Top 10 attractions in Bhutan

Top 10 attractions in Bhutan

1. Hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro
2. The biggest Buddha Statue in the world – in Thimphu
3. The Tashichhodzong – in Thimphu
4. Dochula Pass (between Thimphu and Punakha)
5. Chimi Lhakhang, the Fertility Temple – in Lobesa, Punakha
6. Visit the majestic Punakha Dzong
7. Hike to the Khamsum Yuenlley Temple – in Punakha
8. Visit Gangtey/Phobjikha Valley
9. Visit Haa Valley
10. Visit Bumthang valley

1. Hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro

The Tiger’s Nest, locally known as the Taktshang Monastery, is perched on a vertical cliff-face in Paro in western Bhutan. This hike is almost always the main attraction from your visit to Bhutan and we, at Green Mandala Tours, recommend you this hike very highly.

This wondrous monastery never ceases to thrill a visitor – locals and tourists alike. It is a photographer’s dream.

Making it so attractive is not just the monastery but also the entire package of the hike. You drive up to the base of the monastery from where you the view on top of the vertical cliff tease you.

You have to hike uphill for about 2 to 3 hours to reach the monastery. We recommend you to carry your hiking sticks.

If you don’t pride yourself to be a hiker, you can hire a pony at the base of the mountain. The pony would carry you to a strategic point very close to the monastery. You cannot take the pony when you descend, as it is not safe.

If you want to avoid hiking uphill under the scorching sun, you could begin early in the morning – lets say about 6 or 7:00 am to ensure that by the time the sun smiles on you, you are already or nearly on top of the mountain.

At the entrance, you would be required to keep your bags, mobile phones and camera. You cannot take photographs inside the temple.

On the way back, you can have your lunch at a cafeteria midway through the hike.

History:

The Tiger’s Nest monastery is considered one of the most important and sacred monasteries in Bhutan.
The history of the Tiger’s Nest is shrouded in myths. It is said that an Indian born saint, Guru Padmasambhava, regarded by Bhutanese to be the second Buddha, flew to the site of the monastery in the 8th century on a tigress and meditated there for more than 3 years. It is believed that Guru’s disciple wife, Yeshey Tshogyal, converted herself into the tigress to take her husband to the site.

Since then, many Buddhist teachers and lamas visited and consecrated the site including meditating there for years. The present day monastery was built in the 17th century and it went several reconstructions.

2. The biggest Buddha Statue in the world – in Thimphu

The Buddha Dordenma statue standing tall at 169 feet (51.5 meters) is the biggest statue of Lord Buddha in the world. It is located over a strategic hilltop overlooking the entire Thimphu valley and offers a picturesque view.

The gigantic statue is built like a temple and the interior of the statue has 100,000 eight-inch Buddha statues and 25,000 12-inch gold gilded Buddha statues. The project to build the site cost about US$ 100 million.

The tall statue is in the midst of the newly opened (in 2011) Kuenselphodrang Nature Park, which consists of 943.4 acres of protected forest area.

3. The Tashichho Dzong – in Thimphu

The Tashichho Dzong is a gigantic fortress housing the office of the King of Bhutan. Tashichho Dzong can also be seat as the seat of Bhutan’s governance and it also has other government offices apart from the King.

It is a very important fortress and the annual Thimphu Tshechu Festival and the Thimphu Dromchu Festival are held at the courtyard of the Dzong, which means fortress.

According to history, a Dzong was constructed above the present area where Dechen Phodrang Temple stands today by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa in 1216 A.D. The Zhabdrung built a lower dzong at the present site in 1641. It was reconstructed several times and in 1952, when Thimphu became the capital, the Dzong became the King’s seat.

4. Dochula Pass (between Thimphu and Punakha)

The Dochula Pass is the highest point along the road between Thimphu and Punakha. It is a beautiful Pass and there are 108 mini-stupas built at the junction of the pass. This set of stupas is called the Druk Wangyal Chortens. Chortens meaning stupas.

On the hilltop is the Druk Wangyal Temple which is a unique temple as it is the only temple dedicated to the royal family of Bhutan and built for peace and prosperity of the county.

