Altitude : 2000m/6562ft
The name Pemagatshel translates to “Lotus Garden of Happiness.” Pemagatshel district was previously a part of Dungsam (amalgamated area of current Monger, Samdrupjongkhar, and Pemagatshel). Over half of the current small Dzongkhag is under the cover of broadleaf and coniferous forests and most of the remainder is farmland. ‘Slash and Burn Agriculture’ (Tseri) was once the dominant agricultural practice in the district but nowadays most farmers have orchards and sell much of their crop.
Pemagatshel is famous for its artisans and weavers. The religious instruments like Jalings (oboe-like instruments) and Dhungs (long ritual trumpets) produced here are highly prized and sold throughout the country. The weavers of Pemagatshel produce fine Kiras (traditional dress worn by women) from Bura (raw silk). Two particularly gorgeous examples that are a specialty of the region are the Lungsermo and Aiekapur. The region is also famous for a locally made sweet known as Tsatsi Buram made from the abundant sugarcane grown in the district.
The district is known for its numerous festivals and folk songs. The most notable folk song is the Ausa, a song that is sung during the departure of family members, friends and relatives.
Places To See
Pema Gatshel Tshechu
Since the construction of Pema Gatshel Dzong in the early 1980s, they have been celebrating the annual Tshechu over a three-day period. Many Mask Dances or Cham which are believed to confer blessings upon the spectators and teach them the ways of the Buddhist dharma are performed during the festival. People often travel great distances to be a part of the Tsehchu. The entire community rejoices together, dressed in their finest clothing whilst enjoying the company of friends and family.
Built in the 15th century, Kheri Goemba is about a 10 minute’s uphill trek from the Kheri town. Kuenga Wangpo, son of the great treasure revealer Pema Lingpa, founded it. The structure is believed to have been built over a lake at which he meditated for several days. The main relics are some sacred statues of the Buddha, Guru Rinpoche, Chenrizig and Chuchizhey.
Situated upon a dagger-shaped mountain, Yongla Goemba is one of the oldest and holiest shrines in Eastern Bhutan. One of the more interesting historical facts about the temple is that during the Duar War, the Trongsa Poenlop Jigme Namgyel, father of the First King Ugyen Wangchuck, used it as a base of operations in order to launch raids upon the British troops.
Constructed only in 1980s, the Dzong is a simple structure yet with traditional elegance. The structure marked a symbol of its own entity and now serves as the district administration center as all other Dzong in the country.