Check out these top attractions and must-see places in the royal Kingdom. A country of grand mountains and serene valleys, colourful quiet monasteries and fiery food – Bhutan is beautiful. Prepare to get charmed by friendly locals as you travel through the little country that’s as scenic as it is interesting to explore.
Taktsang is located on a high cliff towards the north of Paro town. It was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three months in the 8th century. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) flew to this location from Khenpajong, Tibet on the back of a tigress and subdued a demon. He then performed meditation in one of the caves here and emerged in eight incarnated forms (manifestations) and blessed the place. Subsequently, the place came to be known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. Guru Padmasambhava is known for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen caves in which he meditated.
Perched on the high cliffs Taktsang is referred to as the Tiger’s Nest, it has always inspired and awestruck many a visitor. “Trip to Bhutan is never complete without climbing to Taktsang”, says one tourist. Indeed it’s true as the journey turns into a pilgrimage and fills you up in spiritual bliss. For those not choosing the spiritual side it is the dramatic and the artistically structured monument that becomes a hiker’s delight. Let us take you to this magnificently set Buddhist relic hanging from a cliff. Feel the exhilaration of the uphill climb as you ascend more than two thousand feet from the valley floor.
Let the ruins of this dzong tell you a tale of how Bhutanese warriors defended Bhutan from the invaders from the north in the 17th century. This dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646, to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the outer walls and the central tower remain an imposing sight. On a clear day, treat yourself with a splendid view of Mt. Jumolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong.
In the fifteenth century local people offered the crag of Hungrel at Paro to Lama Drung Drung Gyal, a descendant of Pajo Drugom Zhigpo. Drung Drung Gyal built a small temple there and later a five storied Dzong or fortress which was known as Hungrel Dzong. In the seventeenth century, his descendants, the lords of Hungrel, offered this fortress to the Drukpa heirarch Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, in recognition of his religious and temporal authority. In 1644 the Shabdrung dismantled the existing Dzong and laid the foundations of a new Dzong. In 1646 the Dzong was reconsecrated and established as the administrative and monastic centre of the western region and it became known as Rinpung Dzong.
Popularly known as the Punakha Dzong, Punthang Dechen Phodrang (The Palace of Great Bliss) was built in 1637 by the Zhabdrung. The gigantic Dzong was damaged 6 times by fire, once by flood and once by an earthquake.
On 17 December, 1907, the first king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here. The Machen Lhakhang, a temple inside the Dzong enshrines the mummified body of the Zhabdrung who passed away in retreat here in 1651. Dzongchung (or the little Dzong), built in 1328 by saint Ngagi Rinchen can still be seen opposite the main Dzong. The spectacular Kuenrey (assembly hall) in Punakha Dzong is open to the tourists.
Chimi Lhakhang is a very popular and revered temple that lies on the periphery of the fertile valley of Lobesa, where the borders of Thimphu, Punakha and wangduephodrang districts meet. Being dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madman, the temple is popularly considered to be a temple of fertility.
Thimphu’s Memorial Chorten is both a chorten and a temple in one. It occupies a prominent place in the center of the main road near the south entrance of the city proper; traffic splits to go around it. It was built in 1974 to honor the 3rd King, who wanted to construct a chorten to represent the mind of the Buddha,but passed away before starting that project.
It is a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city of Thimpu in Bhutan , on the western bank of the Wang chu. It has traditionally been the seat of the Druk desi (or “Dharma 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.
Gangtey Goenpa is on the way to Tongsa. Its almost 60 KMs away from Wangdue and the way is covered by the dense forests, mainly made up of oak trees and Rhododendrons. Gangtey Goenpa is the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan and is situated on a ridge overlooking the Phobjikha Valley. According to a legend Gangtey Goenpa was founded by the grandson of Pema lingpa, Gyalse Pema Thinley in 1613 and later was expanded by Tenzin Legpau Dhendup. It is currently undergoing a major renovation scheduled to be completed by 2008.
Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the periphery of the north western tip of the Black Mountain National Park at the altitude of 9,840 feet. The valley is a wide, beautiful alpine wetland valley and is a conservation area and lies on the northern boundary of the Jowo Durshing range. The hill side vegetation is mostly pine forest, interspersed with Rhododendron trees. Phobjikha valley is also one of the roosting grounds of the Black-necked cranes that migrate each year in winter from its northern habitats in Tibet and Siberia. These elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of the March. RSPN and Phobjikha community are now working together to protect the habitat of endangered Black Necked Cranes.
Bhutan The Land of Thunder dragon is surrounded by Beautiful mountains and pass all over. Being in the Himalayan zone Bhutan has the most beautiful mountains in Jumolhari , Jichu drakay and Kula Gangir which lies in the Northen Part and bordered to China. Dochula Pass which is the most known pass in the Bhutan is just 30 odd Km drive from the Capital City Thimphu on the way towards central Bhutan. Dochula pass is around 3150 meter from sea level and it’s mostly covered with white clouds, where on a clear day you can see spectacular view of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges. Dochula pass serves the stop for all the passer by traveling to and fro to punakha and wandgi for a hot cup of coffee well served from the Dochula Cafeteria located just above the Beautiful Dochula Pass.
The history of the temples at Kurje is associated with Sendha Gyab, popularly known as Sindhu Raja and the visit of Guru Rinpoche to Bumthang in 746 AD. Sendah Gyab invited Guru Rinpoche from Yanglayshey (meditation cave of Guru) in Nepal to Bhutan. The reason behind the invitation was to subdue the evil spirits and demons harming the people and especially to get back the King’s soul from the guardian deity named Shelging Karpo who had cursed the King with a terrible illness. Upon this invitation, Guru Rinpoche came to Bumthang and meditated there in a cave named Dragmar Dorji Tsegpa, meaning a red coloured cave that resembles a pile of vajras (dorjis). After subduing the evil spirits and demons and having restored the soul of the King, imprints of the Guru Rinpoche’s body remained. Thereafter, the name came to be known as Kurje meaning-imprint of the body. The present place of the Lhakhang remains as a blessed and historical site.
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