But labour and resource challenges persist 

Conservation: The second phase of the restoration of Wangdicholing Dzong in Bumthang is in full swing.

Workers are replacing chams (joists), nampang (ceiling boards), floor planks, windows, and other wooden parts of the dzong.

Project Manager Sonam Tashi said wooden parts of the Lingka Lhakhang have been replaced and the rooms of the Drasha were modified.

In the second phase, conservation work will be carried out only for the periphery buildings (shakor). The utse of the palace will remain untouched. “The Chhukhor Mani will also be renovated during this phase,” he said.

Sonam Tashi said only the conservation work will be completed during the second phase which started in March this year and will end by September 2017.

They are also building doors to link the rooms of the shakor. People visiting the dzong in the future will be able to move directly to other rooms without having to exit the building.

Bhutan Foundation’s programme manager Deepika Chhetri said the second phase of the project is funded by the US Ambassador’s fund for cultural preservation through the foundation. “Bhutan Foundation is also partly funding the project,” she said.

Tashideling construction and consultancy is executing the work and the Department of Culture is monitoring.

Project’s Zopon Namgay, said it is estimated that some 700 chams for the Shakor will be replaced. “Conservation work is done in a very strict manner,” he said.

For instance, the zopon explained that for a door, they would remove only that portion that is destroyed and not the entire structure. He said it is difficult for them to change the chams as they would have to jack up the bidhen (beams placed on the chams) by three inches.

Sonam Tashi said that they are facing acute shortage of skilled workers. This is because private employers in Bumthang pay higher daily wages compared to the project. “People came and worked for the project for about two months and then left finding better wages,” he said.

The project manager said that the project requires 50 workers everyday but can manage only 20-25 a day.

He said they had already have seasoned chams but it is difficult to get stones and sand since there are no quarries in Bumthang.

The restoration of Wangdicholing Dzong, the birthplace of the first Druk Gyalpo, Ugyen Wangchuck is being carried out in commemoration of the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

The long-term objective of the restoration plan is to establish a special museum that demonstrates the history of Bhutan with Buddhism at the heart of its tradition and culture.

The museum will promote sustainable tourism that will increase financial opportunities within the locality. Additionally, this museum will become a gateway into Bhutan’s cultural heartland, the Bumthang valley, providing opportunities for local Bhutanese to learn their own history as well as for tourists.

The main partner for the project is the division for conservation of architectural heritage sites of the home ministry, and international partners include Tsao & McKown Architects, the World Monuments Fund besides the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.

The project started in March 2015 and expected to be completed by December 2018.

Nima Wangdi | Bumthang