Tag Archive: Dzong



From Druk Hotel in Thimpu, we drove a good 2 1/2 hours just to get here.  On our way, we passed Dochula Pass with a grand view of the Himalayan mountain range at over 3,000 meters elevation. Then we weaved around the mountains going down, passing cherry blossoms, poinsettia and magnolia trees.  We made a brief stop at Chimi Lakhang and took our lunch in a lovely cafe overlooking paddy fields animated by men and women harvesting rice and gho-clad school boys gingerly walking around the rice fields.  

 

Punakha Dzong. Where Kings are crowned. Site of the recent wedding of the world’s youngest monarch.

 

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Punakha Dzong Where 2 Rivers Merge

 

 

The fortress cum monastery is home to 600 monks, and sits at the confluence of two rivers with the lovely mountains as backdrop. You need a few minutes to savor this view, pinch yourself and get reminded this ain’t a dream, before crossing the bridge adorned with prayer flags.

 

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Then the 2 rivers merge, bubble and froth as ONE RIVER.

 

As we crossed the bridge, we had our first glimpse of Punakha Dzong’s first courtyard. Climate here is milder, elevation not as steep as in Paro. The wooden staircase leading to the second courtyard is steep though. The same stairway can be pulled up in case of an invasion. Some security feature for this 17th century monolith.

 

 

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The Approach Via the Lovely Bridge Crossing A "Lively" River

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The Wooden Staircase Can Be "Pulled Up" In Case of An Invasion

 

 

As we climbed past cherry blossoms, we heard the faint chant and shuffling of hands and fingers from a small group of monks. Nearby, logs crackle from a bonfire set up in the middle of the vast courtyard. What a lovely, nearly surreal sight! This experience is so dreamlike it is deeply embedded in my memory.

 

 

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Logs Crackle in A Bonfire Set Up in the Middle of the Courtyard

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Monks Chanting " Oh Mani Peme Hummmmm"

 

Buddhism is NOT a religion, according to our guide. He claims it is a philosophy, a lifestyle, where Buddhists firmly believe that KARMA rules, among others. Where much of sufferings in life are rooted in wordly desires and material attachments. I certainly have no problems with these. The universe can definitely do with less hostility, and more compassion, more caring for each living creature.

 

 

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Two Playful Monks Running Around the Courtyard

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What A Lovely Sight!

Do check out my other blogs on Bhutan here in WordPress. Or my blog series in TravelBlog: Mystique of Bhutan. Here’s the link: http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/liliram/Trips/17606


It is the first Dzong we have visited in Bhutan.Trashichodzong or Thimpu Dzong literally translates to Fortress of Glorious Religion. Buddhism truly makes its mark on Bhutanese culture. But nowhere else have I witnessed Church and State work so in harmony. No quarrel between the Church and State in this tiny Kingdom in the Eastern Himalayas.

Trashichodzong or Fortress of the Glorious Religion in Thimpu, Bhutan

From the time the country’s capital was moved from Punakha to Thimpu, 3 kings have held office here. The present King was crowned at age 27, making Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck the youngest monarch in the world. His father, the good if not better-looking Jigme Singye is still very much visible, and still young (and hot) at 55. The local folks simply love them and speak adoringly of the royal family.

The Hunk. I mean the 4th King: Daddy Oh of the Present (5th) King

The Fortress houses the State offices including the King’s office and Throne Room, as well as the monastery where the Chief Abbot shares the same rank and place as the King. In Bhutan, this does not seem to be a problem.

Bhutanese Art in The Beams, Ceilings, Walls, Windows, Eaves, Doors, etc.

I remember walking down a path of willow trees and rose gardens which must have had their last full bloom a month or so earlier. A pity this trip was pushed down towards yearend as hotels were fully booked for the King’s wedding last October 13, and the festivals in October-November made it impossible to book a trip earlier. Truth is my other friends gave up on Bhutan, leaving just me and another travel companion. Thank God I refused to give up on this chance to see Shangrila. Yes, no less. Even at minus one degree to 6 degree Celsius!

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We passed some guards (few, actually, considering that they are guarding the King and Chief Abbot) as we climbed the stairs to get into the courtyard. What spilled before our eyes was nearly unreal. We “owned” the courtyard exclusively but for a couple of monks and a single photographer, who like us, seemed mesmerized by the beauty of the Dzong. Om Mani Peme Hum. That’s the oldest and most well-known Tibetan Buddhist mantra taught by our guide, Sonam Norbu. You hear the monks chant it, as I often heard Norbu recite it as he paid his respects to their Buddha of Compassion. It took awhile for me to remember the mantra, strange language that it is. Until I managed to link the mantra to “Oh, money, penge (meaning to ask) hmmmm”. My apologies. They sure sound so irreverent and so contrary to Buddhist teachings, but the “joke” made it easy for me to remember. (Forgive this old lady. Peace xoxoxo)

Resident Pigeons Rule the Courtyard!

Elizabeth In Ecstacy!

I forgot to ask Norbu, but all Dzongs here are painted like white monoliths adorned with intricate woodcarvings and handpaintings on beams, pillars, eaves and window frames. The colors — dominated by golden yellow, rusty orange (saffron, according to my friend Elizabeth) and black, tinged with red, blue, black and green — are almost standard. There also seems to be a standard Bhutanese architecture and layout, but for the size and number of dochey (courtyard) and lhakangs (temples). What makes it even more amazing is that these palace-like structures were built without written plans or blueprints. Everything is committed to memory. Say what? Amazing, indeed.

Bhutan: Where Nature and Culture Reign

Inside the temple, my friend Elizabeth was almost ecstatic to find the thousand mini buddhas she has been reading about. Those, and the thangkas (silk painting with embroidery) which left her drooling in its beauty. Have to admit I do not share the same appreciation, not knowing much about Buddhism nor the art of thangka-making.

Thangkas Found In A Store. For Sale. Not Cheap.

As we made our way back to the courtyard, we basked once more in the peace and quiet within the courtyard. The tranquility was not disturbed but was instead enhanced by the now familiar dong dong chimes of the prayer wheels and the fluttering of wings by the resident pigeons. And I thought this only happened in the movies! Truly, today is one AWE-spicious day!

[Do check out my other blogs on Bhutan here in WordPress, as well as my series on TravelBlog : Mystique of Bhutan . Here’s the link……….. http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/liliram/Trips/17606 ]

A Bad Shot of An Illuminated Thimpu Dzong 😦

The Bhutanese Men Wear Gho. The Women Wear Longer Skirts Called Kira.

To contact my tour guide Sonam Norbu, send an email to ubron_11@yahoo. com