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A Buddhist kingdom located on the eastern edge of the Himalayas, Bhutan is famed for its fortresses (or dzongs), monasteries, and scenic beauty. The life of Bhutanese people is centered around the philosophies of Buddhism and Gross National Happiness is used as a parameter. The people strongly believe in preserving their culture and natural wealth. The country offers an array of natural features and boasts diverse picturesque landscapes, ranging from steep mountains and valleys to subtropical plains. The 7,326 m Jomolhari Peaks in the High Himalayas are popular trekking destinations. Top natural attractions in Bhutan are Phobjikha Valley, Chelela Pass, Haa Valley, Bumdelling Wildlife Sanctuary, Royal Manas National Park, Jigme Dorji National Park, and Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary. The small country is lined with marvels of Dzong architecture nestled among lofty cliffs. Major attractions in Bhutan are Paro Taktsang Monastery, Temple of Maitreya, Tashichho Dzong Monastery, Chimi Lhakhang Temple, Kichu Lhakang Temple, and ruins of ancient Drukgyel Dzong. The country is home to several cultural institutions and hosts popular festivals such as Thimphu Tshechu Festival, Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival, Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu Festival, Haa Summer Festival, and Paro Tshechu Festival.
Popular Destinations in Bhutan
Located in a valley, in western Bhutan, Thimphu is the country’s capital.
The city is the political center of Bhutan and known for its multiple
Buddhist sites. The highlight of the city is the grand Tashichho Dzong, a
fortified monastery, which serves as seat of the government. Thimphu is a
modern town with an ancient soul. Visitors will find here ornate
traditional Bhutanese architecture in contrast to modern buildings. Major
landmarks in Thimphu are Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point), Simtokha Dzong,
National Library, Changangkha Lhakhang, Zangthopelri Lhakhang, The Folk
Heritage Museum, National Textile Museum, and Memorial Chorten. Thimphu is
a popular shopping destination with its umpteen buzzing weekend markets.
Great souvenirs such as Buddha figurines, prayer wheels, and Mandala
paintings can be picked up from here. Thimphu is also a culinary hub and a
great place to enjoy Bhutanese nightlife. Visitors will find here a number
of clubs and bars which remain open till the wee hours of the morning. Food
buffs must explore the city’s top-notch gastronomy scene and relish local
dishes such as Ema Datshi with Red Rice and locally brewed alcohol, Ara.
Paro is a valley town located roughly an hour’s ride from Thimphu. The city
is a major transport hub and home to Bhutan’s only international airport.
Paro is renowned for its many sacred sites, scenic beauty, and traditional
Bhutanese architecture. One of the widest valleys in Bhutan, Paro emerges
from the confluence of Wang and Paro Rivers at Chuzom and stretches to the
Tibetan border in the north. The 15thcentury Taktsang Palphug
Monastery and the ruins of the 17th century Drukgyel Dzong are
the most famous tourist landmarks here. Set amidst woodlands, Ugyen Pelri
Palace is a former royal residence and an excellent example of Bhutanese
architecture. Rinpung Dzong is an imposing fortress and the three-story
Dungtse Lhakhang is a distinctively shaped temple featuring religious
murals. The National Museum of Bhutan has on display traditional clothing,
armor, jewelry, and Buddhist paintings. Nature lovers can explore the
nearby Chele La Pass for sweeping views of the surrounding peaks. Adventure
enthusiasts can indulge in several activities such as climbing, camping,
biking, and hiking in the region.
Phuentsholing, in southern Bhutan, is a border town next to the town of
Jaigarh in Indian state of West Bengal. Cross border trade has fuelled the
small town’s economy. The town is merely 165 kms from the capital, Thimpu
and is still used by many Indians as a gateway to the nation. The major
tourist attraction in Phuentsholing is the Karbandi Monastery. Locals
believe that prayers related to fertility are fulfilled at the monastery.
Visitors to the monastery will also be treated to breathtaking views of the
town and the Bengal plains. Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang, Buddhist shrine
dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, also offers panoramic views of the town. Animal
lovers can also visit Amo Chhu, a crocodile breeding center. The Torsa
River flows west of the city and is popular for swimming, and fishing. Food
lovers can indulge in several multi-cuisines (Indian, Bhutanese, and
Chinese) at restaurants in the city.
Best Time to Visit Bhutan
The best time to take Bhutan flights is from the months of October to December when the weather is pleasant. For those who wish to avoid crowds and get economical flights, January to April is the ideal time to take cheap flights to Bhutan.
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