Jakar Yugyal Dzong, commonly known as Jakar Dzong ‘Fortress of White Bird’, is situated on a ridge above the Jakar village of Chamkhar Valley in Bumthang. The dzong played a pivotal role as a fortress of defence for the whole eastern districts. It was also the seat of the first king of Bhutan.
There are different accounts of the origin of the dzong. Some believe that the dzong was built by Lam Ngagi Wangchuk (1517 - 1554) who came to Bhutan to spread the teachings of the Drukpa Kagyupa Buddhist order. It is said that a white bird perched on where Jakar Dzong was situated. This is considered an auspicious sign. According to the oral legend, a group of Lamas and elders were considering moving a fort, which was situated, at the eastern site of the Bumthang Valley. As they were sitting down to discuss the matter, a bird, presumed to be the king of geese rose into the air and rested on a spur. The location was subsequently chosen for the present location of Jakar Dzong.
Jakar Dzong was attacked thrice by the Tibetan army. In the 17th century, the ruler of Tsang in Tibet, Phuntsho Namgyel, sent an army to destroy Zhabdrung twice. In 1679, the previously defeated chieftain of Bumthang Chokhor raised a Tibetan army and attacked the dzong. The defenders sought help from the protecting deity, Choe Chhong Chamdal Sum. The prayer was answered when the gun mounted on the sills, the legend says, aimed itself towards the enemy camp and fired by itself, killing two important Tibetan commanders. Since this victory, the dzong came to be known as Jakar Thobgyal (gyal-victory).
The third invasion happened under the reign of the 3rd Desi, Minjur Tempa. The difficult battle was only won with the additional arrival forces under Lam Ngawang Rabten. After this victory, the dzong was renamed as ’Jakar yugyal Dzong’ meaning Victorious Fortress of the White Bird. The name jakar and Yugyal were later merged to form the name Jakar Yugyal Dzong.
The two main features of Jakar Dzong is the 50 metres high Utse (central tower) attached to the main eastern wall and its well protected water supply source. The water supply source was important for the locals to access water in case of a siege in the olden days.
Like most of the other dzongs in Bhutan, Jakar Dzong houses the administration offices, a few temples and monks’ living quarters. Although the size of the dzong is relatively smaller than some, the architecture of this peaceful and quiet dzong is beautiful and great for photography.