Samdrup Jongkhar (alt. 240m / 788 ft)
Situated in south-eastern corner of the country, sharing its southern and northern border with Indian state of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh respectively, this bustling little town is the largest urban centre and an important gateway into eastern Bhutan. More than three quarters of this district is under forest cover with mostly broad leaved sub-tropical evergreen species. Located in sub-tropical climatic zone, the temperature in the region varies from a minimum 14 degree Celsius to maximum 36 degree Celsius during peak summer months. The district houses two major ethnic groups; the Tshangla, who practise Buddhism and Lhotshampas who are predominantly Hindus. Due to this town’s strategic location bordering India, it serves an important gateway to Indian state of Assam and other North Eastern Indian states.
There are not many places of tourists’ significance in this town however the noticeable sites around are: Samdup Jongkhar Dzong, one of the newest Dzongs in the country serving as office for district administration, Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang, centrally located this three-storied temple represents celestial abode of Guru Rinpoche and the Dewathang town, where the last battle with Britisher was fought.
Excursion around Samdrup Jongkhar
Chokyi Gyatso Institute
The Chokyi Gyatso Institute (CGI) in Dewathang started as a small temple built by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's maternal grandfather, the late Lama Sonam Zangpo. After years of meticulous and dedicated work, now it has turned out an important centre for education in Buddhist philosophy and an active monastery upholding the practice lineage of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, including annual drubchos and drubchens, based on Khandro Sangdu, Pema Tseyi Nyingtik, Vima Ladrub, Minling Dorsem, and Phagma Nyingtik, as well as many other practices.
CGI is a shedra (monastic college), offering a thorough education in Buddhist philosophy to more than 140 monks. Importantly, its commitment to the environment and the community development is exemplary. The monastery is one of the first to declare a Zero Waste policy, encouraging the community to put great value on traditional weavings, home-churned butter, locally grown organic vegetables etc. Young monks at the shedra also participate in various pilot projects to develop alternative, holistic curricula, integrating art and the environment.
The institute is located about 18km, approx. 45-minutes’ drive from Samdrup Jongkhar town.