Places & Attractions
Located at 2230 meters above sea level, Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan, it combines a natural small-town feel with a new commercial exuberance that constantly challenges the country's natural conservatism and Shangri La image. Thimphu contains most of the important political buildings in Bhutan, including the National Assembly of the newly formed parliamentary democracy, the official residence of the King and Dechencholing Palace of the former king located to the north of the city.
The stupa was built in 1974 in memory of the third monarch Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. The tantric images and paintings inside the monument provide a very rare insight into Buddhist philosophy.
Originally the dzong was built in 1661 by Je Sherab Wangchuk and renovated in 1960s by third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The fortress houses the main secretariat building with throne room for the King, offices for ministers and the residence for the central Monk Body. Thimphu Dromche and Tsechu festivals are held once a year in the dzong in autumn. The dzong can be visited before and after the official hours.
Kuensel Phodrang-Buddha Point
The Buddha Dordenma, located on hilltop overlooking Thimphu City, is one of the Largest Buddha Statues in the world. The statue is made of Bronze and Gilded in gold, and can be seen from different parts of the city. The statue houses over one hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues. With a height of 51.5 meters, visitors get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang).
The oldest and first dzong built by Zhabdrung in 1629, stands on a lofty ridge overlooking the Thimphu valley. At present the dzong is established for higher monastic studies.
One of the oldest drukpa kagyu temple founded by Phajo Drugom Zhingpo 1208 - 1276. It is worth visiting the temple where one will witness the Bhutanese families' making ceremonies for the new borne babies. The Buddha’s images and religious paintings are well preserved.
The nunnery was founded by the incarnated lama Drubthob Cha-zampa in 1950s. The Lama took the refuge in Bhutan during the Chinese invasion in Tibet. The temple is very interestingly built with huge statues, colorful paintings and one can witness nuns performing rituals.
Bhutan Post Office
As the sole postal organization of Bhutan, Bhutan Post offers you the finest collections of stamps and post cards. You can purchase the finest stamps and cards as a souvenir. You can also learn about the great messengers and famous post masters from the past.
Traditional Paper Factory
The paper factory continues to preserve and promote this age-old Bhutanese tradition. It produces various products, such as Buddhist text books, stationeries and greeting cards. The Jungshi handmade paper factory uses traditional methods to produce the authentic Bhutanese paper known as Deh-sho.
Centenary Farmers' Market
Thursday to Sunday, farmers from different place come here to sell their farm product. You get to see the organic farm and wild vegetables and fruits. Crossing a colorful cantilever bridge from the market will bring you to the handicraft stalls on the other side if the river.
National Institute of Traditional Medical
In Bhutan equal emphasis is given to both Allopathy and Traditional Medicines. The rich herbal medical lessons are put into practiced and produced here. The institute collects medicinal plants from remote corners of the Bhutanese Himalaya and then distributes pills, tablets, ointments and medicinal teas to regional health-care units around the country. The small museum details some of the 300 herbs, minerals and animal parts that Bhutanese doctors have to choose from.
The 13 Art School
It is also called as “Zorig Chu-sum” offers four to six years course of study in 13 different Traditional Arts & Crafts of Bhutan. The Royal Government of Bhutan built this school to preserve the traditional way of building the thirteen types of Arts and crafts in the country.
Changzamtok Weaving Center
The Royal Government has given the opportunity to the private people for the business in several lines. Out of which, this weaving center was introduced, and one can have the opportunity how the textiles are dyed and woven mainly by females.
The library preserves 1000s of ancient Buddist texts of different sects. Besides it displays the manuscripts written in different ink like gold, red, black etc. The building is built in a temple style and houses different Buddha statues. The world’s largest book, recognized by the World Genius Record is also preserved at the library.
The Textile Museum
The museum was introduced with the initiative of queen of Bhutan to preserve the old traditional textile used in early times in the country. Also, it will give an idea how the weaving is done on different handlooms, and how the dying is done from the minerals and plants.
The Folk Heritage Museum
To preserve the cultural & heritage of the Bhutanese lifestyle in this fast-growing development of modern technique, the royal queen mother opened the museum for the public. The museum gives you a glimpse of the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle, in addition to artifacts from rural households; it also displays an impressive collection of typical household objects, tools and equipment. The museum also organizes regular demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs as well as hosting educational programs for children.
Takin Preservation Center
It is a wildlife reserve area for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Native to Bhutan, India, and China, the Takin are docile creatures whose unique appearance attract special attention. Local legends attribute the creation of these animals in Bhutan by a 15th century saint name Drukpa Kunley, popularly known as the Divine Madman. Originally a mini-zoo, the area was converted into a 8.4 acre preserve when it was discovered that the animals refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest area, even when set free.
Simply Bhutan Museum
Simply Bhutan is a living museum and a photo studio showcasing Bhutanese tradition and cultural diversity. Here you can try wearing Bhutanese traditional dress, play archery, taste local wine and many more.
