Haa District

Coordinates: 27°15′N 89°10′E / 27.250°N 89.167°E / 27.250; 89.167

Haa District
Map of Haa District in Bhutan
Map of Haa District in Bhutan
 • Total1,905 km2 (736 sq mi)
 • Total13,655
 • Density7.2/km2 (19/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+6 (BTT)
HDI (2019)0.702[1]
high · 3rd

Haa District (Dzongkha: ཧཱ་; Wylie: Haa; alternative spellings include "Ha") is one of the 20 dzongkhag or districts comprising Bhutan. An alternative name for the district is "Hidden-Land Rice Valley."[2] It the second least-populated dzongkhag in the country after Gasa.[3]

The most-spoken language of the district is Dzongkha.

The river Haa Chhu, originating at Jomolhari mountain, flows through the district.

Mystical history of Haa

The name Haa (pronounced "hah"), as well as the more ancient name Has (Dzongkha: ཧས་; Wylie: Has; pronounced "hay"),[4] connotes esoteric hiddenness. Haa's major feature is the Haa Valley, a steep north-south valley with a narrow floor. The district is presided over by three mountains collectively referred as "Three Brothers" -- Jampelyang, Chana-Dorji, and Chenrezig.[5]

Black, White, and Haa Gonpa temples

Local historians maintain that two important temples in Haa District, the Black Temple ( lhakhang Narpo ) and the White Temple ( lhakhang karpo ), were built at the same time as Kichu 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 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).

During the 10th day of the 11th month of the Bhutanese calendar (see Tibetan calendar), liturgical ceremonies worshipping Amitabha Buddha are held at Haa Gonpa temple.

Sacred oak and the upper house

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 — see 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 11th lunar month a series of special mystical practices are performed in the upper house for a week.

The local deity Chungdue

The famous Lam Pema Lingpa also documented the activities of another local deity known as Aup Chungdue. Chungdue was responsible for meteor storms, cyclones, wildfires, rocks splitting apart, earthquakes, and a number of other mystical disasters. The Guru Padmasambhava arrived in the late 8th century and subdued the deity. However the deity's force is not to be taken lightly. In the 15th century aup Chungdue decreed that the people of Ha Shogona village where not to come in contact with any followers of a certain monk in nearby Paro dzongkhag. When a young Haa man married a girl from Paro they believed no harm would come to them. However, as they crossed a river between the two districts the knots tying her infant to her back suddenly came loose and the baby fell into the river and drown.

Other features

Also near the Black and White temples is a special stupa chorten marking the site where an imprint of Guru Padmasambhava's body and hat may be found in a large rock.

Haa Valley looking north, September, 2006

In the Samar side-valley may be found a bridge known as Has Samarpudung. Below the bridge is the lake of a wishing cow whose stone udders can be seen in the lake.


According to Census 2017, the population of the district was 13,655 in 2,952 households making it the second least populated dzongkhag in the country after Gasa.[3]



In the northern part of the district, a temperate alpine area, yak rearing is the most sustainable occupation. Natural selection has given the yak a physiological design that makes its adaption to high mountains unrivalled by any other livestock.[6] The pastoralists were inclined to keep an unexpectedly high number of male yaks due to the high price of yak meat. In 1993, the price for boneless yak meat stood at Nu 65 per kilogram, i.e. more than four times higher than beef.[6] In the northern gewogs, the population also depend on making butter and cheese for their livelihood.[7]


Most of the district is unsuitable for agriculture.[6] Traditionally, the main cereals grown in the dzongkhag was bitter and sweet buckwheat, barley, and wheat.[8] In 2018, the cultivable land was around 2% of the total area in the district. Agriculture is further constrained by the prolonged winter and shorter growing seasons.[7] Wheat is the main cereal crop grown in the district; other cereals crops are bitter barley and sweet buckwheat.[7] Some rice is grown in the lower reaches of the valley. Potatoes, chilis, 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. Per the census, almost every household owns livestock of some type, most commonly yaks and cattle, but also chickens, pig, and horses.[9] In the southern part of the district, cardamom and ginger constitute principal cash crops, while potato serves as the main cash crop in the north. Apples and vegetables are also cultivated on a moderate scale.[7]

Cultivated area, production, and yield of major crops.[7]
Crop/Production 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Wheat Area (acres) 571.00 560.00 485.00 562.00 418.00
Production (metric tonnes) 405.00 400.00 357.00 313.56 155.00
Yield (kg/acre) 710.00 715.00 736.00 522.00 500.00
Barley Area (acres) 35.00 41.00 61.00 8.50 22.00
Production (metric tonnes) 27.00 25.00 34.00 7.15 8.00
Yield (kg/acre) 767.00 611.00 566.00 668.25 352.00
Paddy Area (acres) 143.00 138.00 174.00 131.06 179.00
Production (metric tonnes) 178.00 178.00 237.00 167.57 224.00
Yield (kg/acre) 1247.00 1230.00 1361.00 1302.75 1270.00
Maize Area (acres) 330.00 300.00 223.00 261.38 166.00
Production (metric tonnes) 329.00 255.00 189.00 308.72 145.00
Yield (kg/acre) 994.00 850.00 848.00 1243.93 878.00
Buckwheat Area (acres) 490.00 349.00 746.00 427.94 423.00
Production (metric tonnes) 319.00 266.00 484.00 221.17 193.00
Yield (kg/acre) 650.00 648.00 648.00 1009.13 455.00
Millet Area (acres) 122.00 79.00 70.00 55.00 52.00
Production (metric tonnes) 47.00 29.00 41.00 20.05 24.00
Yield (kg/acre) 390.00 371.00 590.00 364.50 468.00

78% of Haa is covered with forest, and forestry plays an important part in local economy.


