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Bhutan: Trongsa Dzong

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Trongsa Dzong | Bhutan | Asia

[Visited: October 2009]

On our drive to Trongsa, I was getting always more excited at the thought of seeing Trongsa Dzong, even though I had already seen several other dzongs, or fort-monasteries, in Bhutan before. The day had been very long and filled with adventure, the darkness was falling over the valleys of central Bhutan when we finally stopped to have a look at the other side of the valley. There it was: proudly sitting on a hill high above the river snaking through the valley below. I noticed an information board pointing to a hike from here to the dzong, and convinced the guide that that was precisely what I wanted to do.

Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Trongsa Dzong seen from above

Early next morning, we drove the long way to the bridge crossing the valley, up again to the vantage point from where the view of Trongsa Dzong was even much better than the day before, since the sky had cleared and the morning was particularly crisp. My driver was adamant that we chase away the wild animals he expected to see here on this early morning hike, and carried a small sword, running down shouting to scare the animals away. From the cantilever bridge spanning the river, it was a fairly easy climb to the entrance of the dzong - or so I thought. I arrived before the guide, waited for a long time at a small religious building with great views over the valley we had just traversed, but missed my guide. Fortunately, we saw each other after a while, entered the dzong, and started exploring.

Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Wood is an important element in the buildings of Trongsa Dzong

Whether it was the quiet bustle of the administrative section, where people went around in their kira and gho, traditional dress (it is compulsory for any Bhutanese to wear in a dzong), the beautiful prayer wheels, the large places to burn incense, the monks playing, the stone courtyards - fact is, I soon fell in love with Trongsa Dzong. This 17th century dzong has major importance in Bhutan: before even becoming a crown prince, a future king first needs to be penlop or governor here. This used to be the seat of power of the royal family. It is easy to see why this dzong always had particular importance: from here, the flow of traffic between west and east can easily be controlled. In fact, the only road between the two parts of Bhutan ran right through Trongsa Dzong, giving the penlop the power to shut off this flow. The Ta Dzong, or watchtower, that was constructed to protect the dzong, now houses a museum that fully merits a visit as it teaches you much about the country. Furthermore, it gives you the possibility to see some original objects like the crown of the king and other outstanding artefacts. It was a pity we still had a long way to go - we had to leave Trongsa Dzong behind and move further east. The penlop did not shut off the enormous door of the dzong...

Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Detail of the lhakhang at Trongsa Dzong
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Religious building and the surrounding landscape at Trongsa Dzong
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): View of Trongsa Dzong from a distance
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Traditional window pane in Trongsa Dzong
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Detail of prayer wheels at Trongsa Dzong
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Colourful prayer wheels spinning around prayers in Trongsa Dzong
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Butter lamps lying on the floor of Trongsa Dzong to dry
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Courtyard of the religious area of Trongsa Dzong
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): One of the entrance doors to Trongsa Dzong
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Wheel of life on the wall of the lhakhang of Trongsa Dzong
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Detail of religious painting on a wall in Trongsa Dzong
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Typically painted window and door frame in Trongsa Dzong
Picture of Trongsa Dzong (Bhutan): Looking into Mangde Chhu valley

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