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The Dokar or Dogar Dzong is situated at an altitude of 6,600 feet on the way to Haa in Western Bhutan. From the confluence, Chuzom, it is only 11 kilometers, going towards Haa. From the capital, Thimphu, it is slightly more than an hour’s drive.

The name Dokar (do meaning boulder and kar meaning white) is derived from the “five white Boulders” in the village of Dogar. Over the course of time, the name changed to Dogar, probably to indicate the presence of many stone quarries in the area.

Dogar Dobji Dzong is considered to be the first model Dzong in Bhutan. Although it was built 98years before Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal constructed his first Dzong at Semtokha, it had all the outstanding features of the Dzong.

In another way, the place name Dordey is derived from Nagten of Jetsun Milarepa’s statue that was placed at the top of the Altar, with similar size Lama Ngawang Chogyel’s statue housed below. The place-name Dordey was derived from the event that happened with Jetsun Milarepa’s statue. Je Ngawang Drukpa of Tshamdra Gonpa requested this statue from Lama Ngawang Chogyel to be placed at his monastery at Tshamdra Gonpa. On reaching this place (the exact location is near the three cypress trees) the statue did not move even an inch. The statue which was supposed to be carried by four people was not able to carry by even eight people. 

On making further plans to lift, by all means, the statue made a statement saying that this site is his residence. It further suggested making a painting of his image in replace of this statue at Tshamdra Gonpa. With much reverence, the statue was placed as Nagten inside the Dzong. At Tshamdra there is a painting of Jetsun Milarepa made as suggested by this statue, that is also meticulously spoked.

The Dzong was built in 1531 by Ngawang Chogyal, the brother of Chojie Drukpa Kuenley, who is popularly known as the “Divine Madam”. Legend has it that Ngawang Chogyal followed a spring that originated from beneath the throne of Jetsun Milarepa, the cotton-clad yogi, in Druk Ralung, Tibet, in order to find a suitable site to establish a center from which to spread the Drukpa Kagyu teachings in Bhutan. The water gushed out from a rock near a ridge at Dogar, and hence the site was selected to construct a religious center. The center was named Dokar Druk Chokhorkhang meaning “Stone Castle of Bhutan “. It is said that Ngawang Chogyal brought with him 100 carpenters and masons from Druk Ralung to build the central tower, the use, of the Dzong.

The spring, known as Ngawang Chogyal’s Dubchhu (holy water), is still visible close to the Dzong. Much later, the entire Dzong, except for the central tower, was destroyed by a massive earthquake. It is believed that the tower survived because of a Terma statue (the treasured statue of Guru Langdarchen) housed on its top floor. The statue is highly regarded as it is believed to have miraculously spoken when the Tibetan King Langdarma, notorious for his desecration of Buddhist monasteries in Tibet and beyond, tried to destroy it by smashing the left ear with a hammer.

Perched atop a ridge, one side of which is flanked by a hair-raising ravine descending to the basin of the Pachu-Wangchu, the five-storied Dzong was used mainly as one of the main centers of Drukpa Kagyu teachings. Ngawang Chogyal’s descendants maintained close ties with the Bhutanese people and frequently visited the center to preach the Buddhist doctrine. 

Dogar Dobji Dzong later became a winter retreat for the monastic body after the Hungrel Dzong was built in Paro by lama Drung Drung. Dobji penlop was then appointed to look after the Dzong, the local administration, and to collect taxes in kind from the public residing in the area extending from Jangwaphuchay in Paro to Toko-Gelay in the south. In 1976, the Dzong was renovated and converted into a central prison by constructing additional structures to house the prisoners.

The Relics

The main relics in the Dzong consist of the statues of Jetsun Milarepa, Guru Langdarchen, Dungsay Dewa Zangpo (son of Dupthob Chagzampa) and Ngawang Chogyal. The Gonkhang house the Goem-Chamdal Sum: Mahakala, Makakali and the Raven Crown.