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Lingzhi Yugyal dzong
Lingzhi Yugyal dzong, built in the 17 century

Lingzhi Dzong: More than a year after the tremor damaged the dzong, its custodians, the 34 monks and lam neten of Lingzhi Yugyal dzong, continue to live in the gup's office.Their main altar is set up at the basic health unit in Chaphu chiwog, about 20 minutes walk downhill from the dzong.

The three-storied fortress was brought down to two, last month, to minimise risk from disasters, and the dzong, which stands on a hilltop at 4,300m, still awaits renovation.

The second floor, demolished by the dzongkhag office, with help from the people of Soe, Lingzhi and Naro gewogs, was used to house the temples, monk's residence and dungpa's office.

The 17th century dzong that was built by the third Desi Chogyal Minjur Tenpa to commemorate victory over a Tibetan invasion now stands deserted, and its relics are stored at the BHU.Classes for the monks are taken in a tent, donated by UNICEF, just outside their home, the gup's office.

The lam neten, Chencho, said the place was too small to accommodate all 35 monks, and that they had to use firewood to cook, which was inconvenient. "We have to eat outside and take classes in the tent, which is going to be difficult during snowfall, because the tents won't be able to withstand the snow and strong windstorms in winter," he said.

Lam Chencho requested the prime minister, during his visit to Lingzhi dzong on October 20, to at least reconstruct the utse (central tower), so that important relics could be moved back into the dzong.

While Lyonchhoen said he'd discuss with officials in Thimphu and see to it, he said the reconstruction of the dzong might have to be pushed to the 11th plan.

"In the 10th plan, we have a budget of about Nu 90M for the dzong, but it isn't enough," lyonchheon said. "We have to pay a lot for woola (labour), and timber is very expensive; if we have to build it well, we may need more than Nu 300M."

Lam Chencho however requested that the current budget be used to build the utse. "The present shelter for the relics isn't very clean for such sacred relics," he said. "It has to be moved as soon as possible."

The most important Ku Teng Sung Teng of the dzong are the statues of Shakya Thukpa, Chenrezig, Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, Guru Pema Jungney and Gonpo Tsepagme.The main nangten was the Zhabdrung's chag roel (cymbal), and a silver-carved and gold plated saddle, which was used by Zhabdrung, when he came to Bhutan on a horse.It also includes about 50 to 60 old altar utensils (choe cha) and the main sungten is the Bum Sey Dem (gold script).

The damages

Lingzhi dzong suffered major damages at the top section of its east walls and the two towers in the September 18, 2011 earthquake.

Architect with the culture department, Yeshi Samdrup, said the damage is not only because of the earthquake, but also due to the exposed and remote location on a hilltop.

The saddle used by Zhabdrung is one of the main relics
"The masonry walls are exposed to the wind and rain, which made it weaker and was easily damaged by the earthquake," he said. "Regular maintenance wasn't possible because of its remote location."

A report on Lingzhi dzong, prepared by the culture department, stated that sections where renovation work was done, such as the utse in 2005, it was found that the work was not of quality to withstand disasters, as it was those renovated parts that had some of the greatest damages.

The dzong was first destroyed in an earthquake in 1897, rebuilt in the 1950s, partly renovated in 2005, and again damaged last year.

Contributed by Sonam Choden, Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2013

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