Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Bhutan's Victory over the Tibetans in 1644.
Drukgyel Dzong, at the upper end of the valley, built to protect against invading Tibetans, but in ruins since a fire in the 1950s. Drukgyel Dzong is situated 14 km from Paro at the end of the road. This Dzong was built in a location chosen for control of the routes to Tibet. In 1647 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel erected the Drukgyel Dzong, just north of Taktshang, in commemoration of the victory over the Tibetans in 1644. Thus while Bhutan has many cultural associations with Tibetan cultural areas, it has not been dominated by Tibetan political influence since the 17th century.The name "Drukgyel Dzong" means "Fortress of the Victorious Drukpa". In 1951 it was destroyed by fire. Now the Dzong is closed to all visitors. There have been attempts to renovate the buildings.In the background there is the Jhomolhari mountain, which is the place and embodiment of the female mountain goddess Tsheringma, who watches over the land. The first Tibetan invasion appears to have taken place shortly after the Shabdrung's arrival in 1616. The Tibetan ruler did not want to tolerate the presence of his arch enemy immediately south of his own territory. It was not enough for the Tibetan ruler that the Shabdrung had left Tibet; the opponent had to be destroyed.
In the course of the first Tibetan invasion, the general of the attackers fell and the Tibetan troops were beaten off. The fame of the Shabdrung as superior military strategist started to spread.
In Tibet the power of the ruling Tsang collapsed in 1642. Since then the Gelugpa school, headed by the fifth Dalai Lama, reigned with the support of the Mongolians. The Gelugpas also thought that they could not afford a powerful state on their southern border. In 1644, Tibetan and Mongolian armies attacked Bhutan, but the campaign was not successful. In 1648/49 several Tibetan and Mongolian columns again attacked Bhutan at various points.
They advanced as far as Thimphu, Punakha and Paro, but were ultimately defeated. Another Tibetan invasion took place in 1657, after the Shabdrung's death, but failed to achieve anything. It was the last Tibetan attempt to conquer Bhutan.
This lovely minisheet of four stamps depicting the various scenes during the invasion by the Mongols jointly with Tibet, in which they were routed by the forces of Bhutan,was given to me by Shashi.