Bhutan (Part 1/4)

I have wanted to visit Bhutan for the longest time! Ever since I came to know about this country, it is known to me as one of the happiest countries in the world. When one friend initiated a visit to Bhutan, I was more than happy to tag along 🙂 We booked a 7-Day Essential Bhutan Travel package with Druk Asia (https://www.drukasia.com/), a Bhutan Travel Specialist, which had everything well planned for us. Druk Asia really comes highly recommended!

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And so off we flew to Bhutan to find out their secret of happiness! We reached Paro International Airport via Druk Air with an hour stop over at Delhi.

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We were welcomed immediately by their traditional Bhutanese architectural style airport, and the huge banner of the King and Queen of Bhutan 🙂

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On the way from Paro to Thimphu, we stopped by Tachogang, which was built in the early 15th century by the great master architect and yogi, Thangtong Gyalpo. This master designed and erected many iron suspension bridges like this, and thus made some parts of Bhutan accessible for the first time.

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There is no traffic light in Bhutan, not even in their capital, Thimphu! But they have a human one 😀 Our 1st meal in Bhutan was simple but delicious! And i had my 1st try of their butter tea, which has an acquired taste, as it is salty, not sweet.

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After lunch, we checked in our hotel in Thimphu, Hotel Norbuling, which we will be staying for 2 nights.

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We then visited the National Memorial Chorten, which was built in honor of the late 3rd King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Chorten literally means ‘Seat of Faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments, the ‘Mind of Buddha’.

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Then we drove up to the Buddha Point to view the 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma. The view of Thimphu valley from the Buddha point is spectacular!

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We proceeded to the Motithang Takin Reserve to see Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin, which is said to be a cross between a cow and a goat… cute!

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In the background, we can see Tashichhodzong (Thimphu Dzong), which we will be visiting later.

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On the way, we dropped by Thangtong Dewachen Dupthop Nunnery, which is one of the last surviving nunnery in Bhutan.

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We reached Tashichhodzong (Thimphu Dzong) by evening. The Tashichhodzong, or ‘The Fortress of the Auspicious Religion’, was initially constructed in 1641 and restored by the late 3rd King in the 1960s. It presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance.

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The next morning, on the way to Tango Goemba (i.e. Monastery), we stopped by Begana, where there is a huge engraving of Guru Rinpoche (the founder of Tibetan Buddhism) carved on a rock. The 2 prayer wheels near the rock carving are constantly revolving as they are driven by hydropower.

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There were cute doggies that greeted us before our trek to Tango Goemba. We took our own sweet time, pausing to take pictures of each and every teachings of Buddhism that we came across along the way. There are nice little huts for us to take some breaks too.

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The greenery is something I can’t get enough of! Even the flowers look amazing! We started to see some monks nearer to the Tango Monastery.

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Finally, we reached the Tango University of Buddhist Studies after an hour trek. Tango is the highest centre of Buddhist learning in the country; almost every Je Khenpo (religious head of Bhutan) completed the 9-year program there.

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Before we went for our lunch, we made a stop by the river to play with water lol

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Ema Datshi (or Chilli Cheese), a popular dish in Bhutanese cuisine, is recognized as a national dish of Bhutan. We had it for almost every meal. After lunch, the restaurant staff helped us put on our Kira (traditional female costume in Bhutan), provided complimentary by Druk Asia. We went straight to the post office nearby to custom make our very own Bhutan stamps 🙂

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Then we visited the Folk Heritage Museum. There is a replica of a traditional Bhutanese house as it would have looked 100 years ago. The museum provides an interesting glimpse into a rural Bhutanese life.

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We proceeded to the Weaving Centre to learn about Bhutan’s living national art of weaving.

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Then we went to the Centenary Farmers’ Market, which is by far the largest domestic market in Bhutan. Villagers from the valley and other nearby places come here to sell their wide range of agriculture products.

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After a short rest in our hotel, we went out and had a good stroll in the Thimphu city while going to our restaurant for dinner. Besides chilli cheese, we had potatoes in every meal too. This restaurant also serves buckwheat pancake.

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