Considered to be the most historic dzongkhag in Bhutan, Bumthang is the home to ancient temples and sacred sites, the sacred place where the lores of Guru Rinpoche and Tertons (Treasure Discoverers) came about. Bumthang translates to “Beautiful Land” or “The Valley of Beautiful Girls”. It consists of four prominent valleys, which are Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. Bumthang lies between an altitude of 2,600 – 4,500m and it is a flat serene valley with scenic fields, ancient temples, sacred sites and glaciers of a bygone age.
The top attractions of Bumthang are:
According to myth, the roosting of a white bird indicated the location for the construction of the dzong and today it is known as the “Fortress of White Bird” (Ja – Bird, Kar – White). the Jakar Dzong is located on a ridge overlooking the Jakar town in the Chamkhar valley. It was constructed in the 16th century and served as the defence line for the eastern regions of Bhutan.
Mebar Tsho is a sacred lake that holds the story of the greatest Terton (Treasure Discoverer), Pema Lingpa. According to legend, Terton Pema Lingpa discovered several termas (sacred treasures) of Guru Rinpoche from under the lake whilst holding a lit butter lamp, in front of skeptics to prove his prowess as a terton. Today, it is believed that a meritorious person can still see a burning lamp inside the lake, if they have a good faith.
Revered as the a sacred site where Guru Rinpoche meditated and left an imprint of his body on a rock, Kurje ( Ku – body, Je – imprint) Lhakhang, is located on the bank of the Chamkhar river. It is made up of three majestic structures facing south surrounded by an enclosure that comprises of 108 shortens (stupas). According to legend, Guru RInpoche transformed into a Jachung (Garuda) to subdue the powerful deity, Shelging Karpo, and converted him into a protective deity of the Buddhist Dharma.
Jambay Lhkhang is a famous temple, which is a part of the series of the 108 temples, built by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo, to tame a giant demoness. The legend tells of the king, who constructed 108 temples on the body parts of a giant demoness, that spread across Tibet, Bhutan and the borderlands, in a single day to pin her down to the earth forever. The most renowned of these temples are Jokhang in Lhasa, Tibet, Kichu in Paro, Bhutan and Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang. Today it serves as the place where the famous sacred Tercham (the Naked Dance) takes place.