Bhutan grieves for destroyed historic site

Story highlights

  • Prime minister says dzong, destroyed by fire on Sunday, will be rebuilt
  • Dzong not only housed temples but served as administrative seat for district
  • Most of the dzong's sacred relics -- hundreds of them -- were saved, home minister says
  • King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and queen have been on scene since the fire
Bhutan is mourning the loss of Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, a four-century-old architectural wonder that had dramatically stood on a ridge at the confluence of two rivers before it burned to the ground over the weekend.
A gateway to eastern Bhutan, the dzong was built in 1638 by the nation's founder, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, and was among several fortress-monasteries constructed to help gain control of -- and unify -- the country.
"The entire society has solidarity for the loss of one of the most important and oldest fortresses in our country," said Home Minister Minjur Dorji, who has been on the site for the last three days, in a telephone call.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the queen have been there since the fire "trying to morally support the people," he added.
"It's not just a Bhutanese architectural loss but for the whole Himalayan region," Dasho Karma Ura, president of the Thimphu-based Center