Bumthang valley

Jakar Travel Blog

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Early morning took a walk to catch the sunrise overlooking the dzong. Walked around 2 kms on the highway, the same way we came. There was another reason for me stopping at Trongsa, my camera battery was dead and so was not able to take any pictures of the Trongsa Dzong and all the way was cursing myself not able to capture the amazing scenery. So today i started walking on the highway and taking the pictures of the dzong and the surrounding scenery. By the time i reached back to the hotel, it was 9am and decided to check out of the hotel and proceed to the next destination. Although Trongsa is a small town with not much to see or do, but one can spend any amount of time at this calm and cool place, just to get some piece of mind, do nothing and just relax the whole day.

The owner gave a discount on the total bill and started giving me tips on where to visit next, how to go to other places and from where I can get a ride. So there I was standing on the highway again with my backpack waiting for any vehicle  that might pass and give me a ride till Bumthang. The normal taxi rate is around Rupees 1100, which was a bit high for me, so sat down by the side of the road waiting for other vehicles. Along came a lorry truck with only the driver and  I jumped to ask if he was going to Bhumthang and can take me along. He smiled, nodded and I jumped into the passenger seat beside him with my backpack. I haven't hitchhiked much, but this was the most easiest one of all. Slowly the lorry made its way along the narrow mountain roads with a stop for rest and loo break and crossed the Yotong La pass.
  He was kind enough to slow down whenever he saw me taking pictures and we chatted while he was navigating carefully on the mountain roads. Before we knew, we reached Jakar, a windy little town at the bottom of the valley of Bhumtang. Bhumthang consists of 4 valleys, and Jakar is located in its main Chokhor valley.

The driver was pleasantly surprised when I gave him some money and again gave be a big smile I thanked him, got down on the main street and started looking for a place to stay. Its main road was clogged with charming wooden shacks and selling everything from  yak cheese, souvenirs, sports shoes, utensils, mobile phones, mobile recharge cards and of course liquor shops. A bit farther away from the main street there are a few luxury resorts.
The cheaper hotels were full as this is the 2nd largest town of Bhutan. So had to take a slightly expensive one,
double room, which was worth the money and  they even gave me a discount without asking as I was traveling alone.  After checking into the room and a quick lunch started wandering around the town to get a feel of the place. Later decided to take a guided tour of the nearby monasteries by a taxi guy. It was kind of expensive but felt the money well spent as the places were a bit far off and cannot be visited on foot in a day.
First went to Khurjey Lhakhang, the temple of Guru Rinpoche who popularized Buddhism in Bhutan. The history goes like this, the guru visited this place at the invitation of the then king Sendha Gyab who they say had been possessed by an evil daemon.
The Guru removed the daemon from the kings body and converted both the king and the daemon to Buddhism. This temple is built around the cave where the guru prayed and still has a body print embossed.
The next was Tamshing monastery which is past a few prosperous looking farmhouses. It was built in 1501 by Pema Linpga  and is said that was constructed with the help of magical beings. Its also said that Pema Lingpa was the one who discovered around 34 statues, religious scrolls and holy relics. The artifacts that he found and the dances he choreographed and the art he created have all left an deep permanent mark on Bhutanese culture.
Next we visited Jampey Lakhang, another one of the most venerable temples. Every year in the month of October there is the most popular festival held here called Jampey Lhakhand Drup.
The main highlight of this festival is the late night treasure dance during which the dancers appear only in there face masks and nothing else. The taxi driver told me that all the visitors are warned in advance, not to carry any cameras. If anyone caught taking pictures or misbehaving, he is caught and imprisoned in Bhutan jail for a min of 1 year.
The last place to visit today was the Jakar Dzong which is the closest to the Jakar town and again perched on top of a hill.

Back in the town after sightseeing and started looking for a place to taste local food, had beef momos at a small place and retired to the room for some rest. Dinner was simple Dal-Bhat and curry at the hotel restaurant who mentioned that its prepared the Bhutanses stlye, it tasted really good. Tomorrow is another festival at a small place called Thangbi and I was looking forward to take part in the festival celebrations.
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Decent Room for $11.
Decent Room for $11.
photo by: lrecht