Bumthang fascinating valley is the spiritual heartland of the nation and home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. The valley is famous for the production of honey, cheese, apples and the yatra (woollen materials).
Trongsa, the sacred and temporal heart of the country is a two day journey from Thimphu. Situated in central Bhutan, it was once the seat of power over central and eastern regions. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat and it is customary for the crown prince to serve as the Trongsa Penlop (“governor”) prior to ascending the throne.
Jambay Lhakhang :
It is one of the 108 temples built by Emperor Songtsen Goenpo in the 7th century to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region.
It lies on the other side of the river opposite to the Kurje Lhakhang. It was built n 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, are-incarnated disciple of Guru Padmasambava.
Jakar Dzong can loosely be translated as “White Bird Fortress”. It was initially built as a monastery in 1549 and like any other administrative Dzong; it is used for civil and monastic administration.
An interesting feature of the Dzong which can still be seen to these days is the “Chhu Dzong” a sheltered passage leading to the water source within the parallel walls of the fortress incase of war during the ancient times.
Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake):
It is a sacred lake for the Bhutanese. Terton Pema Lingpa discovered religious treasures from this lake in the late 15th century which was hidden by Guru Rinpohe.
It is dedicated to Saint Guru Padmasambhava who has meditated here in the 8th century and has left his body imprint on the rock. The temple which can be seen today was built attached to the rock where Guru Padmasambhava has left his body print. Thus, the name Kurje means Body Imprint in respectful terms. This is a very sacred site for the Bhutanese.
It is a village at an elevation of 3,100 meters and consists about 50 clustered houses in a traditional set up unfabricated by the modernization. The whole lay out gives you a feel of the medieval period.
Ogyen Choling Museum:
The place was blessed by the presence the Great Nyingmapa Master Lognchen Rabjam. It later became a center of the saint Dorji Lingpa (religious treasure discoverer) in the 14th century. Today it is an ancestral home of the descendant of Dorji Lingpa.
This heritage museum provides a perfect insight of the lifestyles and living conditions of a high noble family over the last century. The large building on the right is Tsughlhakhang which contain two temples with spectacular statues and paintings. The artifacts depicting the way of life fare recreated in the original room. Everything inside the palace looks authentic. The whole visit gives intimate feeling of stepping into bygone way of life.
Chendebji Chorten :
En route to Trongsa is Chendebji Chorten, patterned on Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Zhida, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. Legend says that the evil spirit manifested as a gigantic snake.
It was the ancestral home of the Royal Family, built in 1648. All kings hold the post of Trongsa Penlop prior to being crowned as the King.
It served as the watchtower for Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion and it is now a heritage museum.
This watchtower, which once guarded Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands on a promontory above the town. It was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the 1st Governor of Trongsa in 1652. It has four observation points resembling Tiger, Lion, Garuda, and Dragon. Climb up the path to visit Ta Dzong which now houses a shrine dedicated to the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling. A visit to this former watchtower provides visitors with an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history. As of date the Ta Dzong of Trongsa is the most fascinating museum of the nation.
This two storied simple palace situated just above the highway in the town is the birth place of our Late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. It was here that on 2nd May 1928, His Majesty was born to King Jigme Wangchuck and Ashi Puntsho Choden. He spent most of his early childhood days here in this Thurepang Palace. The other palace of interest is the Eundu Choling Palace which was the winter residence of the 1st King Ugyen Wangchuck.
Kuenga Rabten Palace: The 23 km. drive from Trongsa to Kuenga Rabten takes about an hour and passes through open countryside high above a river gorge. The land slopes quite gently in this region, and farming is well developed, so there is much of interest to observe in the fields and in the villages as one speed along.
As one approaches Kuenga Rabten, the Palace is clearly visible just below the road on the right. It was the winter palace of the second king and is now looked after by the National Commission for Cultural Affairs. This pleasant afternoon excursion from Trongsa offers further insights into the early days of Bhutan’s monarchy.