SIMANACHARIYA TOURS AND TRAVELS
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(ii) BUMTHANG SECTOR:-
BUMTHANG Districtis one of the 20 DZONGkhag (districts) comprising Bhutan. It is the most historic DZONGkhag if the number of ancient temples and sacred sites is counted. BUMTHANG is regarded as the spiritual heartland of the country. It consists of four major valleys which are also the four administrative counties of the district. It was in BUMTHANG that the first Buddhist temples were built in the 7th Century. Today, it has as many as ninety eight temples and monasteries. BUMTHANG is one of the 20 DZONGkhag (districts) comprising Bhutan. It is the most historic DZONGkhag if the number of ancient temples and sacred sites is counted. BUMTHANG consists of the four mountain valleys of Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor (also known as BUMTHANG valley), although occasionally the entire district is referred to as BUMTHANG valley.
BUMTHANG DZONGkhag has four Gewogs, namely Chhoekor, Chumey, Tang and Ura located in four glacier valleys. Despite altitude constraints (2004-6000 m above the sea level), BUMTHANG is one of the prosperous DZONGkhags in the Country. "BUMTHANG" directly translates as "bumpa-shaped valley". "Thang" is valley or plain, and "bum" is an abbreviation of "bumpa" (a vessel used in consecration ceremonies). There are two versions of the origin of the name BUMTHANG. The valley is supposed to be shaped like a bumpa, the vessel of holy water that is usually found on the altar of a LHAKHANG. Thang means ‘field’ or ‘flat place’. The less respectful translation relates to the particularly beautiful women who live here – bum means ‘girl’. "BUMTHANG" name came after construction of Jambay LHAKHANG, which was constructed in landscape of Bumpa (Vessel) shape. So there after people name the place as "BUMTHANG" The BUMTHANG region is known as the spiritual heart of the kingdom, as it was here that Guru Rinpoche cured a local king of a spirit-induced ailment in the 8th century CE, an event that resulted in the king, and finally the whole country, embracing Buddhism. The Buddhist saint Pema Ligpa was born in the region and many other famous Buddhist yogis lived and practiced here. Consequently, the area is a repository of sacred artifacts and monasteries.
The region is also known for its lush valleys and is a major producer of apples and apple juice. Previously, buckwheat was the most common grain grown in the valleys, but in recent years rice has successfully been introduced to the area and this has supplanted buckwheat as the main cash crop.
BUMTHANG is also famous for its brightly colored and distinctive woven woolen garments called yethra.
JAKAR and Chhumey are two important tourist places in BUMTHANG.
JAKAR is a town in the central-eastern region of Bhutan. It is the district capital (dzongkhag thromde)of Bumthang District and the location of JAKAR Dzong, the regional dzong fortress. The name JAKAR roughly translates as "white bird" in reference to its foundation myth, according to which a roosting white bird signaled the proper and auspicious location to found a monastery around 1549. The town is the site of Chakhar LHAKHANG, a small and unassuming temple which marks the site of the "iron palace" of Sindhu Raja, the Indian monarch who is believed to have first invited Guru Rinpoche to Bhutan in 746.The current building is said to have been constructed by Terton Dorje Lingpa in the 14th century.
According to the JAKAR foundation myth, a roosting white bird signaled the proper and auspicious location to found a monastery around 1549. The settlement thus earned the monicker JAKAR, meaning "white bird.”
There are many significant Buddhist sacred sites nearby the town, such as Kurjey LHAKHANG, which holds a body print of Guru Rinpoche; Jambey LHAKHANG, one of the 108 monasteries that in mythology were miraculously constructed by King Songten Gampo in one night; and Tamsshing Lhakhag established by Terton Padma Lingpa (1450–1521) In addition, one of the country's largest monastic colleges, Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery, overlooks JAKAR. JAKAR, like the rest of Bumthang District and its neighbors, is culturally part of eastern Bhutan. While Dzongkha is the national language of administration and instruction, local languages include Bumthang and Brokkat. JAKAR is famous throughout Bhutan for it distinctive and brightly colored woven wool items called yethra.
Being located in the spacious and tree covered Bumthang (Choekhor) Valley, JAKAR is also a popular tourist destination, and consequently the town is served by several good quality hotels and craft shops.
The bazaar is located on a street of single story buildings in an area of the town called Chamkhar. A new bazaar consisting of three story traditional buildings in the Dekiling area was planned to be completed in 2010. JAKAR is the heart core of Bhutanese festivals. JAKAR is Spacious and surrounded by tree covered mountains, the valley in which JAKAR is located is considered to be one of the most beautiful in all Bhutan, and it is commonly referred to as "Little Switzerland".
On the other hand CHHUMEY is a small village of BUMTHANG District in BHUTAN. CHHUMEY is famous for its weavers.
