Known for its sacred sites and ancient temples, Bumthang is a historic district in the beautiful country - Bhutan. One can easily call it the "spiritual heartland" of the 'happiest country'! The district is also composed of four mountain valleys namely Chumey, Ura, Choekhor (Bumthang) and Tang. However, the entire district is known as the 'Bumthang' valley itself!
The word Bumthang literally means 'beautiful field', and the place is so arresting that you'll fall in love with it as soon as you land there! It is a must visit for everyone who wants a little peace of mind, and a break from every day's monotonous schedule.
There are nine historical provinces in the world's happiest country, out of which Bumthang is one. Initially known as the Bumthang Kingdom, it is one of the provinces in the country that is deeply rich in culture and heritage owing to the fact that a lot of historical events of Bhutan took place here. One such notable event is that Buddhism breathed its first in Bhutan in Bumthang! In ancient times, Bumthang served as the main place of exile for various Indian and Tibetan rulers. It was also home to the Buddhist saint, Pema Lingpa after whom the 'burning lake' was named 'Mo Bar' because he had entered the lake to look for a holy treasure, and when he returned his lamp was still burning bright.
It is believed that Bumthang got its name after the Jambay Lhakhang was built, which is one out of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan King, Songtsän Gampo in a single day!
How to reach
If you love the skies more and also want to save time, catch a 1-hour flight to Bathpalathang Airport in Jakar from Paro. If you are more of a road traveler and you love driving, you can drive from Paro or Thimpu to Wangdue Phodrang to Punakha to Trongsa and finally Bumthang! Bus services are available between Thimpu and Bumthang (271 km). If you are traveling in a group with more than 30 people, you have the option of hiring a luxury tour bus too! By road, depending on the conveyance, it generally takes about 8-12 hours from Thimpu to reach Bumthang, but the scenic beauty of Bhutan is so enthralling that it will make the road trip worth it! Cab services for Bumthang are also available from Thimpu, but it may prove to be a little pricey.
Best time to visit
If you are planning to visit Bumthang, the ideal time is between May end to the end of September. This is because it gets very chilly during the winters. FYI, the district is not too affected by rains during Monsoons.
Clothes to be carried
Bumthang has a very comfortable and pleasant summer and a harsh and cold weather during winters. So, depending on when you're planning to visit the district, pack your clothes accordingly. Since it’s a mountainous region, wearing layered clothes is advisable as the temperature varies a lot in a single day!
Places to visit in Bumthang
Wind Horse Ranch & Riding Club: Situated in Bumthang's Tang Valley and spread over 10 acres, the riding club is a 1.5 hours’ drive from the Bathpalathang Airport or Jakar town. It offers services such as group camping and rides, day rides and trail rides, and gives you horse riding lessons as well.
Bumthang Brewery: Visit this place to steal a glance at how a brewery works and how craft beer is made, and be treated with the local beer 'Red Panda' at the end of it!
Burning Lake: A thirty mins drive from the Chamkhar town, the Burning Lake is considered to be one of the most sacred sites for the Bhutanese people. Here, you will find a small altar set up in dedication to Terton Pema Lingpa, and there are also bright multicolored flags surrounding the lake. Butter lamps are offered here by people on auspicious days.
Chakhar Lhakhang: Originally made of iron, the Chakhar Lhakhang is a private temple with a private chapel. It is a cluster of three houses basically and has a statue of Guru Rinpoche. The temple has a golden pinnacle which shows its religious status and is made of stones. It also stocks a number of books and has innumerable masks used for religious dances.
Ogyen Choling Palace Museum: Situated on a hilltop, the Palace Museum is a delight to watch and is one of the historical sites in Bhutan! The owners here are hospitable, and if you want to stay overnight, there's an attached guest house for the same.
Take a break from your schedule, pack your bags, and get set go to the alluring place called Bumthang! The picturesque mountains are sure to leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated!
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