The Black Mountains
separate Western Bhutan from Central Bhutan. This region includes
Trongsa and the rich broad valleys of Bumthang including Chumey,
Choekhor, Tang and Ura valleys. The passes crossed are Yotang La
(3400m, 11,155ft.) Shertang La (3573m, 11,723ft) and Thrumshing La
(3800m, 12,465ft.). Central Bhutan is known for its buckwheat and
apple production, its sturdy stone houses, and its plethora of
monasteries. Its the ideal place for walking due to its broad valleys
and sloping mountains. The beauty of the Bumthang valleys are
Trongsa Dzongkhag -
Crossing the Black Mountains
which separate western and central Bhutan, you'll enter a part of the
country which until the l970's was only reached by mule and foot
trails. The mountain road passes through deciduous forests and at the
second pass, Pele La (3300m-10,825ft.), the entire area is blanketed
by high altitude dwarf bamboo. About five miles from Trongsa, the road
winds around a cliff and takes a sharp turn to the left. Your driver
will stop the vehicle and encourage you to get down to take
photographs of the valley. The view is one of the most beautiful
sights in all Bhutan and one from which you will never tire. Sloping
down the contour of a ridge stands the many-leveled Trongsa Dzong,
built in 1648. It takes at least another 40 minutes from the look-out
before you arrive in Trongsa proper. The dzong acts as a defensive
fortress, stepping down into the valley and its bright golden yellow
roof occupies most of the view from Trongsa. Trongsa is the ancestral
home of the Royal Family. The Crown Prince of Bhutan traditionally
becomes "Penlop" (Governor) of Trongsa before being crowned King.
Trongsa Dzong was built in 1648 and has been the traditional home of
all four kings of Bhutan prior to their ascending the throne.
Trongsa's location in the geographic center of the kingdom has enabled
a "Penlop" (Governor) to effectively control the entire East and West
of the country from there. Ta Dzong, or the watch tower which once
guarded the Dzong from internal rebellion, stands impressively above
the Dzong and provides visitor with more insight into the historical
significance of Trongsa in Bhutan's history.
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Bumthang Dzongkhag -
Bumthang and Jakar
Continuing past Trongsa
you'll travel over two spectacular passes into
the Bumthang Valley, often compared to Switzerland. The terrain
changes quickly from rhododendron forests to conifers. The first
valley, Chumey (8.860ft.) is a wide fertile valley where wheat,
barley, potatoes and buckwheat are cultivated. It is also known for
it's famous wool weaving called "Bumthang Yathra". Continuing we enter
the Bumthang Valley consisting of the Choekhor (West), Tang, and Ura
(East) Valleys. With the main town of Jakar serving as its capital.
The hills around Jakar are filled with monasteries dedicated to Guru
Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) who is said to have cured an ailing ruler and
introduced Buddhism to the valley. Bumthang is also home to one of the
great Buddhist teachers, Pema Lingpa, to whose descendants the present
dynasty traces its origins. Pema Lingpa was a blacksmith who was led
by mystic forces to discover spiritual treasures (termas) placed by
Guru Rinpoche at the bottom of Mebartsho or Flaming Lake. Not knowing
how to impart the knowledge contained in the treasures he hid until
one day the Dakinis, or female heavenly spirits, showed him the power
of preaching. Legend explains that as he spoke, flowers dropped from
the sky and vanished into rays of light. Jambay Lhakang Drub Monastery
is host to one of the most spectacular festivals in October each year
when on one evening of the festival, the monastery is lit by a fire
dance to bless infertile women with future children.
No where else in Bhutan will you see as many
temples and monasteries in such a confined area.
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The last valley in Central Bhutan.
Ura Valley, is also the highest in Bumthang.
Wide open spaces characterizes the valley that sits in the shadow of
the Thrumshing La (3800m, 12465ft), separating the East from the West
of the kingdom. Ura village and its new monastery are a charming stop
before the climb to the east. Cobbled streets and a medieval feel give
Ura an unusual yet very attractive atmosphere. The old women of Ura
still wear sheepskin shawls on their backs which double as a blanket
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Department of Tourism.
Royal Government of Bhutan.