Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wangdue Phodrang Dzong On Fire

About three hours ago or 5.30PM BST, I heard that the 374 years old Wangduephodrang Dzong was on fire. Even as I write this, I am told that the fire is blazing and sections of the Dzong’s structure are crumbling to dust every passing minute. It appears that it will be totally razed to the grounds. It is a depressing thought but I suspect that by tomorrow morning, there may be nothing left of the Dzong, except charred woodwork and the soot-covered partial remains of the Dzong’s stone walls.

It is an irreplaceable loss. Bhutan has lost one of its most iconic tangible heritage sites. My only hope is that the people had enough time to save some of the ancient Buddhist texts and priceless religious objects that were housed in the Dzong.

The Dzong was under renovation. I am told that the fire started around 4PM from the temporary sawmill installed for processing timber for the Dzong’s renovation.

I photographed the historic Dzong about seven months back

There cannot be more calamitous news than the news that the Dzong has been wiped out without a trace. With the Dzong was entwined nearly four hundred years of Bhutanese history; her trails and tribulations. It had borne witness to Bhutan’s painful march from a primitive feudal state to a peaceful and progressive Kingdom under a stable monarchy. For the country, the loss represents a colossal decline in our cultural wealth. Wangduephodrang’s landscape will never be the same again.

I am going to feel terribly sad when I next pass the Wangdue bridge because that hillock on top of which the Dzong stood is going to look so terribly empty.

I will miss the Dzong. 

There is encouraging news. The priceless artifacts have been not been lost because they were relocated and stored elsewhere since the Dzong was under renovation.

As of now, no loss of life has been reported.

Without the Dzong, Wangdue Phodrang will never look the same ever again. As my contribution to posterity, I herewith allow everyone of my readers who visit my blog to FREELY download the above image. You may never get an image of Wangdue Phodrang looking like this ever again. The landscape of Wangdue remains altered for eternity! 

It seems like the news has spread around the world. As of now, my blog is being read  by readers from following countries:

Countreis     10PM Sun    5.50AM Mon

Bhutan                   31                         121
United States       28                      1,352
UK                          13                         214
India                        8                           22
Singapore                6                            6
Australia                 6                           37
Nepal                       4                             4
Canada                    2                         315
Thailand                 2                             2
Afghanistan           1                              1
Germany              66                           69
Netherlands         42                          42
Sweden                 23                           23
Denmark              19                            21
Japan                      0                              9
New Zealand         0                              7 
Spain                      0                              5

Bhutan declares 25.06.2012 as a day of mourning. Offices will remain closed.


  1. A very sad loss indeed. I am sorry :(

  2. Thanks for your post. It is sad when we lose these historical buildings. We can be thankful that the items were not also lost.

  3. Very sad. I was lucky enough to visit the dzong just last fall. It made a lasting impression on me. What a loss for Bhutan and the world.

  4. Yes Dasho, we lost he irreplaceable monument.
    Let's pray for the best now.
    The old scenario of Wangdiphodrang dzong is impeccably beautiful and glowing the town.
    Thanks for Updating!

  5. One reason your viewership has skyrocketed is because you have been reddit'ed.

    Being reddit'ed can be good or bad, in your case, since you are on blogspot, it is all good. If you were paying for bandwidth, it would not be so good :).
    But, I empathize with you on the great loss that Bhutan has suffered. It has fond memories in my heart as a place where I spent many summers a long time ago. When I was there with my Dad, we travelled all over Bhutan, including Thimphu, Paro and Phuntsholing.and of course Wangdue. Many fond memories. Peace!

  6. i visited the dzong last fall too. It was a beautiful and surreal place. Sorry to hear about the fire.:(

  7. My regrets from Portugal :(

  8. My husband and I just visited the dzong a few short weeks ago, and when I checked on BBS for my Bhutan news update, I could not believe what I was seeing. We were just there and I took pictures of the beautiful carvings and the work that was being done. It is so sad to think that all of this is gone. We feel privileged to have been able to see it!

  9. My profound regrets too...but I didn't get the list of countries; what is it for ?

  10. Thanks for allowing to download the photo.

    While I passed by the Dzong many times, I never realised how magnificent it looked until it is lost forever.

    Let's hope we will have a better one in place of it again soon.

  11. I remember well the Dzong, Wangdue was my deepest spot inland. Somehow it surprised the travel sight setled up in the mountain with its rounded shape just before the arrival to the iron bridge. It is one of the most gratefull and powerfull images I brought. Despite the terrible loss of the building, the preservation of the invaluable artifacts is a confort to all of us. I hope for good fortune for the needed works. Carlos.