Monday, December 29, 2014

Mythical Treasure of Daga Dzong

My Maiden journey to Dagana held a mythical surprise for me, which ironically emerged from an american friend. I was invited to Camp RUF in Dagana by my friend and founder of the camp, Tenzin Dorji, as photographer. Though it was a privilege, I had to decide to leave the camp early because I took along a foreigner friend who turned out to be little too 'underprepared' for the kind of place the camp was setup in. He was ready to leave on his own but I was quite unsure about how he would make it back given the remoteness of where we were and rarity of transportation services.
My another Milestone
It was the night before we left that I shared about my plan to visit Daga Dzong on our way back, when Julie, an american lady teaching in Thimphu and facilitating at the camp, asked if I knew about the massive Buffalo Horn treasure of the dzong. It's ironic yet very heartening to learn about the mythical treasure of Daga Dzong from a foreigner.
Daga Dzong
How massive can a buffalo horn be? I was skeptical yet curious, and when I heard the horn stands taller than me I was convinced that I wouldn't leave without seeing it of myself. Deep inside I wasn't ready to believe the myth. I suddenly went around seeking confirmations from local teachers, and surprisingly many had just heard about it. There are a few of them who claimed to have seen it and they description couldn't logically convinced me. They say it's over 5 feet long, and I can't imagine a buffalo that carried a pair of 5 feet long horns. I assumed that it possibly just a myth and whatever was there in Daga Dzong must be something else.
But I was shivering with excitement when I finally took that 43 km journey to Daga Dzong from Dagapela after declining a comfortable free ride to Thimphu. The middle aged cab driver was a local who was one among the many people who heard about it but haven't seen it. It was only getting interesting.
Finally I walked into the central tower of Daga Dzong with my friend Hemant, and there we were face to face with the Buffalo Horn. I stood there frozen at the sight of it. It's really a horn and it's even longer than I ever could have imagined. It's officially 7.2 feet. I touched it, it's real. How could it be possible?
Illustration of the Horn, since camera wasn't allowed inside.
 Continue in the next post- The Buffalo Horn in Daga Dzong

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gift for Reading Year in Yangthang

"You must read about everything around you- not just subjects that interest you. You must learn about current events, history, science, culture and people around the world- the pursuit of knowledge must be lifelong,"- His Majesty on the launch of National Reading Year 2015
World would envy the nation that commits to observe a whole year as National Reading Year, and for it to be graced by his majesty himself is truly something. About ten thousand students and teachers who gathered at the grand opening received book gifts from his majesty and not to mention the book was about life of Buddha. This gives us all the inspiration and reason to read.

I personally believe that at the end there are only two types of people; the ones who read and others who don't- all the other differences are therefore connected to this division. You can spot the difference in first few minutes of meeting, not just in the beauty of their language but also in the greatness of their soul. I realised it late in life because of where I came from and where I grew up. I wished I had so much inspiration and opportunity when I was in primary school. Today when I feel something missing in my being I know it's a certain book I missed in life.

However, this need not happen to the children who are growing up in my village, and therefore I approached READ Bhutan for the  construction of a library for children in my village, which is what READ Bhutan does across the country, especially in the rural parts. The amazing Nonprofit Organization made a few visits to my village and upon understanding the gravity of my request they instantly accepted to help. They have so far build 6 centres across Bhutan.
Village Committee 

They needed the assurance from the people of the village, and they also must find the way to bring people together in building the structure, and also in running it sustainably after the completion, which they call Sustaining enterprise. The agreement was signed and construction committee was formed. In April 2015 the library will be ready and over 60 children in the village will be using the facility. The library will have a computer lab, Play Room with audio visual devices, Woman Section with training equipments, and Conference Room on top of thousands of books.
READ Bhutan Team inspecting the work progress with he new Country Director

As the nation prepares for the National Reading Year I am smiling at the perfect coincidence- launching of village library in the same year by the organisation that advocates reading in Bhutan. It was never planned this way but the fact that it has turned out this way makes it the best gift for the children of my village from READ Bhutan.

It gives me so much satisfaction and pride in being the bridge between READ Bhutan and my village, and the village elders blessed me with their kindest words when I went home with READ Bhutan team to inspect on the work progress. If you feel like doing the same in your village, you know how to go about!

