How Trong Heritage Village In Bhutan Resisted The Tides Of Urbanisation

Email

His Majesty the king recommended that Trong Heritage Village should be preserved to retain its traditional beauty.

(Source: Bhutan Cultural Atlas)

 

By Younten Tshedup | Kuensel

In the wake of rapid development and urbanisation, the preservation and sustenance of heritage sites in Bhutan is becoming a daunting task.

Traditional architectures disappearing under the shadows of concrete buildings are common observations in places such as Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.

Amid these inevitable transformations, a village in the heart of Zhemgang town tried to preserve their rich heritage.

About Trong Heritage Village

Located at an elevation of 1955m above sea level, the Trong Heritage Village (THV) is an array of 27 traditional stone masonry houses clustered neatly on a small hillock, overlooking the imposing Zhemgang dzong (monastery).

Each house is a two-storey traditional stone structure with wooden windows and shutters and a cobblestone footpath runs through the village horizontally.

These traditional houses are a testimony of Bhutan's remarkable architecture and masonry skills. Each house is uniquely crafted out of stones, wood and mud.

Location of Zhemgang district

Source: Maps of the World

 

The village spans over 2.3 acres and has a small population of approximately 111 people.

However, about six years ago, the community almost gave in to the mounting pressure of urbanisation.

Many of the residents had actually wanted to demolish the old structure to replace it with modern architecture.

An attempt by the dzongkhag (district) administration to convert the location into a heritage village was met with strong oppositions from the villagers back then.

How His Majesty The King’s visit changed the minds of the villagers

However, the opposition gradually began to fade especially after His Majesty The King’s visit in 2014.

On his visit, the king inspected the houses in the village and was amazed by the remarkable masonry skills of the builders.

The king recommended that the dzongkhag administration preserve Trong as a heritage village to retain its traditional beauty.

A senior village resident, Tshewang Tenzin also said that as commended by His Majesty, the people changed their minds and began to take extra effort in preserving the houses.

“We can modify and change the internal of the houses but we are asked not to alter the outer appearance of the structures.”

In 2016, all the 27 residents received a nine-decimal plot each in the core area as a form of compensation.

Little known origins of Trong Heritage village

While little is known or documented about the origin of the village and its traditional houses, Tshewang Tenzin said that the structures could be centuries old.

The oldest man in the village, a centenarian who died last year at the age of 102 said that he had no idea when these structures were built.

Photo: Kuensel

 

Constructed without any proper foundation atop rocks, the traditional houses' resistance to earthquakes is what intrigued experts the most.

“No earthquake has ever damaged any of the houses so far,” said Tshewang Tenzin. “There is no sorcery or magic here but sometimes that’s the only logical explanation to all these.”

In fact, the village’s unique masonry skills and stability have even attracted researchers from Japan to study its distinctive architecture.

Zhemgang’s dzongdag, Lobzang Dorji said that if it wasn’t for His Majesty’s initiative, this unique traditional heritage could have been turned into concrete structures.

Plans in the pipeline to set up homestays in the village

According to Lobzang, the whole ridge where the village stands today has to be developed and a compound wall built around the village.

“We still have to improve the aesthetics of the village with respect to the town and make it look like a real village from the outside.”

Street lamps, underground cable ducts, drainage and concrete footpaths among others have also been developed over the years to support the community living in the village.

Dzongdag Lobzang Dorji said that provisions to generate income for the community are also being looked into.

“Charging a nominal entry fee to visitors wanting to take a tour of the village could be done,” he said.

Some of the residents suggested that they would like to establish homestays in the village if there were enough tourist and visitors.

“We can come up with cafes and restaurants that would serve local cuisines and delicacies,” said a resident.

In order to set up homestays, there are a set of regulations and criteria to be met.

“We have forwarded one application to the Tourism Council of Bhutan for approval,” said the dzongdag.

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 

 


Related Posts

Lhop Community Of Bhutan Tries To Save Their Traditional Songs...

Started by the Tarayana Foundation, the local radio programme which plays recorded Lhop songs, has given new hope for...

Dec 31, 2018 23:47

Importance Of Integrating The Management Of Heritage Sites In...

“People are at the centre of a management plan. Heritage is an asset and identity rather than a burden,” said Yeshi...

May 06, 2019 23:58

Haa Develops Tourism Action Plan To Promote Its Rich Cultural...

Haa had the 6th highest visitor arrivals among the dzongkhags in the country, according to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor...

Jul 26, 2018 08:23

Guidelines To Manage Bhutanese Heritage Sites

The guideline will identify the roles and responsibilities of cultural heritage professionals during response and...

Apr 10, 2018 16:53

Neyphug Heritage Sets Up Cafe In Paro To Give Back To Monastery

Neyphug Heritage’s Your Cafe in Paro offers a farm-to-table food concept.

Aug 27, 2019 12:42

Bepzur Chukpo’s Mansion In Bumthang Is A Rich Depository Of...

While there are no existing written documents about the history of the house, people believe it to be the home of Zimpon...

Oct 21, 2018 16:54

Latest

News

The Great Fourth King and Fifth King of Bhutan on Royal Tours amid the COVID-19 pandemic brought tears to many Bhutanese.

Many Bhutanese people eyes brimmed with tears. The heart was a knot of inexplicable emotions when they saw His Majesty the fourth King...

Oct 07, 2020 09:16

Australia supports Bhutan in its COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery

Extending support to Bhutan in its fight against COVID-19, the Australian Government has supplied medical equipment in response to the Royal...

Sep 22, 2020 09:39

Features

Significance of the Stupa of two lovebirds across Lungtenzampa- the Bridge of Prophecy

According to the caretaker, many believes that couple who wishes to have children gets their wishes fulfilled if they pray at this sacred...

Oct 17, 2020 17:32

Age of Information Technology in Bhutan

Information technology is evolving rapidly. Bhutan cannot escape the influence of Information Technology, rather Bhutan must invest in...

Oct 15, 2020 21:42

Sports

Football clubs in Bhutan gearing up for Bhutan Premier League (BPL) 2020

Bhutan Premier League (BPL), the top national football tournament in Bhutan is set to commence on August 1.

Jul 24, 2020 14:33

Karma – Female Archer From Bhutan Qualified For Tokyo 2020 Olympic Quota

Karma has been specialising in Olympics-style archery since 2009.

Nov 30, 2019 13:18

Business

Bhutan- The Kingdom of Peppers

Bhutan is a country with the highest per-capita consumption of chilli.

Sep 26, 2020 09:15

Are Local Vendors Earning More Money Than the Civil Servant?

A Farmer from Lango, Paro gave up farming to be vendor while office goers are switching into agriculture as the remedy to curb their...

Jul 27, 2020 19:15

Travel

Domestic Tourism to boost Local Economy in Bhutan

Although Bhutanese have not seen tourists for the last few months, locals are riding the bandwagon of being "tourists in one's own...

Oct 13, 2020 21:26

A Winning Chance to Visit the Most Isolated Kingdom in the World

Participate in Druk Asia Bhutan Trivia and stand a chance to win a pair of return flight tickets to Bhutan

Sep 29, 2020 12:14

Lifestyle

Food on Wheels- First of its kind in Bhutan

The World's Largest Fast Food Restaurant Chains doesn't exist in Bhutan.

Mar 04, 2020 09:39

Amazing Stories from the Eastern Part of Bhutan

You can't say you have visited the eastern part of Bhutan unless you have experienced the following bizarre things.

Mar 02, 2020 19:02

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!