Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Haa – Dra-Gong the rocky Horse Head Hill

I have received the following note from a Vice Principal Mr. Nima Singye inquiring about the Horse Head Hill. It’s not possible for me to expand on his findings but never the less I share what I know of the heritage environment of which Dra-Gong is a very vital pillar. As this is something about Haa I am sharing in the Blog with fellow Haaps and others who may be interested.

Nima Singye:    Kuzuzangpola Dasho, I am working as Vice principal working at GUDHSS, Haa... I am from Jyenkhana Haa... I have taken a picture of the hill near wangcha, and edited as posted in my page... I would like to request your honourable Dasho to highlight on the story of the hill having the Horse head, so that i can further convey the message to the studets and public as well...

I got second hand information that your honourable dasho has the knowledge of this place and also most of my ffriends suggested me to contact dasho for any historical information of Haa. Thank You la
 (Photo courtesy: Nima Singye, facebook page)

Dear Vice Principal Nima Singye,

First I am happy that you are from Haa Jyenkhana and holding the post of Vice Principal at GUDHSS. It is a very important post for a person from Haa because education is the foundation of participation of Haa people in the national affairs of Bhutan. I hope you have been selflessly devoting to educating the Bhutanese youth. Please accept my reverence for a teacher. I myself benefited greatly from the selfless efforts of many Guru like teachers.

I think it will be a surprise to you but thank you for the Horse Head information. I was not aware of it. You seem to have hit the nail on the head but how did you come across this historic belief? By the way your email to me was dated 23rd April, 2014 but it appeared on my screen only on 4th May, 2014, thus the delay in response. Sometimes there does occur strange electronic hiccups.

You know we have the Miri Phuensum 3 hills on one side of Haa River and on the other side we have the alternate distinctive 3 lesser hills with Dra-Gong your Horse Head rocky Hill in the centre, Phrey-Dra in the north and Tho-Khap in the south. Wangtsa village is between Dra-Gong and Tho-Khap and Kar-tsho (Katsho) Village is in between Dra-Gong and Phrey-Dra. For anything to exist in wholesome manner, it is said that both yang and ying must be present. Yang and Ying means male and female element. These two opposite elements when in union form a complimentary wholesome existence which is said to be the source of all beings and substance. That may be the relation between the 2 sets of 3 hills on the opposite side of Haa River. My humble belief is that the wellbeing of Haa people is determined by the state of these hills and so we need to protect these in their original form.

Dra-Gong the Horse Head rocky Hill is in the fore front of Haa prosperity. This hill originate from the main Chilai Gung Karpo Range that divides the valleys of Paro and Haa. The Gung Karpo Range is blessed by Dupthob Pao Dorji. At the bosoms of this Range there is the Chilai Gompa Monastry in the south and in the north the Kar-tsho Gompa Monastry and Juneylo Guru Temple. From this Range flows 3 streams – the Kar-tsho Chu, Wangtsa Chu and Changnana Chu. Then again 3 underground springs flow – the perennial springs at Simkha in Kartsho at the foot of Kartsho Gompa Hill and Simgongma spring at Wangtsa Village at the foot of Khendum Dratsa.  The other seasonal stream but not dependent on monsoon is the Simchu Pang Spring stream that flows from the foothill of Dra-Gong. In order to appreciate what Dra-Gong really is, you have to know Wangtsa Village. At the head of Wangtsa village is the Wangtsa Temple. This temple was damaged during the last earthquake so it was brought down and a totally new one was built on the same spot. However, on the new wall of the temple a mural painting of His Holiness Je Sherab Gyeltshen appeared miraculously. The miracle happened over a period of several days last year 2013. The legendary Dupthob Pao Dorji and later their Holinesses Je Shakya Rinchen, Je Sherab Gyeltshen and Je Younten Pelzang are part of the history of Wangtsa Temple.  After them other lesser known but very learned Lams Yeshey and his descendent Lam Rinchen, grandfather of my father followed. Lam Rinchen passed away when my father was 9 years old. He remembered the funeral in-front of the temple. May be losing his adorable father like figure grandpa Lam at such an early age exhausted his own young mind thus turning him away from further pursuit of Dharma. Never the less I glimpsed that Dharma trait of his family on the night of Tuesday 10th January, 2012 when he left for the next world at the age of 96 years. Lam Rinchen along with another Lam from Wang (Thimphu) were chief disciples of His Holiness Je Sungchokhor.  The 2 disciples went their separate ways only after the Je died and rites completed. Next temple Lam was Gelong Tashi Pema a monk who was not so learned like Lam Rinchen but still a very pious person. Gelong Tashi Pema was from my mother’s family side. His father was from Talo Nobgang. My father who stayed on in the temple as a young attendant recalled annual trips with the elderly lanky Gelong Tashi Pema who visited his relatives at Talo Nobgang and Rimchu. Decades later, my parents got married and after I was born, the astrologer advised that for my wellbeing, I had to be kept for at least 3 weeks in the temple. So for 3 weeks my mother moved with me from our home to the temple.

