People consider Bumthang as a ‘Little Switzerland’ of Bhutan. I don’t know what attributes of Bumthang can be equated with that of Switzerland – I have never been to Switzerland.
People from Bumthang have that pride – you can sense this in them. Tourists visiting Bhutan also usually try to make sure their travel agents include Bumthang in their travel itineraries.
Tourism business is booming in Bumthang; new international standard hotels, resorts and lodges are coming up. People from nearby villages are slowly migrating to town in prospects of business and employment opportunities.
Therefore, it is not a wonder. Chamkhar town, which used to look like a slum of few traditional huts and shacks few years back, has now become a town which is as good as any other good towns in Bhutan. We can also find Night Clubs and Karaokes now.
Bumthang Travel – My Experiences and Stories
Bumthang is geographically in Central Bhutan. But to be more specific it’s in northern part of central Bhutan – some parts of it also stretch to Northern Bhutan. The temperature there is cold in winter and cool in summer.
To travel Bumthang, one choice is to directly fly from Paro International Airport. This is better until the completion of East-west Road Widening Work to avoid getting held-up in blocks on the way and irritating uneven road bumps.
However, availability of flight tickets cannot be guaranteed as during slack seasons, flight frequencies are low. This is same case with both Airlines in Bhutan; Bhutan Airlines and DrukAir.
The another choice is obviously by vehicle either from Thimphu passing through Wangdue and Trongsa, or from Samdrup Jongkhar passing Trashigang and Mongar. But latter route is best for Indian tourists taking entry from Samdrup Jongkhar.
The places I visited in Bumthang, during one day
I thought to visit as many places, temples and monasteries as possible during my stay. But I couldn’t as I was on an official tour and schedule was tight then. Actually I thought of visiting the following:
- Jampa Lhakhang
- Kenchosum Lhakhang
- Kurje Lhakhang
- Ura Village
- Dhur Village
- Shuk Dra Lhakhang
However, I could visit 4 of them fully and Kurje Lhakhang, I could visit its surrounding and take few photos. I will try visiting them in my future travels.
Kurje Lhakhang or Kurje Monastery
This is one of the biggest temples in Bumthang built on a place blessed by Guru Padmasambhava.
The cypress tree that stands majestically behind the main temple is believed to be grown out of Guru’s walking stick.
Kurje Lhakhang is only the temple in Bhutan that holds the remains of the first 3 Kings of Bhutan. It’s surrounded by 108 small chortens. Kurje Lhakhang consist of three buildings holding different relics.
I have heard this village to be one of the most clustered villages in Bhutan having good community vitality qualities.
Ura village is indeed a beautiful village. Almost all houses share similar architectural designs. However, all the houses aren’t clustered as I was told.
It’s only on the lower part of the village, few houses are clustered and on northern part, all are just scattered.
Zhuk Drak Lhakhang
I have written a separate travel journal on the visit of this temple. Zhuk Drak is a temple built on a cliff where Guru Padmasambhava mediated during his visit in 8th century on request by Chakhar king Sindhu Raja.
It’s also one of the most revered and visited places in Bumthang. I could see few Gomkhangs (meditation huts) built by local people. I was told there are quite a number of elderly people undergoing retreat.
This village is suppose to be the most remotest village in Bumthang. However, with the overall development standard of the dzongkhag, I couldn’t see any part of this village being remote in nature.
Since it’s located in northern part of Bumthang, it’s indeed cold out there in winter. Dhur people, in olden days have depended on the products of their domestic animal yaks and cows.
I was told that now there are only few households who are into this business. I couldn’t spot those animals though I visited there in December month.
However, Dhur is located in a government declared cordyceps-picking zone. It’s sad to hear that only elders remain at village during cordyceps picking seasons.
Mebartsho (Burning Lake)
This is a lake which got its name as Mebartsho (burning lake) after Tertoen Pema Lingpa had discovered hidden treasures of Buddhist scriptures out of it with a butter lamp still lit on his hand after coming out of it.
Mebartsho is located on a rugged bank of Chamkhar chhu tributary. But on surface, it doesn’t even look like a lake. It looks like a pond created out of swirling water.
However, since Tertoen Pema Lingpa holds very special place in Bhutanese history, this lake also is revered as it’s a proof of his extraordinary nature.
I was travelling Bumthang after staying 3 days at Mongar Gyelposhing. This means I have moved from warm place to cold place. When I reached Bumthang, temperature was unbearably bone-chilling.
It was colder outside and getting outside to take some photos during dawn consumed so much of my courage and warmth.
However, in overall I enjoyed my stay at Bumthang. I could experience some parts of it though my stay was very brief. I am looking forward for more in my future Bumthang travels.
Recommend you to read following Bumthang Travel and more stories:
- Zhuk Drak Temple – Taktshang Lhakhang in Bumthang?
- The beautiful fluffy clouds over hills in Bumthang
- Place to visit in Paro – Chumbu Lhakhang.
- Photography Hike to Phajoding Monastery in Thimphu.
- Bumdeling – winter residence of Black-necked Cranes in Bhutan.
- Dochula Pass – Travel Experiences with Indian Tourists.
- Beauty of Thimphu Tashichho Dzong during Evening.
- Place of interest in Thimphu – Dodedrak Goemba.
- Hidden Temple of Thimphu – Trashigang Goemba.
- 17 places to visit in your lifetime – CNN includes Bhutan in this list.