Built in 1646 by Lama Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal and strategically located to thwart Tibetan incursions into the rest of the country, this Dzong became one of Bhutan’s strongest and most important fortresses.
One of the finest examples of a Bhutanese monastery, this Dzong hosts the Paro Tsechu i.e Paro annual festival of age old masks and cultural dances. As a matter of fact, Bertolucci’s 1995 film “Little Buddha” was filmed here. The scenic beauty surrounding the monastery is worth capturing. The name “Ringpung Dzong” literally means “the fortress of the heap of jewels”.
In the 15th century, two brothers named Gyelchok and Gyelzom lived in the Paro valley. Gyelzom established himself at Gantakha Monastery; his brother Gyelchok travelled to Tibet to study theology. When Gyelchok came back to Paro, he was not respected in the community due to the many years he had spent studying without any money. His brother Gyelzom, renounced his existence, in his eyes a “beggar” could not be part of the family. Gyelchok moved to Humrelkha, a place which took its name from the guardian deity of Paro, Humrel Goemba. He then built a small structure that would later become the Paro Dzong. Gyelchok’s descendants, who controlled a large portion of the valley, are well known through Bhutanese history as the “Lords of Humrel”. In 1645, the “Lords of Humrel” relinquished their small fort to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, thus recognizing his religious and political prowess. Immediately, the Zhabdrung began construction of a much more superior fortress and in 1646, the Dzong was consecrated.”