Altitude: 1,600 m / 6000 feet
The drive from Bumthang to Mongar will surely enchant you as it offers one of the most spectacular views of the country. Evergreen junipers and colourful Rhododendrons cover the hillsides, as fresh new scenery unfolds with every twist and turn of the winding road. Sound of the rushing streams and cascading waterfalls greets you as you look down at the valley looming in the distance below the precipitous rock face.
Altitude: 1,100 m/ 3,775 feet
In the far east of Bhutan, on high above the bank of Gamri River, lies the second
largest district in Bhutan. It has once served as the center of a busy trade with
Tibet prior to Chinese occupation, now serves as the junction for east -
Altitude : 1,700 m/6,000 feet
Riding from Mongar to Trashigang you take the left road to Tashiyangtse before crossing
Chazam (Bailey bridge) to Trashigang. The road traverses north and takes about 2
hours to reach at Tashiyangtse. Tashiyangtse Dzong is half-
Chorten Kora, a large stupa designed similar to Nepal's Boudhanath stupa, was constructed in 1740 by Lama Ngawang Lodey. During the second month of lunar calendar (March or April) the people in Tashiyangtse celebrate a festival known as Chorten Kora.
Bomdelling, winter home to the black-
Gom Kora, 15 miles from Trashigang before arriving Tashiyangtse is a popular pilgrim site where Guru Rimpoche had meditated and subdued the demon that dwelt in the vicinity. This is also the venue for Gom Kora Festival held in early spring.
Phuntsholing is a frontier and commercial centre on the northern edge of the Indian plains and south of Thimphu. It takes about six hours by drive to reach Phuntsholing from Paro and Thimphu. Situated at the foothills of Himalayas, it serves as a convenient entry/exit points and the main trading zone for Bhutanese with other neighboring countries of South Asia. Visitors can reach Phuntsholing by road from Sikkim, Darjeeling and Bagdora airport in West Bengal.
Places you can see are Kharbandi Goenpa, built in 1967 by the Royal Grandmother. The monastery contains paintings on the life of Buddha and statues of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rimpoche.
Zangdo Pelri, located in the centre of Phuntsholing town, represents the abode of Guru Rimpoche. On the ground level there are statues of Guru and his eight manifestations and the wall is covered with paintings of Buddha's life. On the second floor it contains eight Bodhisattvas and statues of Avalokiteshwara and Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal while on the top floor the main statue is of Buddha Amitabha.
Traversing the realm of Kheng culture and a hotspot for Bird watching.
Inhabitants of Zhemgang are culturally called the Khengpas. The region remained closed to tourism for many years. In the recent years only a small part was opened for bird watching. This newly opened region is the jewel of tourism in Bhutan. Zhemgang people here are grouped under three regions of upper, middle and lower Kheng.
If you are interested in the last of the animist traditions in Bhutan, this is the region. They invariably celebrate a number of shamanistic practices which is locally known as Bon. Khengpas are adept artisans and are known for their bamboo products like wine containers, baskets, matted bamboo carpets and other cane products.
In the good old days this region cultivated a substantial amount of cotton, a major part paid as tax to the government, besides textiles woven out of cotton. Historically there are traces of the advent of Guru Rinpoche (from the 8th century) though visible records can be seen mostly from the 15th century.
Temples like Buli lhakhang in Buli village and Tharpa Choeling is associated with the treasure revealers Terton Pema Lingpa who is famous for the Peling tradition of Buddhism. The Bhutanese Royal Family is a direct descendent of Pema Lingpa. Traditionally, the Kheng region was divided into three regions of Chikhor (Uper Kheng), Nangkhor (Middle Kheng) and Tamachok (Lower Kheng).
Explore the Kheng region on foot and you will be surprised to see a world you have not seen. Some villages still live traditionally in bamboo huts roofed in traditional bamboo leaves. Water is still being carried in small bamboo containers. The remoteness of Zhemgang region is itself a trekker’s delight. Explore the unexplored that is the watch word. As for Sarpang the best trekking route available is the one to the Royal Manas National park.
The Ancestral Home of the Kings.
