Wangduephodrang Dzong

Image of hope

I was in Wangduephodrang on Saturday. I’d gone there to visit the De-Suung training program. After meeting the De-Suups, I stopped by the Wangduephodrang Dzong to see the massive renovation that the dzong was receiving.

While returning to Thimphu, I stopped briefly on the other side of Punatsangchhu to take in at the grandeur of the Wangdue Dzong, and, as usual, marveled at the brilliance of Zhadrung Ngawang Namgyel. He had chosen the site personally, on a ridge overlooking the confluence of the Punatsangchhu and Dangchhu rivers, to defend His newly unified Drukyul against intruders from the South. He had succeeded beyond measure: the dzong, which straddled the high, narrow ridge, was impenetrable and dominated the Wangdue skyline for centuries.

Today, I was back in Wangduephodrang. But this time to join the nation in mourning. The mighty Wangdue Dzong, which stood magnificently for 374 continuous years, was no more. It had been gutted by fire yesterday evening. The fire reportedly started near the entrance of the dzong, and within hours, strong winds had fanned the fire through all buildings completing the destruction in a matter of hours.

Tragically, the very strength of the dzong – that it was virtually impenetrable – prevented all efforts from suppressing the inferno. The entrance was on fire, and the rest of the fortress was inaccessible.

So soldiers, under the personal command and supervision of His Majesty the King who himself had rushed from Thimphu, scaled the southern walls, broke into the monasteries, and rescued the many sacred relics that were in the dzong.

An entire nation is in mourning.

We have lost an important part of our history – a living, breathing monument that until yesterday served, as intended and without interruption, both the civil administration and the monk body. Yesterday evening, almost four centuries of continuous and daily offerings of butterlamps and prayers came to a sudden halt.

We are in mourning. But, miraculously, and against all hopes and expectations, we have, in our possession, the real essence of the Wangdue Dzong. Most of scriptures and statues and artifacts would have been consumed by the fire, but relics – the sacred treasures, many of which had been built and installed by the Zhabdrung himself – are safe. And that’s what really matters.

What also matters is that we begin the process of rebuilding the once mighty dzong immediately. We can rebuild our dzong, as in moments of national tragedy, our people, all of us, come together, easily and naturally, to think and act as one, under the command of His Majesty the King, the source of all our hopes and inspiration.

So there’s no doubt that the Wangdue Dzong will be rebuilt – bigger, better and stronger – and that it will once again, in a few years, dominate our western skylines.


Facebook Comments:


  1. Honourable OL,

    Thank you for acting and thinking as one….meaning for not taking an opportunity for a blame game. Every one has tried hard with heart but was beyond any measures. Lets think positive, pray deep and we will in any way one in same place soon…..

  2. The story is not so straight. The destruction of the Wangdi Dzong has happened under the watch of the DPT government which did not think it worthy to install even workable basic fire safety equipment in the Dzong.

  3. The PM does not think it worthy enough to come back to Bhutan when the country is faced with such a disaster. He rather enjoy his holiday in Brazil and oh yes he can get more DSA when he comes back.

  4. Pem,
    You are too much.

  5. earthquake in 2011 – pm in nyc & japan; fire destroys wangdiphodrang dzong – pm in brazil..
    one disaster after never present..
    when will the bad karma & dpt jinx end..

  6. Hi Pem, Tashi and Tobden,
    Be rationale, act morally if you are a concerned citizen. Did not hear His Holiness speaking on BBS TV where he articulately mentioned that we should not blame any single person such natural disaster? He clearly said that when a natural disaster strikes, nothing can stop. If He also sid that if all safety measures for fire were there, the dzong would have been destroyed by flood, strom, earthquake, etc. Nature is beyond human power.

  7. Thinker,

    pem,tashi and tobden are simply deplorable people who don’t even deserve to be argued with.
    If we have a good number of citizens with thier attitudes, our nation will not go very far.

  8. guardian says

    With supporters like Pem, Tashi and Tobden, it’s easy to see why PDP will never form the government. OL, I hope you are ashamed of them as I am.

  9. Even i was totally convinced by His Holiness, Je Khenpo’s explanation. If anything can go wrong it will. Nothing can stop it.


  10. It is unfortunate on the part of PM because he has been out of station whenever there is a major disaster in the country. As was said by HH Je Khempo, disaster cannot be ruled out but govt should have placed enough safety measures after experiencing the enough unforturnes.

    My suggestion would be:

    All the gelongs should be provided meals from the mess not cook individually. No gelong irrespective of the ranks should be allowed to use cooking appliances as practice rampantly in all the Dzongs.

