MONGAR (alt. 1, 600m/6,000 feet)
The eight hours journey from Bumthang to Mongar is one of the most beautiful in the Himalayas crossing 4,000 m high Thrumsingla Pass. Mongar is the second largest town in the sub-tropical east and marks the beginning of eastern Bhutan. It is situated on the side of a hill in contrasts to other towns of western Bhutan which are built on the valley floor.
WHAT TO SEE IN MONGAR
Mongar Dzong: It is the 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 Dzong, 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.
Zhongar Dzong Ruins: This Dzong is the Bhutanese equivalent of Count Dracula’s castle. The present-day eerie tales that abound about the ruins of the Zhongar Dzong are as spectacular as its origin and history. The Dzong is left all alone, preserving its ancient secrets within its weather-beaten walls. The fortress and its chieftains once played a pivotal role in the kingdom’s power politics, the legacy of which has defined the history of eastern Bhutan.
Drametse Village: The largest and the most exotic village give you deep insight into the life of eastern Bhutanese farmers. Established about 400 years ago, Drametse Monastery with its unique architecture remains of the most impressive buildings in eastern Bhutan.
TASHIYANGTSE (alt. 1, 700m/6,000 feet)
Tashiyangtse is a small village with a garden aspect and a lovely place from where to launch a couple of hour’s stroll into surrounding countryside. The Dzong was built in the late 1990s when the new district was created. A very interesting art school is worth the visit and Tashiyangtse is famous for its wooden containers and bowls.
WHAT TO SEE IN TASHIYANGTSE
Chorten Kora: Constructed near the river, is based on stupa of Boudha Chorten in Nepal, and constructed in 1740 by Lama Ngawang Loday. During the second month of lunar calendar there is an interesting celebration here, known as ‘Kora’, where people from Arunachal Pradesh come to witness it.
Bomdeling: About one hour walk from Chorten Kora, Bomdeling is the winter resting place of a flock of a black –necked cranes.
Duksum: On the drive to Tashiyangtse, you pass the small town of Duksum located on the Drangme Chhu River and its tributary. Duksum is nothing fancy but it is a small weaver’s town where you can find some weavers producing some nice work.
LHUNTSE (alt. 1,700m; 5,580ft)
Lhuentse is 77km from Mongar (3 hour drive) and is one of the most isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges and dense coniferous forests. The region is notably famed for its weavers and their special textiles generally considered best in the country. The Kurtoe region of Lhuentse is also the ancestral home of the Royal dynasty.
WHAT TO SEE IN LHUNTSE
Lhuentse Dzong: Religious and civil head quarter for Lhuentse was built early 16th century.
Khoma Village: Clustered of rustic Villages famous for weaving traditions. Weavers from this region have been weaving for the Royal Family for generations.
Other attractions: Khini Lhakhang in Metsho village, Khentangbi or Jigme Namgyal Ngagtshang, Khenpajong, Singye Dzong, Ethnic Festivals, Kishutharas (hand-woven fabrics with intricate designs), Aja Nye Trek via Phuningla, Rodongla Trek via Khini Lhakhang.
TRASHIGANG (alt. 1, 100m/3,775 feet)
In the far East of Bhutan, on the bank of Gamri Chu (river), lies Trashigang, the country’s largest district. Trashigang, once the centre of a busy trade with Tibet, is today the junction of east west highway with road connecting to Samdrup Jongkhar and then to the Indian state of Assam. This town is also used as the market place for the semi nomadic people from Merak and Sakten whose costume are unique in Bhutan.
WHAT TO SEE IN TRASHIGANG
Trashigang Dzong: Built in 1659, the Dzong serves as the administrative seat for the district as well as the home of the monk body. The Dzong commands a remarkable view over the surrounding countryside.
Gom Kora: Gom Kora, surrounded by rice fields and clumps of banana trees looks like an oasis in an arid landscape. During the festival that is held once in every year, people from east and as far as from Tawang come here to witness it and quite often some lend up in tying their nuptials as a result of circumambulation of large holy boulder.
The road from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar was completed in 1960s and enables the eastern half of the country to access and benefit from trade with the south as well as across the Indian border. There is little to see in this area but it is used as a convenient entry and exit town.
WHAT TO SEE IN SAMDRUP JONGKHAR
Other attractions: Deothang Shedra, Zando Pelri Lhakhang, Birwatching in Narphung, Morong and Bangtar, Samdrup Jongkhar Town.
The gateway to the south, it is a thriving commercial centre on the northern edge of the Indian plains. Situated directly at the base of the Himalayan foothills ,Phuentsholing is a fascinating mixture of Indian and Bhutanese, a perfect example of mingling of people and their culture Being the frontier town Phuentsholing serves as the convenient entry/exit point for Bhutan and also the important link to visit the Indian state of West Bengal , Sikkim and Assam.
WHAT TO SEE IN PHUNTSHOLING
Kharbandi Gompa: The beautiful monastery situated at alt. of 400m/1,300 feet, in a garden of tropical plants and flowers. From the monastery garden there is a fascinating view of Phuentsholing town and surrounding plains.
Zangtho Pelri: A small temple built in the centre of Phuentsholing town represents the heaven of Guru Rinpoche. Other attractions: Gedu Collge of Management, Phuntsholing Town, Birdwatching in Asenabari and Toorsa River.