Showing posts with label Wangdue Zam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wangdue Zam. Show all posts

31 August 2014

Face of Buddha

It's my seventh year in Wangdue and I have lived it well. I have considered it my home. I have explored so many corners of this place and wrote so many stories. There are places I should have been to but I have no regrets because I haven't spared the ones around me.

However, after all these years, and all these stories I wasn't ready to accept that I had missed on a very special landmark. It was right there for anybody to see, large and distinct and unbelievably very close. It's an image of Lord Buddha's face formed out of natural rock, not even carved. I don't understand how this has not become a sacred place, when people are ready to accept a hole on the rock as Khandrum's buga or Guru's footprint.

The Buddha Face rock is located on the elephant shaped hill on which the Wangdue Dzong is built. The face is distinctly visible from across the river, anywhere between the Wangdue Bridge and the Damchen Fuel Pump.
The location of Buddha Face (Not exact but somewhere very close) 
 The special rock could be an amazing geographical accident, but accidentally it could have looked like anything else but Buddha's Face. There are lots of rock we worship that are naturally intriguing and there are other man made places that are equally overwhelming. I have been very selective in appreciating those places but when I saw this rock I could not believe it. It's so authentic. It can't for for nothing.
You don't even have to believe to see it!
I don't know how it looks close up because I haven't been right there though it's accessible by foot, the foot paths are running all around it. But from across the river it's nothing less than the calm face of Buddha. I don't understand how this place is not recognized as one of the holy Buddhist sites, though some people already knew about it. I went to verify after I saw a picture in my friend Yam Rinzi's mobile. Only after seeing it for myself, and getting convinced beyond all doubt I dared to blog about it.

Disclaimer: I am NOT the first person to see it.

27 April 2014

The Last Wangdue Bridge

The historic wooden Wangdue bridge gave way to a motorable bridge in 1970s. The new bridge was perhaps a green iron bridge which stood there till 2002, when it was replace by the current concrete bridge.
How did I know the last bridge was green and made of iron? The answer is half submerged in the river (see picture). It is not only an eyesore near a very important site but also not a friendly foreign object in the river biodiversity. 
I am wondering why the rubble was left there. Who was supposed to clear it? Why was it left there? Was it ok to be left there in the river just like that? 

Rubble of the Last Iron Bridge
I can guess that the iron is of very good quality and given the opportunity some people might want to scrap it to pieces and use it for some purpose or simply sell it of. In Bajo town even septic tank covers are lost and a recent news reported that a home lost all its window grills, which suggest that iron is in high demand in scrap market. Then, why isn't that ugly bridge scrap lying there forever? There are at least few good tonnes of solid iron, and instead of letting it rust in the river and remain as an eyesore for ages why don't we let some people take it away for free?

16 April 2014

Wangdue Dzong Across Time

I am growing increasingly interested in old pictures, and often I imagine myself being there in the times captured in them. The nostalgic moments I spend with old pictures add fourth dimension to my life. Cameras made it to Bhutan in 1907, evident from coronation pictures of first King but we hardly have more than few pictures until recently. We had painters as far as history stretches but they have never tried anything other than religious and spiritual symbols.
1783 Wangdue Dzong- only difference visible is the rounded edge of the walls.
But in 1783, Samuel Davis, lieutenant in the Bengal Army, joined Samuel Turner's Mission to Bhutan and Tibet as draftsman and surveyor has done us a great favour. It's only through his painting and journals that we can look back as far as 1783 into our history. And it's of course Michael Aries who gave us the access to these rare picture in his 1982 book "Views of Medieval Bhutan".

Wangdue Dzong by Samuel Davis, 1783
Of all the pictures in the book I am awed by the paintings of 145 year old Wangdue Dzong. In 1783, the dzong Samuel Davis painted was the original Dzong from Zhabdrung's time because in 1837 it was destroyed by fire. And later in 1897 the dzong was again destroyed by a severe earthquake. Thus, the dzong we saw before 2012 fire was not actually from Zhabdrung's time. But from Samuel Davis's painting we could conclude that the Dzong has always maintained its original Zhabdrung architecture despite two big disasters.

Wangdue Zam by Samuel Davis 1783
The tower bridge that was very unique was a big compliment to the magnificence of Wangdue Dzong, any old picture you see of the Dzong would have the bridge in it. It's as if the bridge was part of the Dzong. Wangdue Zam even fascinated the painter Samuel Davis back in 1783 that he went on painting it thrice.

Wangdue Dzong by Samuel Davis 1783
The magnificent Wangdue Zam stood bravely by the dzong until early 1970s. It was said that the bridge maintained it's original beauty and form until it was demolished to give way to motorable bridge.

In 1783 paintings there were two things that weren't not seen during our times, not even in 1970s pictures- the village below the Dzong and the Ta-Dzong. I wonder what must have happened to the village to have completely disappeared, in fact the landscape has changed altogether that small patch of plane where once several houses stood is now the riverbed. 

What is the story of the Ta-Dzong. Paro and Trongsa Ta-Dzongs are intact but what happened to Wangdue Ta-Dzong? It must be located below Rada Lhakhang, where the new Dratshang was constructed. Even the foundation is gone forever now.

1914 by John Claude White

1910 by John Claude White
Last days of Wangdue Zam in 1971 Stamp

Wangdue Dzong as Seen before 2012 Fire.
Wangdue Dzong was undergoing major renovation when the unfortunate fire incident happened on 24 June 2012.

To be continued. I have a picture from 1953 which went missing.