Haa – Unspoiled & Unsullied
Covering an area of roughly 1706 sq. km, Haa, in the southwest of Paro, is one of the smallest Dzongkhag in the country. This tiny region is one of the most beautiful and isolated areas in the kingdom, adorned with pristine alpine forests and tranquil mountain peaks.
Haa valley remains one of the least visited areas in the country and retains the air of an unspoiled, primeval forest. The wooded hills of Haa provide an ideal location for hiking and mountain biking. Biking around the valley to get to the dozen or so local temples is an enjoyable way to spend the day when visiting.
Haa is home to a number of nomadic herders and hosts an annual Summer Festival that showcases their unique lifestyle and culture. The festival is an ideal occasion to immerse in the traditions and unchanged lifestyles of nomadic Bhutanese herders, as well as to sample some delectable Haapi cuisine.
Attractions in Haa
1. Haa Dzong:
Wangchulo Dzong in Haa is one of the newest dzong in Bhutan as it was built in 1915 to replace a smaller structure. It is a large square structure with battered (inward-sloping) walls.
2. Chhundu Lhakhang:
This monastery is one of the many temples dedicated to Chhundu – the protective deity of Haa. It is a 5-minutes walk from Gayekha.
3. Wangcha, Haa- Chele La- Paro Bondey:
It is roughly about 26kms from Haa to Chele La. There’s no habitation on the route as the road switches back through a forest of blue pine, fir and oak. At about 3400m the road traverses through alpine country towards the pass. Chele La is 3,810m. It is then a 35 km drive down to the junction with the Paro road in Bondey.
4. Lhakhang Karpo:
Lhakhang Karpo was established in the 7th century by Tibetan king Songtsen Gempo in his mission to build 108 monasteries in one day. He built Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo in the Haa Valley. According to legend, a black and a white pigeon were released to select sites to build the temples.
These two temples stand as the guardian sentinels keeping watch at the south entrance of the valley. The white pigeon landed on the foothills of the three towering mountains worshipped as Rigsum Gonpo and is where the Lhakhang stands today.
The temple was named Karpo (white) as it was built on the site where the white pigeon landed.
5. Lhakhang Nagpo:
Located in Dumchoe village, the monastery was established in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo in his mission to build 108 monasteries in one day. It is situated towards the north of Lhakhang Karpo. Legend has it that the black pigeon landed a little north of the white pigeon, indicating the preordained site of the present Lhakhang Nagpo. The temple was named Nagpo (black) as it was built on the site where the black pigeon landed. Built on a lake; an opening in the floor of the temple serves as the channel to the underground lake. Lhakhang Nagpo serves as the seat for the guardian deity Da Do Chen.
The principal relic of the monastery is the Choe-Lung-truel Sum.
6. Tagchu Goemba:
Established in the 20th century, this monastery is located in the Lungse Kha village under Haa Dzongkhag.
The principal relics of the monastery are Tshepame (Amitayus or the God of countless life), Guru Rinpoche, Dorji Chang (Vajradhara), Chenrizig (Avaloketeshvara), Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Tamdrin (Hayagriva). It also houses religious texts such as Kanjur (translated words of the Buddha) and Tenjur (translated commentaries on the words of the Buddha).