Wangdue Phodrang is the administrative capital of Wangdue Phodrang District in central Bhutan. The town has a population of about 7500 people and is located in Thedtsho Gewog.
The town shares its name with the dzong that dominates the district, which was built in 1638. A dzong is a distinctive type of fortress structure that is found mainly in Bhutan and Tibet. The name is said to have originated with the Zhabdrung Rinpoche, Ngawang Namgyal, who was searching a suitable location for a dzong to prevent incursions from the south. History has it that at the chosen spot, the Zhabdrung encountered a boy named Wangdi playing beside the river. He named the dzong “Wangdi’s Palace”.
Unfortunately, Wangdi Phodrang Dzong burnt down on the 24th of June, 2012. Fortunately the dzong was being renovated at the time, so most of the historical relics had been put into storage and were thus saved from destruction. Shortly after the fire, more than 1000 Japanese sympathizers donated an equivalent of over US$134,500 to the Wangdue Phodrang Reconstruction Fund. Other donations followed, but reconstruction is still underway.
Travel to, from and about Wangdue Phodrang offers limited choice. There are only three paved roads. The Lateral Road enters from the west at Dochu Pass, crosses the Sankosh River at Wangdi Phodrang Dzong, and continues east to Tongsa. One spur road heads north from Wangdi Phodrang to Punakha Dzong and slightly beyond. This becomes the footpath to Gasa. A second spur departs the Lateral Road near the Pele Pass, halfway between Wangdi and Tongsa. This spur continues south a short distance to Gangteng Monastery and the Phobjikha Valley.
The town of Wangdue Phodrang is popular for the tales of shaman culture, and the ancestral home of Pema Tshewang Tashi, the knight whose Lozey remains a favorite among the Bhutanese.
Lozey is a popular form of entertainment among yak herders of Bhutan. Lozey is a tradition battle of wits and words of poetry. The opponents speak in poetry and verse on subjects such as love, challenges, or differences of opinion. The parties use metaphors and symbols to express themselves and try to outdo one another. The contest continues until a draw or a winner is declared.
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