The Far EastMongar
Arriving in Mongar is welcome breather from the seemingly endless journey over the pass. The town is small with a sprinkling of shops. Mongar, like Trashigang further east, is built on the side of a hill instead of next to the river on the valley floor like other towns in the Kingdom.
The present Dzong is modern compared to others on the Kingdom. It was built on the orders of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The Kuri Chu hydroelectric project will change the industrial emphasis of the Mongar area after it is complete before the turn of the Millennium. When complete it will have the capacity to output 60 mega watts of hydroelectricity.
The road from Mongar passes the Yadi loops. For five miles the road creates figures of eight as it descend to the valley floor. Arriving in Trashigang is momentous as it marks the end of a 547 kilometer drive from Thimphu. The town, also high up on a mountain, is mostly bustling with activity because of its proximity to Samdrup Jongkhar in the south, which has enabled it to grow as a center of commerce.
Trashigang is used as the market place for the hill people from Merak Sakten who are remarkable for their exceptional features and for their costume, which is brightly colored and different from customary Bhutanese clothing.
The 17th Century Dzong is built on top of a cliff on the edge of town. The views from the courtyard of the Dzong are wonderful. It is obvious to see why the Dzong was considered to be invincible for the invading armies. Until the recent opening of an administrative center in the Dzong at Trashi Yangtse, Trashigang was the center of all religious and secular activity for the region.
A few Kilometers north of Trashigang, Trashi Yangtse Dzong is a half hour walk from the road. The monk body leaves the monastery during the winter for warmer surroundings. A town has developed around Chorten Kora, one of only two temples built in a style in Nepal and the spot where Guru Rimpoche is believed to have had a vision that a temple and chorten would be built.
About 70 Km. from Mongar is the Lhuentse Dzong, built in 1654. The women from this region are famed for weaving exquisite Kishu Tharas, a silk on silk fabric pattern of the Kira. Lhuentse is also the ancestral home of the royal family.