Phobjikha Valley

The mesmerising Phobjikha Valley

Author: Lily Shanker
Date: 2020-03-24

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Bhutan’s beautiful landscape is made of sub-alpine Himalayan Mountains, valleys, meadows, rivers, and sub-tropical plains. 

Landlocked in the Eastern Himalayas, most of the population of Bhutan is centralized in valleys and lowlands. There are a total of 21 valleys in Bhutan, namely, Bumdeling Valley and Lhuentse Valley in Lhuntse District; Bumdeling Valley, Gayltsa Valley, Jakar Valley, Tang Valley, and Ura Valley in Bumthang District; Chungdu Valley and Haa Valley in Haa District; Paro Valley, in Paro District; Thimphu Valley, in Thimphu District; Choekhor Valley; Gangtey Valley; Mongar Valley; Punakha Valley; Phobjikha Valley, Shingkhar Valley; Shingkhar Valley; Trongsa Valley; and Zhemgang Valley. 

The central valleys are cut off from East Bhutan by the Donga Range and the western valleys are connected to the east by the Black Mountains in central Bhutan. 

Few of the settlements in these valleys remain isolated from the main cities of Bhutan due to lack of transportation. This has resulted in the existence of distinct cultural and linguistic groups, who also have their own local protector deities. 

Phobjikha Valley

Phobjikha Valley is surrounded by mountains and lush greenery. The place is known for its beautiful landscapes and passes. Phobjikha Valley offers beautiful landscapes ideal for walking and hiking. You can take a day’s hike and enjoy the beauty of the woods and valley.

Also known as Gangteng Valley, Phobjikha Valley is a huge U-shaped glacial valley. Most of the valleys in Bhutan are carved into the mountains by rivers, which are fed by glacial melt and monsoon rains. 

The people of Phobjikha Valley follow a semi-nomadic way of life. Favourite pastimes of Phobjikha Valley people are archery and dart throwing.

Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan

Come down and celebrate with Phobjikha Valley locals

Every year, black-necked cranes, an endangered bird species, migrate to Phobjikha Valley in the winters. This has earned Phobjikha Valley the name “Valley of black-necked cranes.” Birders or anyone interested about this bird can visit the Black-Necked Crane Information Centre in Phobjikha Valley. The center also has an injured black-necked crane, which you can observe at close range. 

Did you know that every year a 9-day festival is held in Phobjikha Valley to celebrate the arrival of the black-necked cranes to the valley? This festival is celebrated at Gangtey Goenpa in Phobjikha Valley. Another religious festival held at Gangte Goemba is Tsechu. This is one of the few festivals where you can witness cham(religious dances) and the hanging of a thondrol (large religious painting).

Places to see in and around Phobjikha Valley 

Gangtey Monastery (4 hrs from Phobjikha Valley) 

Bhutan is sprinkled with Buddhist sites such as monasteries and lhakhangs. A famous monastery located near Phobjikha Valley is Gangtey Monastery. It is also one of the largest monasteries in western Bhutan. Come down in September to watch a traditional mask dance. Gangtey Monastery is 4 hrs away from Phobjikha Valley.

Entrance to Gangtey Monastery in Bhutan 

Kumbhu Lhakhang (2 hrs from Phobjikha Valley)

Kumbhu Lhakhang is dedicated to a deity of the ancient Bon religion Sipey Gyalpo. This lhakhang is also a meditation center. Kumbhu Lhakhang is said to have been built by Tibetan sculptors, which is evident in the temple design. It takes 2 hours to reach Kumbhu Lhakhang from Phobjikha Valley.

Khewang Lhakhang (Phobjikha Valley)

Khewang Lhakhang is the oldest Lhakhang in Phobjikha Valley dating back to the 15th century. It is located on the east side of Phobjikha Valley. 

Khewang Lhakhang in Phobjikha Valley - Bhutan

Nyelung Drachaling (Phobjikha Valley)

Nyelung Drachaling is a 14th Century Buddhist temple in Phobjikha Valley. The temple age-old relics such as thangka painting whose back bears the handprints of Longchenpa printed in his own nose blood, a golden statue made in Longchenpa's own image, a fossilised horse's tooth, and an iron skillet made by Pema Lingpa, with his thumbprints in it. 

Damcho Lhakhang (Phobjikha Valley)

This Buddhist temple is situated on the west side of Phobjikha Valley and dates back to the 14th century. The road to this Lhakhang goes past Yusa Village.

Jomolhari (98 km from Phobjikha Valley)

Jomolhari is known for the Jomolhari trek. This challenging trek starts from Paro and takes trekkers through enchanting views. The trek spans between 7-15 days on average. It is located 98 km from Phobjikha Valley.