Nirmal Travels

Bhutan Sightseeing Spot


THIMPHU (2320 Mts/7656 Fts) - The capital city of Bhutan which is also spelled as Thimbu, located at 7000 feet above sea level and situated at the west central part of the country near the bank of Chuu river. It is probably the smallest capital city in the world and the second amazingly fact that there are no traffic lights placed.
Previously the capital city of Bhutan was Punakha however, it was later shifted to Thimphu in the year 1955, this country is famous for preserving its ancient culture, tradition and its unique architecture.
Even in this 21st century Bhutan is still happy to continue its tradition hand in hand with the modernization and also is the centre of government, religion and commerce.
The country has always been very conscious of its cultural heritage and it is evident from the fact that it introduced television only in the year 1999. The majority of population there is dependent on agriculture and therefore about 70% of its population lives at the villages for their livelihood.
Regarding its history, on arrival of a spiritual leader ‘Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel’, he established the foundation for the governance in the year 1616 and gave their people and identity.
The present king who is the fifth to be crowned is His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgay Wanchuck was passed the throne by his father His Majesty Jigme Sengye Wanchuck in the year 2006.

(SIGHTSEEING POINTS)
Zangthopelri Lhakhang (Monestry), Institute of Zorig Chusum, Motithang takin Preservation Centre, Textile Meuseum, Buddha Point, ), National Library, Memorial Chorten, Tashichho Dzong.


Institute of Zorig Chusum – An art & craft institute offering 4 to 6 years professional courses, specialized in painting (canvas & furniture), wood carving (mask & statues), embroidery (cloths) and making statues (clay). Its end product made by the students are sold in its showroom at high values. One will be impressed seeing the skills of artwork delivered by such young students.

Zangthopelri Lhakhang – Built by a musician Dasho Aku Tongmi in 1990’s who happens to be the composer of Bhutan’s national anthem. A replica of Guru Rinpoche’s celestial abode situated just beside the old Mani Dungkhar Lhakhang. Inside is the 4m high statue of several Guru Rinpoches, while digging the foundation an elephant’s skull was excavated which is preserved in the box.

Motithang takin Preservation Center – Located at the Motithang district of Thimphu, is a mini-zoo preserving Bhutan’s national animal Takin. Takin are goat-antelopes found in the eastern Himalayas. Years back the 4th king decided to released all the animals from the zoo considering the fact that it was not helping them at all hence, all animals were set free into the wild. However, takins Bhutan’s national animal so tamed that they wondered into the streets of Thimphu in search of food. This lead the concerned authorities to make the decision to take them back to captivity. Best time to see these mammals up-close is the morning time as they gather near the fence to feed.

Textile Meuseum – A place that unfolds Bhutan’s national art of weaving (thagzo), it reveals the skills, textile materials and the mechanism used to create such admirable products. One can find clothes worn by the fourth king and his four wives at their wedding too. Its shop offers some exquisite items of books and textiles however photography is not allowed.

Buddha Point – It is Shakyamuni’s statue with height of 51.1 meters, which was made in China, then cut into pieces and then shipped, one of the largest statue of Lord Buddha in the world and is made of bronze and gilded in gold. Its body is filled with 1, 25,000 small Buddha statues out of which 1,00,00 are 8 inches and 25,000 are 12 inches tall respectively. The statue beholds a spectacular sight when it glows in the dusk of full moon and the morning light. It is located in the area Changri Kuensel Phodrang enrooting through popular 3.5 km mountain-biking trail.

National Library – Established in the year 1967, the library preserves ancient Tibetan texts, Dzonkha, historical photos, traditional and historical manuscripts. The place is popular among the tourists because of it traditional architecture, historical books & manuscripts which are preserved very well, books mostly printed or written on hand made paper stacked between pieces of wood and wrapped silken clothes.

Memorial Chorten – This structure was built in the year 1974 in the memory of third king”Jigme Dorji Wangchuk” (1928-72). One of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, everyday Bhutanese people gather here to pay their tribute to their popular king and chant their holy prayers along with spinning the giant prayer wheels.

Tashichho Dzong – “The Fortress of the Glorious religion,” Tashichho Dzong, is one of the most impressive buildings situated along the right bank of Thimphu River and houses the office of His Majesty the King and His Holiness the Chief Abbot apart from the Government offices. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel who unified Bhutan and was later reconstructed in 1962 by the third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

Weekend Market – On every weekend the local people place their shops at the bank of the river and show case their self crafted products, Best place to intermix with the common people and their products offered.

Haa Dzong – Built in the year 1895 to protect to prevent possible invasion from Tibet from the north. Unfortunately the fire was caught at this Dzong in 1913 therefore it was re-constructed.

