Kalay vividly remembers that fateful winter night when the country lost its historic monument, the Drukgyel Dzong, to a fire 70 years ago.
He has watched people visit the dzong in complete ruins since then.
Almost 65 years after the fire incident, His Majesty the King commanded the reconstruction of the dzong to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness (HRH) The Gyalsey, and to commemorate the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the country in 1616 AD and the birth year of Guru Rinpoche.
Locals and visitors rejoiced when the reconstruction project began in 2016.
Today, as the construction is nearing completion, Kalay said he was blessed to witness the ‘Fortress of Victory’ rise to its former glory after the painful catastrophe. “The ruin was an eyesore for both locals and visitors alike.”
He said while the project preserved the original ancient details, the quality of materials and painting was impressive. “The dzong still has a wide lane with stables for horses on each side.”
Another resident, Dechen Tshomo, said although the dzong reconstruction is almost complete, locals did not contribute labour (woola).
She said farmers have harvested bountiful produce since the reconstruction began and the incidence of illnesses has lowered significantly.
Drukgyel residents said the dzong, constructed in 1649, served as an important base for defence in the region.
Bidha said that the dzong holds an important place in the country’s history, as it was built to commemorate the Bhutanese victory over the combined forces of the Tibetan and Mongolian armies, which attempted several invasions to the country. “The monument witnessed the continuous peace and security of the country.”
The dzong was built in 1649 by the second Druk Desi Tenzin Drukdra under the command of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel as a symbol of victory over external invasions.
Meanwhile, the project manager, Namgay Dorji, said the physical structure of the dzong is 90 percent complete.
He said that the last phase of the project is 30 percent complete. “The reconstruction project is approximately six months ahead of plans.”
He added that the project management aimed to complete the work by June of next year.
So far, the project has spent about Nu 320.4 million (M), which is 64 percent of the approved project budget, worth Nu 500M.
With the estimated leftover budget, Namgay Dorji said that the project planned to restore and repair three watchtowers and two water towers surrounding the dzong to preserve the antique aspect.