Royal Visit: His Majesty The King visited the Drukgyel Dzong reconstruction site, where the preliminary work to rebuild the dzong is being carried out by various agencies.

The dzong stands in ruins today, after being devastated by a fire in 1951. Before the fire, the dzong, which was built in 1659 at the behest of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to commemorate a battle victory, was a Dra-Dzong, a triumphant symbol for the country.

Following an exhaustive survey of the area carried out by the National Land Commission, the Department of Geology and Mines carried out surveys to determine the strength of the site and existing structures. Besides studying the remains, photographs taken by John Claude White when he came to Bhutan in 1905 are being used as reference in the rebuilding process.

The caretaker of the site, Ap Kaley, remembers the time when the dzong was destroyed by the fire in 1951, even though he was only 10 years old.

“The fire completely destroyed the dzong, which used to house an armoury and was the site of an important three-day annual prayer,” he said. After the fire destroyed the dzong, the central tower was fortified during the time of the Third Druk Gyalpo.

“It had always been His Majesty the Third Druk Gyalpo’s intention to rebuild the dzong, as it was an important symbol for Bhutan and close to the hearts of the Bhutanese. I feel fortunate that I will witness the rebuilding of this important dzong in my lifetime, it is an exciting moment that I have awaited ever since I was a boy,” Ap Kaley said.

It was announced following the Royal Birth of His Royal Highness that the dzong would be rebuilt to its former glory to commemorate three significant events of this year, namely the Royal Birth, the 400th anniversary of Zhabdrung’s arrival in Bhutan, and Guru Rinpoche’s birth year.