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CENTRAL REGION
TRONGSA
Trongsa is the central hub of Bhutan. It is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched. Both His Majesty King Ugyen Wangchuck, the Penlop of Trongsa, who was elected the country’s first hereditary monarch and his successor, King Jigme Wangchuck, ruled the country from the Trongsa ancient seat. The Crown Prince of Bhutan normally holds the position of the Trongsa Penlop prior to ascending the throne.

PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST

CHENDBJI CHORTEN
Chendbji Chorten is patterned on the lines of the Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu. It was built in 18th century by Lama Shida, from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot.

TRONGSA DZONG
This Dzong architecture dominates the entire Trongsa horizon dwarfing the surrounding buildings. Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second King ruled the country from this ancient seat. The Dzong is a labyrinth of temples, corridors and offices holding court over the local community. It is built on many levels into the side of the hill and can be seen from every approach to Trongsa heralding its strength as a defensive stronghold.

TA DZONG
The Ta Dzong is a cylindrical stone structure rising five storeys, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa. After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a classy living museum that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity. There are 224 items on display including a sacred image of Sung Joenma Dorji Chang (self spoken Vajradharna), a bronze statue of Pema Lingpa, made by himself, and a number of centuries-old treasures like dance and ritual costumes and objects, ancient prayer books, paintings and scrolls, and textiles.

The Ta Dzong is a living museum and the main lhakhang in the Utse is dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha (Gyaltsab Jampa), also known as the Future Buddha). A Khesar Lhakhang is dedicated to Khesar of Ling. The tower has always been a place of retreat and there are hermits in practice, including two yogis, who are in life long meditation. The Ta Dzong is the only structure that has been restored specifically to tribute the Wangchuck dynasty as Bhutan celebrates the centenary of the Monarchy.

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BUMTHANG
Bumthang has an individuality that charms its visitors, giving the area distinct identity different from other regions. Comprising of four smaller valleys namely Tang, Ura, Choekhor and Chumey, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Bumthang is also the traditional home to the great Buddhist teacher Pema Linga to whose descendants the present dynasty traces its origin.

PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST

JAMBAY LHAKHANG
This monastery was built in the 7th century by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits n the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.

KURJE LHAKHANG
Kurje Lhakhang consists of three temples. One built in 1652 on the rack face where Guru meditated in the 8th century. Second temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of Guru's body and is therefore considered the most holy. The third temple was built in 1990s by Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108 chorten wall.

TAMSHING LHAKHANG
Located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang, this temple was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, the re-incarnation of Guru Padsambhava. The monastery has very ancient religious paintings like 1,000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female form of Buddhistava). The temple was restored to glory at the end of the 19th century.

JAKAR DZONG
Founded by great grand-father of the first Shabdrung, the Dzong was initially built as a monastery in 1549. The Dzong is now used as administrative centre for Bumthang valley, and houses the regional monk body.

KONCHOGSUM LHAKHANG
A 6th century building it was renovated in 1995 with its present day look. The large bell now displayed in the National Museum at Paro is from here. It is believed that when this bell was rung it could be heard all the way in Lhasa in Tibet. During the 17th century a Tibetan Army tried to steal this bell but was too heavy and they dropped it and cracked it.

CHANKHAR LHAKHANG
Changkhar Lhakhang is the site of the palace of the Indian King Sindhu Raja. Its simplicity makes it looks like an ordinary village house, original built of iron hence the name Chankhar, meaning iron castle. It was rebuilt in the 14th century by a Saint called- Dorji Lingpa.

MEMBARTSHO - THE BURNING LAKE
A wide spot on the Tang Chhu (chhu - water / river), this is considered to be one of the greatest pilgrimage sites of Bhutan. Pema Linga found several of Guru Rinpoche's hidden treasures here. The importance of this site is indicated by the extensive array of prayer flags and the small clay offerings called 'Tse Tsa' in rock niches.

UGYENCHHOLING PALACE
Also in the Tang valley, was restored in 19th century, and houses the Family Museum with permanent exhibits recreated to capture the ambience of the lifestyle of the Trongsa Penelop (Governor) Tshokey Dorji and his household.

TANG RIMOCHEN LHAKHANG
This is a sacred place of Guru Rimpoche. A rock in front of temple bears a body print of the Guru and two khandroms (female celestial being). The site is named after the tiger stripe markings on the cliff. Footprints of the Guru and his consorts Mandarava and Yeshe Chhogyal are found below the lhakhang. Two large boulders nearby are said to be male and female jachungs (garudas).

KUNZANGDRAK GOEMBA
This is two hours walk above Chel Tang Valley. It is one of the most important sites related to Pemalingpa the great treasure discoverer in Bhutan, who also constructed the Goemba in 1488. Most of his sacred relics are kept here including the gilded stone bearing his footprint.
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