Tango and Cheri Goemba
These two Monasteries come at the top of the list if you are looking for day hikes and trails around Thimphu.
The Tango Goemba site has had religious significance since the 12th century when it was the home of the Lama who brought the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism to Bhutan. It was in 1222 that the place again got its recognition when Phajo Drugom Zhipo, the profounder of Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism, witnessed the cliff in the form of God Tandin (horse head) or Hayagriva. Tango is the highest center of Buddhist learning in the country; almost every Je Khenpo (religious head of Bhutan) completed the 9-year program there.
Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal established the monastery in 1620 with the first monk body. His father's ashes were interred in a richly decorated silver chorten inside the upper goemba after the body was smuggled here from Tibet. Cheri is still an important place for meditation retreats, with 30 or so monks here for the standard three years, three months and three days.
Literally means The Palace of Great Bliss. Since 1971 it has housed the state monastic school, and a long procession of monks often travels between here and the dzong. A team of 15 teachers provides an eight-year course to more than 450 students. The 12th-century paintings in the goemba's Guru Lhakhang are being restored by a United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) project. The upper floor features a large figure of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal as well as the goenkhang (chapel devoted to protective and terrifying deities). The central figure in the downstairs chapel is the Buddha Sakyamuni.
Located at 3100 meters above sea level, Dochula Pass is one of the most scenic locations in the entire kingdom, offering a stunning panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range and some of the highest mountains in the world. Many colorful prayer flags of good fortune and the marvelous sight of the 108 stupas all together adds to the exotic scenery of the pass.
The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang
This temple was built over a period of four years (2004-2008) under the vision and patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo. The Lhakhang honors the courageous service of the Fourth King, who personally led the troops against the insurgents, as well as the regular Armed Forces of the country.
Dochula Meditation Caves
Discover the meditation caves tucked into the hills just above the pass. At first resembling Hobbit homes, these tiny, open-faced caverns are built from stone and painted in colorful detail with Buddhist symbolism. The Druk or dragon—Bhutan’s long-time national symbol and spirit animal—stretches over the cave entrance, bringing good luck and good tidings.
The beautiful valley, where nature and man conjured to create their dearest image, is home to some of Bhutan's oldest temples & monasteries, as well as its only international airport. Mount Jomolhari (7300 M) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial waters plunge through deep gorges to form the Pa-chu (Paro river). Paro is one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom, producing a bulk of famous red rice from its terraced fields.
This famous temple clings precariously to a cliff 3000 ft above Paro valley. Legend has it that the great Indian saint Guru Padmasanbhava flew to this spot on the back of a tigress and meditated in a cave for three months in eighth century. It remains a most sacred and pilgrimage spot for the Buddhist followers. The wonderful hike uphill to the monastery is is breathtaking and will be remembered in a lifetime.
The fortress was built in 1649 by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, led by Mongolian warlord Gushi Khan in 1644. Strategically built over the only passage into Paro valley, the dzong helped repel numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. It so impressed early visitors that in 1914 the dzong featured on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine. On a clear day one can see the commanding view of Mt. Jomolhari from the village nestle below the dzong.
The temple on the hill of the excellent horse, rises in austere surroundings on the left bank of the river. This private temple was founded by the Tibetan saint, Thangtong Gyelpo (1385-1464). While he was meditating here, Thangtong Gyelpo had a vision of the excellent horse Balaha-an emanation of Avoloketeshvaras. He decided thereupon to build a temple at this spot in addition to one of his famous iron bridges.
The Fortress on a heap of Jewels was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel. The approach to the dzong is through a traditional roofed wooden bridge and a walk through the stone inlaid path offer a good view of the architectural wonder of the dzong as well as life around it. The Dzong now houses the state monastic school and the civil administration of Paro region. It is also the venue for the Paro Tsechu (festival) held once a year in spring.
Looking down over the Rimpung Dzong, the Ta-Dzong (watch tower) was built in 1651, unlike the rectangular shape of dzongs, it is round more like parts of a European castle. Since 1967 the watchtower was transformed into the National Museum and holds a fascinating collection of arts, relics, thangka (religious paintings).
It is a master piece of its own, a Cliffside temple where you get opportunity to get blessed from the relics. The temple consists of four shrines and the valley view from the temple is breath taking.
Kila Goemba Nunnery
A cliffside nunnery is one of the renown nunneries in the country. Here a lot of nuns come to seek for serious spiritual path of life. You will see a lot of meditation huts and caves.
The Jowo Temple of Kyichu is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, originally built in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emperor Songtsan Gampo. It is one of the four (4) border taming temples he built.
There are lot of things to do in Paro town, try the cafes, bars and entertainment places or go to a house museum, you can also try our traditional game- Archery.
Dungtse Lhakhang was constructed by the great bridge-builder Thangtong Gyelpo in 1433. It is said to have been built on the head of demoness, who was causing illness to the inhabitants. The building was restored in 1841 and is a unique repository of Kagyu lineage arts.
