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Bhutan: Bumthang, Paro, Phobjikha, Punakha, Thimphu
Bumthang, Bhutan: The abode of beauty
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Bumthang has 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. Simply translated, Bumthang means "Beautiful Fields". It’s a food bowl of the country.
We left Punakha post breakfast. The drive to Bumthang was 220 kms. but it would take us the entire day to hit our hotel. The drive took us through 3 passes, namely, Pele La Pass, Yotong La Pass and Kiki La Pass. The drive also passes through the town of Trongsa – the home of Dzong Fortress.
Since we would be back tracking, we decided to stop at the passes and the fortress on our return trip – hoping that the skies would be clear to give us good views. The long drive took us through various folds of undulating hills, brooks and changing vegetation.
It was late evening when we reached our hotel – Yu-Gharling Hotel. The village we stayed was Chamkhar – a part of Bumthang Valley. The entire hotel had just 3 guests… it was like owning the place. It was a pretty chilly night encouraging us to ask for additional heaters in our room.
The next morning we set out to explore Jambay Lakhan, Kurje Lakhan, a hike along the Chamkhar Chu (river) and Tamshing Lakhan.
Jambay Lhakhang 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 in the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.
Situated almost adjacent to Jambay Lhakhang, Kurje Lhakhang consists of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 on the rock face where Guru meditated in the 8th century. Second temple was 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 wall.
Tamshing Lhakhang, located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang, 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 century. Photography is prohibited within.
The afternoon we rested a while. And in the evening we explored the village of Jakar… shopping for souvenirs. The next morning we would leave for Phobjikha.
Bumthang Image Gallery Photo viewer
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