BUMTHANG has numerous attractions for its visitors. The main of those are:-
JAKAR DZONG (fortress of the White Bird):
The DZONG lies on a hillock overlooking the charming town of JAKAR. It is believed that when Lam Ngagi Wangchuk (1517-1554) came to Bhutan to spread the teachings of the Drukpa Kagyupa order, he saw a white bird perch on the site where the DZONG stands today. It was constructed in 1549 by the great grandfather of the first Shabdrung; the DZONG was initially built as a monastery. It was upgraded in 1646, after the Shabdrung had firmly established his power. Taking this as a good omen, he built a small temple and established a monastic center at the site. Over time, the DZONG was extended by different important personalities. JAKAR DZONG is now used as the administrative center for BUMTHANG valley, and also houses the regional monk body.
The Palace lies in the Chamkhar valley. It was built in 1857 by the TRONGSA Penlop Jigme Namgyel (father of the first King of Bhutan). It later became the primary palace of the first and second Kings of Bhutan.
This temple was built in the 7th Century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. It is testimony of the arrival of Buddhism in Bhutan in the 7th Century. Legend has it that the temple was built to pin down the left knee of a demoness who lay across the Himalayas, and that it is one of 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in a single day. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.
Located further along the valley, this temple was built around a rock which bears the sacred imprint of Guru Rimpoche’s body. The Guru is believed to have meditated here in the 8th Century. KURJE LHAKHANG comprises three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 against the rock face where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century. The middle temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of the Guru’s body, and is therefore considered to be the most holy. The temple on the left was built in the 1990s by H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by 108 chorten walls.
Kencho Sum LHAKHANG:
This temple was origninally built in the 7th Century and was later restored by Terton Pema Lingpa in the 15th Century. The temple’s main shrine is holds three sacred Buddha statues which are said to have miraculously flown to the site from Kurtoe (eastern region).
This temple was established by Tertön (treasure revealer) Pema Lingpa in 1501. He is renowned as a great Buddhist teacher, creator of numerous sacred dances, and predestined to reveal several religious texts and objects hidden by Guru Rimpoche. The Bhutanese royal family is a descendent of Tertön Pema Lingpa.
Tang Mebar Tsho Located along the way to the Tang village over the feeder road under BUMTHANG valley, it takes thirty minutes drive to the Mebar Tsho from the Chamkhar town. Mebar Tsho is considered one of the most sacred sites in the region as it relates to the renowned treasure reveler, Terton Pema Lingpa-incarnated disciple of Padmasambhava.
Tharpaling Goemba, in 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, in JAKAR
Thangbi Goemba was founded in 1470 by Shamar Rimpoche. Founded in 1470 this temple is worth a visit for two reasons. It has two breathtaking paintings of the heavens as depicted by Guru Rinpoche and Buddha Amitabha. Also it has three statues of the past, present and future Buddhas which date to the end of 15th century.
Tamshing Goemba in 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.
Shinyer Village, Ura Is a several hundred year old monastery with a lot of simple but beautiful art works; 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.
Kayaking and Rafting The clean and clear rivers of Bhutan are one of the kingdom’s best kept open secrets. Fed by the Eastern Himalayas, the six rivers (Wang Chhu, Sunkosh, Puna Tsang Chhu, Mangde Chhu, Kuri Chhu and Dangme Chhu and their tributaries) have been scouted for kayaking and rafting. They cut through high valleys and low plains.
Nimalung Festival Nimalung LHAKHANG is located in Chumey in BUMTHANG. It is approximately a 15 minute drive from the road that branches off from the village of Chumey. The LHAKHANG was co-founded by Dasho Gonpo Dorji and Doring Trulku Jamyang Kunzang, the third mind reincarnation of Terton Jigme Lingpa in 1935. Doring Trulku visited Bhutan from Kham.
KURJE Festival The temple is located at Kurje in the Chokhor valley in BUMTHANG district. It is 15 minutes drive from Chamkhar town.
Nomad Festival Wangchuck Centennial Park will be organizing the Annual Nomads’ Festival at the Head Office Ground at Nasiphel, Chhokhortoe geog in BUMTHANG. The Nomads’ festival will showcase the tradition and culture of the nomads including dairy products, handicrafts, weaves, and nomadic way of life.
DUER Hot Springs
It is a one day trek from road head. The trek is arduous, but stunningly beautiful. Blue sheep, musk deer and Himalayan bear are common in the DUER Hot Spring area.
Chhumey is famous for its wool weavers and it is possible to watch the work in action and to purchase items (called yethra) straight off the loom. Most weaving houses display their wares outdoors, and visitors are welcome to watch the process. Woollen garments and bags can be purchased on site.
The region is perfect for long treks in the mountains
Apart from these, there are quaint little restaurants, textile shops, milk processing units, including small Swiss cheese making plants.