Photographs by courtesy of the Tourism Council of Bhutan
Click to play Bhutanese music:
Artists: Monks of the Nyingmapa Order Title: ‘Pilgrim’s Song’ from CD: ‘Tibetan Buddhist Rites from the Monasteries of Bhutan Vol. 4 Instrumental & Folk Music’
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Location: Eastern Bhutan
Distance from Mongar: 90km (3hrs)
Elevation: 1,070m (3,510ft)
Built in 1659, atop a spur overlooking the Dangmechu river, Trashigang dzong or the ‘fortress of the auspicious hill’ has been the political stronghold of eastern Bhutan for over 300 years. The landscape on which the Dzong stands is not only picturesque but arouses curiosity.
Trashigang Tshechu Festival
While every village has their own tshechus to celebrate annually, the highlight is the three day tshechu that is held in the dzong from the 7th to 11th of the tenth month of the Bhutanese calendar that corresponds to the month of December. The tshechu is witnessed by the Brokpas, a semi-nomadic community of Merak and Sakteng, the Khengpa community, and people from as far as Samdrup Jongkhar, Pema Gatshel and Trashi Yangtse.
24 km from Trashigang, the temple of Gom Kora is set on a small alluvial plateau overlooking the river. Surrounded by rice fields and clumps of banana trees, it looks like an oasis in an arid landscape. It is one of the famous places where Guru Rinpoche meditated in order to subdue a demon that dwelt in a huge black rock.
A 22 kilometres drive on the highway that connects Trashigang with Samdru Jongkhar will take you to Kanglung where one can visit the Zangdopelri lhakhang. Built in the early 1970s at the initiative of the late Tamzhing Jagar, the Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs, the lhakhang houses some of the most intricately designed statues besides a Shedra, a monastic school headed by a Khenpo.
In Kanglung, besides the Zangdopelri, another place of visit is to Sherubtse College or the Peak of Learning. Founded in the late 1960s as a Higher Secondary School, Sherubtse College was until recently the only Institute of Higher Learning in the country. It was run by the Jesuits from Canada and the late Father William Mackey was its first Principal. The College has been instrumental in providing the much needed higher skill base for the country as many of the graduates were employed by various Ministries, Corporations and Organizations.
Further up the road from Sherubtse College is located the oldest temple in Trashigang – the Yonphu Lhakhang whose establishment cannot be ascertained. It houses several sacred relics and a Tercham that is conducted twice in a year commemorating the feats of religious luminaries like Guru Padmasambhava.
Further east from Trashigang, driving north will take you to another commercial hub in Trashigang, the Rangjung town. This once sleepy town is today a major commercial center where people from five geogs congregate and carry out brisk businesses. Besides the town one can visit the Rangjung temple located on a small hillock overlooking the town. The temple built in the architectural style of the Tibetans has a monastic school supported by HH Garab Rinpoche.