With renovation and conservation works of the Trashigang dzong completed, the dzongkhag’s annual tshechu would be held in the 359-year-old dzong this year.

The tshechu was held in the Trashigang school ground for the last four years.

The dzong was handed over to the dzongkhag administration and dratshang in August earlier this year. The dratshang moved into the dzong after the handing-taking was done.

The dratshang secretary, Tshering Nidup, said it has become safe for the monks after the renovation. “Fire safety measures are also put in place which could come in handy during an emergency.”

The monks are provided with hostels inside the dzong. Accommodation for more than 70 monks and lam neten with indoor toilet are developed at the refurbished dzong.

However, the dzongkhag administration is still functioning from the renovated extension rooms of Trashigang middle secondary school.

Trashigang dzongdag, Chekey Gyeltshen, said that while the dzong has been handed over, there are developmental and other spillover works, which as to be completed before the administration shifts in.    

Some stone-slabs laid inside the dzong courtyard were broken during a mask dance practice recently. The compound walls surrounding the area are left uncapped, resulting in falling off the mud wall.

The dzongdag said that uneven flooring in the toilets and no proper drainage system surrounding the area could damage the structure.

He said that the dzongkhag has to carry out the remaining works including the replacement of the electrical wires and Internet connectivity.

“We are currently looking for a budget to execute these works before we can move in,” he said. “Most probably by the beginning of next year, we should be able to move in.”

It was learned that given the lack of budget, the conservation project could not carry out the remaining developmental works at the site.

Renovation work at the dzong began in February 2014 after the dzong’s eastern side (facing the road toward Rangjung) and southwestern side (facing the road towards Chazam) suffered major cracks from the 2009 and 2011 earthquakes.

The conservation project has not caused any major changes to the traditional architecture and the exterior part of the dzong remains the same. The features inside the dzong including the painting works and cornice have been done elaborately.

The renovated dzong also have modern features such as a fire hydrant system, smoke and heat detectors and an alarm system. The heat detectors are fitted in all 11 lhakhangs inside the dzong and the offices with smoke detectors are interconnected to the alarm system.

The new features come as a safety measure for any fire hazards in the future.

A daylong workshop on fire risk mitigation was also conducted earlier this month to provide awareness and equip the first responders (monks) with response mechanism during times of fire emergencies.

Along with the renovation works at the main dzong, the conservation project has also constructed a drasha (hostels for monks), tshokhang (dining hall) and kitchen for the dratshang. The new construction also includes a gate and a duty room.

The conservation works began with a budget of Nu 180 million (M).

However, officials with the conservation project said that since the eastern side of the dzong required major reconstruction from the base up and use of bigger stones and reinforced cement concrete, the cost increased.

The Department of Culture’s division for the conservation of heritage site carried out the renovation works at a cost of Nu 260.9M. The government of India funded the project.

Meanwhile, preparations for the four-day annual tshechu scheduled for November 15 began from yesterday.

Younten Tshedup  | Trashigang