Wangduephodrang Dzong – Symbol of 21st Century Bhutan 

In yet another historic moment in Bhutan’s annals, the 374-year-old Wangduephodrang Dzong (Fortress), which was razed to the ground by a fire on June 24, 2012 was restored and consecrated yesterday, November 11, 2022, coinciding with the birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

We need no elaborations on the significance of the Dzong. Like other dzongs in Bhutan, these architectural wonders are significant components of our Nation’s history, culture and identity. It is just amazing that in the 17th century, these mammoth structures were built.  The dzongs functioned as fortresses, administrative stations, stores and others. The practice continues to this day. The dzongs, in many ways remind us of the strength, determination, resilience and resolve of our ancestors. The question to be asked is, do we have what our ancestors did?

As restoration of the Dzong began, people from different parts of the country contributed in cash and kind. Realty shows were staged. Further, His Majesty the King granted Nu 230 million for the Dzong’s renovation and the Government of India (GoI) committed Nu 1 billion.  All these reflected Bhutan’s unity and solidarity, guided by a Leader, who has no other aspirations, but to ensure that His people lead better lives. The commitment by the GoI is testament of the mutual understanding that the two countries continue to share.

Additionally, the Dzong’s consecration could not have come at a better time – when the nation is undergoing an unprecedented transformation exercise. If juxtaposed, the new Dzong is an image of anticipations of a new Bhutan, with people taking their own responsibilities seriously, so that we achieve His Majesty’s vision of a Harmonious, Peaceful and Prosperous Bhutan. The fact that Wangduephodrang Dzong today stands tall and in all grandeur, reflects that there is nothing that cannot be done, if we are committed to a cause. It further strengthens His Majesty’s words that the people of Bhutan have always been strong and capable; it is all about people’s willingness – do we want to do something or not? The new Dzong further augments His Majesty’s golden words that excellence can be achieved. 

For two days, we witnessed people from different parts of the nation rejoicing at Wangduephodrang. Others who have not been able to partake in this historic moment are glued to their televisions and other gadgets. There is joy in all parts of the country.

Though the transformation exercise has been criticized by certain sections of the country, it is the nation’s ardent wish that the exercise leads to the birth of a new Bhutan – just like Wangduephodrang Dzong. It is the people’s aspiration that the transformation will very soon make every Bhutanese content and pleased – just as restoration of the Dzong has done.

The assistance provided by the GoI yet again reminds us of the special relations that Thimphu shares with New Delhi. And the new Dzong is a symbol of how Indo-Bhutan relations should progress in the 21st century time, based on the mutual interests of the two countries.