Bhutan

Leaving Thimphu, on to Paro, Bhutan

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Paro is the most gorgeous city in the whole of Bhutan; and far more beautiful than Thimphu (wondering why the king does not stay here). It has the only International Airport in the country, and situated on the bank on Paro River, surrounded by hills. Before reaching to Paro city, we met Paro River on the way and fell in love with it. We immediately stopped the car, got down and went inside a downstream.

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To Thimphu, Bhutan by Road from India

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The international Boarder between India and Bhutan is shared by Jaigaon in India and Phuntsholing in Bhutan.

There is free access between these two places, however you are required to get permit to move beyond Phuntsholing. After an hour of journey, the view besides the road began to change and after crossing large fields, tea estates appeared. Total journey was about five hours and before we realized we reached Bhutan. It was a big gate, painted with colorful dragons and guarded by soldiers from Indian BSF and Royal Bhutan Army.

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Bhutan : The Land of Thunder Dragon!

Bhutan : The Land of Thunder Dragon!

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Perched on a cliff-top, Bhutan’s Taktshang monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest, is one of the most breathtaking temples in the world. The Buddhist place of worship is built on a rock around 3,000m (10,000ft) above sea level and stands above a beautiful forest of blue pine and rhododendrons. The main temple complex was built in 1692 and is considered to be one of the holiest for the Bhutanese people. There are no proper roads and visitors have to trek for hours to reach the temple. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this site on a tigress’ back to subdue a local demon. Thereafter, he meditated here for three months. It is blessed and sanctified as one of Bhutan’s most sacred religious sites.
Apart from monastry, we visited old fort of Paro and museum and then started for next destination, i.e. Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan Royal Kingdom and power centre of the country (around 50 K.m. away from Paro) taking with us wonderful memories of beautiful Paro. Again following the same pattern, we reached Thimphu in the evening and stayed in hotel to get ourselves recharged for next day’s tryst with the capital city.

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A Yatra to Takstang Monastery

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Here winds are blowing strongly, carrying everybody’s prayer with it and bringing blessing for all- truly a heavenly experience. We enter into the monastery. There are small temples inside, each of them with images of Buddhist deities. The smell of incense fills the air, a divine atmosphere altogether. We are now near the Tiger’s Nest, a small board indicating that, the cave where the Guru Padmasambhava meditated. We peep into the cave one by one and feel great to witness such a sacred monastery.

On our way back down we stop in the cafeteria for our meal. But they charge Rs.460/- per head for buffet lunch, of course a vegetarian meal, so we remain happy with a bottle of cold drink at Rs.60/-. It takes less than an hour to get down. We thank God for blessing us with the opportunity to witness such a sacred place, to view such an architectural wonder and to accomplish the YATRA once in this life.

We are driving to Chelela Pass, the highest motorable roads in Bhutan which locates between the Haa and Paro valley. We are passing continuously through oak trees, at times glimpsing wild fowls with long tail feathers and free roaming yaks, then through snow capped roads climb slowly to the Chelela pass. A milestone placed along the road indicates the highest point on Dantak Road at an altitude of 3988 meter above the sea level. We see a perfect white Himalayan Mountains view from here.

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In the Kingdom of Bhutan :: Journey to Dochula Pass and Paro Valley

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Reshmi, the hotel girl, knocks at my door and I turn towards her. She briefs me about the facilities in the hotel and I express to have understood the same. She returns back and I take a nice hot bath, change my dress and after a few minutes enter into the dining hall where Prakash is suggesting to visit Paro Dzong on this afternoon. Everyone is consenting to him and I raise my hand too.

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Entering into the kingdom of Bhutan :: The Land of Thunder Dragon

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It comes as an unpleasant surprise which is now doubled by a piece of information that from tomorrow there is a three days Public Holiday for the festival Losar. We all stand speechless as we are not feeling at our best. Our driver is promising to give a try tomorrow morning at RST office. But no words of him are taking away the pain we are now feeling because we understand the implications of not having permit for our vehicle.

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Taksang Gompa: A Holy Trek in Bhutan

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Some more local families overtook us and surged forward at a fast pace, almost a routine walk for them. I wanted to keep my own steady pace using the umbrella as walking stick. At the age of 68, one needs to listen to one’s body and not rush to compete with others. We pushed every step, slow and steady and continued climbing. My thigh and calf muscles started aching demanding rest. As we kept climbing my breathing became harder and started roaring into my ears. We trudged on. The mountain breeze, when it came, helped me like a breath of fresh air. A crow hovered upwind in search of a prey perhaps. The climb became grimmer as we continued to angle towards the top. My shirt, which had been soaked with sweat, now felt stiff and uncomfortable. I wiped the perspiration from my forehead that was trickling into my eyes. I glanced at the rock face towards my right and saw the holy Gompa across that looked like toy houses stuck together on the rock face with glue. It became bigger as we climbed further up and reduced the distance with the rock face. We pushed slowly with no sense of hurry. The aroma of the jungle was printed on every whiff of breeze that I savored. The mist rose from the valley below and started blotting out the tumbled slopes of the rocky cliff below the Gompa.
After about an hour and a half we reached a midpoint, rested and sipped water. It would be unwise to rest for too long as once the body gets cold it will be difficult to climb up, better keep the body warm and maintain the rhythm of the climb.

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Trip to Bhutan – Thimpu, Paro and Phuntsoling

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We met our guide who took us to our destination, Galling Resort, about 3 kms away from town along a graveled road. Located on the banks of Paro chu; the property was tastefully constructed and painted in unique mud color ethnic Bhutanese style. The view from the balcony was breathtaking with Paro Chu rumbling right in front across the road, part of Paro beyond and finally the valley rising to meet the misty mountains that made the distant horizon. Anyone with an eye for the nature or a plain nature lover is bound to be enchanted by the natural beauty, landscape that would make not spending couple of days almost impossible. We did just that. The resort was warm, comfortable with a cozy lounge, wood paneled bedroom and comfortable attached bath. Our rooms had the same view as balcony and decided to keep the curtains drawn and windows opened so as to be part of the beautiful view.

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Trip to Bhutan – Road trip from Siliguri to Thimpu

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It was getting dark so without wasting time, just after a cup of tea, we set off to experiment the capital street with a look-see walk. The street was clean and lined by weeping willow trees that looked very nice. The buildings were Bhutanese style architecture that had four to five storey. We walked through light drizzle along the stone paved sidewalk. Surprisingly a melodious and rhythmic Western music filled the air; the source of the melody was a small open air stand that was extension of the main street. It looked quite unusual to see Bhutanese boys in traditional dress playing and crooning Western Tuned Bhutanese songs. A group of about 100 young men and women, gathered around the band stand were gyrating with the melody and rhythm of the music. All were wearing Bhutanese traditional dress, no jeans, pants and skirts. The dress code is strict; men wear “Gho” a kimono like knee length gown type of dress, tied by a long kamarbandh with long shocks and shoes. Women’s dress is called, “Kira”, an elegant wrapped around skirt like with a check or brocade jacket for the top. Both Tibetan and Bhutanese dress is alike except for few variations. There is also the marked difference in the material used in Bhutan. Whereas Tibetan men and women fancy any type of clothing materials for their “Bakkhu”, Bhutanese use only the traditional and colorful Bhutan made check cloth material for their “Gho” and “Kira”.

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