Bumthang, often referred to as the Switzerland of Bhutan is the spiritual heartland of Bhutan and home to some of the most ancient and sacred Buddhist sites. It is a place rich in history and has highest number of monasteries in the country which were built in homage to Guru Rimpoche. This is where the Indian King Sindhu Gyab’s feud with Na’oche (Big nose) resulted in Guru Padmasambhava being invited to Bumthang which set into motion a train of miraculous events that marked the initial stages in the establishment of Buddhist faith in Bhutan.
Places of interest:
- Jakar Dzong (Fortress of the white bird) was named by Ngagi Wangchuck, upon the landing of a white bird on the spur where the construction process was taking place which was considered an auspicious omen. The Dzong was built by Minjur Tempa in 1646 and occupies the site of a temple built a century earlier by Ngagi Wangchuk. It suffered damages once by fire and then again due to an earthquake in 1897. It was rebuilt by King Ugyen Wangchuck in 1905.
- Mebartsho (Burning Lake): It was here at this lake that Pema Lingpa the renowned Tertoen (treasure revealer) discovered several treasures. It is believed that Pema Lingpa dived into the lake bearing a burning butter lamp and re-emerged with treasures and with the butter lamp still burning. Thus the name Mebartsho or burning lake.
- Jambey Lhakhang and the Kurjey Lhakhang: Jambey Lhakhang was built by King Songsten Gyembo in the 7th century. The famous Jambey Lhakhang Drup the highlight of which is the ‘Mewang’ or the Fire Ceremony and the ‘Tercham’ or the Naked Dance is held at Jambey Lhakhang. Kurjey Lhakhang in Bumthang is a particularly venerated religious site. It was built in the 8th century by Sindhu Raja after Guru Padmasambava cured the ailing ruler and converted him to the Buddhist faith. Here you will find the bodily imprints left by Guru Padmasamba on a solid rock face.
- Wangdichhoeling Palace: was built by Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyel in 1857. It served as the summer residence of the second King who later bequeathed it to his junior Queen Ashi Pem Dechen. The place on which the palace stands was once a battle camp.
- Ura: Along the highway between Bumthang and Mongar is the beautiful village of Ura. A visit to this village and the Ura monastery will give visitors valuable insights into the lifestyle of the people of Central Bhutan.