This fascinating valley is the religious heartland of the nation & home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples & monasteries. Its gentle sloping hills offer plenty of walking opportunities to the many temples that dot this valley. The valley is also famous for its production of honey, cheese, apple & Yathra- a woolen material that has multiple uses. Literally, Bumthang directly translates to "beautiful field". "Bum" is said to be the abbreviation for either "Bumpa" (a vessel for holy water) describing the shape and the nature of the Valley, or simply "Bum" meaning Girl, thang means field or ground. It lies at an elevation of 2,600 m.
PLACES OF INTERESTS:
Jambay Lhakhang: It is one of the 108 monasteries built by King Songtsen Goenpo in the 8th century to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.
Jakar Dzong: Literally meaning the Castle of White Bird, the Dzong was initially built as a monastery in 1549 by the great grandfather of the Zhabdrung. It is now used as the administrative center for the Bumthang district. The Bumthang Tshechu is one of the most popular festivals is held here.
Chakhar Lhakhang: Literally meaning the Iron Castle. The original palace was made of Iron and hence the name “Chakhar”. It was rebuilt in 14th century by Dorji Lingpa, a Buddhist saint.
Kenchogsum Temple: It is also known as Konchogsum Lhakhang. This is a 6th century temple and contained a large bell. It is said that when this bell was rung, it could be heard all the way in Lhasa in Tibet. In the 17th century, Tibetan Army tried to steal this bell. As the bell being too heavy, it was dropped by the army and it cracked. The bell is now displayed in the National Museum at Paro. The temple was later renovated in 1995, which gives it current fresh look.
Kunzongdrak Goemba: The lhakhang is one of the most important sites related to Terteon Pemalingpa, the great treasure discoverer of Bhutan. The Goemba was constructed by Pema Lingpa in 1488. Most of the sacred relics of Terteon Pema Lingpa is kept in this Goemba. This includes the gilded stone bearing his footprint. The lhakhang is a two hours walk above Chel Tang Valley.
Kurjey Lhakhang: Kurjey Lhakhang named after body print of Guru Rimpoche is located just a few meters beyond Jambay Lhakhang. It is dedicated to the saint Guru Padmasambhava who was supposed to have meditated there in 8th century.
Lhodrak Kharchu Monastery: The Kharchu Dratshang was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 1984. Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche was recognised as the reincarnation of a Tibetan Lhama (whose spiritual lineage dates back to the nearest disciples of the great 9th century Master) by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H. 16th Karmapa at a very young age. Since its establishment, the monastery has considerably developed with increase in number of monks and has become a part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalize Tibetan culture.
Meber Tsho (Lake of Burning Fire): This is a sacred lake of the Bhutanese who believe that Terton Pema Lingpa discovered religious treasures from this lake in the 12th century. On auspicious days many Bhutanese offer butter lamps on this fresh water lake.
Ngang Lhakhang: Ngaa Lhakhang is located in the Nalakhar Village in the Choekhor Valley of Bumthang. Nalakhar is one of the less visited small villages in Bumthang. A feeder road connects the village and it takes approximately 1 hour to reach the village. Nalakhar Tshechhu is celebrated in Ngang Lhakhang in Nalakhar village. The present temple was built in the 15th century by Lama Namkha Samdup, a contemporary of Pema Lingpa, in the site visited by the Guru Rinpoche.
Nimalung Dratshang: Located in Chumey Valley in Bumthang, Nimalung Dratshang is at an approx. 15 minutes’ drive from the road that branches off from Chumey Village. The Dratshang was co-founded Dasho Gonpo Dorji and Doring Trulku Jamyang Kunzang, the third mind reincarnation of Terton Jigme Lingpa in the year 1935. During the visit of Doring Tulku to Bhutan, he met Dasho Gonpo Dorji during the funeral ceremonies of Dasho Jamyang, the father-in-law of the Second King Jigme Wangchuck and immediately thought of laying the foundation of a Lhakhang and along with Doring Trulku he decided to open a monastic institution to uphold the school of Buddhism enriched by Kuenkhen Longchen and Jigme Lingpa. This is a two storied temple decorated with murals of the Nyingmapa and Drukpa traditions and its main relic is the statue of Guru Rinpochhe. There are also paintings of Guru Rinpoche and his disciples, the lineage of Terton Pema Lingpa, and several masters affiliated with the monastery. Nimalung Tshechhu is one of the most important festivals held at the Lhakhang.