Wangchulo Dzong – This Dzong was constructed by the Grandfather Gongzim Ugyen Dorji of the royal Grandmother Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuk. It is one of the newer Dzong built in the year 1913, this Dzong is located inside IMTRAT compound (Indian Military Training Team) and Bhutanese army training camp.

Lhakhang Karpo - It is believed to be built in 7th century during the time of Tibetan Emperor Songtsan Gampo. The word Lhakhang Karpo is referred to ‘White Temple’, it hosts the annual festival of Tshechu.

Lhakhang Nagpo – Established at the same time as Lhakhang karpo, Lhakhang Nagpo referred to as ‘Black Temple’ is situated just above Lhakhang Karpo. It is believed that a ray of white light emerged from the body of Chogyal Songtsan Gampo and then Lhakhang Karpo was built in that spot, similarly a dark light emerged from him and hence, Lhakhang Nagpo was built in that spot.
It is also believed that a white pigeon and black pigeon emerged from Songtsan Gampo to these two different sites therefore the temple was built accordingly.
– Roughly 10 Kms from Thimphu, one can find Botanical garden where you can find indigenous plants and trees. This place help’s you to recline and experience the beauty of peace and adore the place.

Craft Bazaar – Conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday only features the traditional and cultural art of the Bhutanese to be show cased.


PUNAKHA / WANGDI (1310 Mts/4300 Fts) - It is the administrative centre for whole of Bhutan, prior to 1955 Punakha used to be the capital of Bhutan which was later shifted to Thimphu. Located about 75 kms from Thimphu taking about 2-3 hours road drive is situated right at the convergent of Mo Chu and Po Chu river. Historians states that a great commander Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgay came to this valley which looked like the sleeping elephant and started to build the Dzong (monastery) right at the place where the two river met each other. This prophecy was predicted by Guru Rinpocha prior to the arrival of the commander.
White and red rice farming is very popular in this valley near Mo Chu & Po Chu rivers. The houses at the villages are built by pounded mud and stone foundations and each house are two storey’s high. There are many popular sightseeing spots which will sweep you of your feet.

(SIGHTSEEING POINTS)
Dochu la Pass, Chimi Lhakhang (Monastery), Punakha Dzong, Suspension Bridge, Gangtey and Phobjikha valley, Gangtey Goempa (Monestry) and Black Necked Crane Information Center.


Dochu la Pass – It is located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu. Its ideal location has made it popular amongst the tourist as on a clear day one can view the beautiful and wide Himalayan mountain range. 108 stupa of Druk Wangyal Chortens built by the eldest Queen Mother Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk has further complimented the charm of this place. The pass is spiritually popular too among the people as an important temple lies on the top of Dochu La Pass. Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck has achieved a fine blend of history and mythology in the construction of The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang to honor His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The past and future appear to merge in the details of the lhakhang that tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distant future. Apart from those Bhutanese people drive to this pass to on their holidays and enjoy the scenic beauty for their leisure.

Chimi Lhakhang –Built by Drukchen Ngawang Chogyal in 15th century the cousin of the “Mad Saint” or “Divine Madman” Lama Drukpa Kuenly. The mad saint was known for his unorthodox way of preaching Buddhism. It is said that the Mad Saint perused the demoness of Dachula to subdue her. Later the demoness transformed into a dog and the ‘Mad Saint’ subdued the dog with his “Magic Thunderbolt of Wishdom” and constructed a stupa where he later commanded to build a temple in future. Later the temple was built in that spot and was named Khyime Lhakhang meaning ‘No-dog Temple’.
Drukpa Kuenly was the same saint who implemented the use of phallus symbols (penis) as painting on walls and carved wooden phalluses on house tops too. This temple houses the original wooden symbol of phallus that Drukpa Kuenly had brought from Tibet which is now decorated with silver handle. The same 10 inches phallus is use to bless the pilgrims who visits the monastery till date.
This monastery is also considered as the fertility monastery as the childless women comes here to pray to the fertility goddess and believes to be blessed.

Punakha Dzong – Punakha Dzong (Palace of Great Happiness) is the most beautiful Dzong in the whole country and also the former capital of Bhutan until 1955 later shifted to Thimphu. All the Kings were crowned here and it still serves as the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body. The prediction foretold by Guru Rinpoche about the construction of Punakha Dzong – predicts that – ‘a person named Namgyal will arrive to the mountain that looks like an elephant sleeping and he will build the Dzong at the tip of its tusk’. Later when Namgyal visited he started the construction of the Dzong where Mo Chuu (male) and Pho Chuu (female) converges.
On 13th October 2011, the wedding of present King “Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck” and his fiancé, ‘Jetsun Pema’ was held at this place only.

