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The incredible journey to the Land of Happiness : 30 September – 5 October 2018

October 8, 2018

OUR TRAVEL TO THE LAND OF HAPPINESS –  BHUTAN  

30 Sept.2018 :

A comfortable 2.20 hours flight with Druk Air from IGI Airport, New Delhi  with spectacular breath taking bird’s eye view of mountains  took us to the picturesque Paro International airport.

The immigration and baggage collection procedures were surprisingly very swift, taking us no more than 20 minutes to get out of the small terminal that Paro International Airport is .

Photograph courtesy  : A kind visitor from Houston/Texas  – Robert Sergesketter

Upon exit , we were  greeted by smartly dressed Driver Tandin in his Santa Fe. Driving across the Paa chu river and Thim chu river brought us  closer to the nature, we  arrived at Thimphu 90 minutes later and checked in at the  Ramada Valley Hotel , being greeted by offering of scarves and serving of fruit juice.

Hotel Ramada Valley Resorts – facade, very well appointed room, Lobby                              and Driver Tandin in front of it .

Thimphu sightseeing :

Tashichhoedzong (Outside) – Meaning: Fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 and rebuilt into present structure by late king Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (Father of Modern Bhutan) in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the Office of the King, and the central monk body.

Memorial Chorten – It was built in 1974 in the memory of third King late Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. The temple inside gives good examples of tantric Buddhist and its philosophy. Admission fee: 300 Nu  [ equiv to 300 INR ]

Visited  Handicrafts Market opposite Taj Tashi Hotel which is full of stalls lined in a row selling traditional Bhutanese handicrafts and textiles products  .

Overnight stay at Thimphu .

Additional pictures taken at Ramada Valley Hotel in the evening upon return from the day’s sight seeing tour .

View from the room of Ramada Valley Hotel  , its  elegant restaurant and the front desk .

1 Oct.2018  – Sightseeing Thimphu

Semtokha Dzong – Semtokha is 6 km from Thimphu; it is on a hill stand and was built in 1629 by Zhabdrung. It is the oldest fortress in the kingdom built by Zhabdrung. It now houses the cultural and Buddhist studies.

Budhha Point : The highlight of our travel was a visit to Kuenselphodrang where world’s tallest Buddha (Dhordenma) Statue (169 feet) sits overlooking Thimphu City.  The view of the City from the base of the Statue are simply spectacular.

Bhutan Post Office Headquarters : We got  postage stamps made  with our own picture in it for use within Bhutan [ 500 nu ]  .

We also thought of buying  special round shaped gold leaf covered  and 3D stamps which are famous world wide , but found them to be too  expensive  !

Simply  Bhutan Museum – This   Museum showcases  the 19 century farm house and the living style of the Bhutanese family. It was funded by  the Government of India .

Here we took  pictures hearing wearing traditional Bhutanese clothes  and danced with  visitors . Admission fee: 300 Nu .

There is also a Wishing Pond here , close to the exit of the Museum . It is stated that if you drop 5 old coins in the vessel floating on the pond, your wishes will be fulfilled .

2 Oct.2018 – Thimphu – Punakha :

Additional pictures taken while departing from Ramada Valley Resorts after a comfortable overnight stay.

After breakfast , proceeded  to Punakha. [ Note that all travellers intending to visit Punakha must obtain a route permit in advance from the Immigration Department in Thimphu . This takes about 3 hours and usually the cab driver takes care of this at no extra charge ]

Dochula view point :  Although quite cold , the views from the Dochula Pass were simply stunning.The first stop after leaving Thimphu is Dochula pass at 3100m.

Only about 45 minutes from Thimphu, it offers visitors their first glimpse of the Himalayan range. The road to Punakha branches left and curls its way down to the relatively low lands of the Punakha valley.

Just as we were  about to reach Punakha :

Chimi Lhakhang (Fertility Temple): Situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley is the yellow-roofed Chimi Lhakhang, built in 1499 by the cousin of Lama Drukpa Kunley in his honour after he subdued the demoness of the nearby Dochu La with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’. A wooden effigy of the lama’s thunderbolt is preserved in the lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a blessing or empowerment from the saint. It is a pleasant 20 minute walk across fields from the road at Sopsokha to the temple. It crosses an archery ground before making a short climb to the temple.

Checked in at Damchen Resorts by the river side . The location is quite popular as it is the starting point for white water rafting .

Thereafter , we visited :

Punakha Dzong: Majestically standing on an island between the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers, the city’s Dzong is admittedly one of the most photogenic of all Bhutan’s ancient fortresses [ I understand that pictures of it  are hanging in hotels and restaurants throughout the country ].

dzong

The Dzong is joined to the mainland by an arched wooden bridge, and contains many precious relics from the days when successive Kings reined the kingdom from this valley.

