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December 17, 2010
The Gangteng monastery, also known as “Gantey Gonpa,” was built in 1613 and lies in the Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan. It is one of two important centers for the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, the oldest of Tibetan Buddhism’s four schools. The monastery is part of the small village of Gangtey, and was built by local craftsmen, using stone mined from the hills around. The area is home to traditional Bhutanese families of herders, farmers and shepherds. From the monastery, there are extensive views over the valley below, which is famous for the black-necked cranes that visit it every winter from October to February. In legend, they are said to fly around the monastery three times when they arrive and three times before they return to their breeding grounds on the Tibetan Plateau in spring.
The Gangteng Monastery serves as an example of traditional Bhutanese architecture. The site is known for both its political and religious significance. The monastery underwent a modern renovation period from 2000 to 2008. This work was done to ensure its original authenticity and was conducted under strict guidelines by the Bhutanese government. Bhutanese door curtains are colorfully decorated and cover the doorways of the monastery. It overlooks the Phobhjikha Valley at an elevation of about 9,800 feet (2,987 m).