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Famous Destinations in Bhutan


Bhutan is an extraordinary place hardly touched by the hands of time.Nestling in the heart of the great Himalaya,visitors have been mesmerized: the environment is pristine, the scenery and architecture are awesome, the people are hospitable and charming, and the culture unique in its purity.

Bhutan often revered as the 'Land of the Peaceful Dragon' is still regarded as one of the last 'Shangri-La's' in the Himalayan region because of its remoteness, its spectacular mountain terrain, varied flora and fauna and its unique ancient Buddhist monasteries.

General Information

Location of Bhutan :

Southern Asia, between China and India
Area of Bhutan :47,000 sq km
Area - comparative :about half the size of Indiana
Land Boundaries :1,075 km
Border Countries :China 470 km, India 605 km
Coastline : 0 km (landlocked)
Climate of Bhutan : varies; tropical in southern plains; cool winters and hot summers in central valleys; severe winters and cool summers in Himalayas
Elevation extremes : Lowest Point : Drangme Chhu 97 m Highest Point : Kula Kangri 7,553 m
Natural Resources: timber, hydropower, gypsum, calcium carbide.

Famous Tourist Places in Bhutan


Thimphu

Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan and is therefore the most populated district in the country, with about 60,000 people. You can easily spend several days in Thimphu visiting all the sights. Many of the sights in the main town can be reached on foot, which is a good way to absorb the culture and see the way of life for the Bhutanese people. As you stroll through the streets, you will notice that there is not a single traffic light in the town (nor in the entire country).

There are many attractions in and around Thimphu Valley, including museums, monasteries, temples, dzongs, a zoo, archery fields, restaurants, handicraft shops, the weekend market, the National Library, the School of Arts and Crafts, a traditional paper factory, a radio tower (which affords a gorgeous view of the valley), and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine.

Two interesting museums are the Textile Museum and the Folk Heritage Museum. At the Textile Museum you will see a beautiful display of the garments worn by the Bhutanese from the 1600s up to the present. The Folk Heritage Museum lets you explore a traditional Bhutanese home and teaches you about the daily life of the rural folk.

The weekend market is a must, for it is there that you'll see the variety of food of the country, including basket upon basket of fiery chilies, fresh cheese, and mangoes. You may also see some less-familiar produce, such as ferns. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. It's fun to wander the aisles, taking in the bustling atmosphere of the market.

Tourist Places

Memorial Chorten:

This is the stupa built in 1974 in the memory of Bhutan's third King, Late His Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

Tashichhodzong:

Known by another name as " fortress of the glorious religion", the Dzong was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1965. Tashichhodzong houses the main secretariat building and the central monk body. It is open to visitors during Thimphu Tshechu and when the monk body moves to warmer Punakha in the winter months.

Semtokha Dzong:

Located at five miles from Thimphu, on a lofty ridge stands Simtokha Dzong, built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is the oldest fortress of the kingdom, now housing the School for Buddhist studies.

National Library:

The history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts which are preserved at the National Library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and ancient texts, the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.

Painting School:

This School teaches the techniques of traditional paintings. One can actually see students at work producing intricate design on cloth.

Traditional Medicine Institute:

In Bhutan, equal emphasis is given to both allopathic and traditional medicines. The rich herbal medicines abundant in Kingdom is prepared here. The Institute also imparts the art of herbal medicines to would be practitioners.

Handicrafts Emporium:

The several Handicrafts Emporiums in town provide the perfect places to buy souvenirs. They have wide assortment of beautifully hand-woven and crafted products.

Weekend Market:

Every Saturday and Sunday most of the Thimphu's scant population and many valley duelers congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. It provides an insight into the village economy where farmers from nearby areas converge to sell their products. It makes an interesting for an opportunity to mix with the local people.

Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang:

This chapel was built in 1990s by Dasho Aku Tongmi, a musician who composed Bhutan's national anthem. The country's tallest lhakhang, it is replica of Guru Rimpoche's celestial abode.

Paro is a beautiful valley which encapsulates within itself rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan's oldest temples and monasteries, the country's only airport and the National Museum. Mount. Chomolhari (7,300 meters ) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial waters plunge through deep gorges to form the Pa Chu (Paro river). Paro is also one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom, producing a bulk of the famous red rice from its terraced fields.

One of the main attractions in Paro is the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions, as do all the dzongs (forts) currently. You'll cross a traditional wooden bridge on the way to the dzong. On the hill above the dzong is the National Museum, which used to be a watchtower (ta dzong) for the dzong. It contains a collection of art, costumes, relics, religious paintings, handicrafts, and national stamps.

