1. Mebar Tsho or Burning Lake

The Burning Lake, also known as Mebar Tsho, is a revered site in the Tang Valley of Bhutan. Despite being called a lake, it is actually a pool located along the Tang Chhu River. According to legend, the renowned religious figure Terton Pema Lingpa discovered a hidden treasure in the late 1400s through divination. Pema Lingpa, believed to be the reincarnation of Padmasambhava, submerged himself in the water holding a lit butter lamp and emerged with a chest and a scroll, solidifying the significance of the site. Mebar Tsho remains a sacred place, attracting pilgrims who pay homage to Pema Lingpa by offering butter lamps and surrounding the area with colorful prayer flags.

In the 15th century, Pema Lingpa had a vision indicating that a treasure was hidden in a pool where the Tang Chhu River widened. When met with skepticism, he submerged himself in the water holding a lit butter lamp and emerged with a chest and a scroll, the lamp still burning. This extraordinary event led to the pool’s transformation from being called Nya Ring Brag, meaning “Long-Nosed Cliff,” due to the surrounding cliffs, to being known as Mebar Tsho or the Burning Lake.

2. Kurjey Lhakhang

Kurjey Lhakhang, situated in Bhutan’s Bumthang district, holds great religious significance as one of the most sacred sites in the country. Surrounded by 108 chorten walls, this hillside complex encompasses three revered temples: Guru Lhakhang, Sampa Lhundrup Lhakhang, and Ka Gon Phor Sum Lhakhang. The temples exhibit magnificent architecture reminiscent of Bhutanese fortresses, featuring intricate wood carvings, delicate hand paintings, and pristine white walls. With a rich history dating back to the 8th century, Kurjey Lhakhang is associated with Guru Rinpoche, who subdued local deities in a nearby cave and left his body imprint, giving the site its name. The temples within the complex, including the oldest Guru Lhakhang, signify legendary struggles and embody deep spiritual significance. This revered site continues to inspire devotion and reverence as a testament to Bhutan’s spiritual heritage.

The origin of Kurjey Lhakhang dates back to the 8th century when Sendhu Raja, the then king of Bumthang, sought the help of Guru Rinpoche to cure his illness. Guru Rinpoche discovered that the king’s ailment was caused by malevolent local deities, including the powerful Shelging Karpo. In response, Guru Rinpoche pursued the deities into a cave and meditated there for three months. He successfully subdued the deities, leaving his body imprint inside the cave, hence the name “Kurjey” meaning “Body Imprint.” Adjacent to the monastery stands a tall cypress tree believed to have grown from Guru Rinpoche’s walking stick.

3. Jambay Lhakhang

Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most revered temples in Bhutan, holds great religious significance and serves as the venue for various festivals. Situated between Khurjey Lhakhang and Jakar Dzong, it can be reached with a short 10-minute drive from Jakar town. King Songsten Gampo constructed this temple in the 7th century, as part of the 108 temples he built, and it houses precious relics and deity statues. Visitors to Jambay Lhakhang can witness captivating sacred rituals and traditional dances performed by monks and locals dressed in vibrant and colorful costumes. The temple’s stunning carvings and architectural beauty add to its allure. It is important to respect the customs and dress appropriately when visiting this sacred site.

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