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Places to see in Bhutan

Discussion in 'Bhutan' started by PhilapaMike, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. PhilapaMike

    PhilapaMike New Member

    I am planning a trip to Bhutan with my husband.

    I have seen some amazing pictures of the destination but am stuck with knowing the names of the places as they have not been mentioned.

    I would like some Bhutan expert to provide me with a list to places to see in Bhutan so that I can create an itinerary.
    To help me create a good itinerary, please mention places which are close by to each other, as we can most probably visit two places in one day. We would like to spend some days just relaxing, so by knowing what there is to see we would know how many free days we have and how much time to spend on the holiday.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello there! Welcome to the forum!

    Bhutan is also known as the Kingdom of Bhutan. It's a sovereign state in the Southern part of Asia. The Vajrayana sector of Buddhism is predominant here. About 56% of the population of the country are involved in agriculture, conservation or forestry. It even has net zero greenhouse emissions because even the little pollution here are absorbed by its forests. Also, 10% of their car population is comprised of electric vehicles. Most of the natural environment in Bhutan has been preserved and intact. It's definitely a must to visit especially for nature and environment lovers.

    Anyway, here are some of the best attractions in Bhutan, arranged accordingly to your request:

    1. Phuentsholing - This is your entry point if you're travelling via the Bagdogra Airport so I'll begin here. This is the border between Bhutan and India. It is situated directly at the base of the Himalayan foothills. There's not many attractions here but here are some:
    • Amo Chhu Crocodile Breeding Centre - This is located behind the bus station, near the Amo Chhu River. The centre cares for the crocodiles until such a time that they are ready to be released in the wild or a reserve. It started in 1976 with only about 12 crocodiles. The centre mostly have marsh mugger crocodiles and gharial crocodiles. The gharial crocodiles are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
    • Bhutan Gate - This gate is between the border of Jaigon and Phuentsholing. You'll encounter this as soon as you enter the border. The gate is designed in the traditional Bhutanese-style motif. It makes for a nice photograph especially for first time visitors to Bhutan.
    • Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang - This is a temple dedicated to Guru Rinpoche. The eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche are found here as well as some paintings of Buddha's life. The temple as built by Dahso Aku Tongmi during the year of 1990. Dahso Aku Tongmi also composed the national anthem of Bhutan.
    • Kharbandi Goemba - This monastery was built in 1967 by the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron. There are statues of Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche here. There are also painting depicting the life of Lord Buddha. From the garden of the monastery, you can view the town of Phuentsholing and even West Bengal.

    2. Chhukha - This is about 85 kms from Phuentsholing. This is the commercial and financial district of Bhutan. Some of the attractions here are:
    • Tala Hydroelectricity Project - This is a hydroelectric power station in the Wangchu River in Chhukha. It was first constructed in 1997 and it was finally finished in 2007. This is the country's biggest hydroelectric project but only about 66% of Bhutanese households derive electricity from it.
    • Chhukha Hydel Plant - This hydroelectric station also derives power from the Wanghcu River. The plant was mainly funded by India, about 60% of it. As an arrangement, India gets most of the power generated by the plant.

    3. Paro - This is about 82 kms from Chhuka. This is the home to Bhutan's only airport, Paro Airport. This is also the region where red rice is abundantly produced. Here are some of the attractions of the city:
    • Rinpung Dzong - This is a large monastery/fortress of the Drukpas of the Kagyu school in Paro. During the 15th Century, the locals of Paro offered the crag of Hungrel to Lama Drung Drung Gyal. At first, Lama Drung Drung Gyal built a small temple in the land. This was later expanded into a monastery and fortress. During 1644 though, Zhabdrung dismantled the dzong and built a newer one in the land. This dzong later came to be the monastic centre of the region known as the Rinpung Dzong.
    • National Museum of Bhutan - Ta Dzong - This was established in 1968 under the reign of King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. It houses some of the most important arts of Bhutan, from sculptures, to paintings and statues. There are over 3,000 collections here, covering about 1,500 years of the cultural heritage of Bhutan.
    • Drugkyal Dzong - This is a monastery and fortress built by Tenzin Drukdra in 1649. Unfortunately, a fire in the early 1950's almost destroyed the monastery. However, just recently, it was announced that a renovation was underway for the repair of the monastery.
    • Kyichu Lhakhang - This temple was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emperor Songtsan Gampo. This is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Since then, several rulers have handled the temple and renovated it to become what it is now. There are also two trees in the garden of the lhakhang, which are believed to bear oranges all year round.
    • Druk Choeding - This town temple was built by Ngawang Chhogyel in 1525. The main deity of the temple is the seated Jampa, future Buddha. There's also a statue of the local protector Gyenyen, surrounded by old Bhutanese shields and weapons.
    • Dhungtse Lhakhang - This is a Buddhist temple in the form of a chorten. The temple is said to have been built by Thangtong Gyalpo in 1421 to subdue a demon force at the location of the temple. The temple is located on the banks of the Paro Chhu River. It has three floors which are said to represent the heaven, hell and earth. There are also collections of Buddhist paintings inside the temple.
    • Ugyen Pelri Palace - This palace was built by Paro Penlop (Governor) Tshering Penjor in 1930. It serves as a royal residence in Paro. It is deep in the woods, enclosed by a wall. You cannot enter the palace though but you can view it from the outside.
    • Jangsarbu Lhakhang - This is a very small temple but it houses the Sakyamuni Buddha, carried all the way from Tibet. The story goes that the Sakyamuni Buddha was supposed to be transferred to the Rinpung Dzong as that is where it was originally planned to go to. However, when it was time to move it, the Sakyamuni Buddha cannot be moved. Hence, it stayed put to where it is now.
    • Taktshang Lhakhang - You can find this in the cliffside of the Paro Valley. A temple complex was first built during 1692 here by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. This is the spot where Guru Padmasambhava meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century as well.
    • Haa Valley - This is in the Haa District of Paro. It's a steep valley with a narrow floor. It's popular amongst trekkers for its challenging terrains and beautiful views of the mountains.

