Type in the words Paro Valley on any search engine and the initial images popping up would be of the Rinpung Dzong. Standing on the banks of Paro Chhu, this Buddhist monastery and fortress was built in the 15th century and presently houses the district monastic body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag.
It is believed that a monastery was initially built at this location by Guru Rinpoche in the 10th century, which was later replaced by a larger monastery in 1644, built by Ngawang Namgyal. One of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture, this structure served as a defense against several Tibetan attacks in the past. The name Rinpung Dzong literally means, ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels’. However, a fire in 1907 severely damaged the monastery and destroyed all its treasures.
Highlights of the Dzong
The monastery is a five-storey building, housing fourteen shrines and chapels inside. A fine collection of sacred masks and traditional costumes is also on display here. Some items of this collection are centuries old, while some were added in the recent past. Courtyard of the Dzong and the chapels are open for visitors on all days except weekends. The best time to visit is the second month of the traditional Bhutanese lunar calendar when a sacred festival takes place here.
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