Ugyen Pelri Palace
The palace was built by the Paro Penlop (Governor) Tshering Penjor in around 1930. It is concealed in woods, enclosed by perimeter wall. This elegant building is modeled after Zangtopelri, a celestial palace of Guru Rimpoche and functions as royal residence in Paro. The view of the palace from Rimpung Dzong is magnificent.
It is unheeded by most guest however, is alleged to possess been based by Tibetan King Songtsen Gyembo within the 17th century, creating it one in every of the oldest temples in Asian nation. It is simply incomprehensible, located on the side of the road near Dumtse lhakhnag. The main inner sanctum has associate in nursing ancient feel, dominated by its sculpture of Jowo Nampar Nangse that’s to possess the facility to fulfill desires. There is also a chapel with a stone footprint of a former Zhabdrung.
It is a small village temple on the bank of the Paro chu(river). It is never visited by tourist but definitely is a pleasant place to visit.
The temple is located right in the center of Paro town. It was built by Nawang Chogyel, the Prince Abbot of Ralung in the year 1525. This old temple preserves the ancient war artefact, the deity Gyenyen Jampa, who is believed to be the future Buddha, and the local protector Gyenyen.
It is the highest pass accessible by motor road ,3990 meters above sea level. Here you will enjoy the magnificent view of the Mt. Jhomolhari (7300m). You will also be able to spot the Tiger’s Nest and the beautiful views of two districts Paro and Haa.
Sang Choekor Buddhist College
High above the north bank of the Paro Chhu, the Sangchen Choekhor Buddhist Institute commands outstanding views of the valley below. 12km (7 miles) from Paro along a road that runs along the Paro Chhu's north bank before climbing through a dramatic series of switchbacks, the dramatically sited shedra (Buddhist college) is home to a community of around hundred monks, who gather here to pore over ancient text and study Buddhist philosophy. While the buildings will be of interest to Buddhist scholars, most people visit to enjoy the fine valley views.
Paro valley is embellished by cluster of farm houses. Bhutanese farm houses are very colorful and traditionally built with mud walls and wooden frame without a single nail.The houses are normally of three stories with the ground floor for the animals, the attic used for the storage of hay. The families live in the middle floor with a chapel for worship which is decorated with paintings. A visit to a farm house is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the farmers' lifestyle.
Bumdra Trek (02 Day/01Night)
This two days short trek offers you breathtaking views of snow-capped Himalaya and a view of Taktsang Monastery from the top. From the camp site you will be able to enjoy the beautiful sunrise. There is nothing like camping near the Cave of a Thousand Prayers.
Haa is known for being the traditional home for the Royal Queen Grandmother and the famous Dorji family. It is located very close to the international airport at Paro. To get to Haa you must travel two hours by road and cross the Chelela mountain pass, Bhutan’s highest road pass. With its pristine forests and rugged hills Haa is an excellent location, you’ll lose yourself amidst fields of white poppies, dense forests of fir trees and crystalline streams brimming with rainbow trout. Nomadic herdsmen and tribal in Haa organize a famous Haa summer festival that provides a nice opportunity for exploring village life.
The beautifully unique town of Haa sprawls along the Haa Chhu and forms two distinct areas. Much of the southern town is occupied by the Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT) camp (complete with a golf course) and a Bhutanese army training camp. The other part of town has the central bazaar, main shops and restaurants.
Wangchulo Dzong in Haa is one of the newest, built in 1915 to replace a smaller structure. It is a large square structure with battered (inward-sloping) walls.
It is one of the many temples dedicated to the protective deity if Haa, Chhundu. Legend has it that Chhundu did not get along with his neighbors. He was banished to Haa by the Zhabdrung after an altercation with Gyenyen, Thimphu’s protector. He also had a quarrel with Jichu Drajye of Paro and the Paro guardian stole all Haa’s water- and that’s why there is no rice grown in Haa.
Lhakhang Karpo was established in the 7th century by Tibetan king Songtsen Gempo in his mission to build 108 monasteries in one day. He built Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo in the Haa Valley. According to a legend, a black and white pigeon were released to select sites to build the temples. These two temples stand as the guardian sentinels keeping watch at the south entrance of the valley. The white pigeon landed on the foothills of the three towering mountains worshipped as Rigsum Gonpo and is where the Lhakhang stands today. The temple was named Karpo (white) as it was built on the site where the white pigeon landed.
It is situated towards the north of Lhakhang Karpo. Legend has it that King Songtsen Gampo released a black and a white pigeon to select sites to build the temples. The black pigeon landed a little north of the white pigeon, indicating the preordained site of the present Lhakhang Nagpo. The temple was named Nagpo (black) as it was built on the site where the black pigeon landed. Built on a lake; an opening in the floor of the temple serves as the channel to the underground lake. Lhakhang Nagpo serves as the seat for the guardian deity Da Do Chen.
