The Bumthang valley lies at an altitude of 2600 meters. This valley is the religious heartland of Bhutan and home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples. Tales of Guru Padmasambhava and his reincarnates Known as Lingpas, still linger around Bumthang.
Legend has it that when the Lamas assembled to decide on a site for Jakar Dzong, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of the hill and it was here that the `Castle of the white bird` was built. The building itself is surrounded by an impressive wall approximately one mile in circumference, in its centre, a tower soars nearly 150 feet into the air.
What to see in Bumthang
Jambey Lhakhang: This monastery was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of 108 monasteries which he built to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.
Kurje Lhakhang: Located further along the valley, 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 holiest. 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.
Tamshing Lhakhang: Located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang, this temple was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, a reincarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. There are very old religious paintings around the inner walls of the temple, which were restored at the end of the 19th century.
Jakar Dzong: 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. Jakar Dzong is now used as the administrative centre for Bumthang valley and also houses the regional monk body.