In the north-
Popularly known as Lhundub Rinchentse, the Dzong was built in 1654 by the Trongsa Penlop Chogyal Minjur Tempa at a site where once stood a small temple built by Nagi Wangchuk in 1552. Built on a hill overlooking the Kurichu, the dzong is today the administrative and the religious centre of the district. The Dzong houses many sacred artifacts that was installed by the 4th Druk Desid Tenzin Rabgay.
A twenty minutes drive from the Dzong on the route towards Kurtoe Dungkhar will take you to the small village of Kilung inhabited by the Tshanglas who migrated during the late 1880’s and settled there. In the village one will come across the Kilung Lhakhang situated on a ridge overlooking the Kurichu river built on the former site of the Kilung Gyalpo, a regional chieftain. It houses the sacred chain mall once used to recapture a statue that miraculously flew away from the Lhuentse Dzong.
This is another monastery worth paying a visit. It was founded in the 18th century by Pekar Gyatso and till recently was under the patronage of the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorji. The daughter of 1st King, Ashi Wangmo lived here at the monastery as a nun. The monastery is well connected by a feeder road.
Among the noble lineages to emerge from Kurtoe, the house of Dungkar was home to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal, progenitor of the Wangchuck dynasty. Dungkar Naktshang the ancient home of the Dungkar Chojie and the ancestral domicile of the Wangchuck Dynasty, stands tall amid the scenic backdrop of towering mountains overlooking the tiny Dungkar village below. It is a 40km rough road from Lhuentse leading up to the Dungkar Lhakhang. The Dungkar expedition will surely be a voyage into Bhutan’s past.
At a distance of two kilometers from the Dzong is situated the Gangzur village that is most popular for pottery. The women folk from the village are skilled artisans and adept in the art of pottery. A dying art, the Government has now tried to revive it through financial support. You can witness the women folk displaying their skills.
A walk to this village will truly be a pleasant trip. Situated about two hours walk from the Dzong through gentle slopes amongst pine trees, this village is known throughout the country for its woven textile, the Kishuthara. A culture that has evolved over the years is a row of women in a makeshift textile cottage, weaving intricate designs and patterns. Picking up a Kishuthara will be much cheaper than buying one from the handicraft shops in the capital.
The famed Singye Dzong, one of the most important sites of pilgrimage in Bhutan is a three days uphill walk from Lhuentse Dzong. It is located at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche, the Precious Tantric Master once meditated here. Singye dzong is the main sacred place where Guru Rinpoche meditated. A journey to Singye dzong will be a rewarding experience.
Eastern border town which borders the state of Assam in India.
The road from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar was completed in the early 1960s and enables the eastern parts of the kingdom to access and benefit from trade with the south as well as across the border into India. It is possible to drive from Samdrup Jongkhar to Phuentsholing, the eastern border town, via Assam and West Bengal of India. From Trashigang the road descends through thick jungle before arriving at the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. The town is no more than a frontier post with a couple of hotels and restaurants. Visitors can exit Bhutan from Samdrup Jongkhar, instead to driving back all the way back to Paro or Phuentsholing. Guwahati airport in India is located about 100 km from the border and from there are daily flights to Calcutta and Delhi and 2 flights a week to Bangkok.
Sarpang / Geylegphug
The inhabitants of Sarpang are a mixture of almost every ethnic group in Bhutan comprising of the Sharchopas, Ngalops, Bumthaps, Khengpas, Kurtoeps and then Lhotshampas.
The vastness of agricultural land has enticed many farmers to Sarpang. Majority of the inhabitants are the Lhotshampas and nature worshippers which makes a great diversity of cultural experiences. The summer months are not recommended due to heat and humidity of the region.
Let us reveal the colours of the fall festivities or mesmerize you with some animist rituals. Sarpang district is one of the newly opened destinations when Gelephug was made feasible for entry and exit of tourists. At the moment Gelephug is the only destination opened for cultural highlights.
We often call the southern circuit as the hub of Bhutan’s unique nature trips. Talk
of Zhemgang, we have the endemic species of primates called the Golden Langur. Next
we have the Rufous-
Tsirang is one of the 20 dzongkhag (districts) comprising Bhutan. Tsirang is noted for its gentle slopes and mild climates. The dzongkhag is also noted for its rich biodiversity. One of Bhutan’s longest rivers, the Punatshangchhu flows through it and a hydropower plant is expected to start by January 2013.
Tsirang Dzongkhag is located in the south-