From Katsho village, a 1 hour hike uphill leads to Cliffside retreat that contains the foot print of Maching Labdrom (1055-1132), a female Tibetan yogin, student of famous master Phadampa Sangye (1045-1117). Machig Labdron, contemporary of Milarepa was an adept, an outstanding teacher, a mother and who perfected the transmission lineage known as the Chod of Mahamudra. Chod refers to visualizing one’s own dismemberment in the act of ego annihilation. Chod aims to free the mind from all fear and to arouse realization of its true nature, primordially clear bliss and emptiness.
A tiny but charming retreat centre perched on the limestone cliff face. Take the unpaved side road past the Lhakhang Nagpo, by Domcho village, and continue up the hillside towards the recently renovated ridge-top Takchu Goemba (8km). From the small private lhakhang and white chorten of Lungsukha village, a 15-minute walk leads to the small and charming chapel attended by one lama and one monk.
Blessed with temperate climate and fed by Pho-chu (Male River) and Mo-chu (Female River), Punakha is one of the most fertile valleys in the country. Until 1955, Punakha served as the capital of the country. It still serves as the winter seat of Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and central Monk Body.
Lampelri Royal Botanical Park
The park has a rich biodiversity of fauna and flora. One can find many species of plants and flowers. The annual Rhododendron festival is held here at the park.
The temple was built in 1499 by the cousin of Lama Drukpa Kunley, the divine mad man in his honor after the lama subdued the demoness of the nearby Dochu La with his 'magic thunderbolt of wisdom'. A wooden effigy of the lama's thunderbolt is preserved in the lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a wang (blessing or empowerment) from the saint.
This little town is located in the juncture of roads from Wangdi and Punakha. The farmers from nearby places come to this little town to sell their farm products and to buy their necessities at home.
The Fortress of Great Happiness is the most beautiful dzong in the country, especially in spring when the lilac-colored jacaranda trees bring a lush sensuality to the dzong's characteristically towering whitewashed walls. This dzong is the second oldest built by Zhabdrung at the confluence of male and Female River in 1638. Most of the important ceremonies like the King’s coronation, royal weddings and etc are conducted here at this dzong.
Khumsum Yuelay Namgyal Chorten
It was built in 1994 by Her Majesty Azhi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck for the wellbeing of all sentient beings of the world. To get there, one has to hike through the rice paddies and pine forests. The hike takes about 45 minutes one way. The view of the valley from the Choeten is magnificent.
Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery
Located in a scenic location on a mountain ridge, this nunnery boasts traditional architecture, including a golden-tipped, large white stupa. It serves as a Buddhist college for 120 resident nuns. The attached ridgetop Nepali-style chorten is visible from far away roads and valleys.
The Monastery sits majestically on a mountain ridge. For centuries, this ancient spiritual center has stood guard over the valley below. The monastery was founded in the year 1767. Today it contains a monastic school with almost 200 monks in residence.
Nalanda Buddhist Institute
Locally known as Daley Goemba, is a Buddhist monastic school. It is located in the western part of the Punakha District. It was founded In 1757 by the 9th Je Khenpo Shakya Rinchen Rimpoche, who was a reincarnation of Rechung Dorje Drakpa, one of the two most important students of the 11th century yogi and poet Milarepa. Today the school houses 150 young monks with 7 teachers.
Rafting and Kayaking
The glacier fed Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers of Punakha originating in the eastern Himalayas and gushing down to the southern foothills provide an ideal challenge for water sports like kayaking and rafting. The pristine natural setting and the sheer variety of the river courses provide a unique opportunity to explore Punakha’s beautiful wilderness.
Off Road Mountain Biking Trail
Great sightseeing coupled with the first ever, designated mountain biking trail in Punakha. The massive architectural edifice of the 17th century Punakha Dzong (fortress) looms into view. After a look around, head out on an exciting single-track trail along the Mo Chhu to Samdingkha and further up at the hot springs beyond. A fast track through rice paddies takes you to a high, wide and wobbly suspension bridge. Crossing the bridge, the trial brings you through several small villages.
Wangdue Phodrang is one of the largest districts in Bhutan and is environmentally protected. The northern half of the district belonging to Jigme Dorji National Park. Southeastern Wangdue is part of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Also protected are the biological corridors crisscrossing the district that connect Bhutan's extensive national park system. The environmentally precious and vulnerable lands of Phobjika Valley are not protected by the government, but are maintained by the first and only Bhutanese private conservation group, the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN). Chartered as a public benefit nonprofit organization (PBO), the RSPN focuses on education, sustainable agriculture, ecotourism, and improving living standards in ecologically responsible ways.
The dzong stands at confluence of Puna Sang-chu and Dang-chu rivers. It is one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan, built by Zhabdrung in 1638. Today it is the administration center for both the monastic body and the government.
Phobjikha valley is the winter home for the black naked cranes. It is a wide beautiful valley located at 2900 meters above the sea levels. It is often called the most beautiful valley in Bhutan. You won't find trinket shops, museum or places of attractions here. Even the school in the middle of the valley was moved to make way for the Black Necked Cranes conservation area.
