Sure, Bhutan is a small country. It is roughly about half the size of the US state of Indiana, but it is by no measure small in terms of historical and cultural heritage. Also known as the Land of Thunder, the country is awash with an astonishing number of landmarks from the past that boast of the nation’s illustrious past. One such wonders from the past is Bhutan’s Dzongs. Dzongs are fortresses, found in each valley which houses prominent administrative and religious powers. With magnificent stonework and woodwork, these Dzongs remind the Bhutanese of the victories they had over the Tibetan invasions from north and the brutal British-Indian attacks from the south. These ancient fortresses are living, breathing heritage of Bhutan that sings the songs and narrates the fables of the past.
Founded in 1648, the Trongsa Dzong is strategically situated in the Trongsa Dzongkhag district in central Bhutan on what was at one time the only route between east and west Bhutan. During its heyday, the Dzong was very prominent in controlling the kingdom, which is reflected in its majestic size and location, as it is built atop a ridge above the MangdeChhu river and the town. The dzong inarguably boasts of one of the most stunning locations in Bhutan with an eagle’s eye view of the surrounding valleys and a sheer drop to the south. With its beautiful assemblage of buildings, alley-like corridors, beautifully paved courtyards and stone stairs, it is one of the most beautiful and popular Dzongs in the country.
Built in 1654, Lhuentse Dzong is in the least visited eastern province of Bhutan. It is situated at the end of the narrow KuriChhu valley atop a rocky peninsula with hill sides with near-vertical drops on all sides The dzong houses a small body of monks and thus receives a small number of visitors compared to other Dzongs. So, naturally, visiting this Dzong is a more leisurely and laid-back experience. The dzong also is home to five beautiful temples dedicated to gods like Padmasambhava, Mahakala, and Avalokitesvara that have added to its beauty. Also, an ancestral home to the Bhutanese royal family, the region is also a major center for traditional weaving. A good portion of the country’s impressive weaving is produced here.
Originally built in 1549 as a monastery, Jakar Dzong was once the seat of the first king of Bhutan. Situated high above the scenic Chokhor Valley which is also known as “Little Switzerland” it was expanded into an illustrious dzong only in 1667. As the name of the location gives away, the dzong offers magnificent views of the lush valley beneath. One interesting feature of the Dzong is that its central tower is located on an outside wall, which means there is no way to circumambulate it. In addition to the walled passages, beautifully carved courtyards, lofty towers and chapels, the walk and climb up to the dzong are worthwhile in themselves for the serene and picturesque views of the Chokhor Valley.