In 1652 Choegyel Mingyur Tenpa, entrusted by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal with the enlargement of Trongsa Dzong, began the building of Taa Dzong. Prominently situated on a steep hill above the main Dzong, the structure consists of a massive circular five-storey tower, or utse flanked by two lower towers. The south and North towers connect to the uste by multi –storey wings. Two smaller, free standing semi-circular towers are located further down the hill to the west and south- west of Taa Dzong.
The tower complex was intended to ward off attacks on the Dzong below from the slops leading to the Yutong Pass. This purpose is confirmed by the narrow firing slits and the many stone shots stored in the building. The stones were rained from the balconies onto enemy forces attempting to storm the fortress. After peace came to Bhutan the complex lost its military function and became home to two hermits who have vowed to remain in life-long retreat. They continue to live in the southern wing where they meditate for their own salvation and pray for the peace and well-being of all sentient beings.
Taa Dzong houses two temples. One is dedicated to the legendary Gaser of Ling. In the other, the future Buddha Maitreya is the main deity. Today Taa dzong is both a place of worship used by Bhutanese Buddhists and a museum presenting the rich historical and religious heritage of Trongsa Dzong. A narrative thread takes the visitor through eleven galleries which showcase the historic and religious significance of Trongsa Dzong.
One of the galleries is dedicated to the history of the kings of the Wangchuck dynasty who have ruled the kingdom since 1907. Many important royal possessions including clothing, ritual and everyday objects serve to illustrate the live of the royal families that has so uniquely shaped modern world.
The statue and religious paintings on display have not travelled the usual path of transformation to become solely museum objects. Though they have been removed from the temples of the Dzong to Taa Dzong they have retained their spiritual “charge” as bodies in which the Gods can continue to be present in our world. Thus for some the Tower of Trongsa is a museum in which aspects of Bhutanese culture and history are explained by beautiful objects, while for others it is a sacred place of encounter with the gods. Or perhaps may find it to be both at the same time.
Between 2005 and 2008, major funding from the Austrian Government, supported the complete restoration of the Tower of Trongsa and the establishment of the museum