After completing the Western Triangle tour (Paro, Thimphu & Punakha), the physical and cultural beauty of Bhutan shifts into a different zone.The traveler will witness sudden transformation whilst embarking on their journey towards the west. We have named this zone as the Central Alps because of its higher altitude and vegetation. Under Central Alps, there are three destinations loved by our guests: Phobjikha valley, Trongsa and Bumthang.
Phobjikha Valley- Home to the Black Naked Crane
Often regarded as the most beautiful valley in Bhutan, Phobjikha valley (2900m) has built its reputation based on its sheer natural beauty. The valley is considered to be home to endangered Black Naked Cranes which are frequently seen there during their annual migration. To preserve its habitat alongside state intervention, the native of Phobjikha have been applauded for their conservation efforts. Furthermore, the annual Black Naked Crane festival is celebrated both by the visitors and the native of the valley to spread the significance of the creature and protect it from extinction. Ever since its inception, the event is widely considered a unique and popular festival in the country.
Cultural and religious transformation is immediately seen whilst in Phobjikha when we visit Gangtey, a few kilometers from the valley. Built in 17th century, Gangtey monastery depicts the Nyingmapa form of Buddhism. With its hill top location, the presence of antique paintings and statues makes a must visit place.
Popular Gangtey trail has been constructed recently to suit the need of travelers interested in adventure. Visitors use the trail both for hiking and cycling and it has managed to earn positive testament from those who visited.
Trongsa- Gigantic Fort
Trongsa carries lot of weight in the chapters of Bhutan’s history. It is not only the ancestral home to ruling Wangchuck dynasty, but also the place has recorded many historic events especially while laying the foundation of the political system under monarchy.
The gigantic fort of Trongsa Dzong is the iconic centre of attraction. Built in 1648, the Dzong and its strategic location falling under central region proved a vital role in unifying the country when it suffered political turmoil and civil strife during transition from theocracy to monarchy. The Dzong is a massive structure with many levels and 22 temples built within the complex. To date, many historic occasions related to national significance take place in Trongsa Dzong. Before coronation, the king must hold the position of Trongsa (Poenlop) of which the ceremony is held in this Dzong.
In addition, Trongsa also boasts an impressive museum built recently. The Trongsa Ta Dzong Museum is a conversion of a watch tower (Ta) into a museum where rich and authentic artifacts of Royal antiquities are preserved. The most pious amongst all is the Raven Crown wore by the first King. The museum is mainly built to display historical artifacts and dedicated to the Wangchuck Dynasty.
Within the vicinity of Trongsa Dzong, a couple of palaces can be found. Built by former kings which includes Kuenga Rabten and Yurungchhoeling Palace. These can provide a picturesque view of the local neighborhood.
The Chendibji Chorten found on the route to Trongsa is another major tourist attraction. Built based on the pattern of the famous Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal, the place is a must see given its religious significance. Its architecture is awe-inspiring 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 which the story tells us was subdued at this spot. Legend has it that the evil spirit manifested in the form of a gigantic snake.
BUMTHANG – Central Alp
The Bumthang region, spanning from 2,600-4,500m is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. It is distinguished in history as the first place Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan by Guru Rimpoche. Tales of Guru Rimpoche and the tertons (“religious treasure-discoverers”) still linger in this sacred region.
The region consists of four main valleys Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. This serene region is one of the most peaceful places in the kingdom, with broad and gentle valleys covered in fields of buckwheat, rice and potatoes and populated with numerous historic palaces, numerous temples and important ancient Buddhist sites.
Jambey Lhakhang is an ancient temple built by the King Songtsen Gampo in 659 A.D. as part of a chain of 108 simultaneously constructed temples in order to subdue an evil demoness that lay over the Himalayan region. It is the oldest lhakhang in Bhutan. Kurje Lhakhang is home to a rock featuring the imprint of Guru Rimpoche’s body, whilst Tamshing Monastery contains some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan.
Other highlights in the Bumthang Valley include the 16th century Ugyen Chholing Palace complex housing a fascinating museum, 14th century Tang Rimochen Lhakhang where Guru Rinpoche meditated and Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake), where some of Guru Rinpoche’s treasures were found in the 15th century by the famous treasure discover Pema Lingpa.