Phurpa Lhamo | Punakha

Vehicles being pulled or being pushed out of mud was a common sight along the 17km stretch between Samdingkha and Sewala Goenpa in Chubbu. But now, with granular sub-base (GSB) work almost completed on the stretch, the goenpa and travellers are benefiting from the improved road condition.

Sewala Goenpa’s principal, Namgyel, said that before GSB work began, students from the goenpa had to help travellers and maintain the road every weekend.

He added that the goenpa sought funds and maintenance works were being done along the stretch.

“When I came here in 2015, the road was unimaginable; we had to tie a rope to the vehicle. I left my car on the way and had to hop in another vehicle. And we have to travel twice a week to the town to procure necessities.”

The goenpa has more than 85 individuals—monks and teachers together.

With improved road condition, the goenpa is seeing increased number of visitors. It has also helped to bring workforce for the reconstruction work at the Namgyel Tse Temple (neykhang) above the goenpa.

Namgyel said that during auspicious days, over 500 devotees help fetch stones to the site.

He added that with road, reconstruction of the neykhang made significant progress. “We thought the work would take around two years, but within six months it has made so much progress. It is almost complete now.”

Travel charges for farmers carrying their produce to the market have also decreased. Until recently, taxi drivers refused to drive to the villages near the goenpa.

Namgay Dem, 60, said that in the past drivers would charge the travellers more than Nu 2,000.

Today, travellers pay only Nu 200 to reach their villages in the Jangwakha-Sewala chiwog.

“Even light vehicles are now willing to come here,” Namgay Dem said.

The 17km road was first paved in 2008.

Jangwakha-Sewala’s chiwog tshogpa, Tsagay, said: “The road is as good as blacktopped. The difference is huge now.”

With improved road, farmers expect to increase agriculture work in the villages.

The project is yet to be handed over to the gewog.

The Small Development Project funded project began in February this year with a budget of more than Nu 26 million.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk