Mongar in East Bhutan
Mongar is one of the 20 dzongkhag (districts) comprising Bhutan.
Although small in size (approx. the size of Switzerland) Bhutan’s geography and ethnicity is incredibly varied, due in large part to the formidable mountain passes that separate its valleys and prevent the movements and inter-mixing of populations.
For a more detailed map and information about the dzongkhags, click here
Bhutan can be roughly divided into three geographic regions: Western, Central and Eastern Bhutan.
Each region is in turn made up of several valleys, and since 1963, a single east-west road connects the country. Starting in the West, you find the valleys of Ha, Paro, Thimphu and Punakha-Wangdi Phodrang, seperated from central Bhutan (Trongsa and Bumthang) by the 3300m high Pele-La. To reach the remote eastern region of Mongar, Lhuentse, and Trashigang, one must cross the almost 4000m high Trumsing-La (Thrumshing-La).
Mongar lies in eastern Bhutan, also known as the land of the Sharchops (People of the East). Sharchops are considered descendents of the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan, and a large number speak Sharchhopkha (also known as Tshangla). However, even within eastern Bhutan, many different languages are spoken, making communication between different valleys a challenge. (For more information on Bhutan’s languages, click here.)
Important trade routes between India and Tibet led through eastern Bhutan, with Trashi Yangtse one of the main portals where salt, meat and wool from traded from the north against rice, spices, and medicinal plants from the south.
Eastern Bhutan is famous for its fine weaving. Weavers using backstrap looms produce cotton and silk cloth in incredible colors and patterns. Often natural colors are made from bark, leaves and flowers. (see my Bhutan photo gallery for more images).
Mongar itself is not a tourist attraction, but has gained significant importance since the upgrade of its hospital to the Referral Hospital for Eastern Bhutan, and the major hydroelectric project at the Kurichu River