Bumthang district is in central Bhutan. Bumthang is often regarded as the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. It is blessed with many sacred religious sites and the land permeates with tales of myths and legends of great Buddhist saints. It takes 10 hour drive from Thimphu and 30 minutes flight from Paro to arrive at Bumthang. The locals speak their own dialect and are very proud of their heritage. Their buckwheat pan cake and buckwheat noodles are quite popular among the tourists. Bumthang is also known for their textile production sourced from yak and sheep wool locally known as Yathra. The textile has intricate and unique design and commonly used to make jackets, bags and creative young clothe designers are starting to produce elegant dresses as well.
TOP ATTRACTIONS IN BUMTHANG
Long before Bhutan was unified, Bumthang valley was under the rule of a local King. While he waged a war against his arch rival, he had lost his son in the battle. Infuriated, the King decreed that the he and his people would no longer offer prayers and sacrifice to the local deity for not helping turn the events in his favor. The powerful deity cast a spell that made the King terribly ill. Desperate to recover, the King had sent an invitation to Guru Rinpoche, a 7th century Buddhist master to visit Bumthang valley and help him recover. Guru obliged and he meditated in a cave to subdue the local deity and successfully lifted the curse and the King recovered. In the process of meditating, Guru had left his body imprint in the cave and subsequently a temple was built around the cave and named it Kurjey which translates to body imprint.
MEBAR TSO (THE BURNING LAKE)
Locals as per their religion believe in Tertons which translates to the treasure discoverer. According to the religion, a prophesied saint is born to discover treasures that were hidden centuries ago by Guru Rinpoche. The treasure discoverers are believed to be disciples of Guru Rinpoche. One such Terton was Pema Lingpa from Bumthang valley. As per the narrative, he had a vision of a treasure hidden underneath a lake in Tang village and his claim was dismissed by the local people. To prove his claim, he is said to have leapt into the water holding a butter lamp and later emerged with the treasure and the butter lamp still lit. Thus the lake was named Mebar Tso which translates to the burning lake. The site is revered and considered sacred. It is twenty minute drive away from the central town in Bumthang.
YATHRA WEAVING CENTER
It is a tradition for young girls in the rural community in across Bhutan to learn how to work the traditional back strap loom. Weaving for some women is a primary occupation while others see it as a skill to earn side income. Bumthang is a cold place and thus women use wool from yaks and sheep to source their fabric. The thick fabric is then used to weave what’s locally known as yathra. Traditionally designs were limited however with the infusion of western fashion influence; today the textile is used to produce jackets, bags and stationery. Its unique pattern and distinct color stands out in the market.