3rd ANNIVERSARY OF THE GREAT LOSS
It was onset of monsoon, 24th June, 2012 behind 15 days of my new posting, Lobesa, Punakha. It was clear Sunday afternoon, 1.30 PM and I was with my friend and relative Mr. Sherub Dorji at Rinxin Hardware General Shop, Gaki Lam, Bajo looking for some paraphernalia of PHPA water tanker which was stranded for water line fittings for some days.
It was almost mid afternoon, the wind was at its work, rustling and whistling against cluster of roof tops. At not very far of horizon, as appeared northern from downtown, Bajo, was black smoke gushing and curling in the clear blue sky, like smoke gushing out from the industrial boiler plant. ‘wai hanga mogu gesa?’ Said Mr. Sherub Dorji, squinting his eyes against bright sun rays, shading his eyes with palm in sunlight. At first, we couldn’t hypothesize causes of gushing smoking high in the sky. The enormous spiraling smoke spread over the ridge, moving to every direction. By then, most people in the valley got the view which was almost, conspicuous. The disbelieving talk was in the air that the Wangdue Dzong may perhaps on ablaze, but still couldn’t substantiate from Bajo.
Immediately I slipped behind the wheel, revved the engine and we headed to the direction of the enormous smoke, as we approached closer, to the Highway Zero, the eastern part of the majestic Dzong came to view. The sight of people rushing to the spot made my heart rate higher. As zoomed through the highway, the terrible view of flame caught in western part of Dzong was like in dream and the skeptical idea about the ablaze of the Dzong was cleared. The sight made the hairs on my body rise. And feeling of numbness was felt. As traipsed through the gawking crowds, towards ablaze Dzong. We found more people, more fire engines with the beacon lights and loud siren drawing the attention of whole Wangdue valley and fire engines and water tankers reaching the site. The fireman and the crowds were hurriedly pumping the water into blaze. The fire was aggravated bigger and bigger by gushing wind, travelling eastward, engulfing more and more. There were assorted of fireman, police, civilian, desups from the entire department stationed at Wangdu valley but not much to help, with most people uncovering their gadgets to capture the fire terrible moment. All the fire resources equipments were futile due to inaccessibility to the eastern part of the Dzong. While the fire engulfed in good pace with catalyst of wind, the wooden entrance part and the right and left part of the dzong started to fall making inaccessible to only the entrance to the Dzong.
The 380 years Dzong, was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. It is the sacred fortress and house of priceless antiques and so many other valuables of the times. It stands majestically on the ridges like elephant, amid the left and right bank of Puna and Dangchu flowing serenely at the base. When on my daily shuttle journey to sites, I would not miss to scan my eyes to these magnificent structures and filled my heart with its mightiness and blessing. The white wash of the Dzong was inconsistent with bands of baiege , in regular interval, in top-down, and was told that the Dzong was under major renovation with the aids from Indian Govt. As I gaze every day, it incite me with extreme wonder and hallucination as how perfect was the construction of the age and only to think as how little do we achieve amidst of all the technologies, and to slide the images of those people working hard to consummate the construction of this massive structures, that would still remain the wonder and mysteries of toil undergone by our forefathers for the all generations to come. As it is the most important to the government and people of Bhutan, is to the people of Sha Dhagay of Wangdue. For them, the place is the sacred place of worship and to gather for divine festivals for the well being of sentient beings.
As the fire razing every bit and travel to the north, we could see the man in robs and civilian, on the northern rooftops and the Utse saving the trunks of the antiques and valuables and dropping towards the banks of Punatshangchhu river. We were told that the one of civilian on the rooftops was Dasho Dzongdhag. We felt sincere empathy to the team and the administration. It was the race against time and the speed of wind.
The highest authority, His Majesty accompanied by Gyaltshun and former PM were at sight later. I’d vividly remember that HM and the Gyaltshun were left gazing the enormous flame engulfing the majestic structures. It was helpless moment, wherein crowds, including me, were there just watching without any help, but all capturing the unbelievable moments with their devices. The heat was felt at even good distance from the ablaze Dzong.
Later in the evening, the wind became calm. The damages were already done completely. As the night falls, the crowds become thin, and fireman still trying to do whatever they could till the last. The intensity of the heat decrease. The view similar to the forest fire, spread over the ridges was noticed during late night.
The fire continued through the night to morning. The white smoke was still in air the following day. It was understood, whatever saved from the disasters were retrieved and inspected by HM. It was great loss to the nation and people of Bhutan.
It’s hard to know that it takes almost 3 years to start such re-construction works. Now the works are in full swing, so we only wish and pray that the construction of such magnitude will be successfully completed in the time. We wish to see the Majestic Dzong grown to its old shape, in new look along with the commissioning of two Hydropower temples of PHPA-1 and PHPA-2, to squarely gift people of Bhutan, and the people of Sha Dagay in particular.