Dzongs [pronounced as zong] are fine examples of the traditional Bhutanese architecture. Each district has a dzong which serves as administrative and monastic centres. They also have temples and living quarters for the monks. Most of them were built during the 17th century. I was surprised to know that they are built without nails or iron bars and without any blueprints. Then how were they made? A high ranking lama will be calling the shots and he would be guided by spiritual inspiration.
Rinpung Dzong is a majestic golden domed red and white building dominating the Paro skyline . Rinpung means a heap of jewels.This impressive fortress/monastery had also seen massive earthquake and fire and what we see now is the rebuilt structure. Most of the treasures were lost in the mishaps except a precious tapestry Thongdrel.This is unfurled once a year during the Paro Festival and it is believed that seeing it can cleanse you of all your sins.Festival season is the best time to visit Bhutan and the next festival will be from April 7-11.
Bhutanese people have to be in their national dress to get inside and they also have to wear a silk scarf known as Kabney [for men] and Rachu[for women].I must say they look very elegant in this attire.There is no such dress code for the visitors. We just have to be dressed appropriately-long sleeves, no shorts, no caps.
I was in no hurry to get inside and spent time admiring the vibrant colours and the intricate woodworks.
After going through the imposing main door you will see the huge courtyards, winding corridors,central tower ,temples and living quarters for the monks.The entire structure is breathtaking.For me Rinpung Dzong was the jewel in the crown of Paro.
We have to climb a lot of stairs and some of them can be quite challenging.The ascent is fairly easy but the descent needs lot of caution.Photography is not permitted inside the temple complex.
Saw these student monks playing in the courtyard. They seemed to be having a good time and I wondered how many of them will go on to becoming lamas. Do they miss home? Is their curriculum tough?What if they can’t cope? What if they want to leave? I was very keen to talk to them.They are not shy and are quite used to visitors.But this was their recess and I did not want to disturb them.
Seeing these young lively monks I was reminded of a delightful Tibetan movie Phorpa [The Cup]. It is about a mischievous kid monk who is obsessed with football and is set against the 1998 Football World Cup. It was made by a Lama and I think this could be his own experience. It takes you to the unknown world of young monks and they are shown as they are- free spirited and natural. Another one I remember is ‘Spring,Summer,Fall,Winter and Spring’-a Korean movie on the life of a monk with each season signifying a stage in his life.
Paro Dzong and movies? Yes, few scenes from ‘Little Buddha’ were shot here.