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Bhutan Tour: A short drive through Wangdue

wangdue, lobesa valley, wangdue phodrang, bhutan

I think one day is not enough to explore and experience the scenic charm of Punakha and the monastery. But you know… you are always short of time on a tour like this. There is so much to see but we have only a few days to spend. 😦   So, after lunch by the river Pho Chu we were on the road again – the road to Wangdue (pronounced as Wangdi). Wangdue district, one of the largests in the country, is home to a number of scenic valleys among which Phobjikha Valley and Lobesa Valley are to name a few.

Wangdue is less than an hour by car from Punakha. However, we didn’t have time to drive down to the interior of the district as we had to return to Thimphu by that evening.

It was a sunny afternoon. We enjoyed a drive along the Mo Chu River towards Wangdue.

wangdue 2

We drove through the picturesque town of Wangdue Phodrang. The town seemed a newly built one with symmetrical houses and buildings of vivid colours that lends a different charm to the place.

wandue, wandue phodrang town, punakha, bhutan

wangdue phodrang, wangdue, phodrang town, bhutanWe passed by the Wangdue Monastery which was completely burnt from short circuit in 2011. The monastery was a replication of the Punakha Monastery. It is now being reconstructed again, so visitors are not allowed. We could see the monastery from a distance. By the way, our driver charged Rs 1000 extra for this drive as it was not in our itinerary from the beginning. 

wangdue monastery

wangdue monastery, wangdi, punakha, bhutan

The valley, bathing in the light of summer sun looked awesome from a distance. We stopped by the road to absorb the beautiful scenery with my senses. Who knows, if I would be able to see this ever again or not! So behold and capture the beauty of this world as much you can, in this one life.

wangdue, lobesa valley, wangdue phodrang, bhutanwangdue, lobesa valley, wandue phodrang, bhutan

wangdue, lobesa valley

We returned to Thimphu by 4:30 in the evening. So, I had a couple hours in hand to explore the neighboring locality and makeshift markets. I utilized it as much as possible. Will share that story with you soon. 🙂

P.S: Till then you can check out the first two parts of my Bhutan Tour photo essays for more photos and information on Bhutan travel:

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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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“Happiness often sneaks in through a door…” – Part II

door, doorway, monastery, Punakha, Bhutan

When one door closes another one opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.

~ Alexander Graham Bell

Since these doors represent a strikingly different culture, the culture of the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan, which bears significant influence of Tibetan and Buddhist traditions I thought I must share them separately in a different post. My first post on Door is on traditional Rajasthani doors in the old fort palaces. You can check that out here. door, doorway, monastery, Punakha, Bhutan door, doorway, gate, door, doorway, monastery, Punakha, Bhutan door, doorway, monastery, Changankha lakhang, Thimphu, Bhutan door, doorway, monastery, Punakha, Bhutan Published in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Door.