The Mongar district forms the northern part of the ancient region of Kheng and is reached after 193 km and five hours’ drive from Bumthang through stunning scenery including a crossing of the Thrumshing La pass (3750m). Some of Bhutan’s finest woven textiles can be found in its villages. There is little to see in Mongar itself, however. The town was redesigned in 1997 when the eastern regional referral hospital was built so that patients did not have to travel all the way to Thimphu.
Most visitors just pass through on their journey east or west with little time to stop for sightseeing, but if you are in the area there are a few options of sights to visit.
Mongar Dzong was built in 1930 and its design was similar to Lamai Gompa in Bumthang, the official residence of the 1st King Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck.
Drametse Monastery (located between Mongar and Tashigang) also named Ugyen Namdroel Choeling monastery is one of the most important and vibrant monasteries in Bhutan. Established over 400 years ago, this monastery, with its unique architecture, remains one of the most impressive buildings in eastern Bhutan. It houses a full range of spiritual treasures and other sacred objects revealed by the Great Treasure Revealer (Terton) Rigzin Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) who is one of the Five Great Tertons Kings within the Nyingma tradition of Buddhism. Pema Lingpa’s granddaughter, Ani Choeten Zangmo who fled from Bumthang to escape a proposal of marriage from the local king, founded the monastery. She fled east and when she found a place ideally suited for meditation and practice she named it ‘Drametse’ which literally means ‘the peak where there are no enemies’. Further, Drametse was blessed by the birth of three successive incarnations of the Zhabdrung: Jigme Drakpa (1791-1830), Jigme Norbu (1831-1861), and Jigme Chogyel (1862-1904).
Mongar is also the access point for the north-eastern district of Lhuntse, famed for its silk weaving and an interesting and remote spot little visited by tourists.