Sights you shouldn't miss in Jakar, Bhutan

Sights you shouldn't miss in Jakar, Bhutan

The first two travel tips are about landmarks in Jakar, Bhutan:

- Jakar Dzong. The fortress was originally constructed in 1667, but rebuilt after being severely damaged in an earthquake in 1897. It is one of the largest and most impressive dzongs in Bhutan and houses the administrative and monastic offices for the Bumthang district.

- Wangdicholing Palace. Built in 1857, the palace served as the principal summer residence of the first and second kings of Bhutan. It is an unassuming structure, lacking the ramparts and protective walls which became standard features of later palaces. Currently, it is unoccupied and can be visited.

The following sights are travel tips about sacred sites/monasteries, which you could visit:

Monasteries are referred to by their Dzongkha title of lhakhang or gompa.

- Kurje Lhakhang (also Kurjey). One of Bhutan's most sacred monasteries. A body print of Guru Rinpoche is preserved in a cave around which the oldest of the three buildings is built. The original building was constructed in 1652 by Trongsa Penlop, while the latest addition was added by the late Queen Mother Ashi Kesang Wangchuk in 1990. A huge cypress tree (or perhaps a decedent tree) that over hangs the building is said to have grown from Guru Rinpoche's walking stick.

- Zangtopelri Lhakhang. Consecrated in 2008, this latest addition to the sacred sites in the area houses a two story high mandala representing Guru Rinpoche's Copper Colored Mountain. Zangtopelri is a short walk from Kuje Lhakhang.

- Jambey Lhakhang. One of the 108 monasteries that were miraculously constructed by King Songten Gampo in one night. The monastery is located between Kurjey Lhakang and Jakar Dzong.

- Lhodrak Kharchhu Lhakhang This monastery is a more recent addition to the pantheon of monasteries in Jakar and is located above the town. The abbot, Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche, is a very highly respected teacher in Bhutan and speaks some English.

- Tamshing Gompa. A monastery established in 1501 by the local Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa. The two story building contains some lovely frescoes, and has a very low ceiling (apparently Pema Lingpa was very short!) In addition, there is 500-year-old suit of metal chain made by Pema Lingpa located on the first floor. It is considered auspicious to circumambulate the temple three times with the chain draped over the back and shoulders.

- Chakhar Lhakhang (Iron Castle). This small and unassuming temple marks the site of the palace of Sindhu Raja, the Indian monarch who first invited Guru Rimpoche to Bhutan. The original palace was said to be made of iron and nine stories in height. The current building was constructed by Dorji Lingpa in the 14th century.

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