History: More than a century ago, they say, there was a great dzong called Sharlingkhar in Shumar, Pemagatshel. From this great fortress ruled Dzongpon Kolokpo. But then, as they also say the rest is history, one can today see only the ruins of the great dzong of Sharlingkhar. We can only imagine its magnificence and strategic significance.

For years the villagers and gewog officials have been trying to save what is left of the once mighty dzong. No one knows when exactly the dzong was built, who built it, and in what circumstances. The only story line that is left is that the dzong was huge and magnificent and the strongman Kolokpo was the lord from where he wielded is power.

Tshampa Jinlap, 60, said he heard the story of the dzong from his grandfather. It was demolished and nothing remained of it, he was told. How and why, he never got to learn.

“The story we got from our elders is that the dzongpon and his entourage left for Assam one day. While returning, the dzongpon stole a cannon from Indian troops,” said Tshampa Jinlap. From that day on, things were never to be the same.

The Indian forces came to take the cannon back. But the dzongpon was adamant and would not return the cannon. Three years passed until finally the Indian forces from the border entered the dzong.

“Dzongpon and his troops disappeared with the cannon. But the Indians caught the dzongpon and his men at a place called Buramshing. Upon their return the Indians destroyed the entire dzong and then left,” said Tshampa Jinlap.

Not long after, the people started leaving the place. A great legend died so with it. There was pretty much no one left to either rebuild the dzong or to tell the story of its fall. Nothing is known yet of what happened to Dzongpon Kolokpo and his men; and very little can be gathered from what is left – footprints of the dzongpon’s steed, his resting place, duck ponds and some slates with curious inscriptions.

Located near the farm road in Shali, the ruins of the dzong from which the village got its name, one can hardly see anything. Trees and dense thickets have covered the fallen and the rotting parts of the dzong.

“It is regrettable that as children we didn’t listen to the story of the dzong. We weren’t curious enough to dig deep into it. Much has been lost already,” said Tshampa Jinlap. “Now we have pretty much nothing to give as history to our children.”

Tshampa Jinlap added that something ought to be done so that people in the chiwogs know about this great historical power place.

Villagers said that they used to see the doors, rooms and walls of the ruins not so long ago. Now the walls have crumbled. Villagers take stones from the ruins for the construction of their house.

Chiwog Tshogpa Cheki Gyeltshen said that villagers tried finding any script related to the dzong. Everything seems to have lost with the fall of the dzong. There is nothing to be salvaged from the ruins.

“We may not be able to reconstruct the dzong but we could at least build a monument to remind the future generations of the great history of this dzong. It would be a huge loss otherwise,” said Cheki Gyeltshen.

Villagers have raised the issue at the Gewog Tshogde and have already put up to the gewog office to save the ruins or to try to find any document related to the dzong. Chances of anything happening to the hope of the people is, however, very slim.

Shumar Gup Lepo said that although there is no accurate history of the dzong and the community, people have tried finding documents relevant to it. Only they have not succeeded.

“Nobody has accurate information about the dzong. We’ve proposed for the budget so that we can fence and clean the area because people are not taking care of ruins that really needs our attention,” said Lepo. He added that there has been no response from home ministry even as the people took the issue up with the ministry officials several times.

“Budget is our last hope. If government could look into it once, nothing like it,” said Lepo.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Pemagatshel