Places to visit in Gasa Bhutan
Gasa (alt. 2,850m / 9,348 ft)
A natural hot spring is another top attraction of this region where locals as well as international visitors come here to take a bath in a natural hot spring which is believed to contain a host of medical benefits.
The 17th century Gasa Dzong sits calmly atop a sleepy hill overlooking a snowy mountain range in distance. The Dzong (monastic cum administrative building) was built to commemorate victory over Tibetans by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal.
One of the world toughest treks – The snowman trekking trail passes through Gasa village. A herd of wild Takin (Bhutanese national animal) are also frequently seen on the forested hills around Gasa.
Royal Highland Festival which is held here annually showcases the rich cultural heritage of highland community of Gasa. The festival is a landmark activity of Gasa district’s ‘Good to Great Gasa’, a vision inspired by His Majesty’s passion to make country great. During the festival, variety of cultural programs performed by Layaps. Various entertaining programs including the animal parade, tug of war, horse race, cattle show, strongwoman competition, wrestling, run and lottery along with various cultural dances also steal the hearts of visitors.
Travelling to Gasa is a bit of an adventure. There is a newly constructed partially paved road from Punakha that passes through the forest of oaks and pine. Due to treacherous mountainous terrain, the road is often disrupted by falling boulders and landslides. Under normal road conditions, a roundtrip travel between Punakha (the nearest town) and Gasa should take 5-6 hours.
Places of interest in and around Gasa
On clear days one can enjoy a breath-taking view of Mt Gangboom in the eastern Himalayan range. An annual autumn festival called Gasa Tshechu held at the courtyard of the Dzong is quite spectacular.
Gasa Tshachu (Gasa Natural hot springs)
A visit to Gasa Hot Spring involves walking approximately 40 minutes from the nearby motor road which is located on the valley floor. If you are up for a bit of an adventure you can drive halfway by car to the village of Damji and trek through the scenic and verdant forest trail for about 5-6 hours. The route passes through the vantage mountain passes, forests of bamboo, oaks and pines and a few small villages on the backdrop of snowclad Himalayan range – a pure delight for photographers and explorers. A small rest house is also available should you wish to spend a night near Gasa hot springs.
Falling under Gasa district, Laya village terrain forms country’s primary yak-breeding area while agriculture and livestock are the major source of income for the villagers. The people here raise turnip and mustard and produce a crop of wheat or barley each year before winter. The collection of Cordyceps is also enhancing income of villagers. During summer months villagers move to high pastures and live-in black tents woven from yak hair.
Recognising the importance of the highlanders and their culture and traditions, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck initiated the Highland Festivals. The festival celebrates and preserve the rich cultural traditions of the highland communities in the country.
(Images credit: Royal Govt of Bhutan www.gasa.gov.bt )