Dzong - Fortress of the Victorious Drukpa
of Victory: the Builder
Gyal Dzong was built as one of the four principal dra dzongs - the
others being Gasa, Damtsang, and Lingzhi. Precisely who built the
dzong is difficult to establish, there being several theories to this.
writers attribute the construction of the dzong to Zhabdrung. Others
believe that it was the second Desi Tenzin Drugda who built it.
Still others think that the dzong was built at the behest of Zhabdrung
Ngawang Namgyal by Tenzin Drugda, Zhabdrung's half brother and
the first Paro Penlop.
differences of opinion on the actual builder and the year of its construction,
what everybody agrees on is the fact that it was built to commemorate the
victory of the Bhutanese over the Tibetans forces. There are at
least two views as to the year of the construction of the dzong too - some
Setting and Structure
|Inside the Druk Gyal Dzong before the fire The remains of the utse stands
Gyal Dzong was built on the crown of a massive rock as a victory monument
and a bulwark of defence against Tibetan inroads into the country. From
what remains one can assume that the dzong would have risen to a height
of about 80 to 90 feet from the base to the top of the utse.
walls are semi-circular at the extremes as well as in the middle wherever
there is a bend in the rock and the rest of the height of the wall is an
extraordinarily fine cut of stones all around. There are at least eight
alternations between semi-circles and vertical angles to the wall even
single entrance or gorah goh would have led to the second door and the
first of the three big courtyards.
Above the gorah goh was supposed
to be the sleeping quarters of the gate-keeper. The first courtyard was
used for tethering and feeding the dzong horses. There are still some huge
pounding stones around.
third door led to the second courtyard, equally big, and above it on the
right was supposed to be the tower that was used as the residence of the Druezop,
the administrator of the dzong. The service areas were next to the residence
on the left, as one entered.
third courtyard ushered one in to the sight of the main tower that formed
the utse. The utse was a four-storeyed masterpiece of architecture
in the shape of a vertical parallelogram rising to a height of over forty
feet. It is believed that there was a lha tsho underneath the utse.
Next to the utse still stands a gyendorm shing which locals say
was home to a golden pig living beneath it.
utse housed the goenkhang, and provided the drasa for monks and
religious functionaries. One of the special features of the Druk Gyal Dzong
still to be seen is the construction of impregnable double walls with windows
tapering outside for observing and shooting the enemies from.
walls running throughout the circumference of the dzong were partitioned
and had internal passage from room to room from end to end. People did
not have to come out into the open in times of attack.
towers stood secure within the massive walls. The space between the
walls was used for various purposes. There were two floors.
ground floor was used for storage purposes and the first floor provided
the living quarters for the different functionaries of the dzong.
remains of the utse stands today
a defence fortress Drukgyel Dzong was said to have had the finest
armoury in the country. Chogyel Sherub Wangchuk in his Mutik
Doshel recorded some of the many items of weaponry like Paak tshen,
Paak tshen Lahor, Paak tshen dothung, Jaa da kar gyal, Threy gi paie kar
gyal, Boed daa, Chuema jaam sang, Jaa da chuema, Dothung tsawar and Tshadung
koepar, among others.
Sherub Wangchuk also records 415 items of loyn thruel - tax
paid in food grains, and 70 items of kaam thruel - tax paid in terms of
materials and metals, which were collected and stored in Druk Gyal dzong.
According to Nirmala Das, the central tower or utse housed a beautiful
temple of Mahakala and Mahakali. Shacha Thuupa Tenpa was one of the most precious nangtens, as was Zhabdrung's Kumba,
now kept in Rinpung Lhakhang.
seven year old Kuenyer Adi of the new Lhakhang attached to
the secure cave at the foot of the rock-base of the old Dzong says that
some of the very few original nangtens salvaged from the fire of 1951 were Dorji Datsel, Image of Chenrezi, two Images of Zhabdrung,
108 volumes of Kanjur, 12 volumes of Bums and Doem Sum Gyoem,
a gift from Her Majesty the Queen Mother. Some of the weapons that
could be saved are housed in the Rinpung Lhakhang.
| Information on Bhutan