Chhimi Dema

Two rivers, Gaychhu and Nakeychhu, glide through the middle of Phobjikha.

And the two rivers have stories to tell.

The legend of the rivers and the event that transpired from them is believed to be the reason why paddy does not grow in Gangtey and Phobjikha gewogs.

Long ago, before people began settling in Phobjikha, a snake and a boar challenged each other to dig channels for the rivers to flow.

The snake came from the ridges of Sangtana in Gangtey and the boar from Balam in Phobji gewog towards what is now called Pakchi Zam.

Twisting and turning, the snake meandered through the valley. But the boar ran straight and completed the race first.

And so, the locals believe that since the boar won the race, paddy is not grown in the valley today.

Snake river


Boar river

Nakeychhu (Black River) is the channel dug by the snake that glides through the valley in front of the Tramtshethang today. The Gaychhu (White River), dug by the pig, flows between Nimphey and Tawa villages.

Another version of the legend is that the boar came straight from the Moel village and reached Khewang Lhakhang first. In this version, the snake-dug river is called Khenchhu and the boar-dug river is called Machhu.

Today the rivers are critical in maintaining the habitat for the revered Black-necked cranes.

There is yet another version of the story.  Paddy does not grow in the two gewogs because dawn broke before the two mountains could meet.

The Dazigang on the Dangsa village and the ridge on Yuesa village planned to meet before sunlight and bring feasible conditions to grow paddy.

The mountains could not meet and the conditions to grow paddy failed.

Agriculture officials say that the altitude of Phobjikha (3,000m)  and cold weather are not suitable for paddy cultivation.

“Even if it’s grown, the yield will not be of high economic value compared to potatoes.”