|This photograph epitomises what bhutan is all about - Mountains,valleys,Rivers,Winding roads,small villages,Dhongs - et all|
Bhutan is a small country hidden in the Southern slopes of the Eastern Himalayas, landlocked between Tibet to the North and the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh to the West and South. It has historical links with India from ancient times. Increasing the ‘Happiness Quotient’ is one of the primary objectives of the government. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government.
Jai, Sushama and I started our journey on a wrong foot. We were offloaded from the aircraft in Bengaluru for carrying a battery charger in our checked in baggage. With great difficulty we managed to board the next flight and catch Delhi – Paro flight on time. The Paro airport is located in a very picturesque valley and presents extremely challenging task to the pilot in maneuvering the aircraft for landing. Impressive Bhutanese architecture surrounds the airfield. In fact the people have struggled hard to maintain their traditional architecture throughout the country. The design blends beautifully with the natural surroundings and presents a very harmonious façade.
quick immigration process we met up with Mr Wangchuk our van driver cum English
speaking guide. He remained with us for all the seven days, endlessly talking
and sharing experiences, information and tidbits about himself and Bhutan. He
certainly made our stay very interesting. We drove from Paro to Thimphu stopping
at various places to absorb the breathtaking views and for photography.
|Main airport building|
|A stunning view from the airport|
|King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.and Jetsun Pema The Queen of Bhutan|
|Outstanding view as we drove to Thimphu|
|With our driver cum guide Mr Wangchuk|
|From our room in Army Mess|
|In the mess dining hall - ancient relics - i meant the bear|
|View of the valley below|
There is very minimal touristy stuff to do in Bhutan, One can start the visits after breakfast and be back at the hotel or a nice restaurant for some chilled beer and delectable lunch. Druk 500 beer kept us company throughout our stay. Druk is a good beer but slightly on the stronger side. Bhutan cuisine is very unique with abundance of cheese, mushrooms and chilies in their preparations. The chillies are used more as a vegetable than as spice in their cooking.
|Sushama at her best|
|Babesa Village Restaurant|
|Very happy with vegetarian Bhutanese food|
|Main entrance to the shrine|
|One of the 108 Apsaras which adorn the platform|
|Jai and Sushama taking rest|
|Very colourful market place selling traditional wares|
|Local knitting a sweater|
Highpoint of our visit to Bhutan was trekking to the “Tiger’s Nest” monastery located six miles from the city centre. The monastery complex consists of seven temples which is perched on top of a vertical cliff. The trek involves an extremely arduous vertical climb from a base height of 6000 ft to 10600 ft. Most of the way, there are no regular steps or a paved path. It is one long and steep dirt rocky track leading to the top. Just short of the temple there are 800 steps to climb.
|To the base|
|An almost vertical climb|
You need to carry some food, water and a strong walking stick to complete the trek. The view from the top is simply exhilarating and pumps in extra amount of adrenalin to reach back. As you sit back and look at the calm and serene face of’ “Lord Buddha”, it envelopes you with inner strength and resolve.
Trek to Tiger’s nest was indeed a remarkable achievement for me.
There are wonderful opportunities for kayaking and White water rafting. One can choose the degree of difficulty depending upon level of fitness and familiarity with the sport. We did a level 3 Paro to Chhuzom five mile rafting. Must see attraction includes “Great Buddha Dordenma” a gigantic Buddha statue in the mountains outside of Thimpu. Drive to Chele pass is very, visit to Paro Taktsang monastery ends the list.
At the end of seven days we felt relaxed and recouped. Bhutanese are very warm and friendly. They go out of their way to be helpful and courteous.
|Beginning of white water rafting|
|Ended in Paro Dzong which ranks as a high point of Bhutanese architecture.|
|On the way to Paro - Lyril soap ad with clothes on|
|A bird in the bush and nothing in hand - Yellow billed Magpie|
|Rich in agriculture|
|Chelela Pass at 13200 ft - love drive|
If you are looking for a peaceful getaway at very reasonable cost, then Bhutan is definitely the right destination. It offers a different basket of experiences to savor.