Characterized by highly dissected mountain ranges, steep slopes and narrow valleys with little flat lands, Pemagatshel is tucked away like a sleeping baby into the southern stretch of eastern Bhutan. Quiet, scenic, and a little off the beaten track, Pemagatshel richly deserves the Bhutanese transliteration of its name, “Lotus Garden of Happiness”.
Average elevations in Pemagatshel range from 1,000 meters to 3,500 meters above the sea level. The region is verdant and lush in most parts. Forests constitute a large portion of the land area, comprising mainly of coniferous and broad-leaf species. Historically, Pemagatshel was one of the four approaches to Bhutan known by the old name of Dungsamkha. On a mountain shaped auspiciously like a Phurba (ritual dagger), the Yongla Goemba overlooks the national highway between Samdrup Jongkhar and Trashigang.
The main inhabitants of Pemagatshel are called Tshanglas. Although the language of Tshangla Kha is spoken in other parts of eastern Bhutan as well, the dialect in Pemagatshel differs in tonality and pronunciation.
The region is well known for its artisans and weavers. The production of cultural and religious items such as Jalings (oboe-like instruments) and Dhungs (long ritual trumpets) which are widely sold all over Bhutan, contribute to the local economy. Aromatic incense from the region is also sought by buyers in other parts of Bhutan.
Women in Pemagatshel are exceptional weavers and the Lungsermo and Aiekapur, made from raw silk, are a specialty of the region. Pemagatshel is rich in folk songs. The high spirited and fun Khoray can be sung as an accompaniment to a vigorous dance while the slower, melancholic Alo is sung in traditional farewell to a loved one. Among the annual rituals common to the area the Lhasoel, or “appeasing the deity” is significant.