Suspension Bridge – This suspension bridge is located a couple of minute drive from Punakha Dzong. It is one of its kind and only found at this place, it connects the nearby village where the locals keep their stalls of antique and hand crafted items which are kept to sell.

Phobjikha Valley – Just a few kilometers from Gangtey Goenpa we reach to Phobjikha valley, In winter a migratory bird Black-Necked Crane makes this marshland its home and this moment tend to attract the tourists and the local towards them or this valley. Apart from that Black Necked Crane other globally threatened species also inhabit here hence, Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) has declared this as a protective area. Every year Mask Dance and Crane Festival welcome these Black Crane and other species to this valley every winter.

Gangtey Goempa – It is one of the most important monasteries of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, The monastery is located in the hill overlooking the Phubjikha valley, its history traces to early 17th century and the prophecies made in the early 15th century by well-known Terton (treasure founder) Pema Lingpa.

PARO (2200 Mts/7656 Fts)– It is the place with only International airport located, If you choose to take Bhutan’s holiday package with fly in & fly out option hence, one will arrive to Paro and the same for departure as-well.
The biggest Tsechu festival is held here in honor of Guru Rinpoche, people from all the parts the country visits Paro during this festive as it is believed that the mere sight of the Thangka (tradition rituals) will cleanse the sins of all spectator too.
Paro consists of various popular sightseeing points which will give you an experience of your lifetime.
Most popular spot among the locals & tourist as well is Taktsang Lhakhang (Tiger Nest) for which 2-3 hrs one way hike is required. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew to this site on 8th century on the back of the flying tigress and meditated there for three years, three months, three days, three hours.
Hence, an monastery was built at the exact same spot to pay the gratitude and honor to Guru Padmasambhava in the year 1692.

(SIGHTSEEING POINTS)
Rinpung Dzong, Kyichu Lhakhang (Monastery), Tiger Nest, Haa Valley via Chele-la pass, Tochog Lkakhang Dzong,


Rinpung Dzong – Rinpung Dzong also known as Paro Dzong actually meant “the fortress of the heap of jewels”. This Dzong also hosts the annual festival of Tsechu every year and it is also the venue for the film ‘Little Buddha’. According to legends here lived the two brothers Gyelcho and Gyelzom in 15th century at Paro valley. Gyelzom established him at the monastery and Gyelcho went to Tibet to study theology. Later when Gyelcho came back to his brother did not accept him hence, Gyelcho later built as small structure which later was converted to Paro Dzong.

Kyichu Lhakhang – One of the oldest monastery of 7th century built by Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. Legends say that the whole of Tibet was laid under a demoness and stopped the spread & preaching for Buddhism and in order to overcome this the Tibetan king took a decision to built 108 monasteries around Tibet and did so. In the year AD 638 Jokhang monastery was build at Lhasa right at the heart of that demoness. There is a belief that there are two orange trees at Paro which bears fruit throughout the year.

Taktsang Lhakhang or Tiger Nest – Located 7 Kms distance from Paro city, taking about 2-3 hours hike one way is the famous monastery location of Bhutan known as Taktsang Lhakhang or Tiger Nest. This is the place where Guru Rinpoche or second Buddha is said to have mediated here. It is believed that Padmasambava flew to this site on a flying tiger and said to have mediated. After his mediation of four months he then started to convert the local demons from Bhutanese into Buddhism. Today this site has been considered as the most visited spot in whole of Bhutan as tourists as well as local Bhutanese people gather here to get the blessings and view the sight.

Haa Valley – It consists of three sister hills i.e. Meri Pun Suum also known as “the Hidden-Land Rice Valley”. It is roughly 3 hrs drive from Thimphu and 2 hrs drive from Paro, tourists as well as locals visit here to experience the breathtaking and mind blowing scenic beauty of the entire valley. Popular for photography.

Chele-la pass – Chele-la-pass separates Haa and Paro, on bright day one can enjoy the beautiful sight of MT. Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and other adjoining peaks. It is approximately 2 hrs drive from Paro to this sight. This place in winter will be covered in snow like the rivers, waterfalls, alpine flowers and the passing roadways.

Tochog Lkakhang Dzong – Built around 15th century by the great iron bridge builder Poet – Yogi Thangtong Gyalpo (1385-1464), lies on the way to Thimphu and Paro highway. Tachogang refers to ‘temple of the hills of the excellent horses’, it is said that while Thangtong Gyelpo was mediating here he had a vision of spiritual horse Bahala-an emanation of Avalokkiteshvara, he then later decided to built the temple in that spot.

Ugyen Pelri Palace – The palace was built in early 1900’s by Paro Penlop, Tsering Penjor. A beautiful example of architecture and tradition designed after Guru Rinpoche’s celestial paradise.


