Monuments to visit in Gangtey & Phobjikha.
Gangtey & Phobjikha (alt. 3000m/9845ft).
Gangtey and Phobjikha fall under the district of Wangduephodrang. These valleys lie on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chu (black water) and Gay Chu (white water). The sightseeing and monuments to visit in Gangtey and Phobjikha valley are Gangtey Gompa Monastery, Crane Information centre, Phobjikha valley and Gangtey Nature trail hike.
The valley of Gangtey is of a picture postcard setting. It is a lush and green valley that is wide and flat without any trees. For a visitor, this is a pleasant surprise as most of Bhutan’s valleys are tightly enclosed and adorned by looming trees. And sitting majestically in the valley is the much-revered Gangtey Monastery.
1. Gangtey Goempa:
Gangtey Gompa was established in 1613 by 1st Gangtey Trulku Rigdzin Pema Tinley, the Grandson of Terton Pema Lingpa. It was originally built as a small village monastery and it was later enlarged by the 2nd Gangtey Trulku, Tenzing Legpai Dhendup. Under the present Gangtey Trulku Rigdzin Kunzang Pema Namgyal, the restoration work of the monastery was started in 2002 and completed in 2008.
It is built on a spur overlooking a cup shaped Phobjikha valley below at an altitude of 3000 m. The monastery is surrounded by Gangtey village. This monastery is one of the important Nyingmapa monasteries in western Bhutan.
2. Phobjikha valley:
A few kilometers beyond the monastery, on the valley floor, lies the village of Phobjikha. This valley, where the black necked cranes flock during their migration from Tibet and is known for its conservation efforts in Bhutan. About 800 households lived here without electricity until recently in their bid to preserve and protect the black necked cranes. The valley and its inhabitants have become a leading example of harmonious co-existence. Phobjikha valley is now more of a living museum, inviting applause from people all over the world. Today, an underground electrification system has been put in place to preserve the crane habitat areas and not disturb them.
3. Black Necked Crane Information Centre:
It is information centre for the Rare Black necked cranes set up by the Royal Government of Bhutan. The center is stocked with books and pamphlets on these rare migratory birds, their habitats and their conservation efforts by the Government. They also sell handicrafts and craft works made of Bamboos produced by the local people.
Multiple hiking trails in the valleys.
From soaking in the peace and tranquility of the valley, visitors can partake in day hikes with trails ranging from easy to difficult. From walking through pine forests, temples and villages laden with prayer flags, hikers can even interact with the locals if they so choose to. Also, the various bird species along the trails make it ideal for bird watchers and photography enthusiasts.
A full day hike around Phobjikha valley begins at the base of Hotel Dewachen or from Khewang temple for those who prefer to drive up to the temple. There are many trails to choose from depending on the preference of hikers. The Shasila trail for example is frequented by people of Sha Ngawang and Chitokha to migrate between their summer and winter homes in Gangtey. This trail is highly recommended for bird watchers. For fit and adventurous hikers, the slightly more difficult Khotokha trail is a big hit. Along the route, hikers can visit the monastery and farmhouses before stopping to dig into their packed lunch boxes.