culture minister Minjur Dorji said. "We have to do a major renovation of the dzong but first we need to get the monks out," lyonpo said.

One of the four major dzong conservation projects in the 10th plan, the dzong's renovation includes changing the timber and roofing materials said Kinley Gyeltshen. The other three conservation projects are Wangduephodrang, Paro and Lhuentse Dzongs.

"We won't be touching the stones but will only replace the timber because they are all rotten," he said. "The roof would also be changed."

The roof is a double layered with shingles and CGI sheets. "With no space for air circulation, the shingles are also rotten," he added.

This is the first recorded renovation work on the dzong, said project officials. "That the dzong has not been renovated even once is not true because several major renovations in the past were never documented," Kinley Gyelsthen said.

Project officials said the last major renovation was in the 70s. "Some workers who helped in the dzong's renovation then are still alive today and know what has changed," he said.

The construction of the hostel alone would take the whole of 2011.

The headquarters of the Dagana dzongkhag today, the Daga Trashiyangste dzong, was the seat of a powerful position in the past. "The Daga Penlop those days was very powerful and very important because he had so much resources to support the headquarters in Punakha," lyonop Minjur Dorji said. "The dzong is also important because the first incarnation of Zhabdrung was born in Dagana."
Contributed bySonam Pelden, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2011

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