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Zhongar Dzong


The ruin of Zhongar Dzong is a familiar sight on the Thimphu – Tashigang highway at Thidangbi village just before reaching Mongar town. The ruin of this magnificent monument opposite the highway still imposes its presence even a few centuries after it was abandoned. According to the oral history, the local people believe that King Karpodhung, invited architect Bala from
Paro, the western Bhutan to construct the Dzong. He made journey through Bumthang Ura to Zhongar. Upon reaching Saleng, Bala, the chief architect made a visual survey of the place. He reportedly saw a white stone bowl on a small hill and decided to build a new Dzong on it. He named it Zhongkhar,
meaning, the white bowl.

Fearing that the new Dzong might intrude into his territory, the Tsen of Golongdrak sent two junior Tsen to kill Bala before reaching the place. The two Tsen hid in the jungle and waited for Bala, but Bala never came. They instead saw a “wooden cross” moving along the path. It was later found out that the wooden Cross was Bala’s measuring instrument. Even today, it is widely believed that carpenter should carry this instrument to avoid any unseen harm.

Upon his arrival in Zhongar, Bala surprisingly disappeared for seven days. Later he was found in Jangdhung, where he had made a model of a new Dzong from artemesia stems. Bala built the Dzong bases on this model. It was said that there were no rough edges in the structure and not a sigle rock that was out of place. The Dzong used to consist of four maint structures – Dratuel Dzong, Chhudzong, Bjachung Ta Dzong and Dhumrey Sipki Dzong. The Dzong’s courtyard was so long that it was used as an archery ground, but the King began to worry that chief architect of Dzong, Bala might build another Dzong of greater wonder than his Dzong. So, on the eve of Bala’s journey back to Paro, the king cut off his right hand. Then, Bala in agonizing pain, prayed that the king must also die in pain and that, when he was dead, he should be born as demon of the Dzong and surround land. Local people believe that Bala was born as a gaint snake which still guards the ruin of the Dzong. Later a snake started killing king’s horses.
Then, the Kng invited the Peseling Trulku Tenpai Gyaltshen from Bumthang to perform a religious ceremony. The Trulku stopped above Saleng and started to blow his conch, the sound of which was said
to have cured one of the king’s dying horses. The Trulku entered into a retreat in the citadel of Golongdrak Tshen with instruction that he should not be disturbed for seven days, but king grew suspicious of Trulku’s intent and lost faith. On the sixth day, he sent his chamberlain to spy on the Trulku. The chamberlain saw a gigantic snake prostrating before Trulku. The Trulku came out after the seventh day to inform that the Tshen has not been completely subdued because of the king’s distrust of him and the chamberlain’s disturbance. The king offered a hundred cows and pasturlands in repentance. Even today, Paselling Trulku owns the same pasturelands. Then Trulku then consecrated the Dzong and Kurizampa.
The Dzong’s relic were offered by Lama Sherab Jungney of Khengkhar, while Lama Sangay Zangpo of Kilikhar made the alter. Though the two lama never met, statues fitted exactly into the alter. The Kanjur was copied in fire male dog year of 11 th rabjung in 1646, when Ngewang Penjor was the Dzongopn of the Dzong. Centuries later, the Dzong was damaged by the fire and later it was further destroyed by the earthquake, which lasted for seven days. The number seven significant in the history of Zhongar Dzong, because, Bala took seven days to design Dzong, then Trulku took seven days to subdue demons and finally, earthquake lasted seven days to destroy Dzong. The earthquake is considered as blessing in disguise, because the people of village were trying to abandoning the place because of its Demoness nature and malaria infection. When the Trongsa Penlop sent inspection team for the rebuilding of Dzong, the people of places bribe the inspector and he falsely informed the Trongsa Penlop, that Dzong cannot be reconstructed because of its complete damaged by the earth quake. This the reason, why Zhongar Dzong was not re constructed.

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