Paro is a major district in Bhutan and has historical and religious significance. It is also a picturesque fertile valley. There are over 155 monasteries and temples in this place. I started off with a visit to the Drukgyel Dzong which means the Fortress of the Victorious Drukpa. This is considered as one of the most famous archeological sites in Bhutan.
Dzongs are unique Bhutanese fortresses which also serve as administrative and monastic centres. Each district has a dzong, and they are built at strategic locations mostly on the hilltops. Zhabdrung Ngwang Namgyal-the unifier of Bhutan is credited with building most of the major dzongs, and he also established the dual system of governance. So each dzong has a monastic center with temples, schools, living quarters, and administrative offices for the government officials.
Drukgyal dzong was made in the 16th century to commemorate the victory over the invading Tibetan and Mongolian army. It also served as a major trade route as it was at a strategic site near the border with Tibet. It was also supposed to have the best armory in the country. A major fire destroyed most of the fort in 1951, and we see only the ruins. It is still impressive and worth a visit.
Singey, his wife Ugyen, and their kids Angel and Angela kept me company. A huge prayer wheel is at the foot of the hill and from there it is a steep climb to the top.
It took 10 minutes to reach the top. It was starting to get dark and there was a chill in the air, adding to the suspense ahead.
Finally reached the entrance and I felt as if I have stepped into a bygone era. The whole place looked abandoned and a little spooky. One can see the ravages of fire all around. Isn’t it ironic that this fort was never conquered by the enemy but was destroyed by man- made fire?
We went inside and could see only the burnt walls and woodwork.
Singey informed that this year the Prime Minister had announced a major renovation programme.
This fort is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan tentative list for UNESCO heritage sites.