This region that spans from 2,600-4,500 m is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. Tales of Guru Padmasambhava and the tertons (“religious treasure-discoverers”) still linger in this sacred region. 

Bumthang Dzongkhag consists of four main valleys, Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. Choekhor is the largest of the four and is widely considered as ‘Bumthang Valley’. The valleys are broad and gentle carved by the ancient glaciers. The wide and scenic valleys draws a large number of tourists each year.  

This dzongkhag is one of the most richly endowed districts in terms of historical and spiritual legacy. Some of Bhutan’s oldest and most venerated temples are found in Bumthang, including Jambey Lhakhang. According to legend this ancient temple was built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in 659 A.D. as part of a chain of 108 simultaneously constructed temples in order to subdue an evil demoness that lay over the Himalayan region. It is the oldest lhakhang in Bhutan. There are numerous other temples and shrines worth visiting in Bumthang and many of them are linked to Guru Rinpoche’s visit in 746 A.D. 

The fertile valleys of Bumthang are covered in fields of buckwheat, rice and potatoes. Apple orchards and dairy farms are also common sights here. This serene region is one of the most peaceful places in the kingdom. 

Must see when in Bumthang:
1. Yathra Weaving Center
A weaving center and a sales outlet showcasing textiles woven from sheep and yak wool.
2. Kurjey Lhakhang
Bhutan’s greatest saint, Guru Rinpoche was believed to meditate in a cave that is housed inside the temple. As per the historical accounts, Bumthang region was under the rule of King Sindu Raza in the 8th century. During the King’s reign, he was struck with terrible illness. He was supposedly cursed by the local guardian deity Shelging Karpo. Upon the King’s invitation, Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche is believed to have travelled to Bumthang. Guru Rinpoche meditated in a cave to subdue the evil spirits and the King’s health was restored. Imprints of Guru Rinpoche’s body remained in that cave and hence the name Kurje (imprint of the body).
In 1652, the first Governor of Trongsa constructed the oldest Lhakhang enclosing the cave. Today there are three main Lhakhang at Kurje. It is also believed that the cypress tree near the entrance is an offshoot of Guru Rinpoche’s walking stick.
3. Jambey Lhakhang
The Jampa Temple or Temple of Maitreya is located in Bumthang in Bhutan, and is said to be one of the 108 temples built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in 659 CE on a single day, to pin down an ogress to earth forever.
4. Mebar Tso
known locally as the Burning Lake, because according to legend, The famous Terton Revealer Pema Lingpa had a dream urging him to go to that particular spot in the Tang Chuu river. After standing on the rocks looking into the depths he discerned there was a temple at the bottom with many doors, one of which was open. He dove in and swam into a large cave where a woman with one eye handed him a treasure chest. As he took it from her he found himself back on dry land. News of his discovery spread around the valley, which was cynically dismissed by the local chieftain and the people. To prove the authenticity of his discovery Pema Lingpa was made to dive into the river again. So, this time Pema Lingpa dived into the river holding a lit butter lamp and announced to the onlookers that if he was not telling the truth then he should drown and die or else he will be back with more treasures. After some time Pema Lingpa miraculously appeared back onto dry land holding more treasures, the butter lamp still burning and his clothes as dry as hay. The people unanimously agreed that he was indeed a Terton and thus the site came to be sacred and known as the Burning Lake or Mebar Tsho
5. Ura Village
It is said that Ugyen Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava, travelled through this valley when he visited Bhutan in the 8th century. He was visiting Bumthang at the invitation of King Sindhuraja, who is believed to have lived in an iron castle, or Chagkhar, in Bumthang’s Chokhor valley. Locals say that Guru Rinpoche visited the Ura valley and blessed it as his secret hidden land, giving rise to the name Urgyen Bayul the ‘hidden valley of Ugyen Rinpoche’. This was abbreviated to Urbay, as the valley was referred to in the past. Though today some elders in Bumthang still call the valley Urbay, most use Ura, a glossing of Urbay.
6. Jakar Dzong- Fortress of the white Bird
The Jakar Dzong or the “Castle of the White Bird” dominates the Chamkhar valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, the Dzong played an important role as the fortress of defence of the whole eastern Dzongkhags. It also became the seat of the first king of Bhutan.
A special feature of the Dzong is the approximately fifty meters high Utse or the Central tower, which is distinct from most other Dzongs in Bhutan. The other unique feature of the Dzong is a sheltered passage, with two parallel walls, interconnected by fortified towers, which gave the population of the fortress access to water in the case of a siege. The protected water supply is still intact to this day.
7. Tharpaling Monastery
Tharpaling Monastery, otherwise known as “The Land of Liberation”, is a beautiful and unique monastery situated on a mountain overlooking Chumey Valley in Bumthang, Bhutan. Its mythic and historic founding is as intricate and interesting as the building’s appearance itself; the monastery harmoniously balances past and the present materials, masculine and feminine function, and the social role of master and disciple.
8 Tamzhing Lhakhang
Tamzhing Lhündrup Monastery in Bumthang District in central Bhutan is the most important Nyingma Monastery in Bhutan. Its temple and monastery are remarkable for their direct connection to the Bhutanese tertön and saint, Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) and his tulkus (reincarnations). It is now the seat of Sungtrul Rinpoche, the current speech incarnation of Pema Lingpa.
Tamzhing consists of a deteriorating temple and a cramped vihara. It supports a body of over 95 Buddhist monks. In March 2012, the monastery was submitted for inscription on the list of World Heritage Sites; it currently resides on the tentative list.
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