Mongar (alt. 1,620m / 5,314 ft)
The second largest town in the sub-tropical east, Mongar like Trashigang in further east, is situated on the side of a hill in contrasts to other towns of western Bhutan those are located on valley floor. The journey between Mongar and Bumthang is one of the most beautiful in the Himalayas, crossing 4,000m high Thrumshing la pass. Gushing waterfalls, steep cliffs and even steeper drops, blazing flowers and constantly changing vegetation combine to make this journey varied and fascinating. The district is well known for the production of Ara (local alcohol) containers or Jandhom, wooden bowls and cups or Daapa, masks and wood-based musical instruments like Jaling and Dung. Part of Mongar is also increasingly becoming popular as ‘birding capital’ of the world.
Places of interest in and around Mongar
It is site of one of Bhutan's newest Dzong built in 1930s. Yet the
Dzong is built in the same method and traditions of all the other
Dzongs; no drawings and nails have been used. A visit gives visitors an
impression of how traditional Bhutanese architecture has continued to
thrive through the centuries.
Located at about 20 minutes walk from Mongar town, this privately owned monastery was founded by Lama Sangdag, the sixth son of Terton Pema Lingpa. It is of great cultural significance and a repository of a wide range of spiritual treasures and other sacred objects known to have been revealed by Terton Pema Lingpa.
Dramtse Lhakhang means, ‘the peak without enemy’, is one of the largest and most important monastery in eastern Bhutan, situated about 18 km away from Trashigang to Monger highway. The lhakhang was founded by a highly accomplished Ani (nun) named Choten Zangmo in the 16th century, the granddaughter of the famous religious master Terton Pema Lingpa (the Treasure Discoverer).
The lhakhang is deeply associated with Terton Pema Lingpa and the Peling tradition of Buddhism. It houses a full range of spiritual treasures and other sacred objects and is the source of spiritual inspiration to the people of Drametse and neighbouring communities.
The local people from Mongar and Trashigang gather at Drametse Lhakhang to witness the annual religious festival, celebrated every year on the 10th day of Bhutanese calendar and locally known as Kaggsol Chenmo, Trel Da Tshechu and Daw Drugpai Choep. The Drametse Ngacham (Dance of the drums of Drametse) was established by Lam Kuenga Gyeltshen, Ani Chhoeten Zangmo’s brother
Located along Mongar – Bumthang highway (56km from Mongar & 142km from Bumthang), Yongkola is one of the best birding places in eastern Bhutan and recognized as one of the hotspots for birding in Asia. It is home to rich subtropical forest and rare species of birds such as brown bullfinch, scarlet finch, grey-winged blackbird, brown-throated treecreeper, Grey-sided Laughing thrush etc.
Located on a hilltop overlooking Themnangbi village, the ruins of Zhongkar Dzong is a familiar sight from Mongar – Bumthang highway as one descends to Lingmenthang from the highway. Constructed in the 17th century, the Dzong is believed to have been built at a site where the master architect Zow Balip saw a white bowl thus the Dzong came to be known as Zhongkar (Zhong – bowl, Kar – white). Built on a low-lying hillock, the Dzongs’ location looks like a bowl filled with milk. Its about half an hour drive from Mongar town and about half an hour walk from the nearest road point to the Dzong. Looking majestic even in ruins, Zhongkar Dzong is an epitome of Bhutanese architectural grandeur.