A long suspension  bridge which is 20 minutes walk from the Dzong is also well worth a visit .   Admission fee : 300 Nu .

From Punakha , we went to Wangdue, known as the designer town of Bhutan , buying some grocery items and helping a woman to sell her stock of fruits and vegetables  at an all women fruits and vegetables market offering a discount of 25% which made customers flock to “my” stall  .

wan gue

Return to Punakha and overnight stay at the Hotel .

3 Oct.2018 : Punakha – Paro via Thimphu – 4 Hrs:

Checked out from Damchen resort at 0930 hours .

Proceeded to Paro .

National Museum of Bhutan  was our first stop – Situated right above Rinpung Dzong in Paro, the National Museum of Bhutan showcases Bhutan’s culture. Built in 1968, the museum stands inside the ancient Ta-dzong building. The Museum is in 2 sections . The first section is devoted to different designs of masks that Bhutanese dancers wear at festivals . The second section is devoted to flora and fauna of Bhutan as well as wildlife .

National museum

There is a small gift shop from where you can buy traditional Bhutanese crafts and historical books . Admission fee: 50 Nu

Rinpung  Dzong –   Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal , the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district.

rinm

Nya Mey Zam Bridge – “The Bridge with No Fish ” is the bridge that connects Paro Town to Dzong ..It is one of finest specimens in Bhutan and locals believe if one sees a fish in the river , it is ill omen.The earlier bridge which could be folded during war was washed away by flood in 1969. Quite close to Rinpung Dzong .

Checked in at the picturesque Tiger’s Nest Resorts, 10 Kms from Paro International Airport overlooking the world famous Taktsang Monastery with awesome views of the valley all around .

The spectacular facade of Tiger’s Nest Resort which is also equipped with traditional spa and a meeting room . It also has several cottages at the back of the rooms . On the right is Hotel’s very efficient and courteous Manager , Sanju .

4 Oct.2018 – Paro

Kyichu Lhakhang : Visited  Kyichu Lhakhang, (also known as Kyerchu Temple )  which is an important Himalayan Buddhist temple situated in Lamgong Gewog of Paro District .This  is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, originally built in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emperor Songsten Gampo. Admission  fee: 300 Nu

Old temple

Airport View Point –  Provides a bird’s eye view of the splendid  Paro International Airport .

Taktsang Monastery : If you can brave the risky cliffs on a high mountain, Paro will astonish you in the form of Taktsang Monastery. You need to  cover 1200 metres on a fierce cliff to reach this sacred site, also known as the Tiger’s Nest. You could take a deep breath after reaching the spot and then comfort your eyes and soul with the stunning view of the scenic surroundings and the valley lying underneath. The Taktsang Monastery was established by Saint Guru Rinpoche who came to Bhutan in 747 CE. Construction of the complex was completed in 1694. Discovering the Tiger’s Nest after 3-3.5 hours of trekking is real adventure but one can  also opt for a horse ride from the parking lot [ 900 Nu incl: attendant charges – total trek time up and down is close to 5.5 hrs ] .  Certainly not recommended for people in the age group of 60 years and above .

But you can get amazing views of the Monastery from the base camp itself where you can also find dozens of stalls managed by women selling traditional  Bhutanese handicrafts at throwaway prices . Admission fee: 500 Nu .

Drukgyal Dzong – Drukgyal Dzong was a fortress and Buddhist monastery, now in ruins, located in the upper part of the Paro valley in Paro District of Bhutan. The Dzong was built by Tenzin Drukdra in 1649 at the behest of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate victory over an invasion from Tibet. Presently labourers are working on renovation of the monastery . Tourists should avoid going there for the time being .

Ruins

Aum Choden:  Hot stone bath .  This is a traditional therapy that cures people of joint pains and skin related dieseas . You simply lie down in water that is made hot by immersing hot stones in it . Select herbs which are supposed to have medicinal properties  are added to it . Charges 1500 Nu / hour  .

hsb1

Traditional Hot Stone Bath . Lying in hot water relaxes the mind and rejuvenates the body .

While waiting for your turn, you can take some lessons in Archery, the national sport of Bhutan . This facility is located mid way between Paro International Airport and Tiger’s Nest Resorts .

Overnight Stay in Paro.

5 Oct.2018

Checked out from the Hotel in the early morning hours to board our Druk Air flight back home carrying happy memories of our 5 days’ stay in the Land of Happiness .

Tashi Delek – goodbye , as they say in Bhutanese language

bye bye paro

Our sincere thanks to Mr G S Duggal /Ajay Laheria  of Discover Leisure Tours & Travels Private Limited, New Delhi for making the entire arrangements for our trip in a meticulous manner .

From → My movie blogs

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