Bhutan – A picturesque country with its flora and fauna is flocked by tourists almost throughout the year. One can spend almost a week in the foothills of the Himalayas in tranquility and peace.
The places which are a must visit in this mesmerising country are Thimpu (the capital city of Bhutan), Punakha, Gangtey Valley and Paro. I will traverse through each of them and share my experiences on how nature has embedded them with its green carpet.
- Thimpu, the capital city of Bhutan – One can spend two days in this place with its majestic mountains rejuvenating the mind and heart along with its gorges and valleys. The Memorial Chorten, built in the memorial of the Third King of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuk by his mother, is one of the prestigious cultural heritage sites of Thimpu. Its amazing to watch the locals encircling the stupa 108 times as a respect to the king throughout the day. The beauty of the stupa is affiliated by the golden spires and the lion shrines securing the stupa from flying away to Tibet (as believed by the locals). The cultural heritage journey in Thimpu is further enhanced by the “Buddha Dordenma”, the tallest Buddha in the world. The status is placed above a high mountain top and presents a royal and grand appearance as it overlooks the country. People around the world have been contributing small status of Buddha inside the stupa as a mark of respect and there are more than 2000 status already in the collections. The artistry inside the monastery is something to be appreciated specifically the skill of the artists and the precision in their work. One should also not miss out the Takin zoo, the archery tournament and the living museum portraying Bhutan culture.
- Punakha, the administrative center of of Bhutan, is also one of the important travel destinations. Its magnificent valleys in between the Himalayas are a treat to the eyes. The Himalayan ranges seems endless engulfing one in its vastness and purity. The gushing sound at the confluence of the Pho Chu (male river) and the Mo Chu (female river) rivers with the water splashing on the stones shining on the banks looked like as if an artist has painted a panoramic view of the landscape. The most adventurous part of Punakha is the 164 m suspension bridge over the rivers. One can take a walk over the bridge and experience the soothing breeze and get enlightened. And finally one must not forget to visit the Punakha Dzong, a palace along the river side built in the 17th century. The massive structure of the palace and the beauty of its architecture is amazing to watch.
3. Gangtey Valley, its one of the rarest experiences a traveller can have thronged by the black necked cranes during the winters. The valley stretches for miles like a widespread green carpet in between the mountains. One has to reach the valley after passing through dense forests and the beautiful rhododendron trees. Its indeed a treat to the eyes to watch around one the plains opening up with its greenery along with small artistic villages. One of the main attractions of the valley is the black necked cranes, the migratory birds arriving in Bhutan in September and October. The Royal society for Protection of Nature in Bhutan is involved in protecting the birds from being extinct or being attacked by unknown predators or any major natural calamities. The valley is flanked by beautiful meandering rivers, wide varieties of mountain plants and trees especially the Pine trees and the rhododendrons. The strawberry plants with little red juicy fruits pop up in between the green grasses. Bright flowers adorn up the valley with their colourful hues. The valley is also a great destination for hikers. One can see small groups of hikers, walking for long distances across the valley.
4. Paro, situated west of Thimpu, hosts Bhutan’s only international airport and is a hub for the farmers. The city is famous for one of the sacred sites in Bhutan, the Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest. Its believed that Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rinponche, flew to this particular location on the back of a tigress. Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours in the 8th century and is considered to be one of the pioneers who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. One can visit the Chele la Pass from Paro located at an altitude of 3810 m or 13,000 feet. Its the highest road pass in Bhutan and one can see colourful flags fluttering all along the place. Its mostly chilled out there and one can experience a cold effect throughout the place. The drive to Chele la pass is worth an experience as you pass through the dense forests of tall trees, rivers, waterfalls, rhododendrons and the yaks and the takins grazing in the fields.
The immense beauty of the mountains, valleys and rivers and the rich cultural heritage of Bhutan is astonishing to watch. Its a place of a traveller’s envy and like a magnet attracts and pulls one into its mesmerising epicentre of beauty.