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Report 1790: Bhutan - Land of the Dragon
By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2009
Page 15 of 24: Drive to Trongsa and Trongsa Dzong
We were sad to leave the beautiful Phobjikha valley. We drove back over Law La Pass on a beautiful clear morning with views of the snow covered peaks of the Himalayas.
There was a small craft stall at Pele La pass with women spinning the tail hair of yaks to make rope and belts. There were strings of dried yak cheeses for sale.
The road dropped down from the pass through winter pasture for the yak herders who lived in small bamboo built shelters surrounded by close grazed bamboo. The valley became wider and crops were grown in large fields on the slopes of the valley. Rukubjeg Village was a large settlement built on a huge alluvial fan. There were extensive fields growing mustard, potatoes, barley, wheat, turnip and buckwheat. The main source of income is from the sale of potatoes, yak's cheese and butter. The potato crop had been harvested in September and sold to India. The fields had been planted with mustard and the yellow colour of the flowers provided a splash of colour on the hillsides.
We stopped to watch bamboo fences being woven on the roadside. These are either sold to passing travelers or taken to Wandi for sale. The farmers have to pay to cut the bamboo. Fences only last a few seasons.
We stopped at Chendepje Chorten. Three rivers join here and it was considered a bad place so the chortens were built as a protection against bad spirits. There were Nepalese and Bhutanese style chortens as well as a chorten wall. These were traditionally built along the side of roads.
The road was built half way up the hillside passing scattered farms and crossing streams. There were views down into the valley and across to the far wooded hillsides. After a big bend there was a splendid view of Trongsa Dzong. The old road dropped down the steep hillside across a bridge and climbed up to the Dzong. This is now a footpath. The newer road contours round the hillside for another 20-30 minutes before reaching Trongsa.
Trongsa is an attractive small town with shops and a few hotels along the main street. There was a small forestry office where locals had to pay for all wood they collect from the forest.
Trongsa is dominated by Trongsa Dzong built on a promontory above the river. Originally the main route ran through the centre of the dzong and travelers were taxed as they went through the Dzong.
There were terraced gardens along the path to the Dzong with lots of French marigolds. The Dzong is a long narrow building and the oldest part was built in 16thC. There is a large defensive wall round with buildings built against it inside. Open corridors along the walls give access to the rooms.
Originally the Dzong just housed the monk body who spent the winter here. It became the admin centre for the area in the 19thC and the first Kingís father was governor here. The first, second and third kings were born here.
Above the Dzong is Ta Dzong, which has recently been opened as a museum concentrating on Buddhist art and the history of the monarchy. We didnít have time to visit this.
We just had one night in Trongsa, stopping at Yankill Resort, 5-10 minutes drive from the village. It was built above the road with good views across the terraced rice fields and farmhouses to the Dzong. The main building housed reception and the dining room. Bedrooms were in small blocks scattered around the pleasant gardens. There was a water wheel with a stream falling down small waterfalls under a bridge and into a small pond.
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