Ancient Ruins of Drukgyel Dzong

Standing atop a hill at the Phondey Village in Paro are the ancient ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, a fortress built in 1649 to commemorate the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetan invaders in 1644. The name “Drukgyel” means “the fortress of victory” and is one of the four Dra Dzongs (defense fortress) built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. However, some historians say that Tenzin Drukdra, the second Desi, built Drukgyel Dzong at the behest of Zhabdrung. Unlike other dzongs, the Drukgyel Dzong served solely as a defensive base against invasions from Tibet into Paro Valley. This is why it was strategically constructed near the Tibetan border. The dzong was only accessible from one side and had a false entrance to lure invaders into an enclosed courtyard. A fire in 1951 almost destroyed what was once a stronghold against it; the people of Bhutan consider its survival a symbol of its nation’s sovereignty. Recently, in 2016, the Bhutanese government full restoration plans for the ruined structure, bringing it to its former position of strength.