an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other
regions. Comprising of four smaller valleys namely Tang, Ura, Choekhor
and Chumey, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in
religious legend. Bumthang is also the traditional home to the great
Buddhist teacher Pema Linga to whose descendants the present dynasty
traces its origin.
Bumthang is well connect to
many cities in Bhutan.
This monastery was built in
the 7th century by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the 108
monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits n the Himalayan
region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th
Situated before Jambay
Lhakhang, Kurje Lhakhang consists of three temples. The one on the
right was built in 1652 on the rack face where Guru meditated in the
8th century. Second temple is built on the site of a cave containing a
rock with the imprint of Guru's body and is therefore considered the
most holy. The third temple was built in 1990s by Ashi Kesang, the
Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108 chorten
Located across the river
from Kurje Lhakhang, this temple was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema
Lingpa, the re-incarnation of Guru Padsambhava. The monastery has very
ancient religious paintings like 1,000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female
form of Buddhistava). The temple was restored at the end of the 19th
Founded by great
grand-father of the first Shabdrung, the Dzong was initially built as
a monastery in 1549. It was upgraded after the Shabdrung had firmly
established his power in 1646. The Dzong is now used as administrative
centre for Bumthang valley, and houses the regional monk body.
It was built in the 6th
century but was renovated in 1995, which accounts for its fresh look.
It contained a large bell and it is said that when this bell was rung
it could be heard all the way in Lhasa in Tibet. During the 17th
century a Tibetan Army tried to steal this bell but was too heavy and
they dropped it and cracked it. It is now displayed at the National
Museum in Paro.
Beyond Jambay Lhakhang is
Changkhar Lhakhang, the site of the palace of the Indian King Sindhu
Raja. Because of its simplicity it looks like an ordinary village
house. The original palace was built of iron and this is why it was
named Chankhar, meaning iron castle. It was rebuilt in the 14th
century by a Saint called- Dorji Lingpa.
Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery
Located above the main town, about 3 km from Chamkhar town, the
monastery was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 1984 who was
recognized at a very young age by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H.
16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama whose spiritual
lineage dates back to the nearest disciples of the great 9th century
master. Since then the monastery has developed considerably with
increase in number of monks to almost four hundred. The monastey has
become part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalize Tibetan
culture. The monks regular curriculum include reading, memorizing the
daily prayers, learning dharma dances, drawing mandalas, learning the
melodies of sacred rituals, learning the use of ceremonial instruments
and the art of making sacrificial objects, grammer, poerty, karika
along with the basics of contemplation and instruction on the
different stages of tantra.
Tangbi Goemba: A walk
of half an hour north of Kurje Lhahang leads to this monastery,
founded in 1470 by Shamar Rinpoche of the Kagyupa religious school.
The temple has two sanctuaries and a temple of terrifying deities. The
sanctuary on the ground floor contains statues of past, present and
future Buddha and three clay statues probably dating end of the 15th
century. On the upper floor, the vestibule contains two remarkable
paintings of Guru Rinpoche's heaven and the Buddha Amitabh's heaven.
Ngang Lhakhang: A few hours walk from the Tangbi Goemba is the
small region of Ngang Yul (Swan Land) and this temple here is 100 m
above the valley floor. The site was visited by Guru Rinpoche and
present temple was built in the 15th century by Lama Namkha Samdup, a
contemporary of Pema Lingpa. A three days festival is held here each
winter with masked dances in honor of the founder of the temple.
Ura Valley: Jakar to Ura is 48 km, about one and a half hour
drive. To reach here, the road climbs toJakar valley Bhutan amazingly
open countryside, only occasionally running into forest. Large sheep
pastures line the road up to 20 km behind the southern tip of the Tang
valley. The route crosses Ura la pass (3,600m) with a magnificent view
of Mount. Gangkhar Puensum. Villages in Ura have clustered houses,
which is quite unusual in Bhutan. Above Ura village (3,100m) is a new
temple dedicated to Guru Rinpoche. Inaugurated in 1986, it contains a
huge statue of the master and remarkable paintings of the cycle of his
teachings. Since last 25 years Ura has been transformed from a
marginal community to prosperous valley.
Tang Valley: Terton (treasure discoverer) Pema Lingpa, the
famous saint, was born in the Tang valley of Bumthang. The people of
this valley raise sheep and at higher elevation, yaks as the soil in
this region is not so rich for agricultural activities. From Bumthang
central, it is a short drive past the Dechenpelrithang sheep farm to
an unpaved road that leads to the north. Just under a kilometer ahead,
there is a rough track on the left and another kilometer ahead, there
is junction where vehicle can be parked. From parking, it is a short
walk down to the river. The path is lined with prayer flags and ends
up above a gorge where the river forms a pool before it rushes on.
Images of Pema Lingpa and his two sons are carved on a rock here.
Membartsho (The Burning Lake) in Tang valley is a wide spot on
the Tang Chhu (chhu - water / river) and is considered to be one of
the greatest pilgrimage sites of Bhutan. Pema Linga found several of
Guru Rinpoche's hidden treasures here. The importance of this site is
indicated by the extensive array of prayer flags and the small clay
offerings called 'Tse Tsa' in rock niches.
Ugyenchholing Palace in Tang valley is another attraction.
Restored in 19th century, it is now housing the Family Museum, a place
that will transport visitors to another world and time. The visitors
will view permanent exhibits recreated to capture the ambience of the
lifestyle of the Trongsa Penelop (Governor) Tshokey Dorji and his
household. It also serves as retreat for those engaged in religious
history. Bhutan's history truly unfolds here.
Tang Rimochen Lhakhang in the valley is a sacred place of Guru
Rimpoche. A rock in front of temple bears a body print of the Guru and
two khandroms (female celestial being). The site is named after the
tiger stripe markings on the cliff. Footprints of the Guru and his
consorts Mandarava and Yeshe Chhogyal are found below the lhakhang.
Two large boulders nearby are said to be male and female jachungs (garudas).
Kunzangdrak Goemba is two hours walk above Chel Tang Valley. It
is one of the most important sites related to Pemalingpa the great
treasure discoverer in Bhutan, who also constructed the Goemba in
1488. Most of his sacred relics are kept here including the gilded
stone bearing his footprint.
Pelseling Goempa is a sacred monastery with rich historic
values. Situated on a steep mountain, it is a half day trek (3-4
hours) from the area of Jakar. The trek starts off at a mild pace but
later gains momentum. Along the trek route, travelers are gifted with
breathtaking views of the valley and large species of flora and fauna.
About two thirds of the way, there is a beautiful meadow which is the
perfect picnic spot. The last part of the hike requires more uphill
trek until eventually the destination is on sight.
hh - heritage hotel ; ph -
palace hotel ; bh - boutique hotel ; gh - guest house ; hs - home stay