Bhutan with Amankora Part 2: Gangtey
Continued from here…
Amankora – of the Aman fame – is perhaps the most luxurious means to explore Bhutan whilst retaining the authenticity of this remote kingdom. Amankora is a collection of five dzong-inspired lodges fusing rustic charm and contemporary design spread across the central and western valleys of Bhutan. In fact, tt was the first boutique chain to reach the cloud-crowned Himalayan peaks of this mystical Kingdom.
Each Amankora journey is tailored to suit preferences and is led by a private knowledgeable guide, taking in the majestic mountains, rivers and valleys, ancient monasteries and temples, and other surprises this intriguing country hidden within the Himalayan folds has to offer.
The Gangtey lodge was perhaps my favourite Aman outpost in Bhutan- perfectly situated on the forested knoll with sweeping views of the glacial valley, the lodge is ideal for much needed time of soulful serenity!This small Amankora lodge is situated in the little-visited but absolutely awe-inspiring Phobjikha Valley. It certainly worth the effort of getting there – the 7 hour drive from Thimpu along uneven rocky roads was incredibly slow, bumpy and torturous!
However, upon reaching Amankora Gangtey as the stunning views of the valley open up in front of you, all the pains and aches of the journey are instantly forgotten…
On the other side of the valley, you could just make out a picturesque Gangtey Village, with a striking 16th Century Gangtey Monastery towering above it. On the first day of our Gangtey stop we strolled through the valley, making our way to Gangtey Village, walking through charming farmsteads, greeting and photographing the locals along the way.
Most of the people we crossed paths seemed to be terribly shy and unused to posting for photographs…so much unlike the selfie-obsessed foreigners!
Our afternoon culminated in the visit to the striking 17th century Gangtey Monastery overlooking the valley below. Around 300 monks call this monastery their home.
Adjacent to the school, is a monastic school (or shedra) for boys. As we were strolling around the elaborate monastery grounds, the boys were running around, playing with ball and curiously gazing at us!Probjikha Valley is part of an important wildlife reserve, as each winter it is home to a flock of about 300 endangered black-neck cranes, who roost here in winter months. Sadly since we were here in May, we did not chance to see any – so more reason to return!
On the second day I embarked on a quite arduous yet absolutely gorgeous Langtey valley hike, with hundreds of magenta-coloured rhododendron trees in flower at this time of year!The mountainside forest seemed other-lordly and mystical, more magical than the woodlands you might encounter in Lord of the Rings. As on most days, I lunched on traditional Bhutanese food: red rice, yak meat with chilli and vegetable curries. The food was flavourful, spicy and healthy – exactly what you need on an active day! After the hike, we played archery – Bhutan’s national sport! Archery competitions are held all over the country during religious and secular holidays, and local festivals.
Below are a few more pictures from our very peaceful and yet unforgettable stay in Gangtey…Rhododendrons in bloom – I could not get over the mesmerising magenta shade of these flowers!A stray dog I played with until I was told it was stray…
Amankora lodges are all about simple, rustic elegance…
Funeral prayer flags
Monks playing volleyball Inside Gangtey Monastery