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Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

3.8 / 5 15 votes

Country rank: 2 out of 14 Places To Visit In Bhutan

Sub-Region: Wangdue Phodrang District


Weather:

Ideal duration: 1-2 days

Best time: October - December (Read More)

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"The Land Of Graceful Black-necked Cranes "

Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey) Tourism

Placed against a backdrop of the Black Mountains, Phobjikha is one of the flattering bowl-shaped valleys in the country which offers breathtaking views of vast expanses of green fields visible from a number of points along the journey. Also visible at the end of the year is the sight of hundreds of endangered black-necked cranes who fly to their winter home in this valley so snugly nestled amongst the mountains.

Bhutan is known for its natural beauty and the warmth of its people. Out of all its districts, there are some which are less-visited and are comparatively less touristy than say, popular cities like Paro and Thimphu. However, these regions have their allure despite being relatively undiscovered. Phobjikha Valley, located in Wangdue Phodrang District is one of the few glacial valleys in the country. It is distinctly different from the others in the sense that it is shaped like a bowl due to the glacier that existed before and hence is much flatter as compared to others in its category. This valley is located at an average altitude of about 3000 m above sea level which makes it slightly colder compared to other regions. Phobjikha is also known as Gangtey after the Gangtey monastery that overlooks the entire valley. This valley would suit the taste of all nature-lovers, hikers, trekkers and those with a keen interest in birds.It boasts of being the winter home of the endangered Black Necked Crane who fly to the valley to escape the harsh winter in Tibet and is also one of the most important conservation sites in Bhutan.This valley is also relatively untouched by the outside world, and use of electricity in the region began only a few years ago. Ideal for a 1 - 2-day visit, this valley offers not just trips to spiritual and religious Lhakhangs and Goombas but also many hiking and walking trails along which one can encounter the most beautiful of views of birds and landscape alike. There are also a few villages one could visit and observe the rural life thereof. One could take home the intricately designed handwoven carpets from the famous factory in Gangtey or handicrafts from the village shops and maybe a bag full of memories.

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The Phobjikha Valley is where the endangered Black Necked Cranes migrate to in winter from their breeding ground in the Tibetan Plateau. This valley plays host to the largest number of cranes in the country and is a designated conservation site for them. The Jigme Dorji National Park adjoining the valley also includes a site for their conservation. These cranes arrive late in October and stay on till mid-February. It is also said that the cranes circle the Gangtey Monastery three times when they arrive and three times when they leave. There is a festival celebrating their arrival held in the Monastery in which little children dress up as the cranes to welcome them. At this time there are many cranes seen flying at high altitudes over the mountains.The Black Necked Crane Information Center set up by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) has an observation room with high-power telescopes to enable a good view and also has information on display about not just the endangered birds but also about the history of the region.

Electricity was introduced only as recent as 2011. A lot of homes also depend upon solar energy. The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) wanted to ensure that the basic needs of the citizens should not be compromised for conservation and neither should there be great damage to the environment. There were awareness camps held for the locals to promote a programme of sustainable development involving the local community's role to achieve a harmonious balance of achieving economic progress of the region alongside a healthy habitat for the cranes.The power lines and cables are kept underground so as to not impede the flying routes of the cranes and also to maintain the visual appeal of the valley.

An active nightlife culture is not present in Phobjikha Valley.

One could purchase beautiful carpets with intricate designs from the Wangmo Hand-Weaved Carpet Factory owned by Dorji Wangmo which is located right beside the Yue Loki Guest House in Gangtey. The Black Necked Crane Information Centre has a small gift shop which sells handicrafts produced by the local people. On the hike to Beta Village also one could come across some handicraft shops.

Some villagers practice the old animistic religion (Bon religion). Buddhism is also practiced in the region.

People mostly follow and practice Buddhist customs and traditions. But there exist traces of certain ancient customs relating to Bon religion.

A dialect called Henka is spoken in the region. English is not widely understood.

Bhutanese delicacies like Ema Datshi and Khewa Datshi are widely available. Beverages include Butter tea and the local liquor Ara. Some shops near Gangtey Goemba sell tea, wai wai, eggs and fruits and that is what one could expect to find along the way. Shops inside villages might offer some local dishes like momos and pork/beef pieces cooked with chillies and spices.

Read more about Traditional Bhutanese Dishes


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Holidify's Opinion

  What's Great?

Ample scope for walking and hiking with great landscape

  What's not so Great?

Chances of power cuts occuring

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How to Reach Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

Taking a cab/taxi is probably the best way to reach Phobjikha Valley. However one also has the following options: (Read More)

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