Yangthang Seen through the Library Window

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Haa Dzong in The Parliament

From Drukgyel High School to Paro College of Education my friends Kinley Wangchuk (Takta) used one line to silence me in every debate we had, much out of context at all times: "You Haap, who don't even have a Dzong should just shut up." This is just one among many jokes about me coming from Haa and Haa not having Dzong.
I would ask, "What's in a Dzong?"
But over the years time and age taught me what's in a Dzong; It's the identity of the place, symbol of unity, sentiments of people, storeroom of history, illustration of cultural heritage, and therefore it's everything for the people of the place, but suddenly it felt so hallow realising we don't have our Dzong.
To add to the misery our entire administrative body is housed in an ordinary traditional structure that is no bigger than my village house, it's so ordinary that no one seemed to have cared to photograph it and load it on internet. I could not find one picture of our administration house.

Haa Wangcuk Lo Dzong is the original Haa Dzong. It was initially called Dumcho Dzong Sarpu meaning new Dzong. It's been occupied by Indian Military Training Academy for more than half a century.
Wangchuk Lo Dzong- The Dzong in Question

While I thought Haa Wangchuk Lo Dzong was built in 1913 right after the old Dumcho Dzong was destroyed by fire, which is during the reign of first king Ugyen Wangchuk and when Gongzim Ugyen Dorji was Haa Drungpa but blogger Wangcha Sangay, who should know better, wrote it was "... built by the people of Haa during the time of the 2nd King. It was initiated by Deb Zimpon Sonam Tobgay (Son of Gongzim Ugyen Dorji)" Then it should be much later than 1913. (Click here to read this history of Old Haa Dzong)


Watercolor of Wangchuk Lo Dzong
It was during the time of Prime Minister Jigme Palden Dorji that the Dzong was provided for temporary occupancy to IMTRAT as an interim measure to answer accommodation problem in Haa. The BBS report suggests that Dzong became IMTART headquarter in 1988, Do they mean officially?Because by any calculation IMTART was there before 1964, the year Jigme Palden Dorji Passed away. And following is an extract from Wangcha Sangay's blog that confirms that that it was occupied way before and also the King's words to people of Haa.
In 1970 or early 1971 any way it was When His Majesty the King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck came to Haa for the inauguration of Haa to Chhuzom motor road. In his Public Address to the people of Haa His Majesty the King confirmed that the Dzong and the area surrounding the Dzong belonged to Haa and the Bhutanese Nation. It was not sold nor leased to the Indian Military Training Team ( IMTRAT ). -wangchasangey.blogspot.com
I would like to thank our representative in the National Council, Honourable Tshering Dorji for asking Home and Cultural Minister about our Dzong. When the minister said, "I cannot say exactly when the Dzong would be returned to the people." He means to say that it's a very sensitive issue but I wonder why people even think that it's sensitive and would have negative impact of our friendship with india.
It's true that Indo-Bhutan friendship is more important than any structure, therefore it's about mutual respect and respecting a friendly nation's cultural sentiments. IMTART doesn't need our Dzong, they just need space to function. They know how important our Dzong is to us and therefore relocating them elsewhere should be fairly acceptable to them. 
Wangchuk Lo Dzong- A long time Ago


It's perfectly timed reminder by Dasho Tshering Dorji to his colleague in the Parliament Dasho Kinley Om who made this very promising promise during her election campaign to get back our Dzong. She made it seem so possible. People believed in her. People voted her to power, now she should bring result. And like I believe, the issue is not sensitive, IMTART understands and trust our country's intentions, and they can empathise with our people's sentiments attached to Dzong. It's just matter of approaching from the right direction. Finally I hope and pray Lyonpo Damcho will have more confirming and responsible answer to give next time.



P:S: The BBS Report on this issue seems to indicate they have a misconception that Lhakhang Karpo is going to a replacement of sort for Haa Dzong, which I hope is not on anybody's mind and in any plan. And talking about Lhakhang Karpo, it reminds me of the people who are involved in stealing even from the Lhakhangs. I pray to Ap Chundu to leave no guilty man free!

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