Places to visit in Bhutan
Places to visit in Bhutan Within a small area of 46,500 sq km of Bhutan lie a whole range of places to visit or major tourist destinations
The only airstrip is located at Paro. Paro Valley is one of the most populate areas of the whole country. Because of its proximity to the airport, there are hotels and tourist facilities close to the airstrip.
The valley of Paro contains a wealth of attractions are requires a few days to be properly explored. Casting a shadow across the town of Paro and controlling all secular and religious activities in its valley is the Rinpung Dzong, on the hillside, is the castle-shaped Ta Dzong. Onetime watch tower was built to defend Rinpung Dzong during civil wars of the 17th Century; Ta Dzong has housed the national’s heritage in Bhutan’s National Museum since 1967. The museum’s critical shape augments its varied collection displayed over several floors.
From a Buddhist’s point of view, Paro was the first stop for Guru Rimpoche on his crusade from Tibet to Bhutan over one thousand years ago. Guru Rimpoche is said to have arrived on the back of a tigress and mediated at Taktshang Monastery pilgrims who travel from all over the land to pray as its temple. Eighteen kilometres from Paro town on the south side of the valley are the burnt ruins of Drukgyel Dzong (Victorious fortress). It was from this monastery that the Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan armies during the 17th century.
Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan. A regal town, Thimphu is home to the revered Bhutanese Royal family and to several foreign missions and development projects.
On the bank of the river lies Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty the king of Bhutan. The National Assembly Hall is housed in a modern building on the other side of the river from the Dzong. Visitors are strictly prohibited from entering the government building at all during an active session.
Bhutan’s National Library is located close to the painting school and is also worth a look in. Housed in the library are some oldest records of Bhutanese history and religion. A wonderful day’s outing from Thimphu is a visit to Cheri and Tango Monasteries to the north of the town. They can be reached by road but many Thimphu residents go up to the monasteries for a daytrip by foot.
Five miles from Thimphu stands the 17th Century Simtokha Dzong in the land houses the school for Buddhist studies. The road to Dochula pass and on to eastern Bhutan winds its way upwards from Simtokha Dzong.
Punakha lies about two hours drive from Dochula down low in its valley. Commanding a spare population, Punakha Dzong is home to the central monk body and the Je Khenpo during the milder winter months.
A temperate climate and natural drainage from the Phochu (male) and Mochu (female) rivers, the fertile Punakha valley produces abundant crops and fertile Punakha valley produces abundant crops and fruit. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1995.
Punakha Dzong was strategically built at the junction of the two rivers in the 17th Century by the first Zhabdrung to serve as the religious and administrative center. In spite of four catastrophic fires and a devastating earthquake that destroyed many historic documents, Punakha Dzong houses sacred temples including the Marchen where the embalmed body of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal lies in stat.
The dzong has been fully restored by the present king. In 1993 the largest thongdrel, a religious embroidery composed entirely of appliqué on silk brocade, that has ever been created was dedicated to the dzong and the people of the Punakha valley by His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and Je Khenpo at a three-day consecration which brought together Bhutan’s highest nobility.
In the center of Bhutan four hours by road from Wangduephodrang lies the town of Trongsa. Like almost all towns in the kingdom, the secular and religious center, the dong, dominates the horizon.
The Royal Family’s ancestral home in Trongsa. His Majesty King Ugyen Wangchuck, the first king of Bhutan and his successor, King Jigme Wangchuck, ruled the country from Trongsa’s ancient Dzong. The Crown Prince of Bhutan normally holds the position of the Trongsa Penlop Prior to ascending the throne, including the present King who was appointed Penlop in 1972, shortly before his succession to the throne.
Protected from invaders by an impenetrable valley, Trongsa Dzong is an impregnable fortress. The dzong itself is a labyrinth of temples, corridors and offices holding court over the local community. It is built on many levels into the side of the hill and can be seen from every approach to Trongsa heralding its strength as a defensive stronghold. Above the dzong, a watchtower, Ta Dzong, used to administer its defence.
Although a temple originally stood on the spot, the dzong was built in earnest by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who midway though the 17th century, recognized how Trongsa’s strategic location could help him his long and successful quest to unify the country.
Trongsa is one of quaintest of all Bhutanese towns. A number of hotels and cafes provide accommodation and refreshments to travelers who are crossing the country.
The Yutongla Pass separates the valleys of Trongsa and Bumthang. Bumthang has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Comprising of four smaller valleys, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend.
Apart from the dzong at jakar smaller temples can be found throughout the hills. Tales of Padma Sambhava dominated these holy shrines. The valley is home to the sacred Jampa and Kuje Monasteries.
Bumthang is also the traditional home to the great Buddhist teacher Pema Lingpa. The town of Jakar is the largest between Thimphu in the west and Tashigang in the east. Jakar is famous for its honey production, cheese, apples and apricots. Its arable land and Swiss and German aid projects have helped the local economy to dramatically improve over recent years.
The eastern most valley in central Bhutan before the Thrumsingla pass is the Ura valley. A small but old dzong and cobble-stoned paths give the village a medieval feel. Ederly women can still have seen walking around Ura wearing sheepskins on their backs.
Ura is the settlement before the climb to the higest pass (12,465 feet) in the kingdom at Thrumsingla.