Tamshing Lhakhang: Literally meaning the Temple of the good message, this monastery lies on the other side of the river opposite the Kurjey Lhakhang. It was built in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, a re-incarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. The temple was restored at the end of the 19th century.
Tang Rimochen Lhakhang: The Lhakhang is located in the Tang Valley and is a sacred place blessed by Guru Rinpoche. In front of the temple is a rock which bears the body print of the Guru and two Khandoms (female celestial being). This site got its name from the tiger stripe markings on the cliff. There are to large boulders nearby the temple, which is said to be male and female jachungs (Garudas). Below the temple is the foot prints of the Guru and his consorts Mandarava and Yeshe Chhogyal.
Thangbi Temple: It is located in Thangbi village of Bumthang and is one of the historically significant temples in Bumthang. It was founded by the 4th Shamar Rinpoche, Chhoki Drakpa (the Red Hat Karmapa: 1453-1524) in the year 1470. The Lhakhang is approximately 45 minutes of walk from the road. The Statues of the past, present and the future Buddha and three other clay statues dating back to 15th century occupies the ground floor. It also contains two remarkable statues of the Guru Rinpoche in the entrance. The Thangbi Mani festival is celebrated in this Lhakhang. The festival is organized by the people from the villages of Thangbi, Goling and Kharsath.
Tharpaling Monastery: Tharpaling, which means Land of Liberation, is the sacred site and retreat cave of the Longchen Rabjam (1308-1363). Longchenpa established the monastery at the base of Chodrak Cliff, one of Four Great Cliffs which had been blessed by Guru Rinpoche. The monastery contains statues of Longchenpa and Jikme Lingpa in meditation posture and frescoes of the lineage of Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa. Above the Tharpaling Monastery (to the north) is Chodrak Monastery, a place where Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated. It is about a 2-hour drive to the monastery on a rough road. From there one has to climb on foot above the monastery to around 3,500 m to 4,300 m. Further walk for another couple of hours to Lama Goemba. The walk runs along the ridge of Kikila and finally follows the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang finishing with a wonderful view of Jakar Dzong.
SHORT DAY TRIPS:
Peseling Goemba: The Pelseling Goempa is a half day trek (3-4 hours). It is a sacred monastery with rich historic values and is situated on a steep mountain. Travelers come across breathtaking views of the valley and large species of flora and fauna on the way to the Goemba. There is also a beautiful meadow on the way.
Tang Valley: Terton (treasure discoverer) Pema Lingpa, the famous saint, was born in the Tang valley of Bumthang. As the soil in this region is not so rich for agricultural activities, the people of this valley raise sheep and at higher elevation, yaks.
Ugyenchholing Palace: The Palace is another attraction in the Tang Valley. The Palace now houses the family Museum and was restored in the 19th century. The Palace contains the historic items of Tshokey Dorji (the then Trongsa Penelop) and his household.
Ura Village: Ura lies in the Tang valley, a one & a half hours drive from Bumthang town. The drive is mainly through sheep pastures & along the way one can glimpse magnificent view of the Mount Gangkar Puensum from Ura la. The main characteristics of this village is the closely cluster houses of weavers and villagers. It is the last settlement before the climb to the highest road pass at Thrumsingla.
Wangdicholing Palace: The Wangdichholing palace is located along the Chamkhar Chhu in Bumthang. The Palace was constructed as a private residence for Trongsa Penlop, Jigme Namgyal in the year 1857. The first King of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck was born in this Palace. In the early 20th century, the palace became the seat of National power which housed the King's office and the courts until it was moved to Paro in the year 1950. The Royal Family followed in the year 1960. Since 2004 a small monk body consisting of 30 monks has been occupying a small portion of the Palace.
Yathra Weaving Factory: It is located in the Zungye village in Chumey, around 17 kms approximately, before reaching the main town of Bumthang. Yathra is the most famous textile product of Bumthang. Yathra is a hand woven fabric made from the wool of sheep or Yak. The wool is first spun into threads and then dyed before they are woven into Yathra with beautiful flower patterns and colors. The Yathra cloth is made into scarves, jackets, table cloths, bags, etc. Most of the women in this valley, especially in Zungye village earn their lively hood by weaving Yathra which is supplied to various towns in Bhutan.