Gangtey Goemba sits on the crest of a hill, overlooking majestic views of the Phobjikha Valley. Quite appropriately, its name means simply “the temple on the hilltop.”
Pema Thinley, the grandson of the great terton (treasure revealer) Pema Lingpa, founded this temple in 1613. In the Buddhist tradition of Bhutan, a terton is a gifted practitioner who discovers ancient teachings and reintroduces them to the world.
The monastery, one of the largest in Bhutan, contains a monastic school and houses the ninth reincarnation of the Gangtey Tulku.
Every year on the 11th of November, villagers from all over the valley gather in the courtyard here to celebrate the Black Necked Crane Festival. Locals wear their most beautiful ghos and kiras to watch the masked dances performed by the monks of Gangtey.
Dressed as these cherished birds, school children dance the movements of the black necked crane to welcome the birds back to the valley. Every year, in the end of October and the beginning of November, the cranes arrive in the valley for the winter. They migrate in from the higher altitude plateaus of the Tibetan region.