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Things To Do In Wangdue Phodrang
The dzongkhag of Wangdue Phodrang, a nature paradise in Bhutan, has so many places you can explore on foot or drive along to. The main town by itself is small, with some shops you can buy things from. But the countryside gives you an amazing offer of rural homestays that add so much to the fun that you are sure to have in Wangdue Phodrang. As you travel over the length and breadth of the district, you find people of varied ethnic communities and different languages and cuisines, of course. Read on to check what things you can do, while you are in the beautiful district of Wangdue.
One of the best means of exploring Wangdue Phodrang’s scenic countryside is to put on those trekking spurs, heave up the backpack and off you go marching up and down the valleys. Some of the most popular treks are the Phobjikha Valley Trek or the Gangteng Gagona Trek. Most of the treks cover the valleys of Paro, Thimphu and Wangdue Phodrang. While within Wangdue Phodrang you can go for short day trips to the villages or climb up to the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong.
While in Phobjikha Valley, do call at the Nyelung Dechenling Monastery built in the 14th century by Nyingma master Longchenpa. There is an ancient cypress tree said to have sprouted from Longchenpa’s walking stick and you can fill up your water bottles with the drub chuu or holy water from the two sacred springs close by.
On the Gangteng Nature Trail along Phobjikha Valley, is an area called Lookout pavilion. If you would climb up to the pavilion, that is just the right place for a beautiful view of the surrounding valleys and to spot the Black Necked Cranes that swarm all over Phobjikha valley in winter. It’s just the perfect spot for bird-watching.
Black Necked Crane Information Centre
Check out the Black Necked Crane Information Centre that will help you with guides for a mountain hike across Phobjikha and hire out mountain bikes too. Furthermore, they have high powered telescopes in an observation room which will give you a nearer view of the birds and there's also a mini theatre. You can get video documentaries on the cranes that fly over in winter, about Phobjikha Valley, the environment and the cultures of the local people. Additionally, the staff will assist you in choosing a good home stay in the locality. There are gift shops where you can buy souvenirs to take back home.
If the serenity of the most beautiful Phobjikha Valley makes you want to turn inward for a bout of tranquillity, visit the Kumbhu Lhakhang in Phobjikha. It is a temple for the Bon deity Sipey Gyalmo, who is considered a protector deity. The Lhakhang has a meditation retreat where you can spend time in solitude. In fact you will find a variety of small monasteries scattered over the Phobjikha valley and if you are on a hike you can visit most of them. There is the 600 year old Khewang Lhakhang and Damchem Lhakhang in Yusa village.
Visit the villages of Wangdue Phodrang. Set up in the most idyllic surroundings, amidst green fields of rice and potatoes where cattle graze placidly and little brooks run, you can sit under the apple trees and listen to the old rural folk tell their tales about their culture and history. Since most of the villages of Wangdue Phodrang come under the Home Stay Program, it’s a win-win plan, wherein the rural host families benefit by your stay and you get a break from the ennui of an absolute urban setting. You can visit Gasleo and Nahee villages or Adha and Rukha villages. You can also arrange for a trek across the Jigme Singye National Park to explore the park and to create awareness about the flora and fauna that are endangered.
What’s special about Bhutan are its festivals. And Wangdue Phodrang has something more special - a festival that creates awareness about nurturing nature and all the creatures in it. Every November the Annual Black-Necked Crane Festival is celebrated across Phobjikha Valley, attended by locals from neighbouring districts and people from across the border. As the Black Necked Cranes fly overhead, as if to symbolise the festival that is celebrated on the ground, the courtyard of Gangteng Monastery bursts out in rejoice with folk songs, dances, dramas and cultural programmes to praise and protect the gracious birds.