Trongsa is today just one of the twenty districts of Bhutan. In the past it played a pivotal role in the history of the country. In the nineteenth century it was the center of authority as the Penlop (Governor) controlled all the central and Eastern Bhutan, including the rich fertile southern duars. The Royal family has its antecedents here – the father of the first king, Jigme Namgyal, as the penlop of Trongsa exerted his authority across the country. Before becoming the first King in 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck became the penlop of Trongsa thereby establishing a tradition that continues – the present fifth King was appointed Trongsa penlop in 2004.
MONUMENTS TO VISIT IN TRONGSA
- Chendebji Chorten: This Napalese style stupa lies on the banks of Nikka Chu at an extremely serene spot. It was built in the eighteenth century by Lama Shida of Tibet to suppress a demon who had been troubling the inhabitants of the valley. A smaller Bhutanese style chorten was constructed nearby by the Royal grandmother in 1982.
- Trongsa Dzong: The most impressive Dzong (Fortress) in the country – it is intricately layered into the hillside, in complete harmony with its surroundings. The structure is aesthetically designed and its clean lines boast a superb sense of proportion and space while finely carved woodwork and elegant paintings suitably embellish it. Following the instruction of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel, the Dzong was built in 1644 by Chhogyel Minjur Tempa who later became the third Desi (Governor). The Dzong was named Chökhor Raptentse Dzong. The structure was enhanced by Desi Tenzin Rabgye in 1771 and now contains twenty-three temples. It is a veritable maze of corridors, courtyards and passageways leading to the multiple levels contained within the great outer impregnable shell.
- Ta Dzong: Located strategically above the Trongsa Dzong, it was built by Choeje Minjur Tenpa, the first governor of Trongsa, in the year 1652. The tower stood guard over the Trongsa Dzong to protect the main stronghold of the town from any external threats. It is a short steep walk from the Trongsa town.
- Kuenga Rabten: About 28 km (two hours drive to and fro) from Trongsa is Kuenga Rabten, the winter palace of the second King Jigme Wangchuck. The building with its splendid structure and its intricate woodwork and decorations is now under the aegis of the National Library. There is a large nunnery nearby and little further down is Yurung Choling, the first King’s winter palace.