Saturday, October 8, 2016

Top Places to Visit

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery hangs on a cliff and stands above an enchanting forest of blue pines and rhododendrons. As this beautiful and very exceptional monastery is a sheer climb the hill (900 meters), a pony can be arranged for the ride up to the cafeteria. From then on, it is another steep walk and some narrow stairs towards the monastery itself. The trail crosses a chapel of butter lamps and descends to a waterfall by the Snow Lion Cave. The view of the Paro Valley from here is breathtaking, and the atmosphere very holy. The Tiger's Nest is a place where every Bhutanese will want to come at least once in his/her life. It's the place where Guru Rinpoche, arriving on the back of a tigress, brought Buddhism into Bhutan.

Punakha Dzong
The second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan, Punakha Dzong, or some call it Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness), is the country’s most gorgeous and majestic dzong. Punakha is accessible by a 3 hours drive east of the capital Thimpu, and after crossing a pass through glorious and breathtaking mountains. Punakha Dzong is placed strategically in between two rivers, Pho Chu (male) and Mo Chu (females) that have noticeable color differences between the rivers’ water. Punakha Dzong is joined to the mainland by an arched wooden bridge and contains many precious relics from the days when successive kings reigned the kingdom over this valley. Furthermore, it is blessed with a temperate climate, and lovely lilac colored jacaranda trees which grow around the dzong during the spring season.

Zuri Dzong Hike
The peak of the Zuri Dzong Trek is a perfect spot for a bird-eye view of the entire Paro valley. The Zuri Dzong is the oldest Dzong in Bhutan, and within it lies a cave where Buddha came to meditate during the 8th century. This peaceful place allows both Bhutanese and visitors to soak in the tranquility.  One can stare at the extraordinary view for hours in wonder and awe. The total journey time to get there will take approximately 30 minutes if one starts from the museum watchtower, and an additional 1 hour to to travel toward Uma. Tourists can expect to sit and relax there, and also hike through Trek to see the amazing side-view.

 Gangtey Valley in winter
The valley of Gangtey is one of the most stunning valleys in the Himalayas, and many call it the Shangri-La of Bhutan, just as how Bhutan is well known for being “one of the world’s happiest nations,” and “the last Shangri-La on Earth.” The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, which is an extremely rare experience in Bhutan as most of the valleys are tightly enclosed. This moderate trek visits the villages of Gogona and Khotokha, passing through meadows and fields, then forests of juniper, magnolia and rhododendrons, which will be in full bloom in April. Besides the attractive scenic valley and mountain trails passing through the magnificent forest with its undergrowth changing from rhododendron and magnolia to ferns and dwarf bamboo, we can also visit the historical Gangtey monastery and the blacked necked crane information centre. Additionally, there will be a special treat for those visiting the Gangtey during the winter season, as they will be able to catch the graceful Black-necked Cranes heading to the roost.