The Black-Necked Crane Festival

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The arrival of the black-neck cranes signals the coming of winter and plays an integral role in the daily lives of the villagers. Highly revered by the villagers of Phobjikha, the majestic black-neck cranes are a rare and endangered species.

The Black-Necked Crane Festival held annually on 11 November. (Source: https://www.drukasia.com)

Held annually on November 11th in Phobjikha, the Black-Necked Crane Festival coincides with the birthday of His Majesty the King Druk Gyalpo. The festival is celebrated in the courtyard of Gangtey Gonpa in Phobjikha valley.

The arrival of the black-neck cranes signals the coming of winter and plays an integral role in the daily lives of the villagers. Highly revered by the villagers of Phobjikha, the majestic black-neck cranes are a rare and endangered species.

Believed to be the reincarnation of two deities who are the guardians of this picturesque valley, these beautiful birds will fly around the Gangtey Goempa three times, upon their arrival and departure.

Background and aims of the Black-Necked Crane Festival

Inaugurated in 1998 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) and the Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC), the aims are manifold. The festival highlights the importance of protecting the endangered Black‐necked cranes while boosting tourism for the village community. It is also a great opportunity for the villagers to showcase their unique cultural heritage.

About Phobjikha

Rising about 3000m above sea level, Phobjikha is the largest wetland in Bhutan. The magnificent Gangtey Monastery overlooks the valley with its pristine forests and subsistence farms.  

Every year, over 300 black‐necked cranes migrate to Bhutan from Tibet to spend their winter months in this valley. Both the locals and these graceful birds have had a harmonious relationship since time immemorial.

What can you see at the Black-Necked Crane Festival?

This unique festival will leave a lasting impression on you. With more than a hundred villagers participating, see the fascinating masked dance in honour of the Black Necked Cranes. Be delighted by the performance put up by school children who mimic the courtship dance of the cranes by bobbing their heads and flapping their wings. Other interesting programmes include folk songs as well as dramas with black-necked crane themes.

Benefits of the Black-necked Crane festival

The annual festival is an integral part of Ecotourism. The continual support and contributions of tourists will go a long way in sustaining the conservation of the black‐necked cranes as well as the financial welfare of the villagers. Collected funds are deposited in a community owned bank account for communal use.

Getting there

For more information on visiting the Black-Necked Crane Festival, please contact the Bhutan tour specialist Druk Asia at www.drukasia.com.

Written by Zann Huizhen Huang for the Daily Bhutan.


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