WANGDUEPHODRANG VALLEY (ALTITUDE: 500 - 5,400M )
Wangduephodrang is one of the largest Dzongkhags (districts) in Bhutan with a population of only 28,000. With an altitude ranging 500-5400m, it has extremely varied climatic conditions ranging from Subtropical forests in the south to cool and snowy regions in the north.
Most of the district is environmentally protected, with the northern half falling within the Wangchuck Centennial Park and northwestern pockets belonging to Jigme Dorji National Park. The southeastern region is part of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.
The genuine crown jewel of the district is Phobjikha Valley, which serves as a wintering ground for the critically endangered Black-Necked Cranes. The valley is full of green pasture ideal for cattle to graze on. The other places to visit would be Athang village which is famous for textiles such as the Adang Khamar, Adang Rachu, and Adang Mathra. The district is famous for its fine bamboo work, slate, and stone carving.
Wangduephodrang district is a must-see for any traveler to Bhutan due to its abundance of natural beauty and fascinating cultural attractions.
Top 10 Interesting Facts about Wangduephodrang:
- The Scenic Phobjikha valley falls under the Wangduephodrang district.
- The Bajo town is called as “matchbox town”
- Wangduephodrang is an important gateway to the far-flung corner of Bhutan.
- The district also presents rich ethnic and linguistic Mosaic
- More than 40 Species of mammals,391 species of birds are found in the valley of Wangduephodrang
- The rare and protected birds like the black-necked crane, the white-bellied heron, and spotted Eagle are found here.
- The place is ideal for bird-watching.
- You can visit the country’s largest national park (area-wise)here.
- Wangduephodrang is famous for stone carvings
- It’s the only place that celebrates Black Necked Crane Festival
Gangtey Goenpa (monastery) is situated atop a hill at an altitude of 2,800 meters above sea level in the picturesque Phobjikha valley. The monastery is a striking and prominent landmark in the valley with incredible structure, elaborate carvings, and paintings. It has a large complex consisting of the monastery encircled by the living quarters of the monks. The surrounding mountains and forests that enclose the monastery are embellished with medicinal plants and trees. The wide-open Phobjikha valley is seen in a dramatic layout from here; a striking sight to capture.
The Gangtey Monastery is the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition and currently hosts an institute of Buddhist studies established in 1613 by Gangteng Trulku. The monastery is the seat of Gangtey Trulku, the body emanation of Terton Pema Lingpa.
Ganagtey Natural Trail Hike
The Gangtey Nature Trail Hike presents a captivating adventure through the stunning landscapes of Bhutan. This trail is renowned for its scenic beauty, cultural encounters, and diverse wildlife. As you embark on this journey, you’ll find yourself immersed in the tranquility of the Gangtey Valley, surrounded by pristine forests and picturesque meadows.
Gangtey Nature Trail Hike starts from the Mani (like Chorten) stone wall to the north of the Gangtey Goenpa and ends in Khewa Lhakhang. The hike takes about 1 hour 30minutes through the pine forest and small bamboo plants. You can see the Phobjikha valley so beautifully from this hike. It is one of the best hike places for the Nature lovers. Depending on the season, you might encounter rare bird species, including the black-necked crane, which migrates to this area during the colder months.
The trail’s allure lies not only in its natural beauty but also in its cultural significance. Along the way, you might have the chance to interact with local communities and experience their way of life. The hike often takes you past quaint villages and traditional farmhouses, providing insights into the daily routines and customs of the Bhutanese people.
As you meander through the trail, keep an eye out for the diverse range of flora and fauna that call this region home. Bhutan is known for its commitment to conservation, and the Gangtey Valley is no exception.
The trail itself is well-maintained and suitable for various fitness levels, making it accessible to a wide range of hikers. Whether you’re an experienced trekker or someone seeking a more leisurely stroll, the Gangtey Nature Trail accommodates all preferences.
