THE LAST SHANGRI LA
Bhutan is a unique kingdom that functions on the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Often referred to as the Last Shangri La, it earned this nickname based on its reputation as the last existing virginal paradise on Earth, which is still unharmed from the clutches of modernization. Bhutan emanates a pleasing, old-world countryside charm, inhabited by simple locals who do not require any luxuries to live with. Dotted by breathtaking monasteries, forts and pretty settlements, strolling through the streets of Bhutan will let you rustle through the fabrics of its rich heritage. This country is the land of the Thunder Dragon and is bound to leave you awestruck with its charm and simplicity nonetheless manage to look the grandest of all.
Places to Explore in Bhutan
This monastery hangs off a 900-meter high cliff, and is attached to the legendary story of a flying tiger, which brought Guru Rinpoche to this location to meditate. The monastery is built around the cave. To reach this spot, you need to take up a 900-meter high trek or hire a mule to ride on through the angled routes to take you up to enjoy the most breathtaking view of Paro.
Organized in Thimphu every weekend, the market comes alive with variety and color. The locals huddle together to sell their produce, which range from fresh & preserved edibles, exotic handicrafts and hand-rolled incenses, authentic woolens, silk banners, prayer wheels, miniature Buddha, stone or clay sculptures and more. You will have a great time exploring.
When you enter the city of Thimphu, a fifty-one meter tall statue of the Golden Buddha in his Sakyamuni avatar welcomes you. One of the most iconic landmarks of Bhutan, this gigantic effigy was built to commemorate the 60th birth anniversary of the fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk. The bigger statue inhabits one hundred thousand smaller statues in it.
The native name of this fortress is Pungtang Dewa Chhenbi Phodrang or Palace of Great Happiness. The largest in Bhutan is houses sacred relics of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. This ivory-hued beauty rests on top of the confluence of rivers Pho Chhu & Mo Chhu and is punctuated with vibrant purple jacaranda trees.
MORE LOCATIONS TO CHECK OUT ARE –
- The Dochu La Pass
- Haa Valley
- Kurjey Lhakhang
- Black Crane Information Centre
- Simply Bhutan
HOW TO REACH BHUTAN
Bhutan is accessible by road, from the neighboring Indian town called Jaigaon. It borders the Bhutanese town of Phuentsholing. You have to reach the nearest railhead (New Jalpaiguri Railway Station) or the nearest bus stand (Jaigaon Vehicle Stand). After that, any reserved/public vehicle will take to Bhutan. It is a roughly five-hour journey to the capital of Thimphu. By air, the nearest port is the Paro International Airport, Paro.
BEST SEASON TO EXPLORE BHUTAN
If you visit Bhutan during summers, you will be able to attend the Haa Summer Festival which is rich cultural gathering. However, the northern parts of Bhutan remain cool even during summers pertaining to their elevation. Hence, you can visit Bhutan any time of the year, and the weather changes in accordance with the height of the location you are visiting. Nonetheless, both spring and winter in Bhutan are equally beautiful to witness.