Bhutan Tour: My Rendezvous with Paro

paro, bhutan, paro valley

If I start talking (read ‘writing’) about Paro I won’t be able to include everything in one post. Paro is so beautiful and that beauty has so many facets to it that it is impossible for me to sum it up here. So it’s better to share the picturesque beauty in picture instead of words. 🙂  

Finally the day came. We had to leave Thimphu for Paro. Our journey to Paro started at 10:30 am (IST) and we reached there at 12:30 pm (IST).

paro, bhutan, valley

Paro, a fertile valley on the banks of the river Paro, surrounded by the sublime Himalayan Mountains, beckons travelers with its greenery, scenic beauty, and ample scope to explore the rich cultural heritage of Bhutan.

Paro monastery, paro, bhutan

I had heard a lot about this spectacular valley, which is dotted with monasteries, sacred edifices and landmarks,

Buddhist monastery, paro, bhutan

and a small but lively township, which we were to explore next.

Paro town, paro, bhutan

The river Paro meanders through the vale dividing it in two halves.

paro chhu. paro river, paro, bhutan, valleyAlthough there were occasional rain clouds hovering over the valley, the weather in Paro was warmer during the day than that was in Thimphu. But the nights were pleasant in summer months (May-June).

paro valley, bhutan

Initially, it was mountains on both sides of the road.

Paro, Bhutan, mountain road

As we entered Paro District the roads turned wider. The glimpses of the river running in parallel with the road made the journey even more exciting and visually appealing.

Paro, Bhutan, valley

paro, bhutan

paro, bhutan, valley, mountains

paro valley, bhutan

Finally we reached the point where we could meet Paro, the river. This is the place where you can touch, feel, and walk into the cool waters and enjoy a cable car ride across the river. 🙂

paro, bhutan, paro river

paro chhu, paro river, paro, bhutan

paro chhu, paro river, paro, bhutan

in paro, bhutan, paro chhu

After an exciting rendezvous with Paro Chhu (‘chhu’ is river in vernacular) we were back on the road again, heading towards our hotel. We drove past the small cottages,

paro valley, bhutan

lush green paddy fields,

paro valley, bhutan, paddy fields in Paro

and the small but spectacular Paro Airport.

paro airport, paro, bhutan

paro, paro airport, bhutan

It seemed Paro greeted us with waving white flags on the roadside

paro, bhutan, flags, Buddhist culture

and the rustling branches of peaches blooming with white flowers, everywhere. 🙂

peach flower, paro, bhutan, white flowers,

Our car finally stopped at the gate of the hotel Mandala Resort Garden, a hotel with excellent views, I must say.

orchid, paro, bhutan, mandala resort garden hotel

mandala resort garden, paro hotels, hotel in paro

paro hotels, hotel in paro, mandala resort garden

Whichever side your room is, you are entitled to get a clear view of the valley from the room as long as you are in Mandala Resort Garden. However, it is located in the hills outside the town of Paro, within 10 minutes’ drive from Paro Market.

paro, bhutan, paro hotels, hotel in paro, mandala resort garden

mandala resort garden, paro hotels, hotel in paro, bhutan

I’ll soon share the story of my sightseeing in Paro. But before that, enjoy some more colorful panorama of this beautiful valley through my lens. 🙂

paro, bhutan, paro hotels

paro, valley, rice terraces, paddy field, greenery, bhutan

pines, paro, bhutan

paro, paro valley, bhutan

paro hotels, mandala resort garden, hotels in paro, bhutan

paro, bhutan, bhutanese women

paro, valley, paro chhu, bhutan

paro chhu, paro, bhutan

paro chhu, paro, river, bhutan

Hope you enjoyed Paro tour with me. 🙂   Stay tuned for more.

in Paro, Bhutan

P.S: This is Part V of my Bhutan Tour Photo Essay Series. You can also check out the first four posts of this series 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.