Gangtey Goempa, the Gangtey Monastery, is perched a top a small hill that rises from the valley floor. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens who take care of the Monastery. In winter this families, together with the monastery’s ten monks, move away to another monastery, a day’s walk to the south. Gangtey, which is now controlled by the government, is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountain’s and is also the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. It is directed by Gangtey Tulku, the ninth reincarnation (Tulku) to bear that name.
Gangtey was founded by Pema Trinley, the grand son of Pema Lingpa, the famous Nyingmapa saint of Bhutan. Pema Lingpa visited this area and predicted that a monastery would be established by one of his descendants near the summit (tey) of a mountain (gang). Thus, in 1613, Pema Trinley establish the monastery and became the first Gangtey Tulku. The religious traditions of Pema Lingpa still taught there. The second Tulku, Tenzin Legpa Dondrup (1645 to 1726), enhanced the size of Gangtey while keeping up good relations with Drukpas, and rebuilt the monastery in the form of a Dzong.
The entrance to the monastery displays a large painting of Hayagriva. The monks’ ‘dwellings are all around the courtyards while the central tower houses five temples. The porch of the central tower contains paintings of cosmic Mandalas, a Wheel of life, Zangtopelri – The Heaven of Guru Rinpoche, as well as a rare (In Bhutan) picture of the mythical land of Shambala shown inside its circle of snow-capped mountains.
The monastery began major structural works in 2001.
The road continues for a few more kilometers beyond the monastery to the village of Phobjikha. The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, and extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valley’s are tightly enclosed. The round trip to Gangtey Goempa takes three hours or more from the Wangdue – Trongsa road; this time includes the stop at Gangtey