On the main road between Mongar and Trashigang, somewhere between the villages of Lingmithang and Thidangbi, the jagged outline of Zhongar Dzong's ruined utse stands out against the hills beyond. Now choked by weeds, the six-acre site remains imposing more than a century after the fire that destroyed it.
Once large enough to hold an archery tournament within its walls, seventeenth-century Zhongar Dzong was the work of Zowo Balip, a talented carpenter from Paro. When Balip came to leave Zhongar, the Gyalpo Karpodhung, or local ruler began to worry that Balip would build a grander dzong elsewhere. When they gathered to share a farewell drink, the Gyalpo chopped Balip's right hand off. In terrible pain, Balip prayed that the Gyalpo would die in similar pain and that he would return as a demon to haunt the dzong and surrounding area. Locals believe that Balip was reborn as a giant snake that haunts the ruins of Zhongar Dzong.