DAY 06: BUMTHANG
* Day excursion EITHER to Tang valley or Ura village.
Tang is the most remote of Bumthang’s valleys. From Jakar it is a 10km drive past the Dechenpelrithang sheep farm to an unpaved road that leads to the north. The road passes Chel, Pema Lingpa’s birth place, where there is a small chorten, but no longer a village. The road continues past the school at Rimochen to Mishitang, 15km from the paved road. The ground continues further towards Gamling and on to a sheep breeding project at Wobtang, but it gets rougher the further it goes.
On the hillside above the west side of the valley is Kunzandrak goemba which was founded by Pema Lingpa. The monastery can be viewed from the road. Upon reaching Tang, take an hour’s hike up to the old Ugyenchholing Palace which has now been converted to a museum.
After visiting the museum, drive the same way and enroute, visit Merbartsho (Burning Lake), which is actually a wide spot in the Tang Chhu.
Terton Pema Lingpa found several of Guru Rimpoche’s hidden terma (treasures) here. A wooden bridge crosses the river and is a good vantage point to look down into the lake. The importance of the site is indicated by the extensive array of prayer flags and the small clay offerings called Tse Tsa in rock niches. It is believed that Terton Pema Lingpa had a vision about hidden treasures to be found at the foot of Tang valley as prophesied many centuries ago by Guru Rimpoche. The people of Tang and the local ruler at that time was cynical about it, therefore, Pema Lingpa held a butter lamp in his hand and jumped into the lake. He remained there for a long time and re-emerged holding a chest and a scroll of paper as well as the butter lamp which was still burning bright. Thereafter, the lake was known as Mebartsho (the burning lake).This is one of the many sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
Take a day trip to visit Ura, south-east of Jakar, which is the highest of the four valleys in Bumthang. Ura valley is about 48 kms, an hour and a half drive from the main town. Wide open spaces characterize the valley that sits in the shadow of the Thrumsingla Pass, which separates the east from the west of the Kingdom.
Ura village and its monastery are a charming stop before the climb to the east. Clustered houses and cobbled streets provide Ura village a medieval feel yet a very attractive atmosphere. Visit Ura lhakhang which will give you the notion on the lifestyle of central Bhutanese people. Stop at some local houses in the Ura village to see the daily ways of the villagers.