Haa Dzong, March, 2011

Haa District lies along the western border of Bhutan. To the northwest it is bounded by Tibet, to the southwest by Samtse District, to the southeast by Chukha District, and to the northeast by Paro District. Haa Dzongkhag covers a total area of 1905 sq km.[10] The southern part of the district covers some sub-tropical area. However, the district is largely a temperate alpine area. Its northern part is above the tree line.[6]

The gewogs of Bji, Katsho, Eusu, and Samar are in the north while Gakidling and Sombaykha are in the south.[7]

Administrative divisions

Haa District is divided into six village blocks (or gewogs):[11]


Lhakhang Karpo (the White Temple) in Üsu (Uesu) Gewog, Haa, Bhutan. Believed to have originally been established in the 7th century, during the time of the Tibetan Emporer Songtsän Gampo. The temple and its surrounding buildings normally house the monastic assembly ("monk body") of Haa District. This photograph was taken in 2011 while the temple complex was undergoing extensive restoration and re-construction.

In 2002, subsequent to the 79th session of the National Assembly, the valley was opened to foreign tourism. The dzongkhag has 41 lhakhangs, which are owned by the government, community and private individual. The gewogs of Bje, Kar-tshog, Eusu and Samar Gewogs are within radius of 15 km from dzongkhag administration. They have fairly good road network, electricity, telephone connectivity, water supply, and health facilities.[7]

List of festival dates in Haa dzongkhag[12]
Festival Location Bhutanese dates Remarks
Haa Tsechu Lhakhang Karpo, Uesu 8th-10th day of the 8th month Three-day annual festival
Lomba Celebrated throughout the Haa valley 29th day of the 10th month till the 2nd of the 11th month People prepare a special local delicacy called ‘Hoentey’, a dumpling made out of sweet buckwheat, flour, and green turnip leaves. The celebration is followed by a community archery game.
Yongto Bongko, Kibri Bongko, Dumchu Bongko, Tshaphel Bongku, and Kana Bongku Yongto, Kibri, Dumchu, Tshaphel, and Kana Begins on the 17th day of the 11th month The shaman festival is organised every three years by the communities.
Wangtsa Goencham Wangtsa Lhakhang, Katsho 1st day of the 11th month Community festival
Tshenka Wango Tshenka lhakhang, Jenkakha – Bjee 15th day of the 11th month Annual celebration in which people from Paro also participate.

Haa valley–Saga La–Drukgyal Dzong trek is an easy trek of 23km that can be covered in two-three days. This trek is also called the 'Haa Planters' Trail' as it was used by rice planters from the valley to reach Paro to work as farm labourers during the planting season (mainly May-June). In return, the people of Haa received red rice after the autumn harvest. The trek passes through villages in the valley and dense forests near Paro. The trek ends near Drukgyal Dzong. On a three-day trek, one can stop at Yangtong. Alternatively, one can also stay at Khadey Ghom. The trek on the second day can end at Dongney Tsho.[13]

Other treks that start from the valley include Haa valley–Nub Shona Patta Tho–Rigona, and Haa Valley–Amo Chhu–Phuentsholing.[13]


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 biological corridor, cutting across the northeastern half of Haa District.[14]


The Indian Army maintains 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/Maps and other viewing platforms.

See also


  1. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  2. ^ Facts about Bhutan- The land of the Thunder Dragon. Absolute Bhutan Books. 2017. p. 318.
  3. ^ a b http://www.haa.gov.bt/downloads?Type=12&Sector=All Bhutan Census website Archived 2007-06-26 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Tshewang 2001 p.55-56
  5. ^ Dema, Thinley (2021-05-10). Smyer Yü, Dan; de Maaker, Erik (eds.). Environmental Humanities in the New Himalayas: Symbiotic Indigeneity, Commoning, Sustainability (1 ed.). Oxon: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781003144113-5. ISBN 978-1-003-14411-3. S2CID 234812544.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  6. ^ a b c d Ura, Karma (1993). "The Nomads' Gamble: Pastoralists of Northern Bhutan". South Asia Research. 13 (2): 81–100. doi:10.1177/026272809301300201. ISSN 0262-7280. S2CID 145147264.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Annual Dzongkha Statistics 2018: Dzongkhag Administration Haa. Thimphu: National Statistics Bureau. 2018.
  8. ^ Phuntsho, Karma (2013). The history of Bhutan. Noida, Uttar Pradesh. ISBN 978-81-8400-411-3. OCLC 909032169.
  9. ^ Haa Five Year Plan[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Facts about Bhutan The Land of the Thunder Dragon. Absolute Bhutan Books. 2017. p. 318.
  11. ^ "Chiwogs in Haa" (PDF). Election Commission, Government of Bhutan. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  12. ^ Destination Haa: Tourism Action Plan (2018-2023). Haa: Dzongkhag Administration, Haa. 2018.
  13. ^ a b Jordans, Bart (2008). Bhutan: A Trekker's Guide (2nd ed.). Milnthorpe: Cicerone. ISBN 9781852843984.
  14. ^ "Parks of Bhutan". Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation online. Bhutan Trust Fund. Archived from the original on 2011-07-02. Retrieved 2011-03-26.


  • Tshewang, Lam Pema (2001) History of the Has (Ha) Valley in Journal of Bhutan Studies Volume 5, Winter 2001 p. 50-56. Thimphu: Center for Bhutan Studies.
  • Seeds of Faith: A Comprehensive Guide to the Sacred Places of Bhutan. Vol 1. 2008 KMT Publishers, Thimphu, Bhutan.

External links

  • Five year plan 2002-2007
  • A History of Has (Ha) Valley by Lam Pema Tshewang, The Journal of Bhutan Studies, Vol. 5
  • Arjun Razdan, 'Forbidden Pastures of Haa Valley'
  • About Haa valley
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