Trashigang (alt. 1,150m / 3,772 ft)
In the far easternmost corner of Bhutan, on the banks of Dangmechhu river lies Trashigang, the country largest district. Trashigang, once the centre of a busy trade route with Tibet, is today the junction of east-west highway with road connecting to Samdrup Jongkhar and then to Indian state of Assam. This town is also used as the market place for the semi nomadic people from Merak and Sakten whose costumes are unique in Bhutan.
Places of interest in and around Trashigang
Built in 1659 to defend against Tibetan invasion, Trashigang Dzong or ‘The Fortress of the Auspicious Hill’ was prophesized by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the great unifier of Bhutan. Situated high atop a spur overlooking the Dangmechhu river, the Dzong commands a remarkable view and now serves as the administrative seat for the district as well as home to the monk body.
Excursions around Trashigang
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 who dwelt in a huge black rock.
Rangjung Woesel Choling Monastry
Located in tiny Ranjung town, a little more than half and hour drive from Trashigang town, the monastery was founded in 1989 by His Eminence Dungsey Garab Dorje Rinpoche with objective to provide a conducive haven for the study of Buddha dharma as expounded in the Dudjom New Treasure Lineage and carry out dharma activities for the benefit of the Buddhist community in and abroad the country.
Often known as ‘Rice Bowl of the East’ because of its verdant rice fields that supply most of the grain to eastern parts of the country, Radhi village is also famous for its skilful weavers. The village is located 25km east from heart of Trashigang town and the village block consists of 749 households spread over an area of 29 sq km. During off-agricultural season, textile weaving is the main activity for villagers, and they produce high quality raw silk or bura textiles.
Khardung Anim Dratshang
The beautiful monastery situated in Radhi village is a branch of Ranjung Woesel Choeling monastery and home to dedicated nuns, engaged in religious practices and activities for the well-being of all sentient beings. Its scenic location and architectural appeal makes the monastery an interesting place to visit.
Khaling town, under Trashigang district in eastern Bhutan, is a vibrant settlement along the Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar highway (located 54km from Trashigang town & 25km from Yonphula airport). Kha means ‘bird’ in Sharcop (the language spoken in eastern Bhutan) while ling means ‘valley’ in Dzongkha (Bhutan’s national language) and consequently Khaling is also known for its large variety of birds (more than 35 bird species have been identified in the region).
In the centre of the valley below Khaling town is the National Institute for the Visually Impaired which educationally empower students from all over Bhutan who are blind or otherwise disabled, into the local educational system by providing special resources and training.
3-km from Khaling town is the National Handloom Development Project centre, operated by National Women Association of Bhutan (NWAB) and established in 1983 to impart training to nearby village women in textile weaving and provide an effective platform for their finished products.
Karma Thegsum Dechenling Monastery
Located 11km from Khaling town, Karma Thegsum Dechenling Monastery was consecrated in 2010. Built in traditional Bhutanese style, Karma Thegsum Dechenling brings together the artistic, cultural and religious traditions of the region. The fine materials employed, the exquisite workmanship and the distinct style have won numerous acclaims from various sections, for the monastery. The main shrine hall houses the three large statues of Buddha Shakyamuni, Padmasambhava, and the 8th Karmapa. The other statues are of Avalokiteshvara, Green Tara, Vajrapani, Medicine Buddha, Vairasatta, Guru Rinpoche, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Pema Lingpa and are all beautifully depicted and inspire reverence. The four walls of the main shrine are covered with huge frescoes measuring up to 25 feet in height . The monastery has beautifully carved beams and pillars with mantras ‘Om Mani Padme Hung’ and ‘Karmapa Chenpo’ inscribed on them. All the doors and window frames are also carved with auspicious patterns. It is the only monastery in Bhutan that adopts the Karma Ghadri painting style (one of the major schools of Tibetan thangka painting), which is combination of the painting styles of the Tibet, ancient India and China.