Central Region

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 legendary.

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.

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.

Ura - 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 and cushion

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