Sitting on a little spur overlooking the Choekhor valley, Jakar Dzong was built in 1646 by Chogyal Minjur Tenpa, the then Trongsa Penlop on the order of Zhabdrung. Meaning the “castle of the white bird”, the Jakar Dzong is today the administrative seat of the district but it has the odd distinction of being the only dzong in Bhutan that does not contain a Drukpa monastic community.
Situated on the opposite ridge facing Kurjey Lhakhang, the Tamzhing Lhakhang can be reached from Chamkhar town after twenty minutes drive over metalled road. This lhakhang was founded by the great treasure discoverer, Terton Pema Lingpa in the year 1501 AD. Thereafter, it was run by the speech incarnations of the Terton. It is also a treasure house of the interesting religious Buddhist paintings. Tamzhing Lhakhang has an iron coat attributed to Terton Pema Lingpa. The tradition says that if a person circumambulates three times around the sanctuary wearing the iron coat, a part of his sins will be wiped away.
One of the oldest temples in the kingdom, the Jampa Lhakhang was founded by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo circa 638 AD. The king was destined to build 108 temples on and across the border in a day to subdue the demoness that was residing in the Himalayas. The temple is one of the two built in Bhutan. The other is supposedly the Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro valley, believed to have built on the same day. The main relics include the future Buddha, Jowo Jampa (Maitreya) from whom the present name of the temple derived. One of the most spectacular festivals is hosted in autumn at the temple of Maitreya called Jampa Lhakhang Drup.
Meaning the “body imprint”, the Kurjey Lhakhang Complex is located about few minutes’ drive from the town. There are three main temples at Kurjey. Trongsa Penlop Minjur Tenpa constructed the oldest temple in 1652 on the site mediated by Guru Rinpoche, who left the imprint of his body on a rock. Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuk founded the second temple in 1900 while serving as the Trongsa Penlop. The third temple was built in the 1990s under the patronage of the Royal Grandmother Ashi Kezang Choden. The drupchhu (holy water) above the temple is said to have been created by the Guru Rinpoche. As there is no state clergy permanently established, the monks of Trongsa rabdey spend the summer at Kurjey Lhakhang and initiate the annual tshechu and numerous rituals.
About an hour’s drive through a dirt road that winds up from the village of Gaytsa, Tharpaling Lhakhang is located on the face of a hillock overlooking the villages of Chumey and Gaytsa. Founded in 1352 by a Tibetan master Gyalwa Longchen Ramjampa who in the course of his teaching liberated many followers and the place came to be known as “tharpaling” or the place of liberation. Today, the Tharpaling Lhakhang is an important monastic body of Kagyu and Nyingma sects of Buddhism.