Zhemgang District (Dzongkha: གཞམས་སྒང་རྫོང་ཁག་; Wylie transliteration: Gzhams-sgang rdzong-khag; previously “Shemgang”), is one of the 20 dzongkhags (districts) comprising Bhutan. It is bordered by Sarpang, Trongsa, Bumthang, Mongar and Samdrup Jongkhar Districts, and borders Assam in India to the south. Administrative center of the district is Zhemgang.
Trongsa, previously Tongsa (Dzongkha: ཀྲོང་གསར་, Wylie: krong gsar), is a Thromde or town, and the capital of Trongsa District in central Bhutan. The name means “new village” in Dzongkha. The first temple was built in 1543 by the Drukpa lama Ngagi Wangchuck, who was the great-grandfather of Ngawang Namgyal, Zhabdrung Rinpoche, the unifier of Bhutan.
Main article: Trongsa Dzong
Chökhor Raptse Dzong at Trongsa which was built in 1644, used to be the seat of power of the Wangchuck dynasty before it became rulers of Bhutan in 1907. Traditionally the King of Bhutan first becomes the Trongsa Penlop (governor) before being named Crown Prince and eventually King. Built on a mountain spur high above the gorges of the Mangde Chhu, the dzong controlled east-west trade for centuries. The only road connecting eastern and western Bhutan (the precursor to the modern Lateral Road), passed through the courtyard of the dzong. At the command of the penlop the massive doors could be shut, dividing the country in two.
Higher yet on the mountainside is a watchtower, called “Ta Dzong”(watch tower), to guard the dzong from enemies.
Bumthang District (Dzongkha: བུམ་ཐང་རྫོང་ཁག་; Wylie: Bum-thang rzong-khag) is one of the 20 dzongkhag (districts) comprising Bhutan. It is the most historic dzongkhag if the number of ancient temples and sacred sites is counted. Bumthang consists of the four mountain valleys of Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor (“Bumthang”), although occasionally the entire district is referred to as Bumthang valley.
Bumthang directly translates as “beautiful field” – thang means field or flat place, and bum is said be an abbreviation of either bumpa (a vessel for holy water, thus describing the shape and nature of the valley), or simply bum (“girl,” indicating this is the valley of beautiful girls). The name is said to have arisen after construction of Jambay Lhakhang.
Punakha (Dzongkha: སྤུ་ན་ཁ་) is the administrative centre of Punakha dzongkhag, one of the 20 districts of Bhutan. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu. It is about 72 km away from Thimphu and it takes about 3 hours by car from the capital Thimphu. Unlike Thimphu it is quite warm in winter and hot in summer. It is located at an elevation of 1,200 metres above sea level and rice is grown as the main crop along the river valleys of two main rivers of Bhutan, the Pho Chu and Mo Chu. Dzongkha is widely spoken in this district.
Paro (Dzongkha: སྤ་རོ་) is a town and seat of Paro District, in the Paro Valley of Bhutan. It is a historic town with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered throughout the area. It is also home to Paro Airport, Bhutan’s sole international airport.
Thimphu, is the capital and largest city of the Bhutan. It is situated in the western central part of Bhutan, and the surrounding valley is one of Bhutan’s dzongkhags, the Thimphu District. The ancient capital city of Punakha was replaced as capital by Thimphu in 1955, and in 1961 Thimphu was declared as the capital of the Kingdom of Bhutan by His Majesty the 3rd Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
The city extends in a north-south direction on the west bank of the valley formed by the Raidāk River, which is known as the Wang Chuu or Thimphu Chuu in Bhutan. Thimphu is the fourth highest capital in the world by altitude and ranges in altitude from 2,248 metres (7,375 feet) to 2,648 metres (8,688 feet). Unusually for a capital city, Thimphu does not have its own airport, but relies on the Paro Airport connected by road some 54 kilometres (34 miles) away.
Thimphu, as the political and economic center of Bhutan, has a dominant agricultural and livestock base, which contributes 45% of the country’s GNP. Tourism, though a contributor to the economy, is strictly regulated, maintaining a balance between the traditional, development and modernization. Thimphu contains most of the important political buildings in Bhutan, including the National Assembly of the newly-formed parliamentary democracy and Dechencholing Palace, the official residence of the King, located to the north of the city. Thimphu is coordinated by the “Thimphu Structure Plan”, an Urban Development Plan which evolved in 1998 with the objective of protecting the fragile ecology of the valley. This development is ongoing with financial assistance from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
The culture of Bhutan is fully reflected in Thimphu in literature, religion, customs, and national dress code, the monastic practices of the monasteries, music, and dance, and in the media. Tshechu is an important festival when mask dances, popularly known as Cham dances, are performed in the courtyards of the Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu. It is a four-day festival held every year in September or October, on dates corresponding to the Bhutanese calendar.