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Located deep inside the well known government for its gross national happiness, the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is the Drangme Chhu River. After it was closed for decade from any tourism activity, the river that is home to class IV to V rafting difficulty is now getting lots of limelight from the adventure junkie. The Bhutanese government had granted access for the traveler to indulge in white water rafting activity in 2009. This fact had made the Drangme Chhu as the last river system that is yet to be explored in Bhutan. It even lands a place in the top 50 places for white water rafting by the National Geographic team.
The word Chhu means water in Dzongkha which is the national language for Bhutanese while Drangme is the name of the place in Bhutan. Drangme Chhu is like any other river in Bhutan has its water supply from the melting snow and glacier that keeps on producing fresh water supply to the Bhutanese with over five millions liters of water each year.
Drangme Chhu is also the largest drainage in Bhutan with area of nearly 18, 300 squared kilometers; it covers an astonishing length across Bhutan that it even acts as one of the connection between the Bhutanese Himalaya and the Indian subcontinent. With this reputation, the government of Bhutan had made a decision to build a hydropower dam over the Kuri Chhu and Drangme Chhu to cope with the increasing demand of power in Butan. The dam which is scheduled to be finish in 2012 will provide up to 1, 800 MW of electricity to the Bhutanese. With population over 700,000, surely this project will benefit everyone. Besides for the electricity, the river also serves as the water supply for the crop to the people living nearby the river such as the small town of Duksum.
The river is made up of two other rivers that flow from the south and west of Bhutan known as the Kulong River and Gamri River respectively. The river starts from the Arunachal Pradesh, India where it flows through the eastern of Bhutan all the way leading to the Royal Manas National Park. Although in 1992 it was declared as one of the UNESCO world heritage site the national park, just like Drangme Chhu was closed from any outsiders visit for years. Due to the escalating violence from the neighboring country it had only been reopened in 2010. Â Even though the Bhutanâ€™s government is not very much involved into the tourism industry, the re-opening of the national park will surely attract lots of traveler who is in search of the untouched gems of the earth. According to the Department of Forest and Park Service for the Royal Government of Bhutan, the country is covered with 72% of forest with more than 19, 000 squared kilometers of protected areas.
Just like other river system in Bhutan, there are lots of monasteries built on the cliff and near the river that can be visited by the travelers. Either as a spiritual retreat or simply wanted to be awed by the view, hiking to the nearest monasteries is a must when one is visiting there. One of the well known is the Taktshang Dzong or the Tigerâ€™s Nest that was built near a cliff 3,000 feet from the ground.
Drangme Chhu first emerged at the Tashigang town where the water from the Kulong and Gamri River met. It then continues to flow southwest where it will combine with the water from Kuru before continuing their flow towards India. Here, the river is known as Manas River. Through its course, Drangme Chhu forms a natural boundary between lots of region in Bhutan such as between Permagetsel and Tashigang with Mongar with population just over 3,000 people.
There are four main river systems in Bhutan which made up lots of tributaries across the country. There are the Tongsa chhu, Bumthang chhu, Kuru River and the Drangme Chhu. These rivers will navigate their ways through the valley across the Himalayan making their ways toward the Brahmaputra in India which is only 80 km from the Bhutanâ€™s border into the Bay of Bengal.
The Drangme Chhu is one of the three main branches of river that form the Manas River besides the Mangde Chhu and the Bumthang Chhu near the West Kameng District.