Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan


Wangdue Phodrang is one of the largest dzongkhags in the country. As the district covers 4,308 sq. km and ranges from 800-5800 m in altitude, it has extremely varied climatic conditions ranging from subtropical forests in the south to cool and snowy regions in the north.

Most of Wangdue Phodrang District is environmentally protected. The northern half of the district falls within the Wangchuck Centennial Park, with northwestern pockets belonging to Jigme Dorji National Park. Southeastern Wangdue is part of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Also protected are the biological corridors crisscrossing the district that connect Bhutan’s extensive national park system. The dominant language in the region is Dzongkha, spoken in the western two-thirds of the district. Communities along the border with Bumthang District in the northeast speak Lakha. Along the same border, in central Wangdue Phodrang, inhabitants speak Nyenkha. In the southeast region, remnants of the autochthonous ‘Olekha (Black Mountain Monpa) speaking community barely survive.

One of the most notable sites in the district is Phobjikha Valley. This valley is the habitat of the rare and endangered Black Necked Cranes that roost there during their annual migrations. The residents of the valley have garnered much acclaim for their conservation efforts to preserve the habitat of these beautiful birds. Every year the Black Necked Crane Festival is held in Phobjikha in order to protect and spread awareness of the cranes. The festival includes songs, masked dances and plays by the local school children. This event is one of the most unique and popular festivals in the country.

With its diverse climates and rich natural resources, Wangdue Phodrang Dzongkhag is home to many rare and exotic animals like Red Pandas, Tigers and Leopards. There are also large numbers of rare birds such as the Black Necked Crane, White-Bellied Heron and the Spotted Eagle.

Gangtey Monastery

The Gangtey Monastery, generally known as Gangtey Goenpa or Gangtey Monastery, is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition. It is located in the Wangdue Phodrang District in the western part of Bhutan.

Situated atop a hill at an altitude of 2800 m, Gangtey Monastery (also known as Gangtey Sanga Choeling Goemba) offers a stunning view of Phobjikha valley, winter home to the rare Black Necked Cranes. This venerable monastery was founded in 1613 by Je Kuenga Gyaltshen.

Dargay Goempa

This monastery was built in the spot where Divine Madman Drukpa Kuenley first met Ashi Genzo who was renowned for her beauty.

When it was first constructed the monastery was a simple Drubdey or meditation centre. Lam Drukpa Kuenley is widely considered to be Bhutan’s favourite and most iconic saint due to his unorthodox method of teaching through ribald humor.

Adha & Rukha

Located under the Wangdue Phrodang dzongkhag, the villages of Adha and Rukha are excellent places to gain insights into the lives of rural Bhutanese farmers.

While it is possible to camp out during your visit we recommend asking your guides to arrange a home-stay 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.

Gaselo & Nahee Village

 

The two villages are located in the west of the province, under the Wangdue Phrodang dzongkhag. Take picnic lunches and drive to these villages on day excursions.

Village life here is still medieval and farmers are always happy to see visitors. If visiting during early summer, you’ll be fascinated by the age old traditional methods used during rice plantation. Experience the joy and simplicity of farming life. In autumn you’ll be able to share the happiness of farmers over a bountiful harvest and truly experience Gross National Happiness.