Wangdi Phodrang lies at south of the Punakha valley. Two and half hours drive from Thimphu. Wangdi is home for ender species of birds like Black Neck Cranes and White Belled Heroines.
Wangdi Phodrang Dzong
This is third Dzong built by Zhabdrung Rimpoche and was built in 1638 AD.There are two legends, which explain the origin of the Dzong. One story related that Protective Deity Mahahala appeared to Zhabdrung in his Dream and made prediction to him saying, “At the top of a rocky spur where two rivers meet, at the place where a flock of ravens will fly over from the rocky spur into four directions, there you will built a dzong. In 1638, Zhabdrung came to the place, true to the prophecy, ravens flew into the four directions from the rocky spurs. This inspired him to build the Dzong on the ridge shaped like a sleeping elephant. He named it Wangdue Phodrang meaning, “Place where four directions are gathered under the power of Zhabdrung”.
Other story, he name “Wangdi, was derived from the name of a little boy building sandcastle by the river.
Lama asked the name of the boy and he said he is Wangdi. So Lama named Dzong as Wangdue after the Phobjikha Valley is also known as the Valley of Black Crane. The valley is 2900m above sea level and can be reached after 2 hours drive from Wangdue Phodrang.
It is the popular winter home of the endangered Black Necked Cranes. These cranes migrate from Tibet in November and return in March. It is considered a holy by Bhutanese and one can see paintings of the crane on the walls of temples, monasteries and fortresses.
The valley is one of the most important wildlife preserves in country. Buckwheat is the main food crop and locals yaks and cows. The potato became the main cash crop in the 1980s.
Gangte Gonpa Monastery
Gangte Gonpa is located on the north western part of Phobjikha, overlooking the entire valley. This site was founded by Pema Thinley and the present monastery was later built in 1613 AD by his second reincarnation Tenzin Lakpai Dhendup. This is only the Ningma Monastery in western Bhutan and is an important seat of the Pedling tradition in Buddhism. Today it is run by Gangtay Tulku and around 400 monks reside here.