Tashigang (3,775 ft) is the country’s largest district. It lies in the Eastern part of Bhutan, on the banks of the Gamri Chu River. Tashigang, once the center of a busy trade with Tibet, is today the junction on the east-west highway with the road connecting Samdrup Jongkhar to Assam in India. This town is also the market place for the hill people from Merak and Sakteng who are remarkable for their exceptional features & costumes. The hat that they wear is unusual and has a significance of its own. It is very different from customary Bhutanese clothing.

With the Thunder Dragon II

We arrived in Bumthang feeling much more confident about the place we were travelling in and the people we were talking to. The feeling was, for lack of a better word, rather temporary. Bumthang took us completely by surprise with its deep roots in spiritual life. Perhaps the holiest valley in Bhutan, it holds myths, stories and deities from the most ancient periods of Bhutan’s history which pre-date the arrival of Buddhism as well. The number of nunneries and monasteries in the valley gave us a hint of the pervasive religious thought. Bumthang’s location is perhaps most crucial because of how deeply pre-Buddhist religious thinking persisted in the valley. Not surprisingly, the stories tell you that Guru Rinpoche brought Buddhism to Bhutan only after performing various miracles here at Kurje in the Bumthang Valley. It is also in Bumthang valley that Pema Lingapa, a supposed incarnation of Rinpoche, discovered spiritual knowledge from the bed of the Mebar Lake. To us, it was the ethos at Bumthang more than the other places we travelled to, that seemed to be the richest and the most complicated in terms of its negotiation with religion and spirituality. On other terms, Bumthang is perhaps best described as a broader opposite of the Paro valley. Read more…

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