On a clear day, you can see the entire Himalayan mountain peaks in Bhutan including Mt Gangkar Puensum (7,570 m or 24,840ft), which is the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.
The annual Dochula Festival or the Druk Wangyal Tsechu is held at the site.

5. Chimi Lhakhang, the Fertility Temple – in Lobesa, Punakha

If you come across a native in Europe or the United States with the name Chimi, there is every chance that he or she maybe related to the Chimi Lhakhang (Temple) in Bhutan.

The Chimi Lhakhang is a Fertility Temple in Lobesa in western Bhutanese district of Punakha. There are amazing stories of childless couples from all over the world having seen their prayers answered after a visit to this temple.

The Chimi Lhakhang is courtesy to the 15th century maverick monk, Drukpa Kunley, who is legendary for using sex as sexual transgressions to teach and spread the teachings of the Buddha. He is also known as the ‘Divine Madman. He is credited for establishing the Phallus tradition in Bhutan.

History says that the Chimi Lhakhang was build by Lama Ngawang Chegyal in 1499 at the site where Drukpa Kunley had built a chorten after subduing an evil spirit.

6. Visit the majestic Punakha Dzong

The Punakha Dzong is the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan. Built in 1637-38, the Dzong stands at the romantic confluence of the male and the female rivers.

It is a gigantic fortress, which is famous for having Bhutan’s most important relic and its main alter room also has the embalmed and preserved body of Bhutan’s founder from the 17th century.

The annual five-day Punakha Domchu festival is held at the Dozng which is a unique festival celebrating the victory over the invading Tibetan forces and an entire episode of the war is recreated during the festival. The Punakha Dzong is listed on the Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion of heritage sites.

Enthusiasts of water sports can also do rafting and kayaking along the two rivers outside the Dzong.

7. Hike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Temple – in Punakha

The Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Temple is located over an ideal hilltop overlooking the Punakha valley offering a scenic view of the Mochhu (Female River) river basin. The temple is an architectural marvel.

You drive up to a road end from Punakha for about 25 minutes. You cross a bride and then hike up to the temple across green paddy fields. Then you hike up to the temple. The entire hike would take you 25/30 minutes. You can carry your hiking sticks.

From the temple, the view is spectacular. You better carry your camera.

8. Visit Gangtey/Phobjikha Valley

The Gangtey or the Phobjikha valley is the most beautiful valley in western Bhutan. It is most popular as the winter roosting ground of the endangered Black-necked crane, which flies over the Himalayan Mountains from Tibet and comes all the way to Bhutan.

The annual Black-necked crane Festival also takes place in Phobjikha.

The scenic valley of Phobjikha is also a good breakaway from urban life and tourists get to experience village life and meet with local villagers. Adventure lovers can also do hike and short treks (for about 2 to 3 days) in Phojikha.

You can also experience farmhouse stay and try hot-stone bath and local cuisine. This valley is a photographer’s paradise.

9. Visit Haa valley

The western district of Haa lies very close to the Tibetan border. The shops in this scanty town are filled up with Chinese merchandise like porcelain cups and plates, kitchenware, blankets and many artifacts.

The annual Haa Summer Festival is a big attraction and it offers a unique glimpse to the lifestyle, culture and tradition of the highlander community of Bhutan.

A visit to Haa could be best experienced if you stay in a farmhouse and enjoy the hospitality of the Bhutanese hosts, experience the hot stone bath in the evening and relax. The visit to Haa is an ideal getaway from urban life.

10. Visit Bumthang valley

Bumthang is undoubtedly the most beautiful place in Bhutan. It comprises four adjacent valleys and each valley offers an equally beautiful view. This central district could also be described as the religious capital of Bhutan as it has several monasteries and temples and each temple or monastery hosts different annual festivals all of which are equally fascinating.

The most popular monastery is the 7th century Jambay Lhakhang Temple, which hosts the annual Jambay Lhakhang Drub, popularly known to tourists as the Naked Dance Festival. This festival takes place in November and the most important part of the festival is a fire ritual when the naked dance is hosted. The dance takes place around midnight when completely naked male dancers swirl around in calculated precision braving the winter chill.

There are several other attractions in Bumthang including numerous hikes and many trekking options. If you intend to see Bumthang, you could also time your visit to one of the festivals of this beautiful valley.

Advertisements