This region that spans from 2,600-4,500 m is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. Tales of Guru Padmasambhava and the tertons (“religious treasure-discoverers”) still linger in this sacred region.
Bumthang Dzongkhag consists of four main valleys, Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. Choekhor is the largest of the four and is widely considered as ‘Bumthang Valley’. The valleys are broad and gentle carved by the ancient glaciers. The wide and scenic valleys draws a large number of tourists each year.
This dzongkhag is one of the most richly endowed districts in terms of historical and spiritual legacy. Some of Bhutan’s oldest and most venerated temples are found in Bumthang, including Jambey Lhakhang. According to legend this ancient temple was built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in 659 A.D. as part of a chain of 108 simultaneously constructed temples in order to subdue an evil demoness that lay over the Himalayan region.
It is the oldest lhakhang in Bhutan. There are numerous other temples and shrines worth visiting in Bumthang and many of them are linked to Guru Rinpoche’s visit in 746 A.D.
The fertile valleys of Bumthang are covered in fields of buckwheat, rice and potatoes. Apple orchards and dairy farms are also common sights here. This serene region is one of the most peaceful places in the kingdom.
The Jampa Temple or Temple of Maitreya is located in Bumthang in Bhutan, and is said to be one of the 108 temples built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in 659 CE on a single day, to pin down an ogress to earth forever
Kurjey Lhakang,also known as the Kurjey Monastery, is located in the Bumthang valley in the Bumthang district of Bhutan. This is the final resting place of the remains of the first three Kings of Bhutan. Also, a large tree behind one of the temple buildings is believed to be a terma that was left there by Padmasambhava.
Wangchuck Centennial National Park in northern Bhutan is the kingdom’s largest national park, spanning 4,914 square kilometres over five districts, occupying significant portions of northern Bumthang, Lhuntse, and Wangdue Phodrang Districts. It borders Tibet to the north and is bound by tributaries of the Wong Chhu basin to the west. Wangchuck Centennial directly abuts Jigme Dorji National Park, Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, and Phrumsengla National Park in northern Bhutan
According to Saint Pema Lingpa, the temple was founded as far back as the 8th century. In 1039, Bonpo Dragtshel, a tertön, discovered texts which had been buried by Padmasambhava in this location. According to a legend, the king of the water deities was said to have risen out of the lake beneath the temple and offered Dragtshel a stone pillar and scroll. This concept of a lake beneath the monastery is also reiterated in another legend in which Pema Lingpa is said to have discovered the subterranean lake. The entrance was concealed with a stone and stands until today, in the courtyard of the monastery.
Membartsho (alternatively spelt Mebar Tsho) is a holy site, revered as the place where Pema Lingpa, Bhutan‘s greatest tertön (treasure discoverer), discovered several of Guru Rinpoche‘s terma in the 15th century. The pool in the Tang Valley, near Bumthang in central Bhutan. is known locally as the Burning Lake, because according to legend, Pema Lingpa had a dream urging him to go to that particular spot in the Tang Chuu river.
After standing on the rocks looking into the depths he discerned there was a temple at the bottom with many doors, one of which was open. He dove in and swam into a large cave where a woman with one eye handed him a treasure chest. As he took it from her he found himself back on dry land.
Choedrak Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Bhutan, located at an altitude of 3,800 metres, not far from Tharpaling Monastery in Bumthang District. Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated at this spot. In 1234, Lorepa, a Drukpa Kagyupa lama from Tibet build a temple here and resided in it. However, after he returned to Tibet, the temple was said to have been besieged by evil spirits and it was not until the 18th century that anybody considered approaching it. It was repaired by Ngawang Trinley, an eminent monk from Siula Monastery in the Punakha region.