Bumthang is one of the most historic dzongkhag with most of ancient temples and sacred sites. It is directly translated as “beautiful field”. Bumthang is also the home to the great Buddhist teacher know as Pema Lingpa or Padma Lingpa whose lineage of empowerments, transmissions and guidance continues today in the country. Its distinctiveness charms visitors and differentiate from other region of the country. It mainly comprises of four mountain valleys as Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekar but occasionally all together referred as Bhumthang.
Places around Bumthang:
Jambay Lhakhang is located in Bhumthang few distance from Chamkhar valley. It is consider as one of the 108 temples built by Songtsän Gampo King of Tibet in 659 CE on a single day. It’s believed temple this temple were built on the body parts of the demons who was causing obstruction to Buddhism.
Kurje Lhakhang also known as Kurje Monastry consist of three temple, where two were built at different period after Guru’s arrival to Bhutan to spread Buddhism and third temple built by Ashi Kesang, The Queen Mother in 1990s. A large tree behind one of the temple is believed to be grown from the walking stick left by Padmasambhava.
Tamshing Lhakhang is one of the most historically, spiritually and culturally significant monasteries in Bhutan. Built by Pema Lingpa in the early sixteenth century and it contains paintings of fundamental interest for the history of painting in this region. Tamshing is also a famous in the sacred masked dance, from which many are introduce with Pema Lingpa himself.
Jakar Dzong also known as Jakar Yugyal Dzong is located on the peak of the Jakar valley in Bhumthang. It was built in 1667 and it host the administrative and monastic office for Bhumthang district.
Konchogsum Lhakhang is located along the river bank of Chamkhar. The Lhakhang was built in 9th century upon the instruction given by Guru Padmasambhava to King Thrisong Deutsen of Tibet to flourish Dharma. The main treasures of temple are statue of Buddha Vairocana, and the three statues of Due Sum Sangay (Buddha of the past, the present and the future).
Chakhar Lhakhang is located east from Jampa Lhakhang, consisting of three house and besides a prayer-wall and chortens. The temple was founded on the spot by Saint Dorje Lingpa in 14th century and the temple looks like house but has religious statues, books and masks for religious dances.
Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery is located on the slope above the Chamkhar river bridge with road connected till the monastery. It was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche whose origin goes back to disciple of Guru Rinpoche. Its style is closer to the Tibetan Monastery. You can view the paintings of Guru Lhakhang which describe Guru Rinpoche life history according to his biography the Kathang Sertreng. The main statue is Guru Nansi Zilnon, a protective aspect of Guru Rinpoche subduing the three worlds. The other halls in the Monastery contain statue of Guru Rinpoche in different form.
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 shelters and a temple of petrifying deities. The shelter 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 entrance contains two remarkable paintings of Guru Rinpoche’s heaven and the Buddha Amitabh’s heaven.
Ngang Lhakhang is few hours’ drive by road which pass in front of the Tangbi and continues till north opposite to the Lhakhang. Before the Lhakhang one can see the ruins of Draphe Dzong which was residence of Choekhor Penlop. One should cross and walk through the landscape on the left bank of the river. The Temple was built in 15th century by Lama Namkha Samdrup. The temple is of two stores with statue of Guru Rinpoche as padmakara with his two conserts on lower temple and gonkhang on upper dedicated to protective deities and house the masks for the festival as well as the protective deities images and the three deities of long life (Amitayus, Tara and Usnishavijaya).
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
Tang Rimochen Lhakhang is located in Tang Valley on the west bank of Tang River. It has rock in front of the temple which has body print of Guru Padmasambhava and two consorts (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. There are two large rocks below the temple which are stated to “represent male and female jachung” or garudas.
Membartsho (The Burning Lake) is in lower end of Tang Valley, a few minute drive from Chamkhar town. Mebar Tsho is considered one of the most sacred sites in the region as it is related to the renowned religious treasure reveler (Terton) Terton Pema Lingpa. It is believed the Terton Pema Lingpa vision of sacred treasure hidden by Guru Padmasambhava in the lake. People of Tang were suspicious about his claims and to prove his claims, Pema Lingpa held a butter lamp on his hand as he jumped into the lake. After remaining under water for a long time he re-emerged holding a chest and a scroll of paper with the butter lamp held on his hand still burning bright. Thereafter, the lake came to be known as Mebartsho (the burning Lake).
Kunzangdrak Goemba is 2 hours walk above Chel Tang Valley. It is one of the most important sites of Terton Pema Lingpa, the great treasure discoverer built in 1488. There is gilded stone in this Goemba bearing footprint of Pema Lingpa. Most of his sacred and religious relics are also preserved here.
Ura Valley being highest of Bhumthang has clusters of traditional homes with cobbled walkways that gives somewhat a medieval atmosphere. It is located below the Thrumshing la where lifestyle are mostly tradition and primarily sheep and yaks herders. Above village a new temple constructed and dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, Inaugurated in 1986, it contains a huge statue of the master and remarkable paintings of the cycle of his teachings.
Tang Valley is 10 KM drive from Jakar towards the west-east road that goes to Ura. Then through the unpaved roads you will finally reach this beautiful valley. The road also take you to the lake of Membartsho and Pema Tekchok Choeling Shedra. Through this road you can also visit such as Kunzangdrak where you can opt for hiking, Tang Rimochen Lhakhang, Gamling and Wobtang. It is one of the four valleys of Bhumtang and the most remote of all. The valley gives its attractive view during the season of October as due to rich agriculture the valley turns pink with Buckwheat flowers. The people of this valley raise sheep and yaks mainly at higher altitudes. The soil here is not that much fertile as other places.
Pelseling Goempa is a sacred monastery with rich historic values. This Gompa is situated on a steep mountain. One should hike about 3-4 hours uphill climb from Jakar to reach the Goempa. The hike starts off at a mild pace but later gains momentum. Along the hike route, travelers are gifted with breath-taking 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 hike until eventually the destination is on sight.