What to See in Jakar and Paro (Bhutan)

By | July 15, 2022

Jakar (Bhutan)

Jakar is located at an altitude of 2800 m in one of the valleys of the Bumthang Dzongkhaga – Chokhor Valley. It is believed that Jakar was the first place in Bhutan visited by Guru Rimpoche. In the city itself, the Jakar Dzong fortress (“White Bird Fortress”) (1667), which is one of the largest fortresses in Bhutan, the location of the regional administration and the center of its spiritual life, and the Wangdichholing Palace (1857), which served as as the summer residence of the first and second King of Bhutan.

But the most interesting are the surroundings of Jakar, where one of the most revered monasteries of the country is located – Jambi-Lakhang and Kurjey-Lakhang. Monastery Jambi Lhakhang was founded before the advent of Guru Rinpoche in the 7th century under King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet as one of 108 monasteries that were supposed to protect the region from evil spirits. In late autumn, the monastery hosts one of the most colorful festivals in Bhutan – Jambi-Lagkhang-Drapa (Festival of Hungry Ghosts). On one of the evenings of the festival, torch dances are held, during which childless women are blessed to have a child, and the earth is blessed with a rich harvest.

Slightly higher is the Kurjei Lhakhang monastery. It was founded in the 17th century at the rock where, according to legend, Guru Rimpoche meditated and where the imprint of his body was preserved. In addition, the monastery is the burial place of the first three kings of Bhutan.. First, 3 temples were built here, and in the 19-20 centuries, more than 100 “chortens” stupas were added to them, among which is a large chorten, erected in memory of the first three kings of the state. Above the monastery rises an ancient cypress, which, according to legend, grew from the staff of Guru Rimpoche.

Also in the vicinity of Jakar, it is worth visiting Tamshing Gompa Temple, built in 1501 by Saint Pema Lingpa, where ancient frescoes have been preserved, Lhodrak-Kharchhu Buddhist University, and Chakhar Temple , built on the site of the castle of the Indian Raja Sindhu.

In one of the valleys of Bumthang – the Tang Valley – in the backwaters of the Naring River there is a small lake Mebartso (“Flaming Lake”). It is believed that here in the 15th century, Saint Pema Lingpa discovered the treasures (terms) of Guru Rimpoche – sacred texts and several Buddha statues. Today the lake is a place of pilgrimage. The Ura valley is very picturesque, in which, at an altitude of 3100 m, there is a village of the same name with many ancient monasteries.

In addition, in the vicinity of Jakar, there are many hiking trails along the picturesque valleys of Bumthang.

Paro (Bhutan)

According to nonprofitdictionary, Paro is located west of Thimphu in the valley of the same name at an altitude of 2400 m. The only international airport in Bhutan is located in the city of Paro, for which it was called the air gate of the country. Along the central city street, you can see many buildings made in the traditional style. The main attraction of the city is the 16th century Paro Dzong Monastery, which is dominated by an old 17th century tower. The tower houses the Ta-Dzog National Museum, which displays collections of weapons, antiques and archaeological finds. Tourists go to Paro in order to look at located 10 km north of it.

Monastery Taksang-Lahang-Dzong, which means “Tiger’s Lair”. This is one of the main Buddhist shrines of the country, because the monastery was founded by Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava), who is considered the founder of Buddhism in Bhutan. The appearance of the monastery on the top of the rocky cliff dates back to the 8th century, when, according to legend, Guru Rimpoche was transported to one of the local caves for meditation. In 1998, a fire broke out in Taksang Lakhang Dzong, which claimed the lives of several monks and destroyed most of the buildings, but the monastery was soon restored. Over the long years of the existence of the monastery, many other monasteries have appeared around it, so these places are truly sacred. Many tourists prefer to get here along the hiking trails laid on the rocks. Such a journey may take about 5 hours. The best time to visit the monastery is during the annual Tsechu festival.

In the Paro Valley, it is also worth visiting the ruins of the fortified monastery of Druk-Yul-Dzong (“Fortress of Victory”). The monastery is located 16 km northeast of the city of Paro. It was built in the 17th century under King Shabdrung to protect the kingdom from the attacks of the Tibetan peoples. In addition, in the mountains surrounding Paro, there are monasteries such as Kuychu Lhakhang, Satsam Chorten, Rinpung Dzong, Jele Dzong and Dungtse Lhakhang. Kyuchyu Laghang Monastery is one of 108 monasteries that were built in the 7th century under King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in one night to protect Tibet from evil spirits.

In addition to sacred sites, the Paro Valley is famous for its picturesque landscapes, which can be seen while hiking or cycling. The best place for hiking is Jigme Dorji National Park, named after the third king of Bhutan. It is the most extensive protected area in Bhutan. The area of the park is 4329 sq. km. Altitudes within the park vary from 1400 to 7000 m. There are more than 30 species of mammals, about 300 bird species and 1400 plant species. The park is home to the symbol of Bhutan – bovid mammal takin, blue sheep, Bengal tigers, snow leopards, musk and barking deer, red pandas, Himalayan bears. This is the only place in the world where snow leopards and Bengal tigers coexist. Rare birds include black-necked crane, white-capped redstart, bluebird, blue magpie, Himalayan monal and nutcracker. There are many hiking trails of various difficulty levels in the park. While traveling through these places, you can see mountain lakes, hot springs, glacial valleys and such sacred peaks as Chomolgari (7314 m) (according to legend, the symbol of Bhutan, the thunder dragon, lives here), Tsherimgang (7094 m) and Jichu Drake (6794 m).

From Paro, you can also recover to the southwest of the country to the Haa valley. The highest highway of the state – Cherila (3810 m) was laid here through the mountain passes. In the western part of the Haa Valley, on an area of 644 sq. km stretches Torsa Reserve. The reserve is occupied by temperate forests and alpine meadows. Many birds live here, among which are forest partridges, forest snipes and a rare Nepalese kalao.

Paro (Bhutan)