Drugyel Dzong is no longer an ancient ruin fortress. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel1 decree Tenzin Drukda to build Drugyel dzong in 1649 to honor the memory of the victory over an invasion from Tibet. The term “Druk,” refers to the royal dynasty and “gyel,” meaning victory. It is located in the upper valley of Paro, about 9 miles from Paro town. Rice was exported to Tibet and salt and tea were imported from Tibet and travelers would stop by Drugyel Dzong.
What happened during the time of war between Bhutan and Tibet?
Many Tibetan sought refuge in Bhutan but in 1629 and 1631, Tibetan invasions under Karma Tenkyong failed. The Zhabdrung’s rule was opposed by the leaders of rival Buddhist lineages and formed allied of five lamas. In 1634, a Tibetan refuge Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel rose to power in Bhutan and led an army prevailed in the battle of Five Lamas over Tibetan. It was during those times that the dzong was placed along the main routes near Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. However, in 1639, another attempted Tibetan invasions failed by Karma Tenkyong, trying to gain control over the Bhutanese land. Later, followed by Gushi Khan, a defender of Gelugpa in 1643 who sought to destroy Nyingmapa refugees who fled to Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal. In 1644, the Mongols and Tibetans intruded into the country and failed. Several Tibetan officers were captured by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel as well as the horses. Through this war, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel became the first ruler of Bhutan and established a dual system of government.
The primary reason for a tall building on top of a hill was to repel the Tibetan invasions. In 1951, the fortress was destroyed by fire and now, the fortress has risen from phoenix. The construction of new fortress began in 2016.
Footnote: Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (belong to the Drukpa Kagyu religion) came to Bhutan from Ralung. At the age of 12, he was recognized as the reincarnation of Pema Karpo, the abbot of Ralung. At age 23, deity Yeshe Goenpo appeared as a raven and direct Zhabdrung from south to Bhutan.