In late 2019, our Digital Marketing Communications Manager, Mary Eden, embarked on a tour through the Kingdom of Bhutan. This feature finds her in Phobjikha Valley – an area of unspeakable beauty in central Bhutan…
The sacred valley of Phobjikha is dotted with clusters of hundreds of white fluttering prayer flags – planted by relatives when their loved ones died to guide and protect the soul as it moves toward the next life.
But look closely and on the wide, flat swampy valley floor are distant black and white shapes – these are the sacred black-necked cranes. Known locally as ‘thrung thrung kam’, they are considered by the Bhutanese to be holy messengers and heavenly birds. Each winter the people of the valley await the return of these auspicious birds as they migrate here from Tibet.
I arrived at the Phobjikha Valley after a journey of many hours via the ‘National Highway’ – a two lane road that twists and turns through valleys, mountains and dense pine forests – sometimes paved, other times dirt road.
My first sighting of the valley was from the 17th century Gangtey Monastery. Set on a hill overlooking the valley this majestic white stucco building with tiered wooden roofs seems deserted. We were the only people there except for a few workmen repairing the crumbling walls, and several maroon-clad monks meandering through on the way to their quarters.
From the monastery we set off on a hike down into the valley. The trail took us through small hamlets of traditional houses and farms. Past grazing cows, white-stucco shrines and chiming prayer wheels. In the middle of a field we came across a fire pit and a rustic hot stone bath dug into the ground – used by the villagers in the cold winter months. Find out more in the video above!