Perched on a rocky cliff above the Phondey Village is an ancient fortress and Buddhist monastery called, Drukgyel Dzong. Located in the upper part of the Paro at a distance of 14km from the main town, Drukgyel Dzong is one of the Dzongs built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the linage holder of Drukpa-Kagyu Buddhist School and the unifier of Bhutan. It was built in 1649 to celebrate the victory of Bhutanese troop over the invasion of Tibetan-Mongol forces. Drukgyel Dzong means the “fortress of the victorious Drukpas” and is one of the four principal Dra Dzongs (defense fortress).The panoramic view of snow capped mountains offered from Drukgyel Dzong has hyped the interest of many travelers making it a must visit destination for the tourist visiting Paro.
The unique location of Drukgyel Dzong on the summit of a rocky hill that rises steeply on three sides had left the dzong with only one opening which was heavily guarded by three prominent watch towers during the time of invasion, this show the fortress was specially designed to repeal any kind of attack towards Paro Valley. Drukgyel Dzong till date can be seen standing proud and tall or what remains of its guarding the valley. The mossy wall and worn out roof of Drukgyel Dzong tell the tales of the glorious day when it successful blocked the attack towards Paro. To reach the Drukgyel Dzong from the last motor able point, travelers need to walk for 15min on a stone pathway laid beautifully in the green lush meadow surrounded with alpine trees. Before reaching the dzong tourist are greeted by the sight of huge prayer wheel and with the panoramic view of Paro Valley cuddled on the foothills of lofty mountain, a view which has ensnared the heart of many travelers. At first Drukgyel Dzong may look like a fort brought straight out from a haunted story which has squeaky doors, worn out walls but the wall hold may untold story of the battle which took decades ago, for some it might be a haunted mansion but for the historian Drukgyel Dzong is like a dream castle housing many mysteries. On a clear day from the courtyard or what remains of it offer the most panoramic view of snow capped fortresses looming over the verdant land of Bhutan. In 2016, to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness the Gyalsey, as well as to commemorate two other significant events, namely, the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to Bhutan in 1616 AD and the birth year of Guru Rinpoche, the Prime Minister Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay announced that the Dzong will be rebuilt and reinstated to its former glory.
Taking a stroll around the ancient fort which still holds reminisces of past when it fought many battles lets you, for a passing moment, be the part of history itself. Drukgyel Dzong is a must visit place, if you like to uncover the beauty of the ruins while traveling to Bhutan.
Last spring April to May when the valley is bursting with the vibrant color riot of blooming rhododendron and post monsoon October to November when the sky is clear and travelers get an unhindered view of snow capped Himalayan range of Bhutan are considered the best time to visit Drukgyel Dzong.