Ganges and Bumthang, Bhutan
Phobjikha Valley is one of the most impressive and amazing in Bhutan. First, the road goes uphill for a long time through dense forest, and then suddenly comes out on a wide, flat, treeless plateau. The impression is further enhanced by the contrast with other valleys of Bhutan, which are usually narrow and deep. Phobjikha is located at an altitude of 2900 m on the outskirts of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park and belongs to the Wangdi Phodrang district.
The pride of the valley are two picturesque winding rivers: Nakai-Chu (literally “black water”) and Gai-Chu (“white water”). On a small hill in the Phobzhikha valley is located Gangtey – gompa – the largest Nyingma monastery in Bhutan and the only monastery of this school, lying west of the Black Mountains. The monastery is surrounded by a large village where 140 gomchens live, who take care of the monastery, as well as their families.
The Gangtei Gompa was founded in 1613 by Pema Trinley, the grandson of the famous Nyingma teacher Pema Lingpa. A few kilometers from the Gangtei Monastery lies the village of Phobjikha. By winter, black-necked cranes move here from the arid regions of the north. These rare birds, listed in the Red Book, prefer to spend the cold season in the milder climate of the Phobjikha Valley.
Bumthang is considered the spiritual center of the country, it was from here that Buddhism spread to Bhutan. In the valleys there are many holy places associated with the name of the teacher – Guru Rimpoche. In addition, the province is a very picturesque area with apple orchards and is famous for the woven panel “yatra”, which is made from sheep’s wool.
Bumthang is called the Switzerland of Bhutan: green hills, turquoise rivers, soft landscapes… Bumthang is an idyllic quiet place. The fertile valleys are covered with picturesque fields with buckwheat, rice and potatoes. There are shady apple orchards, a cheese farm, a brewery and a textile factory
. According to the second version, Bumthang translates as “the valley of beautiful girls”, because “boom” is a “girl” and “tang” is a “flat piece of land”.
Bumthang is one of the richest areas of the country in terms of historical and religious heritage. Ancient and very revered monasteries are located here. Among them is Jambey-lhakang. According to legend, it was built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in 659. This is one of the 108 temples that were erected on his orders in order to destroy the evil demoness that lay in the Himalayas and interfered with the spread of Buddhism.
Also, the province of Bumthang is the most mystical in Bhutan. Remains of shamanism and the Tibetan Bon religion have been preserved here. The East of Bhutan, more than a thousand years after the arrival of Padmasambhava, never fully converted to Buddhism.
The most revered monasteries in the country were built in the suburbs of Jakar:
Kurjey Lhakhang (17th century), built at the foot of a cliff, where, according to legend, Guru Rinpoche meditated and the trace of his body was imprinted on the stone; He arrived in Bumthang at the invitation of one of the kings in order to pacify the demons and cure the king of a terrible disease.
Tamshing Gompa temple (1501), which contains ancient frescoes that tell the history of the country.
Lake Mebartso is located in the Tang Valley, which is a place of pilgrimage because of the legend of St. Pema Lingpa, who discovered Guru treasures in the 15th century (several Buddha statues and sacred texts). An interesting legend is associated with this lake: In 1475, Pema Lingpa met in the forest a stranger who gave him scrolls with texts and suddenly disappeared. Pema Lingpa learned from the texts that valuable relics could be raised from the bottom of the Naring stream. Pema Lingpa came to this place for the first time, entered a state of trance, jumped from a high rock into the water, swam, and returned with sacred texts.
At the Lhentse Dzongyou can get acquainted with the production of “kishutara” fabric, which from time immemorial was supplied to the royal court.
Before reaching Bumthang 26 km, located in the monastery 15 Tarpaling. This monastery has a statue of Longchenpa (1308-1363), a Tibetan yogi philosopher who represented the Nyingma school.
The Tamshing Lakang temple has a metal chain mail made by hand by yogi and terton Pema Lingpa. If you manage to put it on and make three circles around the monastery, you will clear a huge layer of negative karma.
Trongsa, the geographic center of Bhutan. In the distant past, Trongsa played an important role in the unification of the country and the formation of a single state, Trongs Dzong Monastery is located here17th century – residences of the first two kings.