JAKAR DZONG

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The Jakar Yugyel Dzong, commonly known as the Jakar Dzong, is located in the Chamkhar valley of Bumthang, situated on a ledge above Bjakar village.

It was during this time that the younger brother of the 16th abbot of Ralung, Lam Ngagi Wangchuk (1517-1554), came to Bhutan to spread the teachings of the Drukpa Kagyupa order. His intentions were to construct a monastery on a rocky shelf, bordering the valley of Chamkhar.

It is said that, while the construction was in progress, a white bird emerged from the building site and perched where the Jakar Dzong is now situated. This was considered a good omen, and in 1549 Lam Ngagi Wangchuk built a small temple in the shape of a Dzong and established a monastic centre there. This small Dzong was named ‘Byakar Dzong’ which means the Dzong of the White Bird.

According to oral legend in Jakar village, however, originally a small fort was built at the eastern end of the Bumthang Valley, but as its position was not satisfactory from a strategic point of view, a group of Lamas, knights and astrologers assembled for the purpose of finding a more appropriate location. As they were sitting, a white bird, presumed to be the king of Geese, rose into the air and rested on a spur, which is now the present location of Jakar Dzong.

Jakar Dzong was the foremost seat of Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk. There was only a small temple in the shape of a Dzong during his time but it was renovated and expanded later by different personalities. In the past Jakar Dzong was the centre of the Bumthang region. It played an important role as the fortress of defense of the whole eastern Dzongkhags. It was also became the seat of the first king of Bhutan.

A special feature of the Bjakar Dzong is the approximately fifty meter high Utse, which is distinct from most other Dzongs in Bhutan. This Dzong has no provision for personally viewing the base perimeter of the Utse, other than walking around the outer walls of the entire Dzong. This may be in part due to the earthquake of 1897. The rebuilt structure is said to be smaller than the original. Another unique feature of the Jakar Dzong is a sheltered passage, with two parallel walls, interconnected by fortified towers, which gave the population of the fortress access to water in the case of a siege. The protected water supply is still intact to this day.

Geography

Jakar is located in Bumthang (Choekhor) Valley within Chhoekhor Gewog in central Bumthang. Administratively, however, Jakar is a separate thromde (municipality) inside the gewog. The administrative office for the ChoekhorGewog is located in the northern suburbs of Jakar. Just north of Jakar lies Wangchuck Centennial Park, a protected area of Bhutan.

Jakar is also the site of Bathpalathang Airport. The airport formed part of the Royal Bhutanese Government’s 10th Five Year Plan (2008). The airport was originally scheduled to open in October 2010, but faced many delays due to soil stability, river diversion, funding, and labour. Labour and material shortages through early 2011 prompted a new target date of July 2011, however as of September 2011, the airport had not been opened for operations.Further complications have arisen from legislated land and property compensation schemes for those who have been forced to move to accommodate the airport. Both Drukair and Tashi Air conducted inaugural flights to Bathpalathang on 17 December 2011-coinciding with the national day of Bhutan. The first commercial Drukair flight between Paro and Bathpalathang occurred on 23 December 2011; it failed to make a profit.

History

Further information: Bumthang Kingdom and Bumthang Province

The town is the site of Chakhar Lhakhang, a small and unassuming temple which marks the site of the “Iron Palace” of Sindhu Raja, the Indian monarch who is believed to have first invited Guru Rinpoche to Bhutan in 746.The current building is said to have been constructed by Terton Dorje Lingpa in the 14th century.

According to the Jakar foundation myth, a roosting white bird signaled the proper and auspicious location to found a monastery around 1549. The settlement thus earned the moniker Jakar, meaning “white bird.

There are many significant Buddhist sacred sites nearby the town, such as Kurjey Lhakhang, which holds a body print of Guru Rinpoche; Jambey Lhakhang, one of the 108 monasteries that in mythology were miraculously constructed by King Songten Gampo in one night; and Tamsshing Lhakhag established by Terton Padma Lingpa (1450–1521). In addition, one of the country’s largest monastic colleges, LhodrakKharchhu Monastery, overlooks Jakar.

Main article: JakarDzong

Constructed in 1667, JakarDzong sits atop a ridge above the town of Jakar. The dzong fortress is now an administrative center. It may be the largest dzong in Bhutan, with a circumference of more than 1,500 metres (4,900 ft).

The bazaar is located on a street of single story buildings in an area of the town called Chamkhar. A new bazaar consisting of three story traditional buildings in the Dekiling area was planned to be completed in 2010.

Jakar, like the rest of Bumthang District and its neighbors, is culturally part of eastern Bhutan. While Dzongkha is the national language of administration and instruction, local languages include Bumthang and Brokkat. Jakar is famous throughout Bhutan for its distinctive and brightly colored woven wool items called yethra.