Crane Information Centers
Crane Information Center of the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) has all the information displayed about the endangered black-necked crane and its rich environment of Phibjikha valley.
The Black Necked Cranes commonly known as “thrung thrung karm” has a sacred identity in the Bhutanese Culture. It is often cited in folklore, dances, and other historical texts. The crane festival is organized by the local communities in Phobjikha which reinforces the importance of these birds in the lives of the local people.
The best time to visit Gangtey, is in the winter months, especially November, when the Black-necked Crane Festival is held at the courtyard of Gangtey Goenpa, with local songs and masked dances celebrating the coming of Black Necked Crane.
The Khewang Lhakhang is a Vajrayana monastery that houses the statues of the Buddha of three times; past, present, and future. Ample of myth and magic are associated in lieu of the construction of Lhakhangs.
It was founded by Truku Penjor Gyeltshen. The temple is circled by the rivers all around and it is believed that there is a lake underneath the temple.
Visiting Khewang Lhakhang offers a delightful opportunity to witness playful young monks engaging in a game of football. You can engage with them, capture memorable photographs, and enjoy an enriching and interactive experience.
Wangdue Phodrang Dzong
The Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, containing some of the most sacred relics, was gutted in 2012 & reconstruction is underway. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel constructed the fortress in 1643 overlooking the confluence of the Dangchhu and Punatsangchhu rivers.
Wangduephodrang dzong also serves as an important administrative center, connecting the eastern and western regions of Bhutan. A devastating fire destroyed the Dzong on 24th June 2012. Upon the Royal Command of His Majesty the King, the historic Dzong was rebuilt to its former glory. The new Dzong was consecrated on 11th November 2022.
The fortress had three doorways, three courtyards, and 14 temples.
The Bey Langdra is a sacred site highly revered in Wangdue Phodrang. Guru Padmasambhava saw in his vision the sufferings the people in the locality endured because of drought and powerful malignant spirit. Guru Rinpoche meditated & conquered the spirit which turned into a red bull to oppose the Guru. The spirit was subsequently turned into a protecting deity of the place & numerous treasures the Guru concealed. Thus, the name Bey Langdra means the rock/cliff of the bull where treasure teaching is hidden to be discovered in the future.
The great Terton Dorji Lingpa discovered one of the most profound treasures from the site.
Adha & Rukha
The villages of Adha and Rukha are excellent places to gain insights into the lives of Bhutanese farmers. While it is possible to camp out during your visit we recommend a homestay with one of the local families. The farmers will happily welcome you into their homes and regale you with local legends of mermaids and ancient kings. It is usually better to schedule your visit during autumn as these areas are prone to leeches, sand flies, and mosquitoes during the summer
The Adha village in Wangdue District is famous for textiles such as the Adha Khamar, Adhang Rachu, and Adha Mathra.
Longtey Rhododendron Hke
Longtey Rhododendron Hike is a beautiful scenic hike which starts from the charming village of Longtey to the spectacular glacial valley of Phobjikha/Gangtey. From Longtey you will set off on a four-hour moderate walk towards Gangtey Goenpa, an impressive Buddhist monastery that traces back to the 17th century. Head along a sloping pathway that takes you through towering bushes of jade-hued bamboo. At the end of the bamboo enclave lies a small group of village houses, built in the distinct Bhutanese style featuring elevated platforms, carved timber window panes and wood-lined arched roofs.
During the spring months the woodlands on either side of the Valley look particularly stunning, cloaked in crimson, violet and candy floss coloured rhododendrons. In the winter months, the Valley is blanketed in pearly white snow, on which mighty onyx and caramel-horned yaks graze. As you move upwards, you will pass ancient rhododendron forests and soaring trees whispering the ancient secrets of this mystical region. Stop for a Bhutanese-inspired lunch with magnificent views of the Valley and the sacred monasteries below. Head down to the tranquil village of Kumbu, where you can choose to end your walk or carry on to the deep valley floor and the Shedra, a renowned and mystical place of teaching.