Tashichho Dzong

Tashichoedzong, meaning the fortress of “auspicious doctrine” has traditionally been the seat of the Dharma Raja and summer capital of the country. The original Thimphu dzong was built in 1216 by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa, above the present Dzong, where Dechen Phodrang now stands. Soon after, Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, who first brought the Drukpa Kagyu lineage to Bhutan, took it over. In 1641 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal acquired it from Lama Phajo’s descendants, but soon finding it too small, he built the present Tashicho Dzong and called it a lower Dzong. In 1771, when Dechen Phodrang was destroyed by fire, everything was moved to the lower Dzong, which was expanded then, and again by the 13th Druk Desi (1744-1763), and further expanded in 1866. It was damaged during an earthquake of 1897 and rebuilt in 1902. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck had it completely renovated and enlarged over five years after he moved the capital to Thimphu in 1952 in traditional style using neither nails nor written plans. Presently it houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby. The main structure of the Tashichoe Dzong is two-storied with four three-storied towers at each corner, topped by triple-tiered golden roofs. In the center of the building is a large central tower called utse. This fortress serves as the office of the King, ministers and various government organizations. It also is the headquarters for central monastic body of Bhutan. Bhutan’s spiritual leader Je-Khenpo and the monks of both Thimphu and Punakha reside here during summer. Thimphu Festival, traditionally held here, has been moved outside in a new courtyard.