The Dzong is located in Drukgyal in Paro. Druk Gyal Dzong was built as one of the four principal Dra Dzongs (defence fortress). Accounts differ on the founder of Druk Gyal Dzong. Most writers feel that it was Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who built it to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan army in 1649. Others believe that it was Tenzin Drugda the second Desi and the Paro Penlop who built it at the behest of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal. Despite differences of opinion on the founder of the Dzong, people agree on the fact that it was built to commemorate the victory of the Bhutanese over the allied Tibet-Mongol forces. Hence it derived the name Druk Gyal “the fortress of victory”.
The Dzong was used as a summer residence by the Ringpung Rabdey till 1951 when on the last day of the three-day annual prayers in the 10th month the butter lamp in the central tower was toppled and the Dzong engulfed in fire. All that remains of the Dzong are tokens of a haunted house, still robust walls and charred remains of gigantic wooden posts and beams.
Druk Gyal Dzong has its share of interesting episodes in the general drama of its trials and victories. In one instance as the invading Tibetans surveyed the Dzong from Sagala, it appeared to be attached to the spur of Jana, a hilltop towards Druk Gyal Dzong. As they marched onwards, the Dzong seemed to shift to a distance as if in an illusion. The Tibetans called this mid-space Judae, meaning deceptive.
In another instance the attacking Tibetans were welcomed and treated as guests of honour. They were invited to a feast, but no sooner had the Tibetans began to relax and indulge themselves when their faces started swelling, slowly covering their whole bodies. A particular tree was used for decorating the tents where the Tibetans were enjoying the feast. The Tibetans were left at the mercy of the Bhutanese.
As a defense fortress, Druk Gyal Dzong is said to have housed the finest armory in the country which was located in a room overlooking the southern valley. While most were burnt in the fire some that were saved from the fire are now kept in Rinpung Dzong.