A small dreamy paradise, Bhutan is perched high in the Himalayas. Sitting on the eastern slopes of the Himalayas, the Land of the Thunder Dragon is a landlocked country bordered by Tibet and India. Bhutan is geopolitically in East Asia and is the region’s second least populous nation after the Maldives. Thimphu is its capital and largest city, while Phuntsholing is its financial center. There is something magical about Bhutan, the simple yet mesmerizing land somehow manages to touch your soul and balm it with peace. A visit here will bring you face to face with ancient monasteries, fortresses (called Dzongs), ancient temples with prayer flags fluttering high and the warmth of its people.
Places to visit in Bhutan
Hiking up Tiger’s Nest
While it does take considerable time and effort to trek up and down the steep hill, the Tiger’s Nest is the mainstay of Bhutan attractions. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche arrived at this spot on the back of a tigress and meditated in a cave for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century. The sacred spot houses a temple complex that appears precariously balanced atop a 900 m high cliff.
A giant golden Buddha Statue sits at one of the mountains in Thimphu known as Kunzangphodrang. Its presence reflects the dominant religion in Bhutan. Buddhism plays a strong part in the daily life of the Bhutanese. The Buddha Dordenma is the largest sitting statue of the Buddha yetasuring in at measuring 51.5 meters in height and made of solid bronze. Inside the Buddha are 125,000 smaller Bhuddha statues, 25,000 12 inch statues and 100,000 8 inch statues.
The Phunaka Dzong is the second oldest Dzong in Bhutan built in 1637 and is considered the country’s most majestic dzong. Besides being administrative offices, they are also monks’ accommodation and when visiting a dzong, chances are you will have the opportunity to interact with local monks.Taking the wooden bridge across the river sets the tone for entering the dzong. You know you are going somewhere special. Monks still walk the grounds and you share your stroll with them going about their daily business.
The first stop was Chelela Pass, the highest motor-able road in Bhutan. At an elevation of over 3500 meters, I was shivering, absorbing the breathtaking view of the valleys, which stretched as far as my eye could behold in the horizon. Next stop was Dochula Pass, which has a shrine constructed in memory of the Bhutanese soldiers. You can view the Himalayan range of mountains, with many peaks of the hills visible from a viewpoint here.
Rafting and Kayaking
The lower Paro Chhu River stretches for about seven kilometres and has many small boulder rapids. Mo Chhu on the other hand is more suitable for beginners and as the river flows through the valley, you get to see sights such as one of the queen’s winter residences, the king’s winter retreat and beautiful farmland.
Tashichhoedzong is a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city of Thimphu in Bhutan, on the western bank of the Wang Chu. It has traditionally been the seat of the Druk Desi (or “Deb Raja”), the head of Bhutan’s civil government, an office which has been combined with the kingship since the creation of the monarchy in 1907, and summer capital of the country. In old British documents, it is known as Tassisudon.