The rich biodiversity of Zhemgang with its lush forest is home for 22 endangered animal species including the Golden Langur. Ancient Bon (animist) religious practices are still carried out in Zhemgang, though Buddhism has been growing in popularity, every region of the district still continues its animist traditions and Bon priests known as Bonpo are considered respected religious leaders. The residents of Zhemgang are famous for their rich culture, particularly their folk songs and dances and also for crafting various goods out of bamboo such as Bangchungs (matted bamboo bowls), Palangs (alcohol containers), Balaks (hats), mats and boxes. Zhemgang also houses a number of famous Buddhist temples such as Buli Lhakhang and Tharpa Choeling Lhakhang. Royal Manas National park is one of the major attractions of Zhemgang.
Located in the southwestern part of Bhutan on the Wangdue-Gelephu highway, Tsirang has gentle slopes and mild climates and is known for its rich biodiversity. One of Bhutan’s longest rivers, the Punatsang Chhu or Sankosh River flows through the district. It is the main district where the Lhotshampas (Nepali speaking Bhutanese) reside so the dominant language here is Nepali. The route from Wangdue Phodrang to Tsirang is quite scenic which offers the view of one of the largest hydro power projects in the country.
Trongsa Dzongkhag-The Vanguard of the warriors is located near the centre of Bhutan and was considered crucial in controlling the kingdom in earlier years due to its strategic position. Trongsa is the ancestral home to the royal family. Both His Majesty King Ugyen Wangchuck, the Penlop of Trongsa, who was elected the country’s first hereditary monarch and his successor, King Jigme Wangchuk, ruled the country from Trongsa ancient seat. The crown prince of Bhutan traditionally becomes “penlop” (governor) of Trongsa before being crowned king.
Trongsa Dzong is the largest dzong fortress in Bhutan, located in Trongsa district, in the centre of the country. It was built on a spur overlooking the gorge of the Mangde River in 1543 by the Drukpa Lama. It served as the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan as both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat. The dzong is a massive structure with many levels, sloping down the contours of the ridge on which it is built. Because of the dzong’s highly strategic position, on the only connecting route between east and west, the Trongsa Penlop was able to control effectively the whole of the central and eastern regions of the country from here.
Thruepang Palace is the birth place of the Late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. The two storied simple palace is situated just above the highway which is 23 km drive from Trongsa for about an hour and passes through open countryside high above a river gorge. The land slopes quite gently in this region, and farming is well developed, so there is much of interest to observe in the fields and in the villages as one speed along.
The Chorten lies en route to Trongsa which is patterned on Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Zhida, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. Legend says that the evil spirit manifested as a gigantic snake.
Sarpang District consists of environmentally protected areas; far western Sarpang District contains part of the uninhabited Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary along the India border, northern Sarpang District is part of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National park and eastern and southeastern Sarpang District lie within the Royal Manas National Park. Sarpang is bisected by a wide swath of biological corridor connecting all three environmentally protected areas. The diverse population gives visitors an interesting cultural experience with a wealth or various religions and traditions and the dominant language in Sarpang is Nepali. Gelephu is the major town within the dzongkhag and is an important border town with India.
Gelephu is located in Southern Bhutan on the border with India and is a hub for cross-border trade. Gelephu is the gateway to the Royal Mans National park, the oldest nature preserve in the kingdom of Bhutan and is a warm, fertile region with plenty of rainfall. It houses hundreds of rare plant and animal species such as Golden Langurs, Gangetic Dolphins and the Asian One horned rhinoceros.
Gelephu also offers the ancient Bhutanese tradition of ‘Menchu’ also known as Hot Stone Baths where water is heated by submerging red-hot stones into the bath and then used it to bathe and soak, which is a popular curative method that is used throughout the country. The Hot Spring in Gelephu is mainly visited by the locals but in winter people all over from Bhutan visit here.
Gelephu Airport is one of the new domestic airports that have recently been opened in the country and this airport is one of the major keys to the strengthening links with and opening up more rural areas of the country.
Bumthang is the most historic place in Bhutan as numbers of ancient temples and sacred sites are located here. This religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist monasteries and temples spreads from 2,600-4,500 meters. The valley is composed of four main valleys Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. Bumthang translated as “beautiful field” as “bum” is said to be derived from either bumpa which means a vessel for holy water or simply bum, which means a girl pointing that this is the valley of the beautiful girls and “thang” means field of flat piece. The valley is fertile so it produces large amount of buckwheat, rice and potatoes. Apple orchards, honey, woolen products and dairy farms are also common sights in Bumthang. Some of Bhutan’s oldest and most revered temples are found in Bumthang, including Jambey Lhakhang, built by King Songsten Gampo in 659 A.D in order to subdue an evil demon that lay over the Himalayan region and is the oldest Lhakhang in Bhutan. Major attractions of Bumthang are Jakar Dzong, Mebar Tsho-the Burning Lake.
Jakar Dzong or the “Castle of the white Bird” enhances the beauty of Chamkar Valley and overlooks the town. It was constructed in 1549, by Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, which played as important role as the fortress of defense of the whole eastern Dzongkhas and also served as the seat of the first king of Bhutan. The unique feature of the Dzong is a sheltered passage, with two parallel walls, interconnected by fortified towers, which gave the population of the fortress access to water supply, is still intact to this day.
Mebar Tsho-The Burning Lake
The Burning Lake, Mebar Tsho is located along the way to the Tang village over the feeder road under Bumthang Valley and takes approximately 30 minutes drive to the Mebar Tsho from Chamkar town. It is believed that Terto Pema Lingpa had a vision of the sacred treasures that Guru Rinpoche had hidden within the lake centuries earlier but the local people were biased of his claims so in order to prove his claim Pema Lingpa held a butter lamp in his hand as he jumped into the lake and then re-emrged holding a chest and a scroll of paper after reaming under water for a long time with the butter lamp held in his hand still burning bright. Afterwards, the lake came to be known as Mebar Tsho (The Burning Lake).
Jambey Lhakhang is one of the 108 monasteries built by King Songsten Goenpo in the 17th century to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region.
Kurje Lhakhang is dedicated to Saint Guru Padmasambava who was supposed to have meditated here in the 8th century.
The Lhakhang lies on the other side of the river opposite to the Kurje Lhakhang. It was built by Terton Pema Lingpa, a re-incarnated disciple of Guru Padmasambava.