Click here to skip to content

Larger Central Tower, Paro Jong [Bhutan]

Larger Central Tower, Paro Jong [Bhutan]

Photographer: White, John Claude

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1905

Shelfmark: Photo 20/(3)

Item number: 3

Length: 30.3

Width: 19.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the large central tower in the Dzong at Paro in Bhutan taken by John Claude White in 1905. This image looks across a paved courtyard towards the tower. This photograph also appears in The National Geographic Magazine (Apr 1914) with the caption, 'The interior of the Paro Jong.' White stated in his article, 'Paro is a very large and striking building, protected on the one side by the River Pa-chu, spanned by a substantial bridge on the cantilever principle, covered with a roof to protect the timber...the only entrance is from the hillside above the third story, the lower stories being used entirely as storehouses for grain, etc.' This is one of a set of photographs documenting White's mission to Bhutan to invest Ugyen Wangchuk, the Penlop (Governor) of Trongsa, with the order of Knight Commander of the Indian Empire. By the late 19th century the powerful Penlops of Paro in the west and Trongsa in central Bhutan were rivals in the struggle to establish sovereignty over the country. The Trongsa Penlop astutely maintained alliances with the British, assisting them as mediator in relations with Tibet. He was eventually elected Druk Gyalpo or ruler of Bhutan in 1907. The Paro fortress or dzong, an imposing white structure overlooking the valley of the Paro Chhu river, is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. It was built in the mid-17th century by the Shabdrung Nwagang Namgyal (the powerful spiritual leader who unified the country) on the site of an earlier monastery. One of Bhutan's strongest fortresses, it often withstood invasions from Tibet. The dzong's only entrance is accessed by a road up the hill and it leads to the courtyard (dochey) on the third storey. The central tower (utse) inside the dochey is five storeys high and was erected by the first Penlop of Paro in the mid-17th century. It has finely carved wooden beams.

Search within this collection

Elsewhere on our websites


Latest events - register free online

Mobile app

For iPhone, iPad and Android

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Email link to a friend

Write a brief note to accompany the email

Your friend's email address: