Wangdiphodrang / Phobjikha

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Wangdiphodrang / Phobjikha

Wangdiphodrang

Wangdiphodrang is a town and capital (dzongkhag thromde) of Wangdue Phodrang District in central Bhutan.[2][3] It is located in Thedtsho Gewog.

The town shares its name with the dzong built in 1638 that dominates the district. The name is said to have been given by Ngawang Namgyal, the Zhabdrung Rinpoche, who was searching for the best location for a dzong to prevent incursions from the south. At the chosen spot, the Zhabdrung encountered a boy named Wangdi playing beside the river and hence named the dzong “Wangdi’s Palace”.

Phobjikha

Phobjikha is a vast U-shaped glacial valley, also known as Gangteng Valley named after the impressive Gangteng Monastery of the Nyingma sect in central Bhutan, where the graceful black-necked cranes in Bhutan (Grus nigricollis) from the Tibetan Plateau visit the valley during the winter season to roost. On arrival in the Phobjikha Valley in the last week of October, the black-necked cranes circle the Gangteng Monastery three times and also repeat the process while returning to Tibet.

The broad valley with its best-known marshland in Bhutan, is popular for its scenic splendour and cultural uniqueness. The valley is rich in faunal biodiversity and has, apart from the globally threatened black-necked cranes Grus nigricollis, 13 other globally threatened species. Within the ambit of the valley, an area of about 163 square kilometres (63 sq mi) has been declared a protected area, which is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN), for the protection of nature, authorized to manage, on lease basis, by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Tsechu, the colourful Mask Dance Festival of Bhutan and the Crane Festival welcoming the black-neck cranes in winter months are held every year in the precincts of the Phobjikha Valley, in the Gangten Monastery courtyard. It also has a popular 3-days trek route.

Bumthang / Jakar

Bumthang

Bumthang has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. The deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Bumthang is also the traditional home of the excellent Buddhist teacher Pema Linga to whose descendants the modern dynasty traces its source. The name Bumthang offers two probable origins; the particular first is it is called after a Bumpa, the vessel for holy drinking water which the valley is similar to in shape. The second resource implies that it does not take Area of Beautiful Girls because Bum translates to ‘Girl’ and Thang means ‘flat piece of land.’ These types of fertile valleys are protected in fields of buckwheat, rice, and potatoes. Apple company orchards and dairy facilities are also familiar sights right here. This serene region is one of the popular relaxing places in the kingdom.

Jakar

Close to the foot of the Chokhor valley, Jakar (Chamkhar) is the major trading center of the region. Jakar itself is a bustling two-street town and well worth a trip. This township is a bustling little one-street place with an abundance of restaurants and handicrafts stores. Jakar sells a good amount of chugo, a hard, chewy dried cheese snack popular among Bhutanese. Internet cafes and the odd espresso bar have also started to make an appearance here. The Jakar Dzong or the “Castle of the White Bird” dominates the Chamkhar Valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in the 16th century, by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, the Dzong played a substantial role as the fortress of defense of the whole eastern Dzongkhags.

Punakha

Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan, is still the winter home of Je Khenpo (the chief abbot). Blessed with temperate climate and its natural water source from Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female) rivers, the Punakha pit produces abundant crops and fruits. There are fantastic views of the remote Himalayas at Dochula passing on Thimphu – Punakha highway. Punakha Dzong is perhaps the most amazing dzong in the country, especially in early spring when the lilac-colored jacaranda trees bring a rich sensuality to the dzong’s characteristically towering whitewashed surfaces. This dzong was the second to be built in Bhutan, and it served as the capital and abode of the royals till the mid-1950s. All of Bhutan’s kings have been crowned here.

Paro

The charming town of Paro lies on the banks of the Paro (or Pa) Chhu, just a short distance northwest of the imposing Paro Dzong. The main street, only built in 1985, is lined with colorfully painted wooden shop fronts and restaurants, though these appear to be under danger as the town develops and multi-storey concrete structures always propagate. For now, Paro remains associated with the best Bhutanese cities to explore on foot and is worth one hour or even two’s stroll at the end of the day of sightseeing.

Thimpu

The main city of one of the world’s most intriguing locations, Thimphu combines a natural small-town feel with a new commercial exuberance that constantly challenges the state’s natural conservatism and Shangri-La image. For the guest, Thimphu offers the best possibility to briefly break away from the tour itinerary. In addition to its traditional Buddhist sights and attractions, it offers cafes, bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Finding a balance between the esoteric and espresso – the old and the new – is the key to getting the most out of this charming city. Vehicle traffic, unheard of a handful of years ago, now crawls through the center of town during an equally new phenomenon – rush hour.

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