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Bhutan Architecture PDF Print E-mail

Bhutan is famous for the quality of its architecture which finds its most perfect expression in the dzong. The castle like dzong with their gently tapering walls, classic lines, large courtyards and beautiful galleries are among the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. The large monasteries are impressive buildings set in hilltops or at the confluence of rivers which played an important strategic role in the past and are also the administrative centers of their regions. The oldest dzong is in Simtokha stands at the entrance to the Thimphu valley built by the first Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1672 and became model for all. The dzong are built as variants of a basic model a quadrilateral of buildings enclosing one or more courtyards.

A central tower called the utse often marks the division between the religious and the civil quarters, which are strictly separated. The wood carvings and paintings that decorate the dzongs are often outstandingly complex and subtle.

The chorten or “receptacle of offerings” is a Buddhist monument whose origin lies in the “tumulus” stupa of ancient India. It is a votive monument to the memory of the Buddha. Chortens soon came to be built to the memory of important religious figures, as well as to mark the victory of Buddhism over indigenous divinities. The symbolic consist of five parts, corresponding to the five elements of the cosmos earth, water, fire, air and ether.

Temples or “lhakhangs” as they are known are not only an important part of the dzongs but are also built separately. The oldest are the Kyichu in Paro and the Jampey in Bumthang. Outside the lhakhangs you will find colorful prayer wheels to be turned by pilgrims as they walk round and round the sacred ground.

The continuance and preservation of Bhutan’s architectural heritage is a leading concern to protect these national treasures and ancient skills of building and design.

 
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