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Bhutan Tour: The Scenic Punakha and Dochula Pass

It was a pleasant, warm morning we started our journey to Punakha from the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu. Bright sunshine flooded the mountains and the valley, scenic beauty all around to behold we kept driving along the road running in parallel with the meandering river. The joy was unfathomable and that was one of the best days in my life. The photos of Punakha are so vivid that simply looking at them can make my day better… 🙂   So, I dedicate this post to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Today Was a Good Day.

We completed the local sightseeing in Thimphu on our first day in Bhutan. Next day was scheduled for Punakha Monastery (or Punakha Dzong) which is 3 to 4-hour drive from Thimphu. The drive was as usual beautiful through the Himalayan mountains. I tried to capture the scenic beauty on the way as much as possible.

way to punakha, punakha, bhutan

bhutan, punakha, mountains,valley

Dochula Pass

We drove to Punakha via Dochula Pass, one of the highest points in Bhutan (10,000 ft). It’s about one hour drive from Thimphu towards Punakha and a favorite stopover for tourists. The uniqueness of Dochula Pass lies in the wonderful combination of natural and man-made architectures. The place offers 360 degree view of the Himalayan mountain ranges. Bonus is this beautiful architecture – the 108 chortens in circular construction – add to the charm of the place. Unfortunately, we missed the mountain views as it was all covered in cloud in the end of May. Our driver said you can get the best view in winter. 😦  Well, never mind…the view I got is no less lovely. What do you think?

dochula pass, bhutan, chortens

108 chortens dochula bhutanNow take a look at the other side of Dochula Pass. The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang is a beautiful temple built in the memory of the king, Druk Gyalpo.

Dochula pass, bhutan, bhutan tour, sightseeing

dochula pass, bhutan, mountain views

bhutan dochula pass

Dochula pass 2

dochula pass

As the time passed more and more cars arrived at the spot and I could see spontaneous touristy activities all around.

dochula pass, bhutan, touristy activities, bhutan tour

I think there was a feel-good factor in the air which was quite infectious. I felt so happy and grateful to be alive under the sun and enjoy the view.

view at dochula pass, bhutan

By the way, if you have time you can enjoy a leisurely break at the beautiful Druk Wangyel Cafe at Dochula Pass. But the place is a little expensive. Here a one-liter mineral water bottle of Rs 20 cost us Rs 36.

druk wangyel cafe, dochula pass, bhutan

There was this curious visitor at the gate of the cafe. But no one seemed to welcome him. Poor doggie! 😦

druk wangyel cafe dochula

Important info:

Carry enough drinking water during the long drive from Thimphu to Punakha. We didn’t see a proper shop or restaurant from where we could buy drinking water on the way.

Punakha 

Situated on the meeting point of Bhutan’s two important rivers Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu, Punakha Dzong is a place of scenic and spiritual charm. The air, the water, the green plantation looked so clean and pure that you’ll instantly feel in harmony with the place. The monastery is built over a huge area including well-manicured gardens and ponds.

pho chhu and mo chhu rivers

punakha monastery by pho chhu

punakha dzong

You enter the monastery through this beautiful gateway and cross a traditionally designed wooden bridge that takes you on the other side of Pho Chhu (“Chhu” means “river” in vernacular).

punakha monastery gate, punakha, bhutan

punakha, pho chhu,punakha monastery, bhutan

punakha monastery garden, bhutan

The traditional Tibetan style architecture of the monastery is a treat to the eye. And it perfectly blended with the beautiful surrounding.

punakha monastery (2)

punakha, monastery, bhutan

punakha, monastery, bhutan, Tibetan architecture

Entering the monastery can be a bit difficult with these steep ladder like stair case. Remember, that you must not wear baring clothes, else you may be denied access into the main temple in the images below.

entering punakha dzong

inside punakha dzong

inside punakha monasteryWell, the Punakha Monastery is not only a place for monks and pilgrims. There are other habitats too and they are rapidly growing in numbers. 🙂

beehive, punakha, monastery, bhutan

It was wonderful to roam around in the monastery premises, full of beautiful orchards and the ponds which they use for pisciculture.

punakha dzong lake

phochhu river bhutan

punakha landscape

punakha monastery garden 2

punakha, monastery, garden, bhutan

bougainvillea, punakha, monastery, bhutan,

However, Punakha is not just the monastery. It’s much more than that. The clear blue sky, the wide open riverbeds, and the trees and flowers all around make this place divinely beautiful. Take a look at the following images and you’ll agree with me.

pho chhu, river, punakha, bhutan

riverside punakha

punakha, mo chhu river, bhutan

After spending some hours in the monastery we went to a riverside restaurant where we were served lunch. After lunch we were on the road again – the road to Wangdue. I’ll share that story soon.

I hope you like this tour of Punakha and Dochula Pass with me. 🙂

You can also take a look at the first part of my Bhutan Tour Photo Essay – Thimphu through my lenses for more photos and information on Bhutan travel.

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“My ultimate search has been for a muse”

road to Paro, hills, mountains, entering Paro, Bhutan

My ultimate search has been for a muse.

Dominic Monaghan

And I have found her in the mighty mountains, in the verdant vales and in the green slopes of the hills. I would love to come back a thousand times to the road that leads to mountain.

I can remember it was a cloudy day and it drizzled quite a few times during was our journey from Thimphu to Paro. I don’t understand the connection between rain and my travelling to hill stations… 🙂  But I must agree that the hill stations in the Himalayas have a different beauty when it rains.

road to Paro, hills, mountains, entering Paro, Bhutan

Published in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse.

Enveloped in Morning Light

morning, light, hills, kumaon, choukori, uttarakhand

Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth,
every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death.

~ Arthur Schopenhauer

 

Kumaon region in Uttarakhand, India is famous for its beautiful hilly terrain enveloped in lush green plantation. But that’s during the day. If you rise early you may find the greenery enveloped in morning mist. The veil of fog thickens in chilly wind and falls gently down the valley. As the morning grows older the sun comes out from behind the lofty peaks of the Himalayas and envelops the earth with warmth and light. 

morning, light, hills, kumaon, choukori, uttarakhand

Published in response to Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Enveloped.
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Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

nainital, uttarakhand, kumaon, morning, dawn

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. ~ Rabindranath Tagore

nainital, uttarakhand, kumaon, morning, dawn

It was the morning we were to set out for Kausani from Nainital. So I woke up early at 5:30 that morning and went outside to observe the beauty and absorb the silence of dawn at Nainital. It has been my earliest morning capture so far. 🙂

The following shot was taken at Kausani at around 6:45 in the morning. I stood on the terrace for an hour waiting for the sun god to show up. But he was determined to hide behind the clouds that morning. The mountains and the Queen’s Meadow yonder were covered with a thick blanket of mist and the entire valley looked bluish in the pale morning light.

kausani, uttarakhand, kumaon, morning

Published in response to this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge – Early Bird.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

Himalayan peaks, mountains, Choukori, Almora, serenity

Published under WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge Theme: Serenity.

Himalayan peaks, mountains, Choukori, Almora, serenity

After a long dark rainy night it was a sunny morning in Choukori, a scenic hill station In Uttarakhand, India. As the thin veil of morning mist dissolved in the sunlight the range of snow white Himalayan Peaks were visible at a distance. The sublime view of the majestic mountain instilled a sense of hope, calm and serenity in me.

EXIF


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