Almost no information has been preserved about the ancient history of Bhutan. It is known that in the 6th century BC. in the territory now occupied by Bhutan, there were several small states. Buddhism entered Bhutan in the 2nd century CE. In the middle of the 7th century Buddhism was declared the official religion of Tibet. It happened during the reign of the king of Tibet – Songtsen Gampo. To maintain peace in the Songtsen Gampo region, he ordered the construction of more than 100 monasteries along the entire perimeter of the mountains. Buddhism in the territory of modern Bhutan was finally entrenched in the 8th century, when the great spiritual teacher Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) came to these lands. Over the following centuries, the scattered small states of the region were connected only by religion. Check a2zdirectory for old history of Bhutan.
In the 17th century, Shabdrung Ngawang Namguela came from Tibet to the Eastern Himalayas, who united the local states under a single authority. He established a dual system of government here, according to which the ruler Druk Desi exercised secular power, and the jackempo exercised spiritual power. Since then, the history of the state of Bhutan has been conducted, although this name was assigned to it in the 19th century. Under Shabdrung, many fortified monasteries (dzongs) were built, and one of the directions of the Buddhist school, Drukpa-Kagyupa, was adopted as the state religion. After the death of Shabdrung, a long phase of civil wars began.
In the 18-19 centuries, a conflict broke out between India and Bhutan over two duars (plains near the southern foothills of the Himalayas), which gave access to the Brahmaputra River. Indian rajahs turned to England for help. The dispute was resolved only in 1835, when, under a peace treaty, the Bhutanese agreed with the claims of the British, in response to which the British undertook to pay Bhutan 50,000 rupees annually.
In 1907, after several centuries of turmoil, Gonsar Yujen Wanchguk ascended the throne of Bhutan. Like the great Shabdrung, Wanchguk pursued a unifying policy. In fact, he became the first monarch of Bhutan. Since then, power in Bhutan has been hereditary. In 1910, the First King concluded a peace treaty with England, according to which, in exchange for complete autonomy and non-interference of England in the internal affairs of Bhutan, he allowed England to conduct the foreign policy of the state. In 1949, the British left India and it became an independent state. Bhutan also declared independence, but signed a friendship treaty with India, similar to the 1910 treaty with the British. In 1952, the Third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, under the threat of a Chinese invasion, had to conclude a pact with India to protect Bhutan,
The fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, took the throne in 1972. His reign was marked by the opening of Bhutan to the world community: foreigners were allowed into the country. On December 14, 2006, Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated in favor of his 26-year-old son, Jigme Khesar Namgyal, who became the youngest ruler in the world.
Bumthang consists of four mountain valleys: Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chkhume. In the Chokhor Valley, which is often called “little Switzerland”, at an altitude of 2800 m is the administrative center of the region – the city of Jakar . It is believed that Jakar was the first place in Bhutan visited by Guru Rimpoche. The most interesting are the surroundings of Jakar, where one of the most revered monasteries of the country is located – Jambi-Lakhang (founded before the arrival of Guru Rinpoche in the 7th century under King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet) and Kurjey-Lakhang (founded in the 17th century at the rock where, according to legend, the Guru meditated Rimpoche and where the imprint of his body was preserved). Also in the vicinity of Jakar, it is worth visiting the Tamshing Gompa Temple, built in 1501 by Saint Pema Lingpa, where ancient frescoes have been preserved, the Lhodrak-Kharchhu Buddhist University, and the Chakhar Temple , built on the site of the castle of the Indian Raja Sindhu.
In one of the valleys of Bumthang – the Tang Valley – in the backwaters of the Naring River there is a small lake Mebartso (“Flaming Lake”). It is believed that here in the 15th century, Saint Pema Lingpa discovered the treasures (terms) of Guru Rimpoche – sacred texts and several Buddha statues. Today the lake is a place of pilgrimage. The Ura valley is very picturesque, in which, at an altitude of 3100 m, there is a village of the same name with many ancient monasteries.
Bumthang is a great place for hiking and a starting point for trips to the eastern part of Bhutan. Thrumshing National Park is located southeast of Jakar.. Here on an area of 768 sq. km stretch vast pine forests. The park is home to 68 species of mammals (snow leopards, clouded leopards, Bengal tigers, Himalayan bears, red pandas, deer, langurs) and about 341 species of birds.
The first city that you will meet when traveling to the east will be Mongar, located on the slope of a mountain valley. You can get here from Jakar along a breathtaking mountain road laid at an altitude of 3780 m. Like in any other major city of Bhutan, Mongar has a fortified monastery – Mongar Dzong. This is one of the youngest dzongs in the country, it was built in 1953.
To the north of Mongar lies the Dzongkhag of Lkhentse. with impenetrable forests and the best weavers in the country. It produces “kishutara” fabrics, which have been supplied to the royal court since ancient times.
To the east of Mongar stretches the land of original tribes, whose representatives are so different from the inhabitants of the western part of Bhutan. Over many centuries, the Sharchop, Sakten and Brokpas ethnic groups formed in the isolated valleys of Eastern Bhutan.
The capital of eastern Bhutan is the city of Tashigang . Tashigang is the center of commercial life in the region: residents of the eastern regions flock here for trade.in Bhutan – along the Sakten valley. The valley is known for the ancient semi-nomadic mountain tribes “Sharchop”, “Sakten” and “Brokpas”, who have their own language and whose way of life has not changed for centuries. Until now, the local residents are engaged in animal husbandry: breeding yaks and sheep. Also in the valley there is a unique reserve Sakten, where, in addition to plants and animals, the legendary Bigfoot (“yeti”) is protected, which, according to legend, lives in these places. Unfortunately, today the reserve is closed to tourists.
Other attractions in the eastern part of Bhutan include the protected areas of Bomdeling and Khaling. Bomdeling Nature Reserve has an area of 1545 sq. km, most of which is occupied by alpine tundra. It is home to 100 species of mammals, including blue sheep, snow leopards, Himalayan bears, Bengal tigers, red pandas and deer. From mid-November to early March, you can see a lot of birds in the reserve – about 250 species. The Khaling Game Reserve is located in the very south of eastern Bhutan. It is designed to protect tropical rainforests with elephants, gaurs, pygmy pigs and birds living in them.