Polaroid Photo

Bank Barn Travel Photos

Bank Barn Travel

Brian and Louise — Blog Site

2013 Bhutan – Bumthang festival

Sunday, October 20 ~ Flight to Bumthang for festival
>> View Photo Gallery of Festival
>> Miscellaneous Photos of Bumthang and Ura

The twenty minutes flight from Paro to the sacred valley of Bumthang offered spectacular views of the Bhutanese Himalayas, including Gangkar Puensum (7,541 m / 24,735 ft), the highest unclimbed peak in the world. In this short flight, besides the mountain peaks, countless valleys formed by the numerous rivers and streams fed by the glacial lakes were visible out the plane windows.  The elevation here was about 2600 meters or 8,528 feet. The airport here is tiny but had its own fire engine!

We attended one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan, the Jampa Lhakhang Droop in the Chhoekor Valley, in its third day of festivities. Dating back to 7th century, this temple, the Jampa Lhakhang Droop, is believed to have been built by the spiritual power of King Songtsen Gampo (first Buddhist King of Tibet). It is believed that the desire of this pious King to spread Buddhism across the Himalayan region was being thwarted by the presence of a giant ogress lying on her back across the entire Himalayas. So in order to negate the influence of the ogress, it was reckoned that constructing 108 temples on different parts of the ogress would subdue her. The Jampa Lhakhang is believed to be pinning down the left knee of the ogress.

There are four major valleys that form the district of Bumthang, The Chhoekor Valley where we stay one night in the main town of Bumthang, the Ura Valley and the Chumey or Chhume Valley. We passed a farmer and his son ploughing their muddy fields in bare feet using oxen and a plough. The scenery from Bumthang to Ura was spectacular.

We stayed in a pretty little guest house in Bumthang, the Kaila. We walked the streets of Jankar and watched a young women rolling beetle nuts in leaves and applying the lime paste .. the stuff that stains teeth and lips. We also had our first glimpse of strings of dried goat’s cheese. On arriving in URA, we stayed in a private monastery owned by a young family of 4 boys. Life was difficult here, the husband was in a wheel chair having been injured in a car accident. This was the night we needed hot water bottles in our beds!

Bhutan is a country of festivals. The most important are the religious dance festivals, known as Tshechus, which are held in different districts, at specific times during the year. The Tshechus are celebrated for three to five days with much repetitious in the dancing and festivities. These festivals, which are held in honor of Guru Rimpoche, commemorate his great deeds. Dances are performed with deep religious significance, especially in the tantric context. The Tshechus are important religious festivals and it is believed that by attending them, one gains merits and blessings. They are not somber, formal religious affairs, but occasions to get together, renew acquaintances, and make merry. The atsaras (traditional clowns of the Tshechu) add color and merriment to the festival by their bawdy antics. Tshechus attract crowds that sometimes come from the remotest of villages. In a swirl of color and noise, the gods and demons of Buddhist mythology come to life. Masked and sword dances and other rituals are performed in the courtyards and temples of the Dzongs during festivals. The origin of most of the dances can be traced back before the Middle Ages and are only performed once or twice a year. Each dance has its own significance and is performed by monks and villagers. Bumthang has some stunning, very old temples, such as Kurje Lharkhang, a complex that was founded in the 8th century by Guru Rinpochhe who is highly regarded as the second Buddha and whose image appears often in Bhutanese art.

Lodging: Kaila Guest House in Bumthang

Comments are closed.