Bhutan Trip Advisor is Now 1-derful Bhutan Tours
PARO: The wide valley is more than beautiful; it is visually stunning and historically fascinating. This beautiful terraced valley is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and Bhutan’s only International airport.
Bumdrak: It is believed that a thousand Dakinis visited and meditated in a cave and blessed the place, hence the name Bumdrak (Bum: Thousands, Drak: Cave) It is a daylong hike and you’ll be camping at Bumdrak. The hike from Sang Choekor to Bumdrak is about 4 - 5 hours of pleasant walk through pine forests with wonderful views of Paro valley down below. It’s a gradual climb with no steep ascents or descents but one may feel a bit breathless due to the altitude. The campsite is at an altitude of 3700m near the Bumdrak Monastery.
Chelela: Chelela is the pass one has to cross between Paro and Haa, and at a height of 3850m is also the highest motorable road in the country (although the sign out there says 3988m). It is a very windy place so if you are planning to go there, wear warm clothes so that you can spend some time enjoying the spectacular views of Mount Jomolhari, Jyichu Drakey and even Kanchenjunga (3rd highest mountain). Along the mountain ridge are a lot of prayer flags, put up by people for their deceased relatives or for luck, little higher above is a ground for "Sky Burrial".
Chumphu hike: Chumphu is one of the most sacred places for Bhutanese and it is believed that the main statue of Dorji Phama (Vajravarahi) is floating on air. This will be demonstrated by the care taker monk by sliding a currency note beneath the feet of the statue. This place is also believed to have been marked as a “Baeyul” (hidden land) by Guru Padmasambhava where people can take refuge at the time of the end of the world as we know it. To reach the starting point of the hike you’ll have to drive about 45 minutes through farm roads. As soon as you begin your hike you will come across 2 stones through which the path runs, this stone is believed to be the gateway to paradise and it feels as such as you go on. You will come across many sacred stones along the way. The fresh water river which runs on your left roars as it rushes down the valley and the forest has a mysterious feel to it, most of the trees as comprised of pines, fir and junipers. The first 2 hours of hike is easy as the ascent is gradual and not steep. The last part is steep as you have to climb straight up the hill on top of which the temple sits and will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Overall, it will take about 6-7 hours to visit the temple and hike back to the car. Starting point elevation is around 2600m and Chumphu temple is at around 3000m.
Dumtse Lhakhang: It is a private temple built by Lam Chazampa (Thangthong Gyalpo) in the 13-14 century. This is a special temple with 3 floors representing Hell, Earth and Heaven. All the paintings and artifacts in the temples are as old as the temple itself. The pillars inside were installed by the different villages in Paro valley, almost in a competition like way, even today the names villages are engraved in the pillars. Though the temple is situated very close to town, the lighting is powered by Solar power but is not lit very much as the owners fear the lights will fade the colors in the paintings, so it is essential to take a torch.
Drak Karp: Cantilevered in the middle of a cliff face over the picturesque valley below. This temple, located above a system of caves below it, is the sight where Guru Rimpoche chose to meditate. Inside the temple is an altar, behind which is the actual cave of this great Buddhist master. An enormous rock, with deeply grooved handprints, is said to have been removed from the opening of his meditation cave, flung out to form a barrier wall. Several images of the mustachioed Rimpoche, plus Buddha and several of Rimpoche’s consorts (Indian and Tibetan) are displayed here behind glass. The hike up to the temple takes about 30 minutes.
Druk Choeding Temple: Built in 1525, this town temple was built by Ngawang Chogyal, one of the prince-abbots of Ralung monastery in Tibet and an ancestor of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This is located on the left side just before you enter Paro Town.
Drugyal Dzong Ruins: Literally means 'Bhutan's victory fortress', it was built to in 1654 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders and it would also control and guard the trade between Bhutan and Tibet as it stood right on the trade trail. It stands atop a small hill with a commanding view of the valley up and below and on a clear one can get to see the beautiful Mount Jomolhari from here. It caught fire in 1951 and has been in ruins since, some renovation works have been carried out but has not been able to go full swing. Although in ruins, the dzong is still beautiful to look at and one can just walk about inside the ruins trying to imagine how things were before.
Dzongdrakha: It’s a temple which dates back to the 16th century and was built by the 1st Local King, Chojay Dragpa. You can start hiking from Bondey village near the Central Machinery Unit which is about 1km from the airport or can drive up close to the temple and walk for about 10 minutes to reach there. If you choose the hike, it will take you about 1 – 1 ½ hours through paddy fields and the village of Bondey before climbing up towards the temple. The temple is dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava, Tara, Tsheringma and Future Buddha is the place from where the ritual of festival of Paro (Paro Tsechu) starts a day before the festival takes place in Paro Rinpung Dzong. After the end of the festival too, the closing rituals are performed in this temple.
Kilu Goenpa: Nestled in a craggy patch on the mountainside below the Chele la pass and perched precariously along the rock -face. This small nunnery is home to many nuns who have renounced their worldly life and have chosen to lead the path of enlightenment. The Temple is about an hour walk amidst magnificent wooded area.