    All the heating appliances should be shock proof should they use it.

    The Dzongdas and Lam Netens should inspect every day.

    The BPC should provide alert or warning in their control rooms.

    Impotantly No gelongs should be allowed to use heating appliances.

  11. Let me repeat….Lets not blame anyone and there is no room for it if we are to remain united, defeat the unfortunate, think strong and move positively ahead in such situations which probably is so unique and Bhutanese…

    I can feel the absence of Hon`ble PM`s SOENAM all over us from the fact that the major disasters happens whenever he is away from us…Meaning his presence in the land/country actually defeats and protects us from such misfortunes…this however is just personal view…

    Another thing is that, i would also like to believe for : when the KEN(misfortune)is due to be happened, it will happen in anyway despite sophisticated preventive measures in place…And it is only proper to think that what ever it happens it happens for BEST…

  12. Is Traaala suggesting that when PM is not here there are natural disasters in Bhutan.

    This is an example of DPT arrogance and why they have become so unpopular with all sections of society.

    Traaala who is a clear DPT and PM supporter is saying that PM is more important than all our local dieties, our holy sites like Taktsang, our Kings, our Je Khenpo, our great Trulkus and the monk body.

    What next from DPT that PM is Guru Rinpoche himself.

    On the contrary the real issue is that PM is never there to provide support and succor to his people in the hour of need.

  13. Chand Ram says

    It can be because of the fiddling with the sacred relics taking out of the respective sites and taking on tour not only in the country but abroad especially in the Europe to promote Bhutan as a tourist destination. Commercialization of such sacred nangtens may have bad repercussion on the people and the country.It is always a blessing when one take trouble to visit the sacred sites and offer prayer and butter lamps.But not the other way round when statues are transported here and there to the door step of people.This may have surely disturbed the sanctity and value of our dzongs and temples.

  14. I agree with Tashi, PM’s arrogance is getting to much. He is not a democrat but a tyrant subjecting the country to pedestrian day, vegetable ban, more taxes etc.

    He is eager to get international acknowledgement but will never bother coming back to help his real people with natural disasters. He exhibits all the trademarks of somebody talking modern english but with a mind stuck in an era of feudal lords and serfs.

    Any other elected leader will cancel all international meets and rush back but not our PM who rather work on some meaningless documents and resolutions in some elite club that has no real relevance to Bhutan.

    Wake up Lyonchhen.

  15. PM rushing back would have not achieved anything, if there had been major loss of life in the fire and he was absent, then maybe we could have faulted him for not rushing back. Their Majesties K4 and K5 were both kind enough to be present to oversee relief efforts so the PM not being there really did not make much of a difference. In fact if the PM had been there, these mindless PDP supporters would have found a way of blaming the PM for somehow upstaging their Majesties.

  16. While it is true that PM cannot stop natural disasters but he is still the head of the government and should have come back immediately.

    And guardian how can you say that PM being there would be interpreted as upstaging their Majesties. The true upstaging is happening in the Parliament where DPT is trying to grab HM’s land kidu powers.

    This PM and this govt in short is anti-Monarchy, anti-people and given the recent trends also anti-Bhutan.

  17. Bhutanese will never become responsible if there is no system in place to indicate that the buck stops at the top leadership. One failure after another is the norm of our society, yet no body is responsible for such man-made mishaps. Instead these perpetrators of crime continue enjoying the best services in the back drop of school children dying of nutritional deficiencies. What is the excuse of all these man-made mishaps? Fate is responsible for everything from school children dying of lack of nutritional deficiencies to the fire that gutted Wangduephodrang. Bhutanese don’t understand what fate is which is why it has been abused for centuries to get away from the crimes that the people perpetrated. Ultimately whole population suffers because of few irresponsible people. It is high time now to make those perpetrators responsible for mishaps that are completely preventable.

    Many times we were taught lessons of fire as recent as the Paga Goenpa fire that destroyed whole monastery. None headed the mighty call because there is no system in place to make people responsible for their negligence and inaction. One fire incident after another, we could only watch fire gutting homes and precious histories that survived hundreds of years. Even after so many fire incidents, none of our parliamentarians ever discussed anything related to such events of disproportionate significance to the country. Yet they never failed to make one agenda to discuss about their remuneration in the parliament session. Such irresponsibility is all because there is no system in place to persecute those people in power who fail to serve their duties. When there is system for remuneration in placed, there also needs a system for accountability in placed. Where there is lack of system of accountability, either whole population is blamed like in the case of rupee shortfall or otherwise the fate of the community is blamed such as in the case of Wangduephodrang fire. How long can we pretend to be Buddhist, when we are abusing fate all the time? How long can we blame the whole nation for the failure of few people at the top management? How long can we let such perpetrators enjoy luxurious public cars, high salary and special residences when man-made preventable fires destroy the greatest history of our country?

