Trongsa Dzongkhag is located in the heart of the country and built on a spur overlooking the gorge of the Mangdue river, a temple was first established at the location in 1543 by the Drukpa lama. In 1647, his great-grandson Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal constructed the first dzong to replace it. It’s the largest dzong at a striking location, and is an important administrative building, providing the headquarters of the government of Trongsa district. Trongsa provides a strategic central location to control Bhutan and for centuries it was the seat of the Wangchuk Dynasty of penlops (governors) who effectively ruled over much of eastern and central Bhutan, and from 1907 have been Kings of Bhutan. It is also a major monastic complex, with around 200 monks.
Chhoetse Dzong acting as a seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan was built in 1648. High above the thriving Mangde Chhu stands this imperious monastery. All four kings of Bhutan ruled the nation by passing the throne of Trongsa Penlop (“governor”) from this antique seat. Therefore, the monastery is closely related to the royal family as the first two hereditary kings ruled from this monastery itself.
Trongsa, The Vanguard of the Warriors
This monastery consists of many levels with a huge structure of authentic Bhutanese architecture. The courtyard of the monastery is beautifully paved with stone and the monastery trails down the edge. It is also connected by a series of alley-like corridors and extensive stone stairs. This monastery trail served as the only trail between eastern and western Bhutan which was a straight way through Trongsa valley. This was an advantage for the Trongsa Penlop(governor) to grab control over east-west trade and then collect the tax revenue from these ancient trades.
In the present scenario, the visitors make the entrance to the monastery through the main eastern gate but active hikers can make an entrance through the western gate, in traditional fashion on foot following the Mangdue Foot Trail. The exciting annual Trongsa tsechu (festival) is held in December or January and on this auspicious occasion, a huge thongdrol (a giant thangka – a painted or embroidered religious picture) is displayed for giving blessings to the visitors.