Secrets of our leaders

In my last post, I invited you to think about what was causing a part of the Trongsa Dzong wall to be perpetually wet.

“Andrea” and “YPenjor” put forward some good guesses. But, alas, modern cement is not to blame. It isn’t a hidden lake. And sub-terrain water seepage is not the cause. Nor is leakage from the rooftop. Or seepage from recent plumbing.

The answer is history.  Yes, history!

No one could quite tell what was causing that particular part of the wall to stay wet throughout the year. And that wet patch would not be covered by modern cement or traditional clay or lime whitewash.

So finally, a small part of the inner wall was broken to investigate what was causing the wall to get wet. But it turned out that that wall was not the inner wall. Instead, it revealed a secret chamber, one that was full of rock salt!

Salt, as we all know, attracts moisture. And because the secret chamber stored salt, its outer wall was always wet.

During the old days, when our country was closed to the outside world, salt, which couldn’t be produced domestically, was a precious commodity. All of it was imported from Tibet in the form of rock salt. Our early rulers obviously stored as much of it as possible, to be used whenever the source was cut off.

The idea, it seems, was to ensure that excessive dependence did not compromise our sovereignty. If so, that idea is even more relevant today.

The inner wall, and its valuable contents, has since been resealed.

But the next time you visit the Chokhor Rabtentse Dzong in Trongsa, look for that wet patch. It’s on the wall facing the Taa Dzong. Imagine what other secrets lie within and behind those walls.

And marvel at the great extents our leaders have gone to, to nurture and protect our national security and sovereignty.


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  1. How interesting! Was the salt left in place after discovery? If the wall is still wet, it must have been.

    I should have guessed that the situation was not as straightforward as it appeared. In Bhutan, it seems there’s always some deeper force at work…

  2. It is very interesting if that salt was preserved and meant for us as a history. And it is the history which we think not worthy of preserving. Instead of preserving it rather we can photograph and document it.
    I can’t imagine the cost to repair if it falls. It mean blowing huge amount of government budget for the nature of ignorance.

  3. Very interesting! Thank you for sharing this interesting findings of our great leaders of before 21st century.

    Next, OL, we would like to hear from you on the findings of Tenzin Lamsang on the Gelpozhing land allotment, the deeds of our leaders of today! What is your say and taken on of this issue?

  4. This is indeed a serious national concern. We trust Opposition Party is serious about it.

  5. Indeed, a great learning. Let’s hope that our present day leaders also learn to value and preserve the things which might not be available to us in event we are cut off from rest of the world. Are we doing enough to preserve our values safely inside the walls of our hearts??? OR we are more interested in building our own walls and dzongs out of government fund/land, and getting ourselves distant from our own people.

  6. Thank you

  7. The local administration was looked after by the Penlop known as the Dobji Penlop. In 1976 the Dzong was renovated and converted to a jail with additional structures constructed to house prisoners…DRUK MINJUR CHHOEKHOR RABTENTSE DZONG Druk Minjur Chhoekhor Rabtentse Dzong as it was originally known is located on a spur overlooking the Mangdechu river in Trongsa central Bhutan. Over the years his disciples began constructing smaller meditation centers around the temple. With the appointment of Chhoje Minjur Tenpa as the first Trongsa Penlop in 1647 a Dzong together with a watch tower was built.

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