To the villagers, the annual arrival of black-neck cranes is an event that holds great significance. As well as heralding the beginning of winter, some believe these endangered birds to be the reincarnation of two deities who are said to be protectors of this beautiful valley.
When both arriving and leaving, these graceful birds will circle the Gangtey Goempa three times. To the locals, this represents the honoring of the three sacred jewels of Buddhism and the request and gratitude for their protection and care during their stay.
The Black-necked Crane Festival is held every year in Phobjikha on November 11th, coinciding with the birth anniversary celebrations of His Majesty the King. Organized by Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and the Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC), the festival started in 1998 and aims at spreading awareness on the cranes and the traditions as well as cultura of local people.
In November 2010, Druk Asia assisted Julia Horton, a journalist on her coverage of Black-Necked Crane Festival. Her articles can be found on the following publications:
Geographical UK, September 2011
Day 1: Arrival in Paro, Bhutan
Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon.Touching down at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Today, we will take it easy to acclimatise to the altitude. Drive to Thimphu, check in to the hotel and lets have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine.
Buddha Point at Kuensel Phodrang will also be open to tourists once it is completed. The 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma , Vajra Throne Buddha symbolising indestructibility will be completed soon. The Buddha statue itself is competed awaiting paintings, but visitors can drive up to the Buddha point and view the tallest statue of Lord Buddha. The view of Thimphu valley from the Buddha point is spectacular and beautiful, especially at night.
Heritage Museum - Dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past though exhibition of artefacts used in rural households.
National Memorial Chorten which was built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.
Centenary Farmers’ Market - Every Saturday and Sunday most of the Thimphu population congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. Here villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products.
Day 2: Thimphu (Phajoding Trek)
The trek to Phajoding Monastery is around 3 hours trek up and around 2 hours trek down. But if there is more time then you can trek all the way up to Thuje Dra till you can see the skull mountain. The view from Phajoding Monastery and Thuje Dra of Thimphu is simply breath taking. From the top of Thuje Dra, you can see the Rhododendron bushes stretching all the way. This trek is part of the Druk Path Trek. In late noon we head back to Thimphu.
The World Monument Fund (WMF) has listed Phajoding monastery as one of the 5 endangered cultural monuments that need most help in the world. Phajoding monastery was founded in 1224 by Phajo Drugom Zhipo (Buddhist saint) who spread the Drukpa Kagyupa sect of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Changangkha Monastery - Built in 12th century, Changangkha Lhakhang is oldest temple in Thimphu. It is hovering over a ridge above Thimphu, near Motithang. Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo who came to Bhutan from Ralung in Tibet chose this site to build this lhakhang. The Lhakhang houses Chenrizig: an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation of Avolokitesawara as the central statue.
Textile Museum - witnesses the art of traditional weaving.
Paper making factory - witnesses the art of paper making.