Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (also known as Wangdi Dzong) was founded by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the father of the Bhutanese state, in 1638, atop a high ridge between the Puna Tsang Chhu and the Dang Chhu rivers. The Zhabdrung was searching for a strategic site to build a dzong to defend against invaders from the south when he came upon a boy named Wangdi building a sand castle on the beach where the rivers join. Zhabdrung told the boy that he would build a Dzong on the point above the beach and that it would be the boy’s castle, or Wangdi Phodrang. I wanted to make a photograph that would illustrate the Wangdi foundation story: the confluence at Wangdi’s beach and the dzong above as seen from a southern invader’s perspective. Climbing up from the highway for over an hour in mid-afternoon, I found this view along a cattle trail rounding a point. After clearing the brush, I set up my tripod and composed this scene, when it began to rain. Covering the camera with my raincoat, I waited under an umbrella, occasionally defending my tripod from small herds of cattle that would have knocked it over the cliff.
A few hours later, just as the sun was setting, I was about to give up and call it a day when, for a moment, the sky opened and this vision of Wangdi’s castle appeared.