Bumthang Dzongkhag consists of four main valleys Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. Choekhor is the largest of the four mountain valleys 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.
The name Bumthang has two probable origins; the first is that it is named after a Bumpa, a vessel for holy water which the valley resembles in shape. The second origin implies that it is the Valley of Beautiful Girls as Bum translates to ‘Girl’ and Thang means ‘flat piece of land’.
These fertile valleys 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.
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.
Kurjey Lhakhang, Jakar. One of Bhutan’s most sacred monasteries. A body print of Guru Rinpoche is preserved in a cave around which the oldest of the three buildings is built. The original building was constructed in 1652 by Trongsa Penlop, while the latest addition was added by the late Queen Mother Ashi Kesang Wangchuk in 1990.
Jambey Lhakhang, Jakar. This is one of the 108 monasteries that were miraculously constructed by King Songten Gampo in one night. The monastery is located between Kurjey Lhakang and Jakar Dzong.
Tharpaling Goemba, Chhumey. Founded by the dzogchen master Longchen Rabjam in 1352, the monastery was also home to the famous Nyingma guru Jigme Lingpa in the 18th century. It is located at 3,600m, and is home to around 150 monks. It can be reached by an unpaved road.
Thangbi Goemba, Jakar. Founded in 1470 by Shamar Rimpoche
Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake), Tang. A place where some of Guru Rinpoche’s scriptural treasures (Tib:terma) were discovered in the 15th century by the famous treasure discover Pema Lingpa
Tamshing Goemba, Jakar. A monastery established in 1501 by the local Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa. The two story building contains some lovely frescoes, and has a very low ceiling (apparently Pema Lingpa was very short!) In addition, there is 500-year-old suit of metal chain made by Pema Lingpa located on the first floor. It is considered auspicious to circumambulate the temple three times with the chain draped over the back and shoulders.
Sumthrang Lhakhang, Shinyer Village, Ura. A several hundred year old monastery with a lot of simple but beautiful artwork. Those visiting in January should notice the two flowering trees near the main gate, while other trees of the same variety lay bare. Legend states that these trees sprouted from a walking stick placed at the gate by the monastery’s founder, Gyelwa Lhanangpa.
NPPF, Room # 10 Thimphu, Kingdom of Bhutan
+975 02 323439