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Watch: Modi visits historic Simtoka Dzong in Bhutan, offers prayers

By Vishal S

Thimphu, Aug 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Bhutan, on Saturday visited historic Simtoka Dzong in Thimpu. Simtoka Dzong is an important historical monument and former Buddhist monastery, today it houses one of the premier Dzongkha language learning institutes.

Modi planted a Cypress tree sapling at the historic Simtoka Dzong in the presence of his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering.

Image courtesy - MEA/Twitter

Built in 1629 by Shabdrung Namgyal, a Tibetan Buddhist lama who is regarded as the unifier of Bhutan as a nation-state, Simtoka Dzong is one of the oldest fortress in the Himalayan nation and functions as a monastic and administrative centre.

After planing the sapling, the prime minister also met with the monks of the historical monument, where projects inauguration ceremony and MoUs exchange took place for the first time ever.

[India and Bhutan sign 10 MoUs]

"A deep-rooted spiritual connect! PM @narendramodi and @PMBhutan with monks at the Semtokha Dzong, which is an important cultural and spiritual centre in Bhutan," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) tweeted after the meeting.

Earlier, Modi and Tshering addressed a joint press meet at the dzong after launching various projects and witnessing the exchange of several MoUs between the two nations. The prime minister, who reached Bhutan in the morning, is on a two-day visit to the Himalayan kingdom.

This is Modi's second visit to Bhutan and the first since his re-election in May this year. Earlier on his arrival at the Paro airport, where he was received by the Bhutanese prime minister, Modi received a red-carpet welcome.

[PM Modi receives Guard of Honour in Bhutan, to hold bilateral talks]

Waving the Indian tricolour and the Bhutanese flags, people lined up along the route from Paro to the capital city Thimphu to welcome Modi.

History of Simtoka Dzong:

The Simtoka Dzong, built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, functions as a monastic and administrative centre and is the oldest dzong which has survived in its original form; Namgyal brought into vogue, for the first time in Bhutan, this concept of the "dzong" as castle monastery. An attack on the dzong was made by five disgruntled lamas in collaboration with an invading army of Tibetans who were against the Buddhist practices of the dzong under the control of Zhabdrung. They were defeated and Palden Lama who was the leader of the invaders died in the battle. Another attack on the dzong in 1630 by the Tibetans was successful for a while till part of the dzong caught fire and with the roof collapsing all the invading forces were killed.

The first renovation and extension works on the dzong was completed in 1670 by Mingyur Tenpa, the third Druk Desi (regent). It has undergone many renovations in subsequent years also and the most recent refurbishing was carried out by architects from Japan

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