Haa- Home of Ap Chundu, the omnipresent local guardian deity
Haa is one of the smallest districts in the country and is highlighted by the Wang chu Lo Dzong which is the administrative centre of the distrct. Dobjidzong also adds colors to the distrct. Perched atop a ridge, one side of which is flaked by a hair raising ravine descending to the basin of the Pachu-Wangchu, the five storied fortress was used mainly as one of the main centers of Drukpa Kuenly teachings.
In its fertile valleys, the people of Haa grow high altitude crops such as wheat, potatoes , barley and millet.Other cash crops such as potatoes, apples and chilli's are also grown by farmers on the valley floor, along terraced hillsides and in some of the more accessible side valleys. A series of picturesque temples graces the valley of haa. Nature lovers will find HAA Valley to be a paradise of beauty as its diversity in flora and fauna is unparalleled.
A few unique customs and traditions set the people of Haa apart from Bhutanese in other parts of the country. For instance , Haaps, as the people of Haa are known celebrate their new year much earlier than people in other parts of the country. The New Year in Haa arrives on the 29thday of the 10thmonth of the Bhutanese Calender. Perhaps because it arrives sooner than the other converntional new years, the Happ New Year is known as lomba, a phase that means ‘to carry the year’. The local song Lolay is sung and the deties are thanked for their protection and wishes made of the New Year.
A small ceremony is performed in each home to ward off evil spirits and usher in health, happiness and prosperity. The houses are made squeaky clean. The signature food of Haa, Hoentey is served.
As in the other high altitude regions of the country, the yak is a significant contributor to the traditional economy and a dried variety of yak cheese called the “Habi Ruto” is a famous specialty of the region. Haa is home to a number of nomadic herders and hosts an annual Summer Festival that showcases their unique lifestyle and culture. The festival is an ideal occasion to immerse yourself into the traditions and unchanged lifestyles of nomadic Bhutanese herders, as well as to sample some delectable Haapi cuisine.
Alongside Buddhist practices, the haap also continue their old shamanistic traditions, the most notable honor the guardian deity of the valley Ap Chhundu. Haap celebrate and observe the “Ap Chhundu Soekha,” which is considered as the holiest day in the Haap calendar .
Landmarks in Haa
Built in the year 1915, It’s an interesting place. Standing in the midst of lush greenery this beautifully painted building is worth of spending a few hours walking and admiring the very presence of it.
Lhakang Karpo & Nagpo
Also known as White Temple is one of the oldest temples around. As per the legend King Songtsen Gampo released a black and white pigeon in order to build temples. The white pigeon landed on mountains of Chenrizi of towering Rigsum. On the other hand black pigeon landed on north – that is Lhakhang Nagpo.
Today the temple is called Nagpo or black built on the site where black pigeon landed. Both the temples are much revered and must visit. The annual festival HAA TSECHU is celebrated here in these temples on the 8th – 10th day of Bhutanese month.
Experience Farmstay/Home Stay
To experience the authentic local lifestyle of Haap, you should stay overnight at farmstay. There are more than 20 plus registered homestay in Haa however not all of them are operational.
Some of the homestays are dates back to ancestral home. For instance, Ugyen Homestay is considered one of the popular homestay in Haa. The homestay is located 100 m south of the Lhakhang Karpo. The homestay is said to date back to 200 years ago.
- Meri Phunsum Trek
- Nob Tsonapata Trek
- Sagala Trek