Dobji Dzong is considered to be the first model Dzong in Bhutan. The other names known locally include Dokar, Dogar, or Dobdrek Dzong. The name Dogar, which means white border, is a reference to the “Five White Boulders'' in the village of Dogar. The dzong is situated in Paro at an altitude of 6,600 feet on the way to Haa in western Bhutan.
Dobji Dzong was built in 1531 by Ngawang Chogyal, the brother of Drukpa Kuenley, who is popularly known as the “Divine Madman”. Legend has it that Ngawang Chogyal has followed the spring originating below the throne of Jetsun Milarepa in Tibet. The source of the spring was found to be a rock located on the current location of Dobji Dzong, which was then chosen for its religious significance.
The mentioned spring is still visible today. However, Dobji Dzong was destroyed by a massive earthquake on September 2011. The remaining central tower was believed to have survived because of a Terma statue (the treasure statue of Guru Langdarchen).
The utse (tower) previously served as Dogar Penlop’s residential, and subsequently converted to become the central jail in 1976. It was later on converted into Jetsun Milarepa Lhakhang to propagate Drukpa Kagyu Buddhism. Dogar Dobji Dzong, according to Chencho Tshering Dorji’s PhD research article was discontinued as the central jail in 1997 after the residents expressed grievances and the dzong had suffered structural defects.
From serving as the main centre to propagate Drukpa Kagyu Buddhism to housing Dobji Penlop and later as a central jail, Dogar Dobji Dzong has transitioned with changing times
Today, the dzong houses a monastic school and religious relics such as the statue of Jetsun Milarepa, Ngawang Chogyal, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Dunsay Dewa Zangpo. The sacred statue of Jetsun Mila was believed to be brought from Druk Ralung in Tibet.
While historically, people feared visiting the dzong for its dark history of housing the country’s most notorious prisoners. The dzong is currently buzzing with devotees daily.
Locals also visit the place for ‘Drupchu’, the holy water that is said to have healing properties. The main holy water site is located between the hills. It takes around 15 minutes to walk to the site from Dobji Dzong.
Dobji Dzong underwent renovation in 2019.
On 12 April 2021, a landslide caused infrastructure damage to Dobji Dzong. It swept away a temporary store of Dobji Dzong along with a retention wall adjacent to its main tower. A recent earthquake and constant rainy weather are said to have triggered the landslide. The store housed masks, dresses, furniture, and kitchen utensils.