Their Majesties overseeing the firefighting efforts

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His Majesty the King, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the Gyaltsuen are in Wangduephodrang overseeing the firefighting efforts. The historic edifice, the Wangduephodrang Dzong, has reduced to ashes by a disastrous fire on Sunday. However, the sacred relics have been saved and now handed over to the Central Monastic Body.

Their Majesties rushed to Wangduephodrang yesterday soon after the news of the disastrous fire broke out. Late into the night, Their Majesties joined the firefighters to contain the fire.

Earlier today, His Majesty the King personally attended to the relics and made sure that the Nangtens are safe and secured.

Our reporters in Wangduephodrang say His Majesty inspected the relics including statues and scriptures in the storage box.

His Majesty handed over the relics to the Zhung Dratshang after a purification ceremony conducted by the His Holiness, the Je Khenpo. His Holiness the Je Khenpo arrived in Wangdue this morning.

His Majesty the King and Gyaltsuen are still in Wangduephodrang, monitoring the situation personally. The tragic fire completely destroyed the historic monument, which was built almost four hundred years ago. 

Nation loses a historical fortress 

Smoke continues to come out from the remains of the Wangduephodrang Dzong even though the fire has been put out. Firefighters battled the blaze continuously for hours after the Dzong caught fire at 4 pm yesterday.

The fire is believed to have started from the ground floor of one of the offices in the Dzong. The Home Minister, Lyonpo Minjur Dorji, said the cause of the fire could probably be short circuit.

All most all the administrative documents have been lost.

The Dzong played a significant role in consolidating Bhutan as a sovereign country. The historic fortress was built in 1638.

According to the president of Centre for Bhutan Studies, Dasho Karma Ura, the Dzong was built with innovation architectural design by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Dzong served as monastic, civilian and military purposes at the same time.

“It also played a role as a headquarter of the revenue in terms of collection of Sha-Dar-Gay. It housed some of the precious religious relics made personally by Zhabdrung Rinpoche such as Tuendey of Penden Lhamo Deuselma and Jaro Dongchen,” said Dasho Karma Ura.

Dasho said the Dzong also housed the priceless stone image which emerged by itself in Deuthro-Sa-Waa-Tse, the stone image of Goenpo Maning Nagpo.

The Dzong was third oldest fortress in Bhutan after Semtokha and Punakha Dzongs.

The Wangduephodrang Dzong experienced disasters in earlier times too. In 1837, the Dzong was destroyed by a major fire and later in 1897, the Dzong was again damaged by severe earthquake.

The Dzong was under major renovation works prior to the fire incident. 

What obstructed the firefighters’ effort

The steep ridge of the hill on which the Dzong stood proved as the main barrier for the firefighting crew to contain the fire, even though the team reached the scene on time.

Around 12 tankers were deployed to contain the blaze. But the fire trucks could not enter the Dzong given the structure of it.

The only access the fire fighters had was the entrance of the Dzong and that is where the fire is said to have started.

Intense heat from the flames which raged unabated for hours, also made it impossible for the firefighters to go near the Dzong. The flame was also fueled by strong winds. The eye witnesses said the flames traveled from one end of the Dzong to the other within seconds. “We could only watch in horror. We couldn’t do anything,” said one of the witnesses.

The Prime Minister in charge, Yeshey Zimba, who was at the scene, said many Dzongs in the country are exposed to similar threats. Lyonpo said there is a need for provisions to prevent such mishaps. 


The government offices and institutions and corporate agencies across the country remained closed today to mourn the loss of the historic Dzong. Many people in the capital said they felt a deep sense of loss when they watched the tragedy unfold on television.

“How helpless we are. It hurts to see such loss,” tweeted the Chief Election Commissioner, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi. “Heartbreaking,” was how many people described the incident as. “Deep sense of loss, as if a chord that connects us to our past, our history, was severed forever,’ wrote a media professional, Kinley Tshering.

“We have rescued the relics, now we will rebuild our Dzong,” tweeted the Opposition Leader, Tshering Tobgay.

Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba said the incident is a serious and tragic loss of the country’s most significant and ancient heritage. “The government will try to rebuild the Dzong to its former glory,” said Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba.

Many speaking to BBS said they could only watch in helplessness and despair as the Dzong burnt down, part by part, before their eyes.

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