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Central Bhutan

While most of the tourists visiting Bhutan resort to exploring the parts of Paro and Thimphu, Central Bhutan offers many more fascinating places in the central region if the traveler has enough time to spare and explore. On about four hour drive from Wangduephodrang; the serene mountains unfold to the valley of Trongsa, the central district.

Trongsa is originally an ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family, wherein in the early 19th century, the first two kings ruled the kingdom from the district of Trongsa. There is a prominent Trongsa Dzong (fortress) that resides in the Centre of the valley with its massive traditional structure.

In the Dzongkha language, Trongsa means ‘New Town’ where the current monastery has its origin. Each successor of the Bhutanese throne has to hold the post of Trongsa Penlop or governor before he becomes the rightful king of the nation. 

Another historic monument in central Bhutan is the Trongsa Museum (Ta Dzong) perched above the Trongsa Dzong on the left bank of the Mangde river. It was initially built as a watchtower in the 16th century with the purpose to over guard the Trongsa Dzong. However, it underwent massive reconstruction in 2008 and reopened as a museum dedicated to the Wangchuck dynasty, when Bhutan celebrated hundred years of monarchy.

Now, this round five storied building holds 224 items on display, including the sacred image of Sung Joeuma Dorji Chang (self-spoken Vajradhara), a bronze statue of Pema Lingpa, made by himself, and several centuries-old treasures such as ancient prayer books, paintings, scrolls, and textiles.

Bumthang Valley | Central Bhutan
Bumthang valley

Trongsa is a comfortable place to stay for the night in case one is traveling to the east or south of Bhutan. The famous Trongsa Tsechu (festival) generally falls between late November and mid-December. There is another central Bhutanese town, Bumthang, which is at an elevation between 2,600 and 4000m.

It is often described as the spiritual heartland of Bhutan because numerous monasteries and spiritual sites are dotting the Bumthang Valley.

Mebartsho alternately known as ‘The burning lake’ is another sacred site in the valley of Tang. Legend has it that the ancient religious figure Terton Pema Lingpa jumped into the obsidian still lake with a burning butter lamp and came out of the lake holding a treasure and the same burning butter lamp.  Bumthang is in a picturesque valley of beautiful houses and fields of buckwheat, barley, and apples covering the beautiful land.

There are some famous temples including Kurjey Lhakhang (associated with Guru Rinpoche), Jambay Lhakhang (built in the 8th century), and the historic Jakar Dzong (fortress) dating back to the historic era with legendary tales. It is always a privilege to see a small Bumthang festival because it portrays an insight into the cultural spirit of Bhutan.