The Black Necked Crane Information Center
The center has informative displays about the black-necked cranes and the valley environment. You can use the Centre’s powerful spotting scopes and check what you see against its pamphlet ‘Field Guide to Crane Behavior’
It is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, the main seat of Terton Pema Lingpa tradition. The Monastery, also known by the Gangtey village that surrounds it.
Mountain Biking Trail
Set off to explore the exquisite, pristine and lush, glacial Phobjikha Valley. With its alpine setting on the western slope of the Black Mountains, the valley is famous as the seasonal home of the rare black-necked cranes. The trail takes you deeper into the wild land (muddy at times) and high up a side valley overlooking sparkling streams, finally reaching the remote temple of Tongchoe and the of village of Yamuchen housing a school and the local Dzongkhag office. Sucking on the thin but purest air pedal past forests of prayer flags and traditional farmhouses as the route snakes back along the valley side to the base.
Gangtey Nature Trail
This pleasurable hike gives a nice feeling for Phobjikha valley. The trail starts from a small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba Monastery, head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from here through beautiful forests and into the open valley. After passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang, hike through the village towards your hotel.
Trongsa forms the central hub of the nation and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched. It is from here the first Monarchy was elected and still traditionally the crown prince has to take the position of governor before he takes the seat of the Golden Throne. The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular, for miles on end, the dzong seems to tease you, wondering if you will ever reach there.
Pele la Pass
The Pass takes you over the Black Mountains. The pass is the physical boundary between western and central Bhutan. It is 3300 meters above sea levels.
Lama Shida built the chorten in the early 18th century in the style of a Nepalese stupa. The construction which was undertaken to pin down a mischievous local spirit.
The fortress was built in 1648 by Chhoyje Minjur Tempa well trusted follower of Zhabdrung. It is the ancestral home of the royal family. Both the first and the second Kings ruled the country from here. All fours Kings held the post of Trongsa Penlop (honorary govennor) prior to being crown King. The fortress is in a massive structure with many levels which slope down the contours of a hill on which it perches. Because of its highly strategic position as the only connecting route between east and west, the Trongsa Penlop was able to control the whole of the eastern region effectively for centuries.
It served as the watch tower in the olden days when Bhutan had many Tibetan invasions. Now it is converted into a museum where one can depict many antiques and the Royal dress codes.
The Kuenga Rabten village is toward the south of Trongsa about 25 km. Kuenga Rabten Dzong, the palace of the second King, overlooking the villages with the sight of a long and big water falls can be seen. Just above the palace, a few minutes’ walk will bring you to a Nunnery where hundreds of nuns ARE in practice of Buddhism.
Sangey Tong Lhakhang
A newly built temple with thousands of Buddha statues installed with beautiful painting can be visited.
Valley of yak herders
As you drive down the valley you will see many yak herders camp and nomad families at work. This place is also a paradise for bird lovers.
The pass takes you over the Black Mountains, the physical boundary between western and central Bhutan. It is 3300 meters above sea levels. The main pass is marked with a stupa and many colorful prayer flags.
The name means "new village" in the local language. It is a little beautiful town located right above the Dzong. And is a commercial hub for the people of Trongsa district.
Bumthang is one of the most beautiful and holiest places in Bhutan. It is home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. It’s wide and scenic valleys consists of four main valleys: Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. The valleys are broad and gentle carved by the ancient glaciers.
Chhumey weaving center
It is run by a local family. They have an array of famous local sheep-wool textiles.
The Palace is located just above the village of Domkhar on the left bank of the Chhume River, almost facing Tharpaling monastery. It is a short walk from the main road but there is also an access road. The 2nd King Jigme Wangchuck built the Domkhar palace in Chhume valley in 1937 as a summer palace for himself and his elder Queen, Ashi Phuntsho Choden.
It is a picturesque village in the Chhume valley, perched on a small plateau located at the curve of the river. The village composed of seven large stone houses, has easy access on foot from the main road.
It is located at 3,600m is composed of a series of buildings overlooking the Chhume valley. A rough road starting from the Gyetsa village on the Trongsa-Jakar highway leads to the monastery in half an hour but it is often cut in summer. Otherwise Tharpaling can be reached on a 3 hour walk from Gyetsa village or on a 3 hour steep walk from Lamey Gonpa in Choekhor, crossing a pass above Choedrak monastery.
Kurjey Lhakhang complex
This majestic complex is located on the right bank of the Chamkhar River opposite Tamshing and Khonchogsum lhakhang. The Kurje complex is made up of three buildings facing south surrounded by an enclosure made of 108 chortens.
The temple is located in a village across the river from Kurjey Lhakhang. It is the seat of Bumthang’s famous son saint Pema Lingpa.
