Introduction to Dzongs and Palaces in Bhutan

The stonework and the woodwork on dzongs and palaces are magnificent. The contrast between the whitewashed walls and the intricate and painted woodwork of the upper floors demonstrates a great sense of aesthetic and the pitched roofs give to the structure an impression of lightness, which is a hallmark of Bhutanese architecture.

Dzongs are fortresses, which in each valley house the administrative and religious powers. They are white washed structures with tampered walls made of stones. A stone paved courtyard is enclosed on all sides by two-storey high buildings forming a rectangle (shagkhor). In the middle of the courtyard stands the main tower (Utse) usually three to four storeys high, which contains the temples. The windows, very narrow at the bottom of the buildings, become larger in the upper storeys. Dzongs as they are known today date from the unification of the country in the 17th century.

The palaces are found mostly in central Bhutan and date from the early 20th century. The noble families of the area built them. Although the Dzong inspires their layout, the structure is less imposing and the number of large windows makes the palaces more pleasant places to live.

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