Working in Taschichhodzong

The Tashichhodzong, with its elegant and quiet grandeur, is often seen as the face of Thimphu. Standing apart from the main city, surrounded by paddy fields and the river Wangchhu, its presence is felt while travelling through the city. The main street, Norzin Lam, which forms the axis of the city, extends northwards to culminate at the dzong. It creates a sense of connection between the dzong and the city, even as the distance asserts its authority. Its proportions and form are unlike those of dzongs built for defence, the location, access and ornamentation underscoring its administrative identity.


This was where Ugyen came to work after giving up his monastic education. His office was located in the monastic section at the north east corner of the dzong. The large central courtyard, bounded by the main dzong structure and with the utse or tower in the middle, had an aura of importance and significance – as did he, working there! The grand entry, and the paved courtyard constantly full of visitors, added to the prestige and pride of all who worked here. The dzong has evolved with the times, adapting to modern day requirements of administrative offices with toilets, electricity and now broadband connections, without losing its architectural assertion. 


For Ugyen, this was an easy life compared to existence in the monastery – the day here began at 8 am and ended by 3pm. His office was a small room connected to other small rooms, at a scale which contrasted with the outward appearance and personality of the dzong. The workplace had a quiet but casual atmosphere. Often asked to show visitors around, he learnt to see and appreciate the dzong from an outsider’s perspective, and understood that it was a unique space. He had a lot of time on his hands and plenty on his mind, and he dreamt and explored other possibilities for his future. His work required him to conduct exams for other monasteries, exposing him to different aspects of Bhutan and its culture. Meeting new people prompted him to expand his skills, and one such interaction gave him the opportunity to go abroad to the US and study English and photography, changing his world forever.



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  1. James Wigdel

    Another wonderful story and I am warmed by the closing about an interaction that gave Ugyen the opportunity to go abroad to the U.S. and study English and photography. It’s funny how circumstances have a way of connecting people. It was while Ugyen was studying in the U.S. that I met him in Honolulu almost 20 years ago, when we became fast friends. While we did not see each other for many years, we stayed connected and are friends to this day … and working on a project together.

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