Castle of the White Bird, dominates the Chamkhar valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, the Dzong played an important role as the fortress of defense of the whole eastern Dzongkhags. It also became the seat of the first king of Bhutan.A special feature of the Dzong is the approximately fifty meter high Utse or the Central tower, which is distinct from most other Dzongs in Bhutan. The other unique feature of the Dzong is a sheltered passage, with two parallel walls, interconnected by fortified towers, which gave the population of the fortress access to water in the case of a siege. The protected water supply is still intact to this day.
This is one of the oldest temples in the kingdom. It was founded by Songtsen Gampo, a Tibetan King in the 7th century AD. The king was destined to build 108 temples known as Thadhul- Yangdhul (temples on and across the border) in a day to subdue the demoness that was residing in the Himalayas. The temple is one of the two of the 108 built in Bhutan. A second is located in Paro, the Kichu lhakhang also built on the same day.
This little beautiful town is the commercial hub for Bumthang district. Here you can find some good local restaurants, bars, cafes and entertainment places. Beer and cheese factory : The factories produce the local cheese and beer. One can call beforehand and arrange for a short demonstration of the processing unit.
Pema Choling Nunnery
The nunnery was built under the prophesy of Pema Lingpa, known as the patron saint of Bhutan. It houses about 100 nuns between 12 and 70 year of age, who follow the Nyingma Peling tradition. It is located at the entrance of Tang valley, about 5 kms from the East-West highway, the nunnery is made of several buildings: hostels, classrooms, kitchen, temple. The nuns also perform prayers and rituals in the nunnery as well as for the villagers.
It is located on the left bank of the Chamkhar river opposite Kuje complex and very close to Tamshing temple. This tiny temple is surrounded by an enclosure. Like any ancient temple in the Tibetan cultural area, the sanctuary consists of a small central shrine which may have had a circumambulation path.
Lhodrak Kharchu Dratshang
On the hill to the east of Jakar this large Nyingma monastery was founded in the 1970s by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche and has about 400 monks in residence. The Tshokhang (Assembly Hall) has massive statues of Guru Rinpoche, Chenresig and Sakyamuni.
Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake)
After Guru Rimpoche’s prophecy, Terton Pema Lingpa jumped into the lake with a burning lamp and when he came out from the lake, the lamp was still aflame and burning.The lake was named as Burnig Lake since then. Terton Pema Lingpa discovered a sacred scripture, a statue and a ritual skull. This Lake is dark and almost pitch black and no one really know the depth of this lake.
It was founded by the 4th Shamar Rinpoche in 1470.It is located on a plateau above the Chamkhar river north of Kurje Temple and is now reachable by road. Sheltered in a grove and surrounded by village houses, the main building has two aisles.
A few hours walk from the Tangbi Goemba is the small region of Ngang Yul (Swan Land) and this temple here is 100 m above the valley floor. The site was visited by Guru Rinpoche and present temple was built in the 15th century by Lama Namkha Samdup, a contemporary of Pema Lingpa. A three days festival is held here each winter with masked dances in honor of the founder of the temple.
Tang Ugyencholing Museum
It was originally built by Deb Tsokye Dorje, a descendant of Dorje Lingpa in 16century. The present structure, including the temple, servant’s quarters and a massive residential building, was rebuilt after their collapse in the 1897 earthquake. The complex has been turned into a museum of sorts for religious studies, research and solitude. It exhibits in the main building are captioned with descriptions of the lifestyle and art works of a Bhutanese noble family.
Tang Rimochen Lhakhang
The site marks a sacred place where Guru Rinpoche meditated. A rock in front of the lhakhang has a body-print of the Guru and two consorts. The name Tag Rimoche (an impression of tiger’s stripes) is derived from the tiger stripes that appear on a rock cliff behind the building. The temple was founded in 14th century by Dorji Lingpa.
In the year 1769, with support from the Penlop of Trongsa and the Governor of Jakar, this Dzong alike Monastery was built on top of a steep mountain ridge overlooking Chamkhar town. A half day hike will bring you to this prominent and sacred monastery. Hikers are presented with breathtaking views of the valley and large species of flora and fauna are found along the way which keeps the journey interesting. Hikers can have picnic lunch at the beautiful meadow which is located about two third of the way up. From there, the last part requires steep uphill hike until the Monastery is in sight.
Located in a broad valley 3100 meters above sea level, Ura is the highest of the four valleys in Bumthang district. The village of Ura has about 50 or so clusters of traditional homes with cobbled walkways, that gives somewhat a medieval atmosphere. The people of this region are primarily sheep and yak herders. An amazingly open countryside with large pastures and occasional running into forest, the drive to Ura Valley can be a great fun. The route crosses Ura la pass (3,600m) with a magnificent view of Mount. Gangkar Puensum. The Ura Yakchhoe festival is celebrated in Ura Monastery and is held annually in the month of May.
The Ura temple was consecrated in 1986 dedicated to Guru Rinpoche. Paintings represent different teachings and are beautifully executed.
Phrumsengla National Park Visitor Centre
Here you can gather information on the Protected areas in Bhutan and its Natural Biodiversity.
