Bhutan has a very interesting and rich history which can be clearly seen in all the places around the country. It has remained one of the top hot spots of tourism due to the historical significance of the different infrastructure and the rich history and culture of the people. If you ever get a chance to travel to Bhutan, don’t forget to visit the following places.
If you go further up, you can visit the Dechenphodrang monastic school and meet the young monks. In the way, you can also stop by to visit Zilukha nunnery to meet the nuns and interact with them. Lunch in the town and after lunch visit to the happening weekend market (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) where the locals from the surrounding villages come to sell their produce. They sell their goods and in return they buy their basic necessities. This is more of modern practice, as in the history bata system was in use.
There are so many temples and places in Punakah district that we will tire from describing them, so we will just summarize them here. First is the Memorial Chorten (temple), a place for elders who gather there and chant prayers whole day while meeting their friends.
Although it is a place for elders now, historically it was built in the memory of late 3rd King.
From there, you can drive to visit the largest and the newly built statue of Buddha offering magnificent view of entire Thimphu valley. Let us emphasize, it is the largest statue of Buddha that was built recently.
The mish mash of fresh vegetables looks very beautiful. One of their favorite produce is chilies.
After that, you can drive to Punakha crossing over Dochula pass (3200 mts). If the weather permits, you can enjoy a spectacular breath taking view of the highest mountain peaks of Bhutan at a sight that stretches almost 180 degrees. Take a break and walk around the newly built 108 stupas and continue to the sub-tropical valley of Punakha offering different vegetation. On the way back, take a nice hike through the paddy field and old village to visit Chimi Lakhang, the temple of fertility associated with religious art of phallus. Nearby, you can find the stores where you can buy phallus models, which may seem weird to an outsider, but is definitely interesting.
Phallus models are not the only thing you can get from there, other handicrafts are also available at the local stores.
It will not be wrong to say that the Paro city is the center of tourism of Bhutan. People visit the city due to the famous Paro Dazong fortress as well as the Tachhog Lakhang Lake and bridge in addition to the natural sights. An interesting tidbit about the bridge is that it is the oldest wooden bridge in the world that is still in use today.
The natural sights of the city are as visually pleasing as the fortress and the lake. And when you include the different sights of ceremonies and markets that are held there, you will be stunned beyond belief.
Regularly, farmers come in the local market place to sell fresh produce. But the market is not the only time when you see locals interacting with each other. You can also see them coming together at festivals and prayer ceremonies.
Punakha Dzong Fortress:
Punakha Dzong, full name Pungthang Dewa chhenbi Phodrang (translation: the palace of great happiness or bliss) houses the most elaborated temple in the whole country. It is second oldesest and largest ‘Dzong’ and is a potential site for the inclusion in UNESCO heritage sites. Historically, this was the seat of Government till 1995, but it was built much earlier in 1637 and 1638 by Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Even now, it contains the sacred and ancient relics of the southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as the sacred remains of its builder. This is a must to see fortress in Bhutan and a fine example of Bhutanese rich Art and Architecture. If you see the fortress from the lake’s side, the place will look like a scene from ancient history. The view is stunning from not only the outsides but insides too.
Tiger’s Nest Temple:
About 3 hours uphill hike from the Paro market, you will reach the famous Tiger’s Nest. The hike is a bit tiring, and you might have to spend the whole day in traveling up and down, but if you succeed, the prize will be worth it.
Most of the time, tourists choose to hike their way up, but horses can also be rented to reach the temple.
This is the most revered temple of the country, and the sight of a temple hanging on a granite cliff literally will no doubt stun you beyond speech. Another reason why you should visit there is the beautiful unobstructed overview of the Paro Tiger’s Nest provides.
Kichu Lakhang Temple:
Upon returning from Tiger’s Nest, you can also visit the one of the oldest temples of Bhutan, Kichu Lakhang. This temple is actually the visible symbol of the beginning of Buddhism in the country.
For additional fee, you can get hot stone baths from there, but farewell dinner is a must at there with your guide.
If you still have time, you can go to Zuri Lakhang, or if you prefer a short drive, then visit Drugyel Dzong.
Bhutan is a very interesting place to visit. The people there are also very nice and hardworking.
Even if you are not a history enthusiast, you would still enjoy the sights as well as the resident’s welcoming attitude.
They are very hospitable, and treat all the tourists with pleasure.