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Paro Jong from the right bank of the Par Chhu [Bhutan]

Paro Jong from the right bank of the Par Chhu [Bhutan]

Photographer: White, John Claude

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1905

Shelfmark: Photo 20/(2)

Item number: 2

Length: 23.9

Width: 29

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the Dzong at Paro in Bhutan taken by John Claude White in 1905. This photograph also appears in The National Geographic Magazine (Apr 1914), with the following note: 'Another view of the Paro Jong, giving some idea of its height above the river, and also showing a small temple built in a cleft of the rock on the river bank. Note the round tower which protects the covered way to the water supply'. 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 ruler of Bhutan in 1907, taking the title Druk Gyalpo. 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. During moments of siege, the townfolk used to shelter in the dzong and water from the river was accessed by means of a covered tunnel leading from the dzong. It now houses a school for monks and government offices of Paro district.

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