  18. Lets see in the election, i bet DPT will get 30 seats in next election and opposition party(whoever it is) will get 17 seats and below….

  19. Tashi, i have shared my views and so u have done it…but people like u can not question me and any one for that matter for the views shared…i have the right to share my opinions without accusing any one, it is absolutely my fundamental right man…U cannot accuse of having me a DPT supporter or PM supporter or any party supporter which is again my personnel choice and life…whatever i am for….the bottom line is…the option is open for me to leave my views and every one`s views by every one…

  20. Tashi and Sonam

    why don’t you read your think-alike pal Topden’s post of 26 June at 6.54pm. Tobden has listed a couple of disasters that took place when Pm was not in town. In fact he even wrote
    “one disaster after never present.”
    So it is only logical for Traala to deduce as he did. The facts presented by your pal and not by Traala or Guardian speak for themselves.

  21. Whether PM is in Bhutan or away somewhere else, it for the nation’s good. How can he be absent from the important international forum? After all, the disaster cannot be saved even if he rushes back. If the time decides, even the rocks and mountains will split. Do not blame anyone. Be positive in thinking that we will have a much better and more glorious dzong. But I feel that some of you are waiting for such disasters to strike so that you will have complains to make.

  22. The incident has nothing to do with DPT or PDP, It is a National loss. Lets all of pray and hope that We as a nation can rebuild the Dzong to its former glory.

  23. Should the new dzong be reconstructed on the ruins of the old dzong constructed by Zhabdrung Or should it remain as it is for future generations to know like that of Drukgyel dzong.

    In any case history should not be altered.

  24. PM is always out:

    out during inr crunch
    out during major fire and earth quake strike
    out during flood time
    out during fire disaster

    He is a blessed person with no headache.

  25. Anyways so many bad things happened under the government rule of DPT and JYT government. It seems there wasn’t much Lungten for him…. “”””dorji jerdum gey thri lu lungten go””””” and that was not blessed for PM.

  26. It is ashamed to preach GNH and sustainable development outside then we don’t have one here in Bhutan. They have hired outside people to talk and preach about above to outside world is funny. It is a big Joke.

  27. guardian says

    I think bad things are happening in our country because we have people like river.

  28. tashi ,tobden,jim ,………think twice before u speak. i donot agree with ur pts totally. donot write just for the sake of opposing DPT gov.think rational.

  29. Tsencho,

    You did not understand my post, so I don’t think I will waste my time responding to you, especially to the crap you have written

  30. Guardian,
    I think u cannot afford to stoop so low to Tschencho’s level whose mental faculty is almost non existent.

  31. Mark my words this Prime Minister has become so power hungry and arrogant that he is trying to even climb over our king.

    He is never here during disasters because in his arrogance ordinary bhutanese people are like ants to whom. He does not care for people but only for international recognitions.

    The international recognitions which are actually for bhutan and not for him have gone to his head.

    i will not be surprised if he has already sold out our country’s interests so that he can get a plum UN job after his retirement.

    Two indicators are declaring bhutan as carbon neutral and also the pedestrian day.

  32. The PM has done little in his constituency but his people like him the most because of his cleverly action in times of need.

  33. Hi River,
    DPT won only 45 constituencies while PDP won as much as 2 of them. This is because as you say that PM had no lungten. You may also presume that all our lead past leaders, desis, jekhenpos and kings ruled our country without lungtens. So, that means the losers have lungtens only. Then, what is your understanding of the word Lungten? Remember, only the destined persons will come to power, not the ambitious ones.

  34. I agree with u thinker.
    At least at this point in time I cannot imagine OL and some of these ppl like Lekey of PDP, Dr Tandin of PDP, Dorji Pawo becoming prime minister of Bhutan

  35. Dear Fellow Bhutanese,

    When will you guys ever stop nagging. Arn’t you Buddhist?? Don’t blame the DPT for everything that has happened and poor PM, He’s giving the best and yet there are these people who think they are far better than the PM. Try to look for your own faults rather then on others. Bhutan is the last Buddhist country and the people here are one of the most anti buddhist by nature though they might chant prayers and verbally say they are buddhist.

  36. cring choxi says

    agree with you dorji….. as a bhutanese we have to think positively not like pem and other friends think.

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