Kyichu Lhakhang: Considered the oldest temple along with Jampa and Kenchosum Lhakhang in Bumthang, it dates back to the 7th century when a Tibetan King ordered 108 temples to be built in a single night to subdue a huge ogress. It was later renovated in the mid 19th century and in the late 1960's by the Grand Queen Mother. It is also considered by many to be one of the holiest places in the country. Inside the compound is an orange tree which always has oranges no matter what the season.
Nishoka Chorten: This stupa sits on top of Bondey hill and is dedicated to Dasho Nishoka, a Japanese who came to Bhutan and spent 28 years of his life even becoming a Bhutanese in the process. He contributed a lot towards Bhutan’s agriculture bringing it from the medieval ages to the modern age
Paro Rinpung Dzong: (‘fortress of a heap of jewels’). It was built in the mid 17th century to protect and to gain control over the region, many invasions were averted from this dzong. It now serves as seat of the Paro district administration and residence for the monastic school. Rinpung dzong like all other dzongs in Bhutan is adorned with wall murals that symbolize the lives of the Bodhisattvas and other prominent saints, drawings from Buddhist parables within which the country’s culture and traditional life is intricately represented and holy symbols that signify their own individual religious meanings.
Pelri Lhak- hang hike: This hike starts from Bondey town which is close to the airport. You’ll have to take the farm road which goes right through the middle of the houses and then take a diversion trail about 150m in to climb up the hill on which the temple stands. The temple belongs to and is taken care of by the town’s people below. It’ll take about 15 – 20 minutes to reach there, and once there, you can get to see the spectacular view of Paro valley, both to the north and south, you’ll see the runway on your right towards north. From there, you can continue further along the mountain slopes to exit near the Indian Military’s canteen on the highway. Overall, this hike will take about 45 minutes to an hour and is good to do any time of the year.
Drugyal – Ramthangka hike: The best time to do this hike would be around September when the paddy ripens and you feel like you’re walking in the fields of gold. The hike starts from the ruins of Drugyal Dzong and goes down to the village below and then continues along the plains where you’ll come across a farm road to reach below Drugyal Higher Secondary School. Continue further to reach the paddy fields where you’ll have to keep going through to reach the village of Nyangju-mey. It’s a traditional village and looks like it’s been stuck in time to give you a feel like you’re back in the 19th century. There’s a museum at the end of the hike that you can visit. The museum is an old house which showcases how people used to live in the olden days and will give you an insight into it.
Ta Dzong (National Museum): The name Ta Dzong translates to ‘watch tower’ and it served the function of watch tower for the Paro Rinpung Dzong. Back in the day, similar look-out points were built for other dzongs (fortresses) to counter any approaching hostilities, for those were the days of frequent strife. These towers were specifically built high atop hills and other vantage points during the old days. Presently serving as the national museum (since late 60’s), it houses an array of antiquities such as ancient thangka (exquisite scroll painting), mural paintings and other forms of art done by great personalities of those days, original textiles of the kingdom which represent the culture that still flourishes, weapons & armour used back in the day, household objects typical to the Bhutanese people’s way of life back then and even now, and other natural and historical artifacts.
Taktsang (Tiger's Nest): Taktsang Monastery is a most spectacular site, perched high and precariously on a steep 800m rock face. Prepare for a two hour walk uphill after you have been reached at the foot of the Taktsang cliff by the company vehicle. There is also the option to take riding-ponies which can be arranged by the company prior to your arrival, as it is a five hour trip in total back-and-forth. Taktsang is a most holy pilgrimage site blessed by Guru Padmasambhava who is believed to have flown to this spot on the back of a tigress in his wrathful form called Guru Dorji Drolo and it is believed that his consort Yeshey Tshogyal had transformed into the tigress which he rode. Guru Padmasambhava had meditated at the site for three months giving the temple a highly sacred status and thereby making it a popular pilgrimage destination for Buddhists not just in the country but everywhere around the world. In 1684, the Fourth Druk Desi (temporal ruler) of Bhutan, Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye, built a monastery and named it Taktshang, drawing from the origins of Guru Padmasambhava’s legends.
Tamchog Lhakhang: Tachog lhakhang is temple that is dedicated to the 13th century saint Thangthong Gyalpo, the iron bridge builder. This temple is located across the river about 15kms from the Paro towards Thimphu. In order to get to the temple one must cross an iron chain bridge, one of the few remaining of the many that Thangthong Gyalpo built. This is a private temple however tourists are allowed to visit if they are given permission. Crossing this very old bridge with its swaying and undulating movements can be quite an experience. The temple's location on the ridge and the high rocky barren hills which serve as its backdrop makes this a good location to take pictures.
Ugyen Pelri Palace: The secluded wooded compound of the Ugyen Pelri Palace was built by the Paro penlop, Tshering Penjor, in the early 1900s and is now a residence of the queen mother, thus closed to the public. It is designed after Guru Rinpoche's celestial paradise, Zangto Pelri, and is a beautiful example of Bhutanese architecture. For views of the palace from above, head to the dzong. On the road beside Ugyen Pelri Palace are five square chortens that were built in memory of the first king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck. An annual flower show is held here every Spring.
JAMBAY LHAKHANG DRUP
MUSHROOM (MATSUTAKE) FESTIVAL
GOMPHU KORA TSHECHU
HAA SUMMER FESTIVAL
DOCHULA, DRUK WANGYEL TSHECHU