February 19, 2016

Truncated history of Dobji Dzong

I never grew up listening to the myths and ancient histories relating my village because my parents were always on move. And, as I have not spent good deal of time with natives there, little do I know about the place and often feels humiliated for lacking nitty-gritty information regarding my own birth place. More so, I have never heard of my father making sufficient mentions of histories that my village is copious in. So, I always felt short of snippets concerning my little hamlet whenever someone intriguing posed me queries.

However, my father has a disposition to re-count tales whenever someone new enters as/into our family member. The last time I heard of him was when my brother brought in his wife.

He would share several pleasing chronicles of his own life and move us to tears when he narrate on privations he suffered as a tender boy. Of the many, I will be particularly thrilled by the stories that revolved around Dobji Dzong and feel wondered over the controversies that transmitted from our ancestors.

Few years’ back I ran into a close descendant of Dobji Penlop swapping several ancient conversations involving our village. It was considerate of him to shed detail lights on the history of the Dzong. But unfortunately my recording gear ran out of storing space and I could only take the abridged narrations.

It is no exaggeration that Dobji dzong was once a deadly dungeon for wrongdoers sometimes in the late 1970s. People of the time dreaded the fortress because of the brutality the convicts suffered inside the confinement. It sent a chill down the spine even at the mention of its name and the lethal criminals were compelled to serve their sentence term inside the castle. Once inside only god knew what happened.

Oral history has it that ever since it was put into use as solitary confinement, nothing set ahead well in that entire stretch of region. There was ill-timed downpour seizing all kinds of crops and fruits. Later it was dismissed and converted into seats of learning for monks. Thenceforth it was believed to have bettered the situation. Today it caters to some fifty monks as a Buddhist school.

What many are informed of the dzong is the fact that it was built by Lama Ngawang Chogyal in 1531 following a spring originating below the throne of a great saint Jetsun Milarepa in Tibet. But in my conversations with the close relative of Dobji Penlop, it was actually Jetsun Milarepa who dictated to build the dzong.

Legends say that Milarepa halted for a night there. Next day he was supposed to proceed to a place named Tsamda Goenpa. When people from Tsamda region beseeched him to move the following morning, lama flatly rejected and, in cross legged position, insisted on remaining there. When finally the plea failed to serve its purpose, they forcibly tried to pull out lama and vexed needlessly. But firm he stood thrusting his right leg into the earth and kept their collective forces away never moving an inch. Later on, lama prophesied to construct the dzong at the current location and the name came to be known as “Drobdrek” which in English translates to “resist”.

Quite afterwards Lama told the locals at Tsamda to carve an effigy as his substitute and fixed it in the monastery.

The other marvel is the Lama’s natural spring which is located precariously at the base of the hill on which the fortress is perched. Widely known and esteemed as the elixir, it has drawn a lot from around the country and never did it shake people’s faith in the healing power of the tiny rivulets. Subsequently, to make it accessible to wide range of audiences it was aired up on BBS. Today, around five cozy wooden tubs are installed to have laid back hot stone bath.

And to help the Dzong with monetary growth, a charge of Nu. 500 is levied per day inclusive of room fees, fire woods and stone gathering.

A fortress once operated as solitary confinement is now fascinating people from all walks of life. It has caught the attention, especially of old and the ailed.  

Historians believe Dobji to be the first model Dzong.