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10 Fun facts about Haa Valley, Bhutan

  • Haa District is one of the 20 dzongkhag or districts comprising Bhutan.
  • As per the 2005 census, the population of Haa dzongkhag was 11,648, making it the second least populated dzongkhag in Bhutan after Gasa.
  • The dominant language of the district is Dzongkha, the national language. 
  • Haa Valley, a steep north-south valley with a narrow floor. The name Haa (pronounced “hah”), as well as the more ancient name Has (Wylie: Has; pronounced “hay”), connotes esoteric hiddenness. An alternative name for the district is “Hidden-Land Rice Valley.”
  • The Haa chhu river flows through the valley. The river stems from Mount Jomolhari.
Haa valley child
  • The main crops grown in the valley are wheat and barley, although some rice is grown in the lower reaches of the valley. Potatoes, chillies, apples and other cash crops are grown by farmers on the valley floor, along terraced hillsides, and in some of the more accessible side valleys. As per the census, almost every household owns livestock of some type, most commonly yak and cattle, as well as chickens, pigs, and horses.Around 78% of Haa is covered with forest, and it plays an important part in the local economy. 
  • Haa district lies along the western border of Bhutan. To the northwest, it is bounded by Tibet. To the southwest it is bounded by the Samtse district, to the southeast by Chukha district, and to the northeast by Paro district.
walking in haa
  • Haa contains Torsa Strict Nature Reserve, one of the environmentally protected areas of Bhutan. Torsa contains no human inhabitants other than military patrols and posts, occupying substantial portions of the gewogs of Bji and Sangbay. Torsa is connected to Jigme Dorji National Park via the biological corridor, cutting across the northeastern half of Haa district. 
  • Local historians maintain that two important temples in Haa district, the Black Temple and the White Temple, were built at the same time as Kyerchu Temple in Paro in the 7th century AD. The two temples can be found near each other at the sacred site known as Miri Punsum, or “The Three Brother Hills”. A third temple, Haa Gonpa, was built further up the valley at the site where a lame pigeon, actually a bodhisattva in a disguised form, was found by a local farmer who was drawn to the spot by a mysterious fire seen on several successive nights and by the unexplained sounds of oboes and trumpets, musical instruments closely associated with Bhutanese and Tibetan monasteries. 
  • Near the Black Temple there are two houses near a sacred oak tree where the local deity once appeared as a winged creature, scaring the local people (the valley is divided into a number of areas, each under the influence of a particular local deity predating the arrival of Buddhism — Bön religion). The residents of the two houses gave offerings to the local deity. The local deity, now appeased, visited the upper house while neglecting the lower. The jealous owner of the lower house began an inter-house feud in which a man of the upper house was killed. Every year, in the 11th lunar month a series of special mystical practices are performed in the upper house for a week. 
  • The Indian Army has a military base in the valley to maintain security against incursions from China. The Chinese military has built roads into the Torsa Strict Nature Reserve and Haa District over the past dozen years clearly visible on Google Earth or Maps and other viewing platforms.
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