Photographer's Note

A fine example of the dual purpose dzongs of Bhutan is Trashi Thongmoen dzong, smack in the middle of Gasa village. The photo was taken in the very early morning, as clouds began to form almost immediately. Some of the nearby mountains were obscured in a matter of a few minutes. The distant peak in the distance is the Kang Bum.

To take this picture I had to climb a narrow cliff, partly obscured by a new government building being erected just in front of the dzong. Unfortunately I ran out of cliff before I could completely remove the newbuild from the frame.

I already touched on the history of the dzong in the notes accompanying photograph number 652834, but will copy it here for easy reference:

Located in the northwestern part of the country, Gasa faced an onslaught of Tibetan invaders during the 17th and 18th centuries. The dzong was erected in 1646 after the first Shabdrung (King of Bhutan) had defeated the invaders and it proved useful in repelling further waves of attackers. Today the dzong houses the provincial administration and monk body, just like in the other Bhutanese provinces.

Gasa village is still somewhat off the beaten track. To get here drive north from Punakha via Tashitang to Damji village, where the road ends. From here a pathway follows the slopes up and down for a bumpy walk some 18 kilometers north. The path sees heavy traffic of horse caravans supplying the township. It is not a particularily difficult trek, but the constant uphill and downhill profile and the dreary condition of the pathway requires some patience to negotiate. The path is especially miserable during rainy weather when it turns to a river of mud and stones.

Gasa lies at an altitude of around 3000 meters and the famous 23-day Snowman Trek passes through here. To get to the next town of Lingzhi you will need to cross mountain passes at 4500 meters. Apart from the magnificent dzong Gasa has few attractions. There are some hot springs located in the valley below, and the trek here has earned a reputation for being heavily leech infested.

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Additional Photos by Johan Rehn (grantcorp) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Silver Note Writer [C: 22 W: 13 N: 44] (123)
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