Known for its Fine Bamboo Work and Its Slate Carvings
|Wangdue District (Dzongkhag)||Western Bhutan|
|Wangduephodrang||1, 350m elevation|
Wangduephodrang lies towards the south of Punakha and is the national highway towards central Bhutan. At the confluence of the river stands Wangduephodrang dzong and the town is a narrow street with traditional Bhutanese storied houses. After crossing the town the roads leads you to Trongsa in central Bhutan and as you drive up hill you will be in Pelela pass and from this point you can get into valley called Phobjika which is the home for the rare Black Necked cranes that has made this valley as their winter home. The birds fly from Tibet in October and November and leave just before spring. There is another landmark in this valley, is the famous Gangtey Gompa monastery, built in 17th century. The higher reaches of the valley provide a rich cattle pastures and a dairy research station has been set up at Gogona. The district is also known for its fine bamboo work and for its slate and stone carvings.
Stretched along the hilltop above the confluence of the Punatsangchhu and Dhangchhu rivers, the imposing Wangdue Phodrang Dzong is the town’s most visible feature. During pre-monarchy days, the governor of this dzong played an important role. The annual festival takes place in autumn so be the guest and enjoy the tour of the dzong.
The temple of Sha Radap, the guardian deity of Wangdue Phodrang region is worth paying a visit. The temple located close to the town is houses the image of the deity. Locals pay frequent visits to the temple to seek his blessings and to name their new born child. You can roll the dice at the temple, seek his blessings and your wishes may come true and fulfilled.
In the mountains east of Wangdue Phodrang lies the beautiful Phobjikha valley, on the slopes of which is situated the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17th century. The village of Phobjikha lies a few km. down from the monastery, on the valley floor. This quiet, remote valley is the winter home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate.
Enjoy the delights of the two villages in the west of the province. Take picnic lunches and drive to these villages on day excursions. Village life there is still medieval and farmers are ever happy to see visitors. Fascinate yourself during rice plantation in early summer. Experience the joy and drudgery of farming life. In autumn share the happiness of farmers over a bountiful harvest.
To experience the grandeur of these villages, you must prepare yourself for a tented night. You could also use a farm house stay and help distribute tourism income to the villages. Summer months are not recommended for cultural groups. The biting midges (sand flies), mosquitoes and leeches are instrument of raw adventure and may not entice the cultural visitors. The highlights are an experience into Adha and Rukha farming life. The farmers will tell tales of mermaids and kings. Let them show you the secrets of making roasted fish.
East of Wangdue province lays the region of Shaa. The region celebrates Bonko (an animist festival) once in every three years. The farmers here practise animism but call themselves Buddhists. That is the thrill to experience for every visitor. The animists are nature worshippers and it makes great sense for a farmer to be an animist than a Buddhist. Brave yourself and drive on the farm roads to visit these villages or book few nights of camp services.