The journey from Bumthang to Mongar is one of the most beautiful in the Himalayas crossing 4,000m high Thrumshingla pass. Gushing waterfalls, steep cliffs with even steeper drops, blazing flowers and constantly changing vegetation combine to make the journey as varied as it is beautiful. Mongar marks the beginning of Eastern Bhutan. The second largest town in the sub-tropical east, Mongar town is situated on the side of a hill in the contrasts to other towns of Western Bhutan which was built on the valley floor.
This town is considered the main trade and travel hub of eastern Bhutan and most travelers and merchants active in East pass through here often spending the night at one of the local hotels. The main street is lined with traditionally painted stone buildings with wooden facades and verandas. The local restaurants offer a decent variety of Bhutanese and Indian cuisine.
It is one of Bhutan’s newest Dzong built in 1930s. Yet the Dzong is built in the same method and traditions of all the other Dzongs; no drawings and nails have been used. A visit gives visitors an impression of how traditional Bhutanese architecture has continued to thrive through the centuries.
Ruins of Zhongar Dzong
It is located on a hilltop overlooking the village of Themnangbi and is visible as one descends to Lingmenthang from the highway. Constructed in the 17th century, the Dzong is believed to have been built at a site where the master architect Zow Balip saw a white bowl. A visit to the ruins can be a memorable experience and will give you a sense of medieval Bhutanese administration.
Jarung Khashor Choeten
The Jarung Khashor Choeten is located in Lingmethang, next to the bridge over the Kurichu River. It is modeled after the Jarung Khashor Choeten in Nepal and worth visiting when in the area.
Perched on top of a steep hill above the village which is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is the place of origin of the famous. Drametse Nga Chham, a masked dance with drums.
Wenkhar (community farming center)
A typical local farmhouse where you can see the wine being brewed form corn and a traditional Bhutanese way of making a snack from maize, which is their main source of income. The house also showcases the farmer’s day to day life.
It is located some 70 km from Mongar and is one of the most isolated districts in the country. The landscape here is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges and dense coniferous forests. The region is notably famed for its weavers and their special textiles generally considered to be the best in the country. The Kurtoe region of Lhuntse is also the ancestral home of royal dynasty.
Dungkar Naktshang the ancient home of the Dungkar Chojie and the ancestral home of the Wangchuck Dynasty, stands amid a scenic backdrop of towering mountains overlooking the tiny Dungkar village below.The house of Dungkar, one of the noble lineages from Kurtoe was home to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal, the father of the Wangchuck dynasty.
The Fortress sits upon a hill overlooking the Kurichu River. It was constructed in 1654 by the Trongsa Penlop Chogyal Minjur Tempa upon the site of an older temple built by Nagi Wangchuk in 1552. Today the dzong is the administrative and the religious center of the district. It houses many sacred artifacts that were installed by the 4th Druk Desi Tenzin Rabgay.
The monastery is easily accessible from a feeder road. The daughter of 1st King, Ashi Wangmo lived here at the monastery as a nun. It was founded in the 18th century by Pekar Gyatso and until recently was under the patronage of the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorji.
This small village is situated about two hours walk from Lhuntse Dzong, through gentle slopes carpeted in pine trees. This village is known throughout the country for its production of Kishuthara, an extremely intricately patterned silk textile. The women of Khoma work in makeshift textile cottages, weaving delicate designs and patterns. Producing and selling Kishuthara has become the primary occupation of many of the villagers and it will be much cheaper to acquire some of this beautiful material here than in the handicraft shops elsewhere.
A 20 minutes’ drive from Lhuntse Dzong on the route towards Kurtoe Dungkharg will bring you to the tiny village of Kilung . This village is inhabited by the Tshanglas who migrated and settled here during the late 1880’s. In the village you will come across the Kilung Lhakhang situated on a ridge overlooking the Kurichu River. It was built on the former site of the Kilung Gyalpo, a regional chieftain. This temple houses the sacred chain mall that was once used to recapture a statue that miraculously flew away from the Lhuentse Dzong.
Gangzur village is situated around two kilometers from the Dzong. This village is famous for its pottery as its women folk are skilled artisans of this dying art. The Government is now making efforts to revive it through financial support. When in Gangzur you will want to witness the women displaying their skills.
In the far east of Bhutan, on the bank of Gamri Chhu river lies Trashigang, the country’s largest district. Trashigang, once the centre of a busy trade route with Tibet, is today the junction of east-west highway with road connecting to Samdrup Jongkhar and the Indian States of Assam. This town is also used as the market place for the semi nomadic people from Merak and Sakteng.
Built in 1659, the Dzong serves as the administrative seat for the district as well as the home of the monk body. The Dzong commands a remarkable view over the surrounding countryside.
24 km from Trashigang, the temple of Gom Kora is set on a small alluvial plateau overlooking the river. Surrounded by rice fields and clumps of banana trees, it looks like an oasis in an arid landscape. It is one of the famous places where Guru Rinpoche meditated to subdue a demon who dwelt in a huge black rock.
