A massive bronze statue of Shakyamuni sits atop a hill overlooking the Thimphu valley. It measures 51.5 meters in height, making it the largest Buddha statue in the world. The statue was built to fulfill a prophecy to emanate an aura of peace and happiness in the entire world. This monument complex also includes Kuenselphodrang Park which was inaugurated to preserve the forest around the statue.
Taktshang: The Tiger’s Nest
First built in 1692 AD, this temple is perhaps the most holy site in the kingdom. Legend has it that Padmasambhava flew to this site on the back of a tigress in the 7th century to meditate and subdue a demon hence the name, the Tiger’s nest. Aside from the historical significance, travelers visit this site to witness a marvelous architectural achievement of how this temple has been built on a sheer cliff 900 meters above Paro Valley. It is a 2 hour hike through the pine forest from the base and it offers an amazing panoramic view of the Paro valley aside from the magnificent view of the temple on arrival.
Dochula is 30 kilometers away from Thimphu on the way to Punakha valley. The pass has an elevation of 3100 meters and offers a panoramic view of the eastern Himalayan mountain range. In 2003, Her Majesty Azhi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck commissioned the construction of 108 chortens known as the Druk Wangyel Chorten in the honor of His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuk and to commemorate the victory of flushing out insurgents from north east India who were illegally camping within the southern borders of Bhutan.
Also known as Gangtey after the name of a goemba built on the ridge of the valley, Phobjikha is a picturesque destination, formed overtime due to glacial erosion. This vast u shaped valley is home to the famous black necked cranes that migrate from the Tibetan plateau during the winter season. Much of this region falls under the conservation region within the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. This idyllic destination is a must for someone who wants to experience wildlife and who is looking for a spiritual retreat.
Punakha is one of the 20 districts of Bhutan. Travelling to Punakha is like getting in a time machine and going back to the 17th century. Punakha offers travelers a unique medieval experience. The region still holds many traditional houses built decades ago with people leading a simple farming lifestyle. The valley is especially beautiful during spring and autumn adorned by the produce in the paddy fields. Did you know that Punakha was a former capital of Bhutan? Much of Bhutan’s significant history from fighting against the Tibetan invasion to the installation of first monarch to signing of the treaty of Punakha with the British Indian Empire which shaped Bhutan’s future greatly were all witnessed in this region.
Located in central Bhutan, Bumthang perhaps would be the most sacred district richly endowed with heritage religious site and verbal and documented accounts of legacies of how great saints subdued evil forces and blessed the valley. Bumthang has one of the two oldest Lhakangs built in Bhutan, Jampa Lhakhang built by a Tibetan King in the 7th century. With such rich heritage, the region’s architecture has been conserved with regulations that guide development initiatives taken today. Bumthang is also known for its cheese and textile production. The hand woven fabric drawn from the yak and sheep wool and the pattern input to their product are indigenous to Bumthang.
The Centenary Farmer’s Market
Up to 80% of the local population is involved in agriculture and it remains the primary source of livelihood for majority of the population. The sector plays a dominant role in Bhutan’s economy. The capital city gradually converting once fertile land into concrete buildings to accommodate the increasing rural urban migration, the city has shown its growing appetite and demand for agricultural produce. Therefore farmers across the country work hard to get their produce to the market over the weekend and this trend has evolved into a sustainable trade. A visit to the farmer’s market is always a lively scene where people from all walks of life come together and witness this amazing synergy of communities helping each other grow.
Contrary to traveler’s perception, Thimphu in particular has a vibrant night life. There are multiple options from bars where local bands perform impressive gigs or go to karaoke where travelers can showcase their signing talent and night clubs. Viva city, a local night club in the heart of the town has seen a growing presence of travelers among the local crowd. A good mix of western and Bollywood music appealing to the diverse crowd, affordable drinks and a fast food stall right outside the club with place to sit around. Viva City is a good place to socialize with the locals.
Paro Ta Dzong
It was built as a watch tower in the 17th century later renovated and inaugurated as the national museum in Paro. The museum houses the famous raven crown worn by Desi Jigme Namgyel, the father of the First Monarch of Bhutan. The museum has multiple galleries for better presentation ranging from statues and paintings, arms and armor, textiles and stamps.