When I was studying in High School in Samtse some quarter of a century ago, I had an opportunity to visit ruins of Bahun Doka ( Castle with 52 doors) in Saureni in Samtse. The castle was empty then but it did retain its architecture splendor. As an avid student of history, I visited the place for second time in 2004 alone. This time, telecom tower had come up nearby and the castle was in complete ruins but it still retained traces of past. The Police on duty looking after the telecom tower and villagers nearby had scavenged what remained of the Bahun Doka. Just yesterday, I visited the place again hoping to take some pictures and do some research but this time nothing was left. The telecom tower looked more imposing then the piece of history which just perished nearby. The history of Bahun Doka, built by Garjaman Gurung and his descendents was lost in time. What was once a house of power with an amazing 52 doors some three quarters of a century ago just perished in time like the bird that was here and gone now.
Similarly, there are many such places of historical importance which needed people’s attention, be it a simple folklore or piece of ancient history like chortens along the path, everything is perishing. In Rome in Italy, they still have that road which Romans 2000 years built for their carts and chariots. They have preserved it for people to walk, appreciate and marvel even to this day. The Chortens that our ancestors built have fallen prey to antique dealers and chorten vandals. Well, we have missed the history lesson!
Today in Bhutan, two different types of people survive rubbing each other’s elbow. The first group of people are those who thinks that past experiences provide a guidance for future course of action while another group are those feel that tradition and precedent hinder progresses.
Surprisingly, we all are products of history. The books that we read are accumulation of all the thoughts from the people of now or from the past. All the universities, schools and places of learning passes down the knowledge accumulated from the past for usage in the future. Parents also passes down their experiences and knowledge to their children that they received in the past.
Yet, by losing the past and by losing places of historical importance, be it at local level like that of Bahun Doka, we are not only disappointing ourselves by making little or no progress but also it shows that we have not advanced to be living upto the opportunities available. When we can pluck an example like that of Bahun Doka from the past, we are using it to help us today that is a very practical use of history. Somehow, we are indebted to the past because it provides for our identity. The present is forever changing and therefore, it is the past we should look into.
Our Bhutanese culture has many roots. When we follow these roots, we find that we are today part of that past which originated from other areas in other countries. From our land also, history has passed down to other areas as well. So it has crossed the borders in time.
It would be a healthy custom to pause, even if it is for a moment, to pay a memory tribute to those past leaders in the locality and to those hard working farmers who made us who we are today. They carried stones, muds and woods through the forest and over mountains, walked many distances barefeet and left the history for us to see, feel and appreciate. Well, here we are, some hundred years after, trying to make sense of what the past offered us.