The grand and visually appealing dzongs of Bhutan are scattered all over the country. Most have same architecture with large central courtyards, temple of Buddha and central tower, each with its own significance. Each dzong happens to be a monastery, administrative centre and fortress rolled into one.
One has to be decently dressed to visit these dzongs. Visiting the Punakha Dzong in spring, it looked stunning skirted by lilac jacaranda trees on the banks of the river Mo Chhu. Built in the 1600s as a fortress, it was the centre of Government till 1955. Today its importance lies in being the winter residence of Bhutan’s central monastic body led by His Highness the Je Khenpo.
Trashi Chhoe Dzong in Thimphu looks spectacular by the side of a manicured lawn and has a large courtyard. Built in the 18th century, it was enlarged in 1962 to accommodate both the national Government and the central monastic body, when Thimphu became the capital. Just below its premise is the Bhutan king’s modest home in the forest.
Rinpung Dzong overlooking the Paro valley is steeped in history and originally a monastery (built in 10th century by Guru Padmasambhava) was strengthened as a fortress in 1646 to combat Tibetan invasions. It houses sacred masks and costumes.