The smoke-smudged walls of Drukgyel Dzong's four-story utse (central tower) still stand intact among the surrounding ruins. Located at the head of the Paro Valley, the once-magnificent Drukgyel Dzong was built in 1649 and stood along a major route into Tibet for three centuries until it burned to the ground in a 1951 fire. The dzong's name, which translates as “Bhutan's Victory,” commemorates a 1644 defeat of Tibetan forces in this region.
Today, a narrow path spirals up towards the dzong past the collapsed remains of a walled passage that once secured the dzong's water supply. Go through the gate to access a flagstoned courtyard once used for festivals. Beyond this lies the main body of the dzong, where wild strawberries and herbs sprout among the rubble.
Follow the rough trail that leads up around the utse to enjoy sweeping views of the Paro Valley, including majestic Mt. Jomolhari appearing in the distant gap between two mountains. Here, drink in the magnificently vast scenery and listen for echoes of the dzong's glorious past.