The significance of observing National Day in Trongsa

His Majesty The King accompanied by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen and His Royal Highness The Gyalsey will celebrate the 109th National Day with the people of Mangde Tshozhi at the Sherubling High School ground in Trongsa today.

His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo and members of the Royal Family will also grace the occasion. His Majesty The King will address the nation from Trongsa. The Royal Address will be telecast live by Bhutan Broadcasting Service.

This will be the second National Day being celebrated in Trongsa by His Majesty The King. The last was celebrated in 2000 when His Majesty was then the Crown Prince.

Thousands of people from Trongsa and nearby dzongkhags are expected to attend the celebration, which has a special significance to Bhutan as it is where the institution of Monarchy was born. It was on December 17, 1907, that the then Trongsa Penlop, Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously elected as the first hereditary King of Bhutan.

His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was also born in 1929 in Thruepang Palace, which is located in the heart of the town, in Trongsa.

Trongsa Dzong today represents an important link with Bhutan’s precious institution of monarchy. It is the dzong where future Kings formalised their ascension as Chhoetse Penlop before ascending the Golden Throne. It was where the investiture ceremony of His Majesty The King, who was then the Crown Prince, as the Chhoetse Penlop took place on October 31, 2004.

The other national significance is the Ta Dzong or watchtower, where a museum dedicated to the Wangchuck dynasty is housed. The museum was inaugurated by His Majesty The King in 2008 when Bhutan celebrated the centenary of the Monarchy.

The Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five storeys above Trongsa Dzong, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, a task entrusted to him by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.  After more than 358 years, it has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity.

Significance of Trongsa Dzong

Rising from the natural contours of the strategic ridge in the centre of Trongsa valley stands Bhutan’s oldest historical, political and religious monument, the imposing and ancient structure of the Druk Minjur Chhoekhor Rabtentse Dzong, popularly called Trongsa Dzong.

Built 475 years ago, the dzong’s street-like corridors, wide stone stairs, beautiful flagstone courtyards and sacred temples have been witness to many significant events that have shaped Bhutanese history.

The dzong, which was renovated in 2004, is home to the second largest monastic body in the country.

The origins of Trongsa Dzong date back to the time of Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk who meditated at the village of Yueli, in Trongsa in 1541, a few kilometres above the present dzong. There he saw the vision of Pelden Lhamo.

In 1647, Chogyal Minjur Tempa was appointed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel as the first Trongsa Penlop and Zhabdrung’s representative to Trongsa. On the instructions of the Zhabdrung he constructed the dzong which resembled a fort and housed various lhakhangs. He also built the Goenkhang on the same spot where Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk saw his vision.

The dzong was later named Druk Minjur Choekhor Rabten Tse by Chogyal Minjur Tempa which translated into “the Dzong, built on the tip of a dungkar (conch), of the never changing country of Druk where the dharma is everlasting”.

Chogyal Minjur Tempa is also credited for the extension of the dzong in 1652, with the construction of the Poekhang or Minjur Lhakhang and at the end of the 17th century Desi Tenzin Rabgye expanded the dzong. Desi Tenzin Rabgye consecrated the Goenkhang of Pelden Lhamo and Yeshey Goenpo in 1667.

In 1715, Penlop Druk Dendrup built the Chenreyzig Lhakhang and in 1765 the Trongsa Penlop, Zhidar, established the Trongsa Rabdey dratshang with about 50 monks. In 1927, King Jigme Wangchuck renovated the Chenreyzig Lhakhang.

In 1853, the 10th Trongsa Penlop, Jigme Namgyel, father of the first King, Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck, built the Dechhog Lhakhang in the central section of the Dzong. According to legend, prior to the consecration of the Dechhog image and the Dechhog Lhakhang, two disciples of Lam Jangchu Tsendup arrived from Tibet with the sacred self created (rangjung) image of Dorji Phagmo, one of the 21 Rangjung Kharsa Pani, a religious relic formed miraculously from the spinal bone of Tsangpa Jarey, the patriarch of the Drukpa Kagyue sect.

The sacred rangjung was offered to Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyel and is today housed in a Gaw (amulet) placed at the centre of a life size silver image of the Dorje Phagmo in the Dechhog Lhakhang.

In all, the dzong has 25 lhakhangs, including the Chorten Lhakhang built by Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk in 1543, housing sacred images and religious treasures and the intricate wood carvings and beautiful frescos that decorate the walls and pillars are a testimony to Bhutan’s rich religious and culture traditions.

The dzong was completely restored to its former glory in 2004 after five years of major restoration and renovation work.

Rinzin Wangchuk

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