Phobjhika to Trongsa
After breakfast, we leave for a six-hour drive to Trongsa, again through construction but very scenic territory. We’re not in any hurry so we play a game of leapfrog, passing our fellow travelers, stopping for photographs and meeting at the final destination, the charming Yangkil Resort in Trongsa. We will also make numerous stops to photograph yaks and their herders, alpine flowers, lovely picturesque villages, and other roadside and panoramic scenes. After we go through PeleLa Pass (10,825 ft.) we get our first glimpse of the Black Mountains. This drive between Phobjekha and Trongsa is one of the most scenic and exciting legs of our journey into the clouds, crossing rivers and streams, passing farmlands and villages as well as primordial forests that have never been inhabited because of the deities believed to reside there.
We will pass through the village of Rukubji Valley with its big secondary school and Gompa. The houses here are clustered amid extensive fields of mustard, potatoes, barley, and wheat.As we descend the pass we drive down through rhododendrons and ferns and reach Chendebji village. This was a night halt for mule caravans traveling from Trongsa during the reign of the 2nd King of Bhutan. Just below Chendebji village is the Chendebji chorten, a large white structure beside a stream. This chorten is modeled after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu and was built in the 19th century.
An hour away from Trongsa we make our first sighting of the crimson-roofed Trongsa Dzong, with the Mangdechu river cascading in one continuous waterfall down through the valley beneath. You will want to use your long lens to capture this scene, then use it again from Trongsa looking back at the road you were just on—the road at the lookout
point is carved out of the solid stone mountain. Just above Trongsa we will check into the first-class Yangkhil Resort where you can stand on your private balcony and enjoy the majestic view of Trongsa Dzong across the valley. Trongsa Dzong represents Bhutan's link with its historical monarchy since it is the ancestral home of the first king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuk. This is also the investiture site for future kings ascending the Golden Throne of Bhutan. (The Fifth King of Bhutan was handed The Raven Crown by his father and ascended the throne in November 2008.) We will photograph its remarkable succession of street-like corridors, wide stone stairs and beautiful stone courtyards. Trongsa Dzong represents the very best opportunity to capture the true essence of Bhutanese monastic and parliamentary architecture. Here, 25 lhakhangs (small temples, among which is the oldest lhakhang in Bhutan—the Chorten Lhakhang, built by Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk in 1543) house sacred images and religious relics. Intricate wood carvings and beautiful frescos are emblazoned on the walls and pillars. With a little patience, monks will walk in and out of your frame as you photograph these remarkable and rare structures.