    4. Thimphu - This is about 50 kms from Paro. This is the capital and the largest city of Bhutan. This is also the third highest capital in the world, at about 2,468 metres to 2,600 metres above sea level. Here are some of the attractions in Thimphu:
    • Memorial Chortem - This is located on the Doeboom Lam, near the Indian military hospital. The stupa was built in 1974 to honour Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Unlike other stupas, the memorial doesn't hold the remains of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, but only his photograph.
    • Simtokha Dzong - This was built in 1629 by Ngawang Namgyal. Back then, it was a Buddhist monastery, but now it's one of the premier Dzongkha language learning institutes. The monastery/institute has been attacked during ancient times so a renovation was done in 1670 by Mingyur Tenpa. After that, many more renovations were done in the institute.
    • National Library - This was established in 1967, located around the Kawajangtsa area of Thimphu. The library holds many of the most important publications in Bhutan. They also have a microfilming service in order to help protect important documents of the residents of Bhutan.
    • Insitute for Zorig Chusum - This is the centre for Bhutanese art education. Painting is the main course here, with about 4 to 6 years of training for traditional Bhutanese art form. Other art forms like sculpting, drawing, carving and embroidery are also taught here.
    • Traditional Medicine Institute - This is just further North of the National Library. The institute provides training, herbal medicines and conducts research on the importance of traditional medicine. This institute was moved to its present site in Thimphu from Dechencholing in 1979. It offers a five year course for physicians.
    • Folk Heritage Museum - This museum was established in 2001. This museum offers you a glimpse of the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle. The good thing about this museum is it constantly changes its exhibitions. You can see traditional items like a water mill over 150 years old already, ancient style kitchens and the likes.
    • National Textile Museum - This was established in 2001 and showcases textiles from all over the region. There's even a section dedicated to the textiles used by the Royal Family over the years. The museum has also received numerous donations of exclusive textiles from royals and private individuals.
    • Changangkha Lhakhang - This monastery was built in the 12th Century on the site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo. The presiding deity here is Chenresig. You can find enormous prayer wheels in here as well as prayer books larger than the normal size.
    • Buddha Dordenma Statue - This is a huge Shakyamuni Buddha statue constructed in the mountains of Bhutan, overlooking the city of Thimphu. The statue houses over 1,000 smaller statues of Buddha. The statue is about 51.5 metres and has three storeys with several chapels around it. It is also one of the largest Buddha statues in the world.
    • Takin Preserve - This is in the Motithang District of Thimphu. Originally, it was just a small zoo, but it was converted into a preserve. The takin is also the national animal of Bhutan. Apart from takins, you can also find sambars and barking deers here.
    • Royal Botanical Garden - This is just a few minutes of driving from the city centre of Thimphu. It is best visited during spring, when all the flowers and plants bloom. There are about 46 species of rhododendrons here. The garden is also a popular bird watching area.
    • Coronation Park - This is where King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was coronated in 2005. The Coronation Park was inaugurated a year later, at 2006. It is between the Wangchu River and the Changlimithang Ground. There are some swings, a football court and a miniature basketball court as well.

    So there you go. I have covered some of the most important tourist places in Bhutan. But there are plenty more that you can explore. Let me know if you have any more queries.

    Chahal, Admin and Ratna like this.

  3. melanie

    melanie New Member

    Bhutan is simply beautiful! I've written an article on what there is to see and do there, but I also must agree with briannagoddess on a lot of the places she mentioned above. I would hit up all those places, they're so beautiful! Enjoy Bhutan and soak all there is to see and do there -- they have a rich culture and there's plenty to do!