Jakar (altitude 2,800 m) is the principal administrative town of Bumthang district in the north of Bhutan. Spacious and surrounded by tree covered mountains, the valley in which Jakar is located (Choekor Valley) is considered to be one of the most beautiful in all Bhutan, and it is commonly referred to as “Little Switzerland”. The Jakar area is known as a bastion of Vajrayana Buddhism, especially the Nyingma tradition, and there are many monasteries and sacred sites located here. The cluster of villages below the dzong, which are collectively known as Jakar Town, have a population of around 5,000. The main bazaar was been destroyed in three successive fires in 2010 and 2011 and currently consists of two rows of tempory single-storey structures. A new bazaar is currently under construction near the dzong. Fortress: Jakar Dzong means the ‘Fortress of the White Bird,’ and it was constructed in 1667. Apparently, when a group of lamas were in the area searching for a suitable site for the new dzong, a single white bird continuously circled overhead before settling on the top of a hill. This was considered a good omen, and the hill was selected as the site for the dzong and White Bird was adopted as its name. Buddhism: Jakar was the first place in Bhutan that Guru Rinpoche visited, and as the ruler of the region subsequently converted to Buddhism, Jakar is accorded the title of the birth place of Buddhism in Bhutan. In addition, one of most venerated and accomplished teachers of the Vajrayana school of Buddhism, Pema Lingpa, was born in the Jakar area.Strong winds make Jakar a very cold place in the winter, with temperatures often dropping as low as -6C. The best time to visit the area is from late May until the end of September.Monasteries are referred to by their Dzongkha title of lhakhang or gompa.For information on customs and symbols in Buddhism, see: Sacred sites of the Indian sub-continentFestivalsAs an area famed for its monasteries and sacred sites, Jakar plays host to several tshechu (religious) festivals throughout the year. The highlight of a tshechu is the masked dances conducted by monks, which were developed according to precise instructions given by past Buddhist masters. According to Buddhist philosophy, all experiences leave an imprint in the mind stream that produces a corresponding result in the future, and so viewing dances, such as these, that are imbued with sacred symbolism is considered to be a very auspicious and sanctifying experience. While the event is not held in a solemn atmosphere and there is much merriment, visitors are reminded that it is still a religious festival that holds great significance in the lives of Bhutanese people, and so appropriate behavior is expected.All dates are for the year 2011The main bazaar (Chamkhar) was severely damaged in a fire on 26 October 2010. However, temporary structures have been built on the site, and so purchasing daily-use items should not be a problem in the town. Work on the new bazaar at Dekiling begins in 2011. Most of the tourist hotels in Jakar offer local and international cuisineMost of the tourist hotels in Jakar serve coffee, tea and alcohol.

Airport: BUT Bathpalathang Airport Cities in Benin

Country: Bhutan