A Scenic Road Trip to Bhutan – Beautiful Destination
If you wish to explore Bhutan by road from North East India, Phuentsholing to Paro Tour will surely be a highly rewarding experience. Here I am sharing my experience of one of the trip I took just before this pandemic.
Day-1 Arrival in Phuentsholing
The 7-day tour begins from Phuentsholing which is a main commercial hub in south-west Bhutan, popularly known as the ‘Gateway to Bhutan’. Phuentsholing is a border town in southern Bhutan and is the administrative seat of Chukha District.
Day 2: Phuentsholing to Thimphu
It took us a complete day to reach Thimphu from Phuensholing as we were in no rush and was literally enjoying the ambience and beauty of nature enroute to Thimphu. So, we decided to explore Thimphu next day.
Day-3 Sightseeing in Thimphu
- Location:- Buddha Statue (Thimphu)
This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 m, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold.
The Buddha Dordenma is located at the top of a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley. The statue fulfils an ancient prophecy dating back to the 8th century A.D that was discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa (Religious Treasure Discoverer) and is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world.
- Location:- Memorial Chorten
The Memorial Chorten is a stupa in Thimphu, Bhutan, located on Doeboom Lam in the southern-central part of the city near the main roundabout. The stupa, built in 1974 to honor the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–1972), is a prominent landmark in the city with its golden spires and bells. The Structural design of the Chorten reflects a typical Tibetan style, also known as Jangchub Chorten with a classical pyramidal pillar crowned by a crescent moon and sun. It is one of the most visible structures in Thimphu with easy accessibility. Some experience that tourists can attain is witnessing hundreds of people walking around the Chorten especially during early mornings and late evenings. If Tourist are interested in meditation and practicing a bit of Buddhism when in Bhutan, spinning the large prayer wheels and praying inside the shrine is definitely considerable.
Day-4 Thimphu to Punakha
- Location:- Dochula Pass
Dochula Pass, a place in Honor of 108 Bhutanese Soldiers. Bhutan is not the highest mountain pass, but it surely is one of the most beautiful passes in the world. Along the Dochula Pass, there are 108 memorial chortens aka stupa called the ‘Druk Wangyal Chortens’ for each soldier’s life that was lost in the war. Also, the hills are decorated with vibrant religious flags in 5 colors to express the natural elements: blue for the sky, red for fire, green for water, white for clouds, and yellow for earth. To the local Buddhist people, these flags are symbols of veneration and the inscriptions of prayers on each flag signal peace and prosperity for Bhutan. Decorated with small chortens on lush green hillside, this place tells an interesting story of spirituality, bravery, and Bhutanese culture. One can witness the most splendid views of the snow-covered Himalayas from here on a clear day. The most beautiful pictures I have on this trip are from this location only. I am so much in love with this place.
Day-5 Sightseeing in Punakha
- Location-Punakha Suspension Bridge
One of the oldest suspension bridges in the world, Punakha Suspension Bridge in Bhutan was believed to be built by the Buddhist Monk, Thangtong Gyalpo.
Over the years it has undergone its share of refurbishment but it was once one of the eight bridges that served as the precursor to many of our modern suspension bridges. Punakha suspension brudge length is 160 metres! Gyalpo chain bridges did not include the suspended wooden deck and this makes walking across the bridge quite a thrilling experience.
This hanging bridge in Bhutan is draped with prayer flags all along and provides a perfect spot for bird watching and nature photography not to mention the panic attacks it gives to a few visitors as it sways a bit due to the strong winds from the flowing river beneath. Needless to say, I was one of them.
- Location:- Punakha Dzong
This is the place after Tiger’s Nest which you all have seen in pictures whenever someone talk or write about Bhutan. Punakha Dzong, also known as “the palace of great happiness” is the administrative centre of Punakha District in Punakha. Punakha Dzong, also known as “the palace of great happiness” is the administrative centre of Punakha District in Punakha. It was built in 1638 and renovated in 2004.
Punakha Dzong has been inseparably linked with momentous occasions in Bhutanese history. It served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1907 and the first national assembly was hosted here in 1953. Punakha Dzong is not only the second oldest and second largest dzong but it also has one of the most majestic structures in Bhutan.
It took only about a year to finish the building of this Dzong, but the most impressive thing about this Dzong is that it was built without the use of nails, not even one.
Day-6 Punakha to Paro
- Location:- Rinpung Dzong
It was almost dark, the moment we reached Paro and the first thing I witnessed there was this incredible night view of Rinpung Dzong.
Rinpung Dzong is a large dzong – Buddhist monastery and fortress – of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school in Paro District, Bhutan. It houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. It is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion.
- Location:- Paro River
Bhutan is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and the rivers of Bhutan serve to amplify, nourish and enhance this beauty.
The rivers in Bhutan are so clear that we were literally dying for the riverside from day one but we were being taught to respect the country’s water bodies as people worship them like a God and hence we were little hesitant to go there.
So, on your next trip to the country, make a note to spend time in at least one riverside without exploiting it. The mesmerizing fauna is overwhelming and the beauty of the surroundings cannot be justified using any amount of words.
Day 7 Hike to Tiger Nest Monastery
- Location:- Tiger’s Nest Trek
The most awaited destination for me was Tiger Nest Monastery on the entire trip of Bhutan. These picture were taken while I was on the trek to Tiger’s Nest (Taktshang). The visit to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery takes a full day. On average, it takes between four and five hours to do the round trip hike, plus one more hour to tour the monastery. Many people also have lunch in the cafeteria not far from the monastery. Due to its location, the only way to get to the monastery is by hiking. There are no vehicles that make the drive up to the monastery. However, for those who cannot hike the entire way, you can hire a horse to carry you most of the way there.
Taktsang Lhakhang is Bhutan’s most iconic landmark and religious site. The name Taktsang translates to “The Tiger’s Nest”. This temple is one of the most holy sites in the kingdom and clings impossibly to a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the Paro Valley.
By Diksha Joshi.