Famously known as the Rice Bowl of the East because of its verdant rice fields that supply most of the grain to eastern parts of the country, the village has around 200 households, all of which the people make living from fine raw silk or bura textiles during the off-agricultural seasons. All textiles produced in Radhi are made using the traditional back-strap loom and traditional dyes. As a result, Radhi village produces some of the most authentic high quality raw silk textiles.
This is the local village temple of Rongthung village and is located right atop the hill above the village. Rongthung village is said to be in the shape of a conch shell with the Goempa forming the top of the shell. This temple can be reached taking a leisurely walk up through the village.
Merak and Sakteng
Both the villages located as high as 3300 meters above sea levels, the valleys are some of the most isolated in Bhutan but every year the road gets closer. The Brokpa, the semi-nomads of the villages of Merak and Sakteng are said to have migrated to Eastern Bhutan a few centuries ago from the Tshona region of Southern Tibet. Thriving on rearing yaks and sheep, the Brokpas have maintained many of their unique traditions and customs. In summer they move to the pastures with their yaks and sheep and in winter they return to live in their houses, normally built of stones with small ventilation to protect from the piercing cold weather. As few things grow in Merak and Sakteng, the Brokpas trade their butter, cheese and yak meat with neighbouring villages for daily necessities.
Trashiyangtse is famous for its wooden crafts. The orderly settlement of Trashi Yangtse rises just above the Chorten Kora, 3km from the old dzong. The new dzong and town occupies a large bowl-shaped valley in one of the furthest corners of the kingdom, 550km from the capital.
It houses the government administration offices and monastic body of the district. It overlooks the town and was built in the late 1990s when the new district was created.
Constructed near the river, it was built in 1740 by Lama Ngawang Loday. During the second month of lunar calendar. There is an interesting celebration known as ‘Kora’ held here annually.
Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary
The Sanctuary has one of the richest temperate Fir forests in the eastern Himalayas and provides an ideal protected habitat for big cats like Tigers and Leopards. The district is also home to many other rare animals including Barking Deer, Himalayan Black Bears, Red Pandas and hundreds of Black Necked Cranes that migrate to the region every winter.
Institute for Zorig Chusum
It was opened in 1997 to provide vocational training opportunities for those who are not continuing in the higher education system. The students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts here. You can visit the school, watch the students at work and take photographs. The students are on holiday from December to March and for two weeks in July.
Weaving is very popular in the east, most of Bhutan’s fine weaver comes from this part of the country. Here you can see the rich textiles woven without using any machines.
Samdrup Jongkhar is situated in the south-eastern region of the country and shares borders with the Indian state of Assam. It is the largest urban center in eastern Bhutan. In the past, many British Political Officers stationed in Sikkim took the route from Samdrup Jongkhar to enter Bhutan. Today the road from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar, completed in the 1960s, connects the eastern and southern regions of the country, allowing them to benefit from trade, especially through trade across the Indian border. In the past Samdrup Jongkhar was the main trading center for the Bhutanese and it is still a convenient exit town for tourists who have arranged to visit the neighboring Indian state of Assam.
Samdrup Jongkhar Dzong
This Dzong serves as the administrative center of the district and is one of the newest Dzongs to have been built in the country. Unlike other Dzongs that are built on strategic locations atop mountains or between rivers, the Dzong in Samdrup Jongkhar is built on a flat and wide-open area.
This Dratshang was only recently constructed next to the Dzong. It houses the monk body and has many new novices looked after by the religious functionaries.
This three-storied temple set in the middle of town, is adorned with the work of the master Bhutanese craftsmen. Its intricate frescos and beautiful statues are truly a sight to behold. Due to its religious significance and convenient location Zangdopelri is at the heart of the spiritual lives of the people of this area.
Dewathang is the site where Jigme Namgyal, the father of Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck led the Bhutanese troops in a final battle against the British in 1884. Though the Bhutanese put up a strong resistance against the British, Jigme Namgyal ultimately signed the treaty of Sinchula with the British in 1865.The office of the Gyadrung, the district administrator was once located in this small town situated 18 kilometers from Samdrup Jongkhar.
Mithun Breeding Farm
The breeding farm is located at Orong, along the highway reroute to Samdrup Jongkhar, above the town of Dewathang. The Mithuns are considered the finest breed of bison in Bhutan and it will be worthwhile to stop for a while to observe and photograph magnificent animals. The Mithuns raised here are supplied to the farmers of the six eastern districts.
Samdrup Jongkhar Town
It is the oldest town in Eastern Bhutan and has seen gradual development over the years. It is a bustling little town with shopkeepers and hawkers coming from the nearby border of Assam to sell their wares. It also houses the oldest cinema theatre in the country. It was popular among the Assamese from across the border for the Bollywood films in the past and now it only screens local Bhutanese movies.