This town, perched on steep slopes above a river gorge, forms the central hub of the nation and is the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched in former times. The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and its impressive dzong, stretched along a ridge above a ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the winding, mountain road leads you into the town itself.
Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan and the vanguard of the warriors. All Kings of Bhutan first invest as the Trongsa Penlop before ascending the Raven Crown throne. The massive Trongsa Dzong is the largest fortress in Bhutan which stands on a spur overlooking the gorge of the Mangdi Chhu river. This strategically placed structure is the first sight long before reaching Trongsa.
This watchtower, which once guarded Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands on a steep slope above the town. Climb up the path to visit Ta Dzong which now houses a shrine dedicated to the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling. A visit to this former watchtower provides visitors with an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history.
The 23 km. drive from Trongsa to Kuenga Rabten takes about an hour and passes through open countryside high above a river gorge. The land slopes quite gently in this region, and farming is well developed, so there is much of interest to observe in the fields and in the villages as one speeds along. As one approaches Kuenga Rabten, the Palace is clearly visible just below the road on the right. It was the winter palace of the second king and is now looked after by the National Commission for Cultural Affairs. This pleasant afternoon excursion from Trongsa offers further insights into the early days of Bhutan’s monarchy.