Trashigang in the eastern part of Bhutan is one of the largest districts in the east. It lies in the Far East on the bank of Gamri Chhu River. The aboriginal inhabitants of Trashigang are known as Tshanglas. The dzong of Trashigang was strategically built on the high ridge overlooking the valley below with Dangme Chhu and the Gamri Chhu. It was huilt by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the year 1651 and now houses the district administrative seat of the district and the central monk body. The dzong commands a remarkable view of the surrounding countryside and has played a povital role in the history of the country by defending the provience from several Tibetan attracts that were launched from Tawang in Aurnachal Pradesh (India). There are many festival held in this region and among them Trashigang Tshechu or festival is the most important one. The three days festival highlight many religious mask dance and other religious cultural dance. People from all over Trashigang and the neighboring district of Trashi Yangtse and Samdrup Jongkhar attend the festival. The festival last for three days and the grand one is the final day where the giant thongdrol (scroll) of Guru Tshegay was unfurled for the public to receive blessing and pray for the health, wellbeing and protection from evil forces.
The annual Trashiyangtse Tshechu is one of the most popular religious festival in Trashiyangtse. The festival is held in Trashiyangtse Dzong for three days. The festival is the celebration of the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche who visited Bhutan in the eight century. Guru Rinpoche was believed to visited many sites in Trashiyangtse and there are several amazing stories related to Guru Rinpoche and his activities in eastern Bhutan. During this three-day festival the monks performed many sacred mask dances along with cultural and religious dances. This annual festival is witnessed by thousands of people and more over during this three-day festival both local and visitors pay their homage and respect to Guru Rinpoche.
Mongar in eastern Bhutan is largely known as the “Bastion of the Zhongarps,” after the illustrious Dzongpons of Zhongar that played significant role in the history of Bhutan. One can still see the ruins of the Zhongar Dzong next to the highway in Lingmethang before reaching Mongar. The main inhabitants of this region are the Tshanglas and the Kurtoeps. They speak distinct languages known as Tshanglakha and Kurtoepaikha. This region is famous for its exquisite woodcarvings. The new Dzong in Mongar was built at the initiative of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1953. Today the dzong is the centre of administration where all-important decisions are taken. The most exciting local event is the annual three-day Tshechu that is held every November. People from as far as Trashigang and Lhuentse witness it. There are numerous local Tshechus in this region all with their own unique dances and traditions. They occur at various times throughout the year so visitors can be assured that no matter when they visit a fantastic and colorful local festival will be taking place.
Lhuenste is one of the easternmost districts in Bhutan and borders the autonomous region of Tibet. As the ancestral home of our Kings it hosts a number of important and sacred monuments. The most important amongst these is Lhuntse Dzong, a majestic fortress that sits upon a high ridge overlooking the Kurichu River. A small hermitage and a temple was built in 1552 by Ngagi Wangchuk and later enlarged to its present state by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Almost every village in Lhuntse boasts of festivals that are unique and distinct from those in other communities in Bhutan. Two notable festivals are the Cha and the Ha festivals. They are celebrated to honor the deities and avert misfortunes. However, the most important festival is the annual three-day festival. The Tshechu is normally celebrated in the month of November and draws large numbers of people together for the religious celebrations. During the Tshechus attendees can cleanse their sins by watching masked dances and can also receive blessings from sacred relics that are publicly displayed. One of the most interesting and visually appealing aspects of these Tshechus is the colourful attire of Kushithara that Lhuentse is famous for. You will come across various intricate and beautiful patterns of Kira and rich ornaments on display.
The annual Chorten Kora Festival is one of the most popular festival in the eastern Bhutan. The magnificent and immense Chorten Kora lies like a gleaming white lewel set in the large field just below the township of Trashi Yangtse. It is probably the largest chorten in the country. Historically, Chorten Kora was built in 1740 by one of the renown lama Ngawang Loday, modeled after the great Bodhnath Stupa in Nepal. It was built in memory of his late uncle Jungshu Pesan. The legend also states that ‘a young girl from Tawang (India), believed to have been a Khandrom (dakini) agreed to be buried alived inside the Chorten. For this reason, a ritual known as Dakpa Kora is organized every year where hundreds of people from Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh, India) known as the Dakpas and the local Bhutanese comes together to remember the living sacrificial death of the girl, pray and circumambulate. Moreover, the biggest activities during the festival is the circumambulating the Chorten Kora. This annual festival attracts many visitors from all around the country. It also provides visitors an opportunity to explore the unique cultural traditions of the eastern Bhutan and the colorful textile, which is famous in the eastern Bhutan.
Gomphu Kora lies in the heart of the agrarian belt of eastern Bhutan. Gomphu means “Meditation Cave” and Kora means “Circumambulation”. The name is derived from a cave formed out of a rock-face next to a temple that has been built as a tribute to this sacred site. The biggest attraction of Gomphu Kora is the circumambulation. “Go around Gomphu Kora today for tomorrow may be too late”, advises a local song that entices devotees to visit Gomphu Kora. The place comes alive, once every year from 23rd to 25th March (check with your tour operator to confirm these dates), when people all over eastern Bhutan descend upon the narrow valley, dressed in their finery, to partake in the festivity, to worship and to reaffirm their connection with the past. The sanctity of the three-day religious festival even draws the Dakpa tribe from neighboring Arunachael Pradesh (India). They endure days of travel on foot through rugged environs with entire families in tow. Some say the Dakpas have done this for more than a millennium, beginning shortly after Guru Padmasambhava sanctified the place in the 8th century A.D. The Guru is attributed to have said that devotees will flock to Gomphu Kora for eons to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
The annual religious festival of Yongphula in Trashigang is one of the most important and popular festival in eastern Bhutan. The festival last for three days and people from all over the eastern region comes together to participate in the annual Yongphula Tshechu. Several mask dances were performed during this entire three days along with eastern cultural religious dances. Participating in this festival provides an opportunity to experience the unique culture in its full glory.