Mongar: The Bastion of the Zhongarps
The district of Mongar borders Bumthang, Lhuentse, Pema Gatshel and Trashigang. The beauty of the place is well reflected by the spectacular landscape with stark cliffs, gorges and dense conifer forests. It has a human population of about 38,000 and covers an area of 1,954 sq. kms. The altitude ranges from 400m to 4,000m. The region produces finest weavers, textiles and fabrics considered to be the best in the country.
The region also produced some of the finest administrators in the country whose descendants continue to play an active part in the politics of Bhutan even today, therefore, It used to be known as the bastion of the Zhongarps.
It is one of Bhutan’s newest dzongs built in the 1930s. Similar to all earlier dzongs, it was constructed without plans or nails. However, Mongar Dzong is located on a small gentle slopping area just above the town. A visit to Mongar Dzong shows one how traditional Bhutanese architecture has continued to thrive through the centuries.
Unlike other historical dzongs, you will find only the ruins of Zhongar Dzong that exist today to reflect the amazing skills of its builders, most notably the renowned master craftsman, Zowo Balip. Located on a hilltop, it overlooks the village of Themnangbi and the ruins become visible as one descends to Lingmethang from the highway. Built in the 17th century, the Dzong is believed to have been built at a site where the master architect Zow Balip saw a white bowl. Embedded inside is a life frozen in time, a wealth of history that can be still recounted orally by those who also heard it from their grandparents. A visit to the ruins can be a memorable experience and will give you a sense of the medieval Bhutanese administration.
Dramitse Lhakhang was built in the 16th century by Ani Cheten Zangmo, the daughter of the renowned terton Pema Lingpa. It is a notable religious site. The popular Dramitse Ngacham or the “Dance of the Drums of Dramitse,” originated from this lhakhang in the 16th century. Today, it is a popular dance performed at all major festivals. It is also on the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage list.
Another sacred site in the district is the renowned Aja Ney where pilgrims from all other parts of Bhutan converge to receive blessings and wash away their sins. A rock that bears 100 renditions of the sacred syllable “Aa,” is said to have been discovered by Guru Padmasambhava. It is located at an altitude of more than 3,500 meters and falls under Ngatsang geog. It is approximately a two days trek from Serzhong village.
The Yagang lhakhang in a small village next to the town is another sacred monument in the Dzongkhag. It was built in the 16th century by Sangdag, the youngest son of Terton Pema Lingpa. It was built after having built the Kupijigtsam Lhakhang in Yangneer village in Trashigang. Today, the lhakhang plays an important role in the religious life of the people.
Jarung Khashor Choeten:
The Jarung Khashor Choeten in Lingmethang next to the bridge over the Kurichu river is another monument in the district that is worth paying a visit. The Choeten is modelled after the Jarung Khashor Choeten in Nepal.