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Dzongs of Bhutan

The Word Dzong loosely translated means a fortress. For over three hundred years they have built on strategic points mostly on mountain spurs to serve as an effective defence against an attack or invasion. Dzongs were first built in Bhutan in 12th century by Lam Gyalwa Lhanangpa, an important leader of Lhapa Kagyud. The Dzongs built before Shabdrung were used as monasteries. It was only from the time of Shabdrung in 17th century that the Dzongs were built in such a way that they played a signaficant role in the history of Bhutan. They not only served as an effective defence but also became the centres of religious and cultural activities.

All the Dzongs were built on similar lines. They were first designed as parallelograms divided into several courtyards and they are constructed mostly with beaten mud and stones, the super structure is timber.

In the course of time Dzongs became the strongholds of Penlops and Dzongpons who ruled their respective Dzongs. Dzongs were also the storehouse of national treasures, books and written records as well as weapons. In times of femine the Dzongs functioned as granaries in their respective valleys and helped to feed the people.Today the Dzongs are the seats of district administrations and house the offices of the civil authority.

 

 

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