Photo Courtesy ; Trashi Yangtse Dzongkhag website
The little town of Trashigang is on the top of a mountain. The town remains the center of religious and secular activity in the east and is a growing commercial center. The 17th century Dzong is built on the top of a cliff at the edge of the town. Trashigang is also used as the market place of the nomadic people of Merak and Sakteng who are known for their unusually sharp features and for their costumes which are brightly colored and different from customary Bhutanese clothing. Trashi Yangtse offers exciting trekking opportunities and is one of the two locations where the endangered Black Necked Cranes can be spotted in winter. Trashi Yangtse is also famous for the Chorten Kora, which is one of the only two chortens built in the typical Nepalese style as prophesied by Guru Rinpoche. Trashi Yangtse is also famous for the traditional Bhutanese woodcrafts.
Pemaling Ney: Bumdeling. alt. 4500m.
A cave in an alpine area surrounded by pristine lakes, where Guru Rimpoche meditated. Many of the lakes, located at around 4500m elevation, are considered sacred (latshos). Monks from Singye Dzong undertake a pilgrimage to Pemaling around August/September to meditate there for 1-2 months. It is a 3 day trek from the end of the road near Tobrang
Bhutan’s National Butterfly: Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place for butterflies and the only place in Bhutan where Ludlow’s Bhutan Glory(Bhutanitis ludlowi), the national buttefly, is found.
It flies mainly in the month of August. Ludlow’s Bhutan Glory was rediscovered in 2009, 75 years after the only two known specimens were collected in the same area. Other prime butterfly watching locations include the forest and farm roads from the Old Dzong to Phodrung and Gangkhar and the main road to Trashi Yangtse between Kencholing and Buyang(Km 24-32), especially along the creeks.
Omba Nye (Toetsho Gewog, alt. 2200m),
The Taktshang of east Bhutan, built on a cliff. It is located within the holy pilgrim site of Omba Ney, where the letter OM can be seen on the rock face. It is one of three unique holy places linked to Guru Rimpoche, the others being Aja and Hungrel where the letters AH and HUM can be seen. It is about 3 hrs walk from Nangkhar Gonpa, comprising a steep descent of 330 m, followed by a more gradual climb of 125 m. Omba can also be reached from Kheni village after a three hour climb. There are temples, caves and various sites of religious importance nearby. A short crawl through a narrow cave passage on the cliff above the lhakhang will cleanse you of your sins, while you can climb even higher up the cliff through a crack in the rock. There is a homestay and some good camping sites in or near the pretty village of Omba.
Rigsum Gonpa; Bumdeling Gewog. alt. 3000m.
It was initially built by Lama Tshering Gyamtsho, a disciple of the 9th Je Khenpo Shacha Rinchhen (1744-1755) and renovated and extended by his nephew Lama Jangchhub Gyeltshen. His nephew Lama Ngawang Loday was appointed the 3rd Abbot of Rigsum Gonpa by His Holiness Yonten Thaye, the 13th Je Khenpo (1771 – 1775). He further extended the gonpa and brought the Jowo Shakya Muni statue (the Buddha as a prince) from Punakha Dzong. The Jowo statue is a replica of the one in Lhasa in Tibet. The fifth abbot reportedly witnessed the statue speak. It is believed that if you can’t go to Tibet for pilgrimage then visiting Rigsum Gonpa is an alternative giving the same merit. The gonpa was restored/rebuilt in 2004. It has a traditional religious school for about 40 gelongs. 3 hrs walk from Dungzam in Boomdeling, the monastery is located on a ridge with good views of the Boomdeling valley and Trashi Yangtse Dzong. A road may be constructed to the gonpa in the 11th FYP, which would make a visit to Dechenphodrang monastery on the same day possible (a 4 hr walk)
Gom Kora; Tongzhang Gewog. 820m altitude.
Located among paddy fields below the road to Tashi Yangtse, around 1 hour’s drive from Trashigang. Guru Rimpoche meditated under the big rock and subdued an evil demon here.
The Gom Kora Tshechu is held from the 8-11th of the 2nd Bhutanese month and is visited by locals and tribal people from Merak-Sakten and Arunachal Pradesh, who circumambulate the gonpa throughout the night.
The Relics inside the goenpa include a garuda egg. The remaining lengths of chains from the iron bridge in Doksum are kept in the monastery. There is also a steep rock to climb for blessings and a crawl through a narrow passage in the rock, to get cleansed of your sins