Wangdue Phodrang - The gateway to the far-flung corners of Bhutan
Known as Sha or east to the Bhutanese, Wangduephodrang district is an important gateway to the far-flung corners of Bhutan. The region, the second largest after Gasa is multi-lingual and multi ethic. The distrct comes with a wide climate variation, the southern extremes are sub-tropical while northern part has cool summers and cold winters with the far north mostly under snow.
Wangduephodrang distrct is rich in monasteries and Buddhist shrines. The district also presents a rich ethnic and linguistic mosaic. Most of the people speak Ngaloppakha but in localized patios form. Other languages of the region includes Monkha, Olepkha , Lhakha and Mangdekha.
A wide range of festivals are performed across the district. The most popular is the annual regious festival besides winter solstice (Nyinlo). The recently introduced crane festival held in Phobjikha is also gaining momentum.
More than 40 species of mammals inhabit the lush forests of Wangdue Phodrang including rare species like tiger, red panda and leapoard. The economically significant Basochhu phase I and II hydropower projects generates 64MW power while megahydro Puna Tsangchu Projects I & II generates huge revenue to the country. The region is one of the biggest producers of slate and that is why the name a mountain is Black Mountain.
Must Visit Places
Wangduephodradzong containing some of the most sacred relics was gutted in 2012 and the reconstruction is underway. Zhandrung Ngawang Namgyal constructed the fortress ub 1643 overlooking the confluence of Dangchu and Punatsangchu rivers. It was expanded by Tenzin Rangye. The fortress has three doorways, three courtyards and 14 temples.
One of the biggest monasteries in Bhutan and the seat of the peling tradition of tantric Buddhism in western Bhutan, Gangtey Goemba in Phobjikha valley was built in 1613 by grandson of Terton Pema Lingpa. The monastery currently hosts an institute of Buddhist studies and is the seat of Gangtey Trulku, the body emanation of Terton Pema Lingpa.
Gangtey Nature Trail
From Gangtey Monastery, hike through Gantey Nature Trail (1.5 hrs). This is the most beautiful and shortest of the existing nature trails in Bhutan. The trail hike starts from the mani (like Chhorten) stone wall to the north of the Ganagtey Gonpa and ends in Khewa Lhakhang. This hike which takes you though the pine forest and small bamboo plants provides a spectacular view of the Phobjikha Valley.
A beautiful bowl-shaped glacial valley located against a background of the Black Mountains, the Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan is a treat for those with a deep affection for nature. The valley is located on the borders of the Jigme SingyeWangchuck National Park.
You can find a large flock of black-necked cranes, wild boars, sambars, serows, Himalayan black bears, muntjacs (barking deer), leopards and red foxes in the surrounding hills, making this place as one of the most important wildlife preserves in Bhutan.
For an adventure lover, Phobjikha Valley proves to be a majestic destination. With a number of treks going around, there is no going back. Aspiring travelers to Bhutan, travel with Drukasia one of the largest tour company in Bhutan.
According to some Buddhist belief, three most important pilgrim sites of Guru Padmasambava are Taksang Monastery, Singye Dzong and Bey Langdra. Bey Langdra is the scared site in Wangdue that is highly revered. Guru Padmasambava saw in his vision the sufferings of the people in the locality endured because of drought and a powerful malignant spirit.
The Guru meditated and conqured the spirit which turned into red bull to distract the Guru. The spirit was subsequently turned into protecting diety of the place and the numerous treasures the Guru concealed. The great terton, Dorji Lingpa discovered one of the most profound treasures from this site. Today pilgrims can see the imprints of Gurus body, hat and many other scared remains in Bey Langdra.
The Oleps are sub-ethnic group of the Monpas - believed to be the first inhabitants of Bhutan. They occupy the village of Rukha, under Athang Gewog in Wangdue district. The Oleps have been hunters and food gatherers since time unknown and have over millenia lived and moved around the Black Mountains area of Central Bhutan practicing tseri (slash and burn) cultivation. The language ‘Olepkha’ is spoken by few hundred people and only fluently by a handful of elderly people.