359 Year Old Trashigang Dzong In Bhutan Ready To Be The Festive Grounds For The Annual Tshechu Which Starts On 17 November
The preparations for the annual tshechu scheduled for 17 November began on 23 Oct 2018.
By Younten Tshedup | Kuensel
With renovation and conservation works of the Trashigang dzong (monastery) almost completed, the dzongkhag’s annual tshechu (festival) will take place at the 359-year-old dzong this year.
The preparations for the annual tshechu scheduled for 17 November began on 23 Oct 2018. The tshechu has been held in the Trashigang school grounds for the last four years.
Renovation work at the dzong began in February 2014 after the dzong’s eastern side (the road facing Rangjung) and southwestern side (the road facing Chazam) suffered major cracks from the 2009 and 2011 earthquakes.
The dzong was handed over to the dzongkhag administration and dratshang in August this year. Thereafter, the dratshang moved into the dzong.
Traditional architecture of the dzong remained the same after renovation works
Source: World Monuments Fund
The conservation project has not caused any major changes to the traditional architecture and the exterior part of the dzong remains the same. However, the features inside the dzong including the painting works and cornices have been done elaborately.
Facilities available at the newly renovated dzong
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. The offices are also equipped with smoke detectors which are interconnected to the alarm system.
The dratshang secretary, Tshering Nidup said that it is now safe for the monks to move in after the renovation. A daylong workshop on fire risk mitigation was also conducted earlier this month to provide awareness and to equip the first responders (monks) with response mechanism during times of fire emergencies.
“Fire safety measures are also put in place which could come in handy during an emergency.”
Along with the renovation works at the main dzong, the conservation project has also constructed a drasha (hostels for more than 70 monks), tshokhang (dining hall) and kitchen for the dratshang. Other new facilities also includes a gate, a duty room and indoor toilets at the refurbished dzong.
More repair works remains to be done in the dzong
However, the dzongkhag administration is still functioning from the renovated extension rooms of the Trashigang Middle Secondary School.
Thw Trashigang dzongdag, Chekey Gyeltshen said that while the dzong has been handed over, there are still some developmental and other spillover works which has to be completed before the administration can shift in.
Some stone-slabs laid inside the dzong courtyard were broken during a mask dance practice recently. The compound walls surrounding the area have been left uncapped, resulting in mud falling off the wall.
The dzongdag said that uneven flooring in the toilets and the lack of proper drainage system surrounding the area could damage the structure further.
He said that the dzongkhag has to carry out the remaining works including the replacement of the electrical wires and internet connectivity.
Lack of funds is a hindrance to the completion of the renovation works at the dzong
It was learned that given the lack of budget, the conservation project could not carry out the remaining developmental works at the site.
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 conservation works began with a budget of Nu 180 million (M) and the government of India has funded the project.
However, officials with the conservation project said that since the eastern side of the dzong required major reconstruction from the base up and required the use of bigger stones and reinforced cement concrete, the cost has increased.
“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.”
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the Bhutan Times.