The Yotongla Pass and a series of hair-raising bends at 11,500 feet separate the valleys of Trongsa and Bumthang. Bumthang has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Comprising four smaller valleys, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Tales of Guru Rimpoche dominate almost all holy shrines
The fortress, originally constructed in 1667, but rebuilt after being severely damaged in an earthquake in 1897, is one of the largest and most impressive in Bhutan and houses the administrative and monastic offices for the Bumthang district.
Built in 1857, the palace was the principal residence of the first king of a united Bhutan and was also used by his two successors. It is an unassuming structure, lacking the ramparts and protective walls which became features of later palaces.
The temple is believed to have been built in the year 659 by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, on the same day as Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro, in order to subdue a Tibetan demoness. It was here that Guru Rinpoche conducted the first sermon on Tantric Buddhism for his host King Sindhu Raja, the local ruler and his family. The place where Guru Rinpoche sat during the sermon can still be seen today.
Kurjey Lhakhang is named after the body (kur) print (jey) of Guru Rinpoche who was invited to meditate here in 746 AD to subdue evil spirits and demons. There are three temples; the oldest temple was built in 1652 on the rock face where Guru Rinpoche meditated. The body imprint of the great master can be seen distinctly in the rock cave enshrined in the temple. The second was built in 1900 by the first King when he was still the Governor of Trongsa. The third temple was built in 1990 with the support of the Queen Mother Ashi Kesang. A wall of 108 chortens surrounds the temple grounds and symbolizes Buddha’s victory over the evil spirits. The Cypress tree, which is seen near the temple, is believed to have grown from the Guru’s walking stick.
In the 8th century Sindhu Raja, the King of Chakhar invited Guru Padhma Sambava from Yangleyshey in Nepal (meditation cave of Guru Rinpoche) to cure his prolonged illness. The Guru meditated at the present Guru Lhakhang and subdued the Demon of Dragmar Dorji Tsegpa, known as Shelging Karpo, responsible for the sickness of the Raja. The Drupchhu was made available at the end of Guru’s meditation with his spiritual power to celebrate the victory over the Demon and to cure the illness of the King. Therefore it is believed that this water is holy and cures all our sins and illnesses.
TAMZHING LHAKHANG (temple of good message)
Tamzhing Is located in a village across the river from Kurjey. It was built by Pema Lingpa in 1501 and is the most important Nyingma Lhakhang in the Kingdom. Being a skilled tantric master and an artist, Pema Lingpa sculpted the main statues and painted the frescoes, which can be seen even today, mostly in its original state. He also created a 25 kg suit of chain-mail armor and it is believed that you will be freed from your sins if you carry it around the lhakhang three times.
A small factory, founded by Swiss Bhutanese produces variety of Swiss cheeses, clover honey, apple cider, wine, apple brandy and local beer. It is an interesting place to see, sample and purchase some to try.
The Tang Valley is the most isolated and remote of the 4 valleys that make up the district of Bumthang. The people of this valley raise sheep and, at higher elevation, yaks as the soil in this region is not rich for agricultural activities. Visiting the tiniest and most remote villages around Tang, you’ll get to know the locals, their families and be part of the bubble in which they live. Arriving as strangers, you’ll be sure to leave as friends, with photos and memories to last a lifetime.
The mystical Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) is riddled with deep Buddhist history and mythology. Bhutanese history states that in the late 15th century, the great treasure hunter, Pema Lingpa had a premonition about hidden relics at the bottom of Tang Valley. However the ruler and the local people of Tang were skeptical about Pema Lingpa’s vision. The courageous treasure hunter wanted to prove that his vision was real and jumped into the lake, holding a fully lit butter lamp in his hand. He then resurfaced holding a scroll and a treasure chest in one hand and the butter lamp in his other hand was still burning bright.
PEMA CHOLING NUNNERY
Visit Pema Choling Nunnery to see how the women there live. This is a very special opportunity as you are also to see where the nuns reside and how they run the nunnery, which is quite different than the monasteries where the monks live.
OGYEN CHOLING MUSEUM
The road to the Tang Valley is quite rough but the landscape, views and walk through the area are all beautiful and a visit to the Ogyen Chholing museum is a unique opportunity to see how the Bhutanese have lived for centuries. You can view exhibits recreated to capture the ambience of the lifestyle of Trongsa Penlop (Governor) Tshokey Dorji.
CHUMEY VALLEY AND YATHRA WEAVERS
Sheep wool is used in weaving the yathra, a thick heavy material that is used to make table cloths, coats, purses, bed slippers and a host of other items. Yathra weaving is unique and distinctive to the Chumey Valley of Bumthang.
SHERAP DEMA FAMILY STAY
Sherap Dema farm house is located in a peaceful, picturesque spot just outside the main town and is within walking distance of the famed Jambay Lhakhang monastery. Agriculture is still one of the major sources of livelihood amongst the Bhutanese people and a Farm-Stay will give you an excellent glimpse into the day-to-day life of a typical Bhutanese family. You’ll be able to observe age old Bhutanese farming traditions as the family goes about its daily tasks. You’ll enjoy delicious home-cooked meals and the unparalleled hospitality of a Bhutanese host.