Not far from the town center is Kyichu Monastery, which is the oldest monastery in the country, built in the 7th century. Another nearby attraction is Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown on the back of a tigress from Singye Dzong in Lhuntse to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. It is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. The hike to reach the viewpoint to the monastery makes for a nice half-day excursion.

Tourist Places


Drukgyel Dzong:

With a delightful village nestling at its foot, this Dzong was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders led by Mongolian Warlord, Gushri Khan. Historically and strategically this Dzong withstood all its glory and had captured western eyes in 1914 vide National Geographic magazine. The glory of Drukgyel Dzong remained even when it was destroyed by fire in 1951. On a clear day, one can see the commanding view of Mount. Chomolhari from the village, below the Dzong.

Rinpung Dzong:

Also known as " fortress of the heap of jewels ", it was built during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called the Nemi Zam. A walk through the bridge to the Dzong, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it. It is also venue of the Paro Tshechu, held once a year inspiring.

Ta Dzong:

On a ridge immediately above the Rinpung Dzong is the Ta Dzong, built in 1951 as a watch tower. Unlike the rectangular shape of the Dzongs, Ta Dzong is round, more like parts of an European castle. Since 1967 the Dzong was re-established as the National Museum and holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan's exquisite postage stamps.

Kyichu Lhakhang:

The origin of Kyichu Lhakhang dates back to the seventh century, it is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan ( the other is Jambey Lhakhang in Bumthang ). Kyichu Lhakhang is composed of twin temples, the first temple was built by Buddhist Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kessang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, arranged for a second temple to be built alongside the first one, in same style.

Farm House:

The beauty of Paro valley is embellished by cluster of quaint Farm Houses. Bhutanese Farm Houses are very colorful, decorative and traditionally built without the use of single nail. All houses follow the same architectural pattern. A visit to Farm House is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.

Kila Goemba:

It is serene home of Buddhist nuns who have dedicated their life for spiritual fulfillment and leading undisturbed life of religious studies, prayer and meditation. The Goemba is nestled in a craggy patch on the mountain side below the Chele la pass and perched precariously along the rock face. From Chele la pass, the Lhakhang is about an hour walk amidst magnificent wooded area.

Druk Choeding:

Built in 1525, this town temple was built by Ngawang Chhogyel, one of the prince-abbots of Ralung in Tibet and an ancestor of the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and still it is the winter seat of Je Khenpo ( Chief Abbot ). Blessed with temperate climate and fed by Pho Chu (male) and Mo Chu (female) rivers, Punakha is the most fertile valley in the country. There are splendid view of the distant Himalayas at Dochula pass ( alt. 3,100 m ) on Thimphu - Punakha road.

The main attraction in Punakha is the Punakha Dzong. It is the winter residence of the chief abbot and monks, who migrate there from Thimphu every winter. This dzong is noteworthy both for being one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan and also for having been built by the first Shabdrung in 1637.

Tourist Places

Punakha Dzong: Built strategically at the Junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the present King. The Dzong is open for visitors during Punakha festival and in summer months when the monk body moves to Thimphu.

Trongsa

Tongsa is the central hub of the nation and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched. The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and for miles on end, the Dzong seems to tease you, wondering if you will ever reach there.

It's the ancestral home of the royal family, and both the first and second king ruled the country from here. Aside from the breathtaking scenery, the most notable feature in Trongsa is the Trongsa Dzong, which is thought to be the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. Because of its enormity, it can be seen from a great distance, and its interior is multilevel and contains numerous corridors and temples. Above the dzong is the watchtower, which houses two interesting chapels. Trongsa is known for its handmade bamboo baskets, wooden bowls, and bamboo hats, which are worn by farmers.

Tourist Places

Tongsa Dzong: Built in 1648, it is the ancestral home of the Royal family. Both the first and second King ruled the country from this ancient seat. All four Kings held the post of Tongsa Penlop (honorary governor) prior to being crowned as King. The Dzong is a massive structure with many levels which slope down the contours of a hill on which it perches. Because of its highly strategic position as the only connecting route between east and west, the Tongsa Penlop was able to control the whole of the eastern region effectively.

Ta Dzong: This watch tower which once guarded Tongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands impressively and provides visitors an insight into historical significance of Tongsa in Bhutan's history.

Chendebji Chorten: Enroute to Tongsa is Chendbji Chorten, patterned on Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu. It was built in 19th century by Lama Shida, from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed at this spot.

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