The valley is also unparalleled in Bhutan in terms of the diversity of the folk culture, legends and shamanistic rituals. The shamanistic traditions is vividly practiced in almost all the communities, most notable of which is the annual ceremony to honour Ap Chundu, the guardian deity of the valley. The valley is also a paradise for nature lovers and travelling there is a very rewarding experience
It is a wonderful experience to drive through blue pine and rhododendron forest towards Haa from Thimphu or Paro.You will be passing through Chelela pass (3988m), where you can have a wonderful and clear view of Mount Jomolhari and Jichu Drakey. From Chelela pass, you can descend towards Haa for another 22km.
Haa valley is one of the most picturesque places in the Kingdom, spread over an area of 1706 sq. km. During pre-Buddhist era, Haa valley was known for its animist tradition. Inhabitants then were enthused in offering animal blood to their local deities. Such animist belief however was transformed into peaceful Buddhist tradition in 8th century by Guru Padmasambhava. The tantric master, Guru Padmasambhava, subdued the local deities like Ap Chundu and made the guardians of the Buddhist tradition. However, the traces of this belief system are still noticed in the form of festivals and rituals.
The Haa valley was opened for the first time to foreign tourists in 2002. It is culturally rich valley and some of famous sites in this region are: 7th century Lhakhang Karpo (White temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo(Black temple)
Lhakhang Karpo (white Temple) followed by Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple)
Towards the southern foothills of the three towering mountains known as Rigsum Gonpo, meaning the “Lords of the Three Families”, refers to the enlightened deity trinity of Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani, stands the mystical Lhakhang Karpo which basically translates to white temple. Lhakhang means temple and Karpo means white.
Lhakhang Karpo was established in the 7th century. It is believed that two birds that is a black dove and a white pigeon were released in order to allocate the site for construction of the shrines and when the white pigeon rested on the grounds near the three towering temples that is when the Tibetan King Songtsen Gempo decided to raise the temple which stand firm still date. The construction of the lhakhang Karpo (white Temple) is believed to have been assisted by the locality.as a result the place came to be locally known as ( Hay” meaning “Surprise” which later became “Haa” due to the differences in interpretations and pronunciation of different people time.
The architecture also lives up to the name Karpo as it is majorly white in color with an authentic Bhutanese design. Lakhang Karpo houses the monastic body for the Haa region and the festivals that is to be held in the Dzong are usually organized at this Lhakhang and in order to maintain this tradition this Lhakhang has been recently rebuilt into a more beautiful looking master piece.
This Lhakhang offers opportunities for pilgrimage and hence visitors have the chance to be a part of this miracle that was directed by a bird as simple as a pigeon. Surely one will find a white pigeon flying around in their minds when they visit this shrine. The grand annual Haa Tshechu is also performed here at Lhakhang Karpo on the 8th-10th day of the 8th Bhutanese month.
The Haa Wangchuklo Dzong built in 1915 after the Dumchog Dzong was razed to the ground by fire is worth visiting. The other place of interest which involves some walking includes the hike to the 8th century Juneydrag, Katsho Goempa, Drana Trashidingkhag, Yangto Goempa, Jamtoe Goempa, Shelkardrag, Takchu Goempa and Haa Goempa.