By Jigme Norbu, Graduate Student at Teton Science Schools.
I am originally from Mongar, the eastern Bhutan and I live in Panbang which is southern Bhutan, working as a teacher at Panbang Community Primary School. But ever since I went for a pilgrimage with my parents, Bumthang which is also known as Jakar, has always been my place. Bumthang is one of the twenty districts in Bhutan and it is known to be the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. It is considered to be sacred to Bhutanese as it has many holy landmarks. This is the first place in Bhutan to be bountifully blessed by Guru Rinpoche (the precious teacher) in 746 AD, who is considered to be the second Buddha. He was also the first ever to spread Buddhism in Bhutan.
Bumthang valley stands at an elevation of 2600 m. It is a beautiful valley probably shaped by ancient glaciers. Surrounded by hills on all sides that you can see, it is breathtaking. Evergreen Himalayan pine also known as Bhutan pine dominates the conifer forest. Hundreds of colorful prayer flags surround stupas and temples also known as Lhakhang. A crystal clear meandering river called Chamkhar Chu divides the wide u-shaped valley into two halves. The scenic view of the valley is mesmerizing. The environment is calm and serene with only a few hundreds of kind and friendly people residing who are mostly Buddhist monks and nuns. It is not only the center of attraction for Bhutanese but also for foreigners. Bumthang sees maximum tourists from both within and outside during fall which is a peak festival season. A unique and rich Bhutanese culture can be witnessed in religious ceremonies and festivals performed in various monasteries and temples (Lhakhang).
Because of the fact that this place is so beautiful and so refreshing, I feel carefree and light hearted there. The place has amazing quality and ability to fill my heart with tranquility. Thus I have so deeply fallen in love with this place and I call it my Shangri-La.