Renovation: Conservation works of the 17th century Gasa Tashi Thongmen Dzong is in full swing.

The project took off in August 2014 with Government of India (GOI) funding of Nu 100 Million (M) and government funding of Nu 66M.

The dzong’s project manager, Kinley Gyeltshen said continuous rainfall is hampering the construction of walls and installation of timber components are the main challenges being faced by the project. Extreme weather in the winter is another difficulty.

However, despite weather challenges, he said they are sure to complete the conservation project by the 2018 deadline.

As of now, Nu 45M from the GOI fund and Nu 43M from the government fund has been spent on the conservation project. The project has 160 workers including carpenters, masons, and unskilled and skilled labourers from across the country.

Kinley Gyeltshen said the two-storey four-block drasha, two-storey tshogkhang and classrooms are constructed with government funding, while the dzong complex including the utse, Ta-dzong, Gasa-lamai Singye zimchung, the administrative block, court and mini drasha are being built using the GOI fund.

Kinley Gyeltshen said the two-storey tshogkhang including its carving works and installation of sergthog have been completed. Two blocks of the drasha have been completed and bedding and toilet facilities for the first two blocks are ready.

He said the remaining two blocks of the drasha would be completed within two months, after which monks will move in. Currently the monks are residing at Phu Lhakhang, which is located a few metres above the dzong.

Currently work is focused on the utse. Around 24 percent of work on the utse has been completed, and timber components also fabricated and kept ready, he said.

The utse structure has also been partially dismantled to install the new timber components, said Kinley Gyeltshen. Walls that suffered major cracks and bulging were also reconstructed. “We are trying to blend the old and new wall so that the historical walls are preserved,” said the project manager. The two-storey Changzoe Lhakhang is almost complete while tshogkhang and drasha are only left with paintings works.

He said they are replacing all the unusable timber components of the dzong complex but without changing the existing architectural features.

This is the first major renovation being carried out on the dzong, apart from the Mithrupa and Kagoen Lhakhangs being rebuilt after being partly damaged by fire in January 2008.

The dzong was initially built by Tenzin Drukdra, the second Druk Desi in the 17th century and later expanded by the fourth Druk Desi Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye.

Dawa Gyelmo | Gasa