The spiritual heartland of Bhutan can be found in Bumthang
Bumthang is widely considered the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. It was here, at the Jakar Dzong or the ‘Fortress of the White Bird’, that Guru Rinpoche first arrived and converted the ruler to Buddhism. His influence can still be clearly felt today.
In this richly fertile region brimming with rice fields and apple groves, the area surrounding Bumthang is dotted with over 100 monasteries and temples built back in the 7th century. The goal was to subdue the rampant evil spirits that were seen to be overtaking the Himalayan region. The venture was clearly a resounding success, as it is now a welcoming wonderland for any traveller.
Although the route by road into central Bhutan is long, it is a scenic marvel. Bumthang’s typically broad U-shaped valleys and gently sloping mountains are also ideal for those wishing to explore by foot. Off the beaten track, you will discover settlements with cobbled streets and farmhouses that lend the region a distinctly medieval feel. And from Bumthang you can take a day excursion to the wondrous Ura Valley, the highest in the region.
As an insider tip, look out for the remarkable cottage industries which have sprung up in the area. Be sure to sample Bumthang butter, cheese and honey – as well as the locally brewed Red Panda beer. As its name suggests it’s a rare treat.