Drugyel dzong is located at Paro District which is 15 km away from the Paro town. Dzong means fortress in Dzongkha (national language of Bhutan). Drugyel dzong was a fortress, as well as a Buddhist monastery in 1649.
Who built Drugyel dzong?
The dzong is one of the many dzongs built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel who came to Bhutan in 1616. Zhabdrung escaped from Tibet and came to Bhutan from the conflict of the Drukpa-Kagyud school in Ralung, Tibet.
What does “DRUGYEL” mean?
The dzong was called Drugyel dzong because there was an invasion by Tibetans in 1644 and to commemorate the victory over those invaders, the dzong was named Druk (Bhutan) and Gyel (victory). The dzong had many features to serve as a defense and even as a Buddhist monastery.
In the second attack by Tibetans, the dzong served in luring the invaders by a false entrance into an enclosed courtyard. At those times, Drugyel dzong served the purpose of defense and security even from the international threats. The unique architect of the dzong shows us the creativity and building strengths of our people at those times.
Conflict with Tibetians
As Zhabdrung had escaped the conflict and stayed in Bhutan, the ruler of Tibet was not happy and intended to kill Zhabdrung by any means. Later Lama Kuenga Sonam negotiated peace between Bhutan and Tibet. Then Tibet signed the terms of surrender in the Drugyel dzong after it was built in the commemoration of victory.
WHAT TO SEE IN DRUGYEL DZONG?
Drugyel dzong consisted of several buildings. The dzong has central tower called Utse, which is the building for the guardian deities. There were also rectangular buildings surrounding the courtyards called Shabkhor. The highly and massively stone masonry walls of Shabkhor were built on the steep slope of the hills.
There are also several Ta-dzong (watching fort) which heavily guarded the only single entrance of the dzong. These Ta dzongs stood along the entrance and foot of the hill. It is believed that there existed the secret tunnels, through which troops were send during the times of war and even to fetch waters from the river flowing below the hill. At present, we can see Chu-dzongs (water fort) which are shaped in cylindrical tower.
Drugyel dzong served with peace and security until in the early 1960, the dzong was destroyed by fire. After the fire destruction, the dzong stands in ruins till now. The ruins of Drugyel dzong which consists of major portion of stone and rammed earth wall structures provides to help visitors understand the structure, ideas and shape of the dzong built for defense.
Looking through the ruins, it gives an idea of the height of dzong being about 80 to 90 feet high. There are three big courtyards inside and the first courtyard was led by the second door. The second door was led by the only entrance of the dzong called “Gorah Goh”. In the first courtyard, we can see the massive pounding stones which give us the picture of how these were used as to tie and feed the horses belonging to the dzong. The second courtyard is led by the third door. On the right side of the doors, stood the tower of the administrator’s residence called “Druezop”.
As moving to the third courtyard, stands the main tower called “Utse”. This main tower is over forty feet high and has four stories. At the side of the Utse is believed to be the home of a golden pig called “Gyendorm Shing”. There was even a Goenkhang in Utse where it served as a place for the monks to stay and perform religious functionaries.
The unique feature of Drugyel dzong is that it was built with double walls which were strong enough to be penetrated. These walls had windows which served to watch over the enemies and to shoot them as well in the times of war. In the time of attack, the walls surrounding the circumference were partitioned to serve as a internal passage which led people to go to any room without having to come out in the open area.The dzong consisted of two floors where the ground floor was used as the area for storing and the first floor was used for different functionaries of the dzong.
Drugyel dzong is also known for having the finest armory in Bhutan. The dzong also used to collect taxes in the form of food grains called “Loyn thruel” and in terms of material and metals called “Kaam thruel” at those times.
DRUGYEL DZONG RECONSTRUCTION IN 2016
Drugyel dzong is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s tentative list for UNESCO inclusion. The Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay announced that the Drukgyel dzong will be reconstructed and reinstated to its former glory, in the celebration of the birth of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey in 2016, along with the commemoration of Zhabdrung’s arrival to Bhutan in 1616 and the birth year of Guru Rinpoche.
WHEN CAN WE VISIT DRUGYEL DZONG?
Visiting the dzong is opened from morning till evening. Visitors can go inside and see the beautiful ruins which still stand as a history. It is 15 km away from the town so we can take a car and reach at the dzong within few minuites.