I write this background to explain my sentiment for Wangtsa Village and the Temple and my opposition (last year) to the proposed mining industry at Dra-Gong the backbone of Wangtsa Village and fore front of 54 years of Haa development. I suspect you also wrote to me about this Hill because of my stand last year. If only one cared to pause for a second and view Haa Valley, one cannot fail to realize that the thrust of 54 years of Haa development since 1960 is centered on and around the lap of Dra-Gong. It is the Shho-Drel the main lead horse of the caravan of Haa development. It is the central prosperity pillar of Haa Dzongkhag. Take time out to climb to the peak of Dra-Gong and view the whole of Haa valley. What I have written, you will discover printed in your heart. More than ¾ of the population of Haa whether Haaps or otherwise have their livelihood centered in and around Dra-Gong from whose foothill flows what a Kuensel reporter called the psycho stream. And from which legend has it that a pair of birds gold and silver flew. The golden bird to form the Kar-tsho and the silver bird to form the Nak-tsho. The lakes are not visible to human mind/eyes but one can visit the villages of Kar-tsho below Kar-tsho Gompa and Nak-tsho below Drana-Gompa. The abundance of water at these 2 villages would definitely make one to presume the existences of the white and black lake. Legend has it that from Nak-tsho village a Phajo of Haa demarcated the northern boundary of Haa at Pangkar Chorten in China Tibet and southern boundary at a point in Samtse. Whilst from the village of Kar-tsho, dominating religious figures came about. Together they represent the 2 Thrao and Shio features of life. Haa is a legend of gold, silver and platinum ( white ) birds. The Lhakhang Karpo site was decided upon appearance of a platinum coloured bird.

There is a spring well below the Wangtsa Temple. It was, until pipe water was introduced, the drinking water for the temple lam and source for water offering. This spring-well dries up during Paro Tsechu time. Legend has it that the Tsomin goes for Paro Guru Thongdrel. In fact both the perennial springs at Kartsho Simkha and Wangtsa Simgongma’s volume reduces during Paro Tsechu for several days. In the early morning hours of the 15th Day of the 2nd Bhutanese month, puffs of holy smoke arise from the 2 tall and ancient cypress trees behind the temple. The 2 cypress trees are attributed to His Holiness Je Shakya Rinchen.

The so called psycho stream at Simchu Pang takes a hiatus in Spring season and returns to Haa between day 4 to 10th of the 6th Bhutanese month. Legend has it going to Paro to attend Paro Tsechu and Changla (Rice plantation). But in winter, it is very much in Haa and those days students of now GUDHSS found the warm water of the psycho stream a great blessing in the freezing winter. The hiatus duration seems to be varying now. The hiatus of Simchu Pang Spring stream is getting longer whilst hiatus of the spring-well below the Wangtsa Temple has shortened. During those early years of my life, the spring-well remained dry for whole of Spring season. But now except for few weeks during the Bhutanese 2nd month, the well remains brimming with clear spring water. It may have more to do with the purity of environment in religious sense rather than that of physical change. Where Tsomins find residence of comfort, there will be spring water or pools. 

I am no authority on the history of Haa. We all can do with contributions from knowledgeable people from Haa and elsewhere in Bhutan. This is the other reason why I am posting this reply to you in my blog to attract comments and information from knowledgeable Lams from Haa and Central Dratsang. Haa and Bhutan however governs my central being. With Haa and Bhutan I am someone, something. Without the two, I cannot claim self being. There is no identity without place of birth and country. As a fellow of Haa, I ask you to love Haa and love Bhutan even more. And I humbly take this opportunity to call upon the people of Haa to endeavor to conserve the 2 sets of 3 Hills of Haa. In their preservation and healthy conservation, Haa will continue to partake in its historic role in the protection and enhancement of sovereign Bhutan.

With warm regards and deep respects for your profession and thanks for your warm affection. Many seem to refer to me as Haap Sangey. It is incorrect and audacious because there are many Sangey in Haa. However, I do have a rightful claim to be Sangey of Haa Wangcha and therefore the introductory name Wangcha Sangey. I am not a Dasho in the sense of a wearer of a Kabney and Patang but I strive to be a ‘Draksho’ meaning above average good human being from which the title ‘Dasho’ may have been derived.
May Miri Phuensum grant my wish to have the Horse Head Rocky Hill called Dra-Gong forever grace my birth village and central Haa. Dra-Gong the natural Chorten stands out as a monumental tribute to the goodness of all that is Haa and the blessings of the Dharma. Thank you. Yours an elder Haap Wangcha Sangey.


  1. Thank you dasho... The topic already became of interest to all the teachers of this school... i will try to share the story with my students... Thank you Dasho for the history behind Dra-gong...

  2. Nima Sir, I am from Haa Yangthang, and I have lived there all my life. I even taught in GUDHSS as a trainee in 2005, but I have never noticed that impression on the hill nor I heard anybody say anything about it. But the picture shows out the horse-head so distinctly. Thanks for sharing about it. And Thanks to Dasho Wangcha Sangay for blogging about it, without which I wouldn't have known.
    Next time I visit Haa I am going to look into that direction with a different perspective and keen eyes.

  3. what do you say about the sha khatoe, sinchulumba and dramana areas under Haa which is claimed by China.

  4. Besides finding it more interesting and informative, I have found you as a writer to have possessed an unfathomable muscle over history. I have read your posts almost continuously because there's a lot of meaning in it. Your writings are powerful and pure because of which it remains insightful as ever.
    Please keep writing of our history because our history needs to be written.
    Thank you.

  5. As mentioned by one under anonymity, it would be great if Dasho wangcha sangay could highlight something on Sha Khatoe, Sinchulumba and Dramana...

  6. I am completely inspired by Dasho's wholehearted consideration on the Principal's inquisitiveness. Dasho's defiance on the mining is also justified without a doubt. The insight has enhanced my little knowledge I gathered to define GNH in the spiritual context . Basically I believe, correct Yang + ying = correct recipe for GNH. What can I say. Dasho, please accept my appreciation. I am from Ingo and I read all your posts.

    1. Dear friend from Ingo, may I extend you my warm regards. Its good to take care of Haa because in that way we also take care of our country.

    2. Dasho, Thanks again for your warm regards. I appreciate your rationale behind blogging and I very much wish other veteran old hands spare some time to share their wisdom to illuminate likewise. I am humbled. TP Toffy.