Zhemgang is a region blessed with incredibly rich biodiversity. Its lush forests are home to 22 endangered animal species including the Golden Langur. Though much of the district has warm and humid climatic conditions, its northern regions have moderately cool temperatures.
Zhemgang is notable for being one of the last regions where ancient Bon (Animist) religious practices are still carried out. Though Buddhism has been growing in popularity, every region of the district still continues its animist traditions and Bon priests known as Bonpo are considered respected religious leaders. The inhabitants of Zhemgang are famous for their rich culture, particularly their folk songs and dances. They are also famed for their skill at crafting various goods out of bamboo such as Bangchungs (matted bamboo bowls), Palangs (alcohol containers), Balaks (hats), mats and boxes. They are also adept potters and their earthenware products were highly prized throughout the country in the past.
There are also a number of famous Buddhist temples in the region such as Buli Lhakhang and Tharpa Choeling Lhakhang. These ancient temples were built by Terton Pema Lingpa, a famous revealer of the lost religious treasures of Guru Rimpoche.
One of the most interesting features in Zhemgang is the Royal Manas National Park. This protected park is the oldest nature preserve in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Its incredible biodiversity includes hundreds of rare animal and plant species such as Golden Langurs, Gangetic Dolphins and the Asian One-horned Rhinoceros that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. The park is the most biologically diverse protected area in the kingdom as well as one of the most outstanding nature preserves worldwide.
Lama Zhang Dorje Drakpa who lived in the 12th century founded the Zhemgang dzong. Lama Zhang Dorje Drakpa, a renowned scholar-sage of Drukpa kgyu school of Buddhism, originated from Tibet and travel to present Zhemgang in 1163. Lama Zhang set up a hermitage in on the present site of the Dzong and settled there for many years. In 1655 CE, a one-storied Dzong was built on the hermitage to defend the land against invaders led by Choestse Penlop.Khenrig Namsung is the ancient name of Zhemgang Dzongkag. It literally means the three divisions of Kheng: Upper (Chikhor), Middle (Namkor), and Lower (Tamachok) Kheng.
Popular legend described the death of Lam Dzang. Through yogic power, lama Dzong realized that his brother, a courtier of the powerful Khaling overlord, Lango, was in serious danger. Lango was a sadistic creature, with a human body and the head of a bull, who delighted in eating human flesh.
Lama Dzang devised a scheme to save his brother without offending Lango. He wrote a letter to Lango saying that his health is waning and would like to have his brother by his side. On another letter to his brother, he warned his impeding danger. Unfortunately, the letters were mistakenly delivered. Upon reading the letter meant for Lama Zhang’s brother, Lango was enraged and devour Lama Zhang’s brother. Lango also sent a courtier to kill the Lama.
The villagers were also forced to help the courtier. They stormed the hermitage and run directly into the overwhelming powers of the Lama. Using his yogic powers, he flew to Wamdokpa. The villagers followed in pursuit but were unable to kill him. Observing the plight of his pursuers, pity swayed Lama Zhang into making his final decision. Lama Zhang surrendered his life, strangely instructing them to kill him by stuffing a ceremonial scarf down his throat. Today, the village where Lama Zhang was killed is known as Trong, an honorific word for kill.
The annual Tshechu of Zhemgang was introduced after the inception of the Rabdey in 1966. It is held for five days, from the 7th to 11th of the 2nd Bhutanese month.