Ta Dzong Museum


Ta Dzong is located strategically above the Trongsa Dzong on the left bank of the Mangde river. It is a short, steep walk from the main Trongsa town. A road now also makes Ta Dzong accessible from behind. The building is a massive circular five-storey tower flanked by two lower towers. Two smaller, free-standing towers are below the main building.

Ta Dzong, which means “watchtower”, was built by Choeje Minjur Tenpa, the first governor of Trongsa, in the year 1652. The tower stood guard over the Trongsa Dzong to protect the main stronghold of the town from any external threats. Since peace came to Bhutan, the tower has lost its military function.

The temple located at the top of Ta Dzong is dedicated to the culture hero and protector King Gesar, and probably dates to the end of the 19th century. Changchub Tsondru, the Tibetan lama of Jigme Namgyal, the Governor of Trongsa and father of the first King, lived and died in Ta Dzong in 1856. From 2005 to 2008 the watchtower underwent extensive structural and interior designing work in order to become a museum. The funds were granted by the Austrian Government and work was done by the Royal Government of Bhutan.

The museum was opened in 2008, in celebration of three auspicious occasions: enthronement of the fifth King, recognition of 100 years of Monarchy and introduction of democracy in the country. The museum showcases some of the rare and priceless artifacts belonging to the monarchy.

Architecture and Art

Ta Dzong has two temples. One is dedicated to the legendary Gesar of Ling, and the other to Maitreya (Jampa), the Buddha of the next age. Both temples also contain chambers for the tutelary gods. The great tri-dimensional mandala dedicated to Gesar in the Gesar lhakhang was built in 1975 on the advice of the great master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

The museum itself has a total of eleven galleries. One gallery is fully dedicated to the history of the kings of the Wangchuck dynasty. There is also a gallery which explains the history and the religious significance of Trongsa Dzong. The First King’s robes, the Raven Crown, the swords of the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyel and the Third King, as well as statues telling the story of Bhutan are amongst the artifacts displayed in the museum. The museum is equipped with state of art technology and includes a media room where visitors can watch a documentary programme on the history of the Bhutanese monarchy.

Social and Cultural Functions

Ta Dzong plays an important role in preserving and displaying valuable artifacts for the public, and holds the tradition of organising a Nyungne (snyung gnas), or meditation practice, for the well being of all the sentient beings during first month of every year. A hermit also resides in a cell onsite.

The caretaker and the curator are appointed from the monastic body and Ministry of Home and Culture Affairs, respectively. Ta Dzong plays an important role in the propagation of the history of Bhutan as it is a major attraction for Trongsa and regularly receives many visitors.


Informant: Ugyen Tashi, Caretaker of Ta Dzong (Appointed by Monastic Body), 2013.

Written Sources: A document housed on-site at Ta Dzong recounting the history of Ta Dzong (date of publication unknown, written by an unknown previous caretaker of Ta Dzong).

Christian Schicklgruber, The Tower of Trongsa, Ghent: Snoek, 2009.

Researcher / Photographer
Chencho Tshering
Asst. Lecturer, Institute of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, 2013

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)