Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wangchuk Lo Dzong of Haa

Two popular Bhutanese Bloggers - Wangcha Sangey and Passang Tshering (both have their origins in Haa) have written on the issue of Wangchuk Lo Dzong of Haa, within days of each other. The issue was also discussed in the just concluded Parliament. It would seem that the topic is currently in vogue - so, let me add my two Chettrum’s bit. I wanted to post my comments on their Blogs instead of writing out a new article but it was going to be a long one - so here goes.

Wangchuk Lo Dzong of Haa

Many have been infuriated and incensed by the matter concerning the Wangchuk Lo Dzong being handed over and used by the IMTRAT for the past many decades. Not me. I am cool about it. I absolutely do not doubt the imperatives behind such an act. But certainly it has intrigued me for years.

We supposedly needed IMTRAT to train our military. But why was Haa chosen? It is not a suitable location for a training center. It is cold, it is frigid, it was far removed from the main centers of activity and the logistical challenges were numerous.

Why was the Dzong handed over to house the IMTRAT? Didn’t IMTRAT have money to build their own lodgings? Wasn’t there any free, open space in Haa valley that could have been allocated to the IMTRAT, to build their lodging facilities?

The RBA has established its training center at Tencholing for the past few decades. So what is IMTRAT still doing there in Haa? Aren’t they a redundant organization with their key function out of their hands?

One other question that gnaws at my guts is this: if the IMTRAT is adamant about hanging on to the old Dzong, why aren’t the people of Haa and the Royal Government of Bhutan asking the GoI to build a new Dzong in place of the old one? I am sure that if the GoI can give money to build a Supreme Court building big enough to house the entire population of the country, they will be happy to give funds to construct a new Dzong for the Haaps - as compensation for the confiscation of their poor old Wangchuk Lo Dzong.

I think we need to go beyond the rhetoric and look at the issue with a sense of intrigue, rather than a feeling of loathing.

PS: Please note that I spell the name of the Dzong without “c” in Wangchuk.


  1. Very interesting questions Au Yeshey, it can be so complex as you wrote and as simple as I have dreamt he he he but beyond all those questions your picture of the Dzong is magical. Looking at the picture the whole country would want to help people of Haa get it back.

  2. DZONG has significance that requires no elaboration. Ever since the first Dzong was built, it has played an important role in sovereignty and defense function. And this significance is understood more by India than Bhutan, sadly though. It is a subversive pride of GoI that they have control over Bhutan by housing their military establishment in a Dzong and sending out message that they have control over Bhutan. It is a blow not to Haaps but to a sovereign Kingdom of Bhutan.
    Dear good people of India, please give back our Dzong!!!!

  3. I feel we need to ask 'Why is IMTRAT in Haa?'. They are there because of the strategic location near the Tri-junction. So even if we provide them enough training space for example in Gelpoishing or Panbang, do you think they will move out. The only choices they may agree is Chanju (Tendru) or Damthang. It is not the Dzong they are after but location to the Tri-junction. For that matter the Indian Air Force Tower in Paro airport is another classical example. The IMTRAT HQ office right in the middle of Thimphu town, DANTAK space in Babesa are other examples of holding strategic locations in case of any eventualities. We have been able to remove DANTAK from Deothang and Kanglung after so many years but with the East west Highway double lane project, if we are not careful DANTAK will establish another permanent camp right in the center of our country. As a citizen I worry about their presence in all strategic locations.