The Outstanding Fortess of Tashichho Dzong

Who does not dream about living in the happy land, now the dream has come true in Bhutan. The land of the Dragon, Shangri-La, the isolated kingdom of the Himalayas, or the country whose people do not know grief ... characteristics that distinguished the country of Bhutan, so that it has become a destination for many tourists to explore the beauty of its nature, the cleanliness of its environment, and the happiness of its people.  




    Bhutan is located in South Asia and is located at the eastern end of the Himalayas. It is bordered on the south, east, and west by the Republic of India, and on the north by the People's Republic of China. Bhutan is separated from the neighboring state of Nepal in the west by the Indian state of Sikkim, while it is separated from Bangladesh in the south by West Bengal State. Bhutan is distinguished by its rocky terrain, and the Bhutanese call it Druk Jol, which means "the land of the dragon", and it is considered one of the most isolated countries in the world. However, it has become an absolute paradise for lovers of mountains and nature, as many described it as a country whose people do not know grief. Environmental protection in the country is a top priority, as the government is taking great measures to preserve the nation's traditional culture, identity, and environment.  


    According to an international survey made by Leicester University in 2006 known as  the "World Happiness Map.", Bhutan was ranked as the happiest country in Asia and the eighth happiest country in the world. Thimphu is the capital of the state of Bhutan. It was founded by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1961 to replace the old capital, Punakha. Thimphu ranges from the ancient to the modern, as many consider it an exceptional capital in the world. It has many attractions, the most prominent of which is Tachicho Dzong, the seat of the royal government, and the central religious institution. Tashicho Dzong is built on the Western bank of the Wang Chu River, on the northern edge of Thimphu city. It means "  fortress of the glorious religion " and it is used as the official seat for the Druk Desi ( the ruler ) and as the building which includes the offices of the king and the throne, also some secular government ministries are located there. The coronation of the king in 2008 took place in the dzong.  


What is Dzong? Importance?


     What is dzong?  In the 11th Century, rulers and spiritual people in Tibet and Bhutan were keen on building dzongs for several reasons like to harbor logistic functions and to use it as a shelter to guard the people during any wars or natural disasters. Dzong means a castle or a monastery it's a kind of fortress that exists mainly in Tibet and Bhutan, it's huge elevated exterior walls surrounding a posh of temples, administrative offices, courtyards, and also the accommodations of the monks. The dzong has very special features like white high walls of brick and stone, some walls have windows but it doesn't exist within the lower section of the wall, the highest of the walls are decorated with red ochre stripe, a number of it's punctuated by large gold circles, huge doors made from iron or wood, and Buddhist-themed art motifs such because the swastika or the ashtmangala are accustomed decorate the temples and also the courtyards. 


    The difference between the dzongs in Bhutan and Tibet is sort of impressive; as in Bhutan the dzongs are used as religious, social, and administrative centers, the dzongs are split into two parts, one for the executive function (the rooms for the throne and also the officials) and therefore the other for the religious function (the temples for the monks ), this shows the duality of power shared between the religious and therefore the administrative parties in Bhutan. While in Tibet, it absolutely was divided into 53 districts called dzongs, each district had two dzongpons ( lords ), both of them were equal in terms of civil and military powers.  




     In 1216, the old dzong was built to be the seat of Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, who brought the Drukpa Kagyu lineage to Bhutan. Then it was renamed " Trashi Chho Dzong '' (Fortress of the Glorious Religion) in 1641 when it passed from the descendants of Lama Phajo to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Zhabdrung wanted to extend the dzong to host the monks and civil officials, so he built a new dzong down the valley for the city officials. Unfortunately, the old (upper) dzong was razed to the ground by a fire in 1771 so the new (lower) dzong has become the focus of attention but it has not lasted due to a devastating fire in 1866. 


    Then the lower dzong was reconstructed but again it was destroyed again by two fires and a deadly earthquake in 1897. The dzong was brought back to life again in 1962 when King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck moved his capital to Thimphu. He started a five-year project to reconstruct and renovate the dzong. The architect did not touch the central tower and the imposing chapel and the assembly hall without any renovation, but the rest of the complex was built in traditional fashion. In the past, the dzong only hosted the national assembly but now it houses the throne room and the ministries, and the north courtyard of the assembly hall now hosts one of Thimphu's biggest festivals, the " Tsechu festival ".  




     There are two entrances to the dzong, one from the south-east leading to the administrative section and one from the north-east leading to the monastic section. Of course, the administrative section is not open to visitors. In the north entrance, four painted guardian kings great the visitors, each king is painted with a specific color; to demonstrate,  Vaishravana (North), painted in yellow; Virudhaka (South), in blue, Dhritarashtra (East), in white and Virupaksha (West), in red. 


    The steps that lead to the interior of the dzong are decorated by images of some icon figures in Bhutan such as Drukpa Kunley, also known as the divine madman, and the great Thang Tong Gyalpo, who built many bridges in Bhutan, and also founded the Phajoding Monastery, close to Thimphu, so the people called him the maker of the Iron chair. Moreover, there is an assembly hall containing statues and decorations that make this place a loving museum such as the statue of Sakyamuni Buddha and the thrones of the past and the present kings. And there is a cantilever bridge in the north-eastern of the dzong, these kinds of brides are very common in the dzongs in Bhutan.


Best Time to visit:


The dzong is open for visitors from Monday till Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm.