The Bumthang region in central Bhutan actually encompasses four major valleys, Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume. The largest one with the most important dzongs and monasteries is Chokhor Valley and it is this valley that is generally referred to as Bumthang Valley. It is a special area as the legendary saint Pema Lingpa was born here and the Bhutanese Royal family trace their lineage back to him. It is also the first place in Bhutan where Guru Rimpoche introduced Buddhism.
- Watch the colourful yathras being hand spun by the Chhume weavers
- Visit the dramatic Trongza dzong, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s kings
- Listen to the legends of the sacred ‘Burning Lake’ of Mebar Tsho
- Hike the Ura to Geyzamchu trail through alpine meadows & pine forests
- Enjoy a tour and a cold beer at the Bumthang Red Panda micro-brewery
Trongsa lies right in the middle of the country, separated from both east and west by high mountain ranges. Trongsa Dzong is a stunning fortress and a labyrinth of temples, towers and courtyards built on many levels dramatically into the side of the hill and visible for many miles around. It is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family and the first two hereditary kings ruled from this dzong. There is a tradition still adhered to today, that the crown prince serves as the Trongsa penlop (regional ruler) first before acceding the throne. The Ta Dzong, the great watchtower on the hill above the dzong, has been converted into a museum and gives an unrivalled view over the surrounding valley.
A little further east is the town of Jakar, which is the local major trading centre and home to the Wangdichholing Palace, which was built in 1857 and was the residence of the first king of Bhutan.
The Tang valley is the most remote of Bumthang’s four valleys and is best known for Membartsho, the ‘Burning Lake’ where Pema Lingpa is said to have entered a pool carrying a burning butter lamp and on re-surfacing he returned with not only the lamp still alight, but also with more treasures hidden by Guru Rinpoche.
Southeast of Jakar is the Ura valley, the highest of the valleys and believed to have been home to the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. Ura itself is an intriguing little cobbled village, where the local women wear sheepskin shawls in cold weather and there is a lively three day festival of masked dancing in May.
The valleys of Bumthang are renowned not only for all the beautiful monasteries, but also for the wonderful scenery and there are many lovely day hikes that can be enjoyed in the area and also, being some distance from Thimphu and Paro, the area is a little more remote and so there tend to be fewer tourists here.