BUMTHANG (2600 Mts/8528 Fts) – Also known as the spiritual & cultural heartland of Bhutan in regards to the ancient monasteries and sacred sites. Located at north-central region of Bhutan, this district is considered as the religious site as Guru Rinpoche cured the local King (Sindhu Raja) of a spirit-induced aliments in the 8th century, this resulted in embracing Buddhism in the whole country. It is also known for its lush valley and produces apple juice, apple cider and Swiss cheese. Buckwheat is the common food grains cultivated here and the main source of food here, lastly it is known for its bright colored woven woolen garments called the ‘Yathra’.

(SIGHTSEEING POINTS)
Jakar Dzong, KurjeLhakhang (Monestry), Chankhar Lhakhang (Monestry), Tamshing Lhakhang (Monestry) and Jambay Lhakhang (Monestry)


Jakar Dzong – According to the legends, it was in the year 1549 when the monks had assembled to this site to build the monastery a big white bird rose suddenly and settled on the spur of the hill. Therefore the site for construction was decided at the same. The meaning for the word ‘Jakar Dzong’ refers to”the Castle of the White Bird”, It is located on the hill overlooking the delightful valley of Chamkhar in Bumthang. The Dzong is used as the house of regional monk body and administrative centre for Bumthang valley.

Kurje Lhakhang – The earliest Buddhist site in Bhutan, located in Bumthang about 15 minutes drive from Chamkhar town. According to legends the town was badly affected by the evil spirit hence, Guru Rinpoche was invited to Bhutan by Sendah Gyab, the local ruler. Later Guru Rinpoche started meditating in a cave called Dragmar Dorji Tsegpa, or "red colored cave". When the evil was defeated Guru Rinpoche left his imprints of his body in that cave. Hence, that site is now ‘Kurje Lhakhang or Temple of imprints’.

Chankhar Lhakhang – This lhakhang compromises of three monastery, (i) place where Guru Rinpoche mediated t 8th century, (ii) second one was built on the spot where Guru Rinpoche’s body imprint were found, (iii) and the last one Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother at 1990’s.

Tamshing Lhakhang – The temple was built in around 1501by Terton Pema Lingpa or the re-incarnation of Guru Rinpoche situated across the river from Kurje Lhakhang. This temple has ancient painting of 1000 Buddha & 21 Taras (female form of Buddhistaya), which was restored at the end of 19th century.

Jambay Lhakhang – This monastery is one of the 108 monasteries built by Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. It was built in intension to subdue the evil spirit on the Himalayan region, Its beautiful architecture appears to be from early 20th century.

Mebartsho – Mebartsho or Burning lake is five minute walk from a bend in the road leading to the Tangchhu. Terton Pema Lingpa discovered a treasure here, legends say that only the enlightened ones will be able to see the temple which is under the water.


HAA (3800 Mts/1246 Fts) – Its one of the most picturestique spot which adjoins the district of Paro, Chhukha and Samtse. Previously known for its animist tradition and the scarifies to their local deities, which was later transformed into peaceful Buddha tradition by Guru Padmasambhava back in 8th century. Haa valley was officially opened for tourists in the year 2002. Grand Haa Tsechu festival is also performed here on the 8th-10th day of the 8th Buddhist month of the year.
The drive to Haa Valley through Chele–La-Pass will give you an awesome experience to remember as you can view the Himalayas i.e. Mount. Chomolhari, Jichu Drakey. Ideal place to enjoy you day out complimented with the beautiful Himalayan panoramic view.

(SIGHTSEEING POINTS)
Haa Dzong (Monastery) , Wangchulo Dzong (Monastery), Lhakhang karpo (Monastery) & Lhakhang Nagpo (Monastery).
Haa Dzong – Built in the year 1895 to protect to prevent possible invasion from Tibet from the north. Unfortunately the fire was caught at this Dzong in 1913 therefore it was re-constructed.


Wangchulo Dzong – This Dzong was constructed by the Grandfather Gongzim Ugyen Dorji of the royal Grandmother Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuk. It is one of the newer Dzong built in the year 1913, this Dzong is located inside IMTRAT compound (Indian Military Training Team) and Bhutanese army training camp.

Lhakhang Karpo - It is believed to be built in 7th century during the time of Tibetan Emperor Songtsan Gampo. The word Lhakhang Karpo is referred to ‘White Temple’, it hosts the annual festival of Tshechu.

Lhakhang Nagpo – Established at the same time as Lhakhang karpo, Lhakhang Nagpo referred to as ‘Black Temple’ is situated just above Lhakhang Karpo. It is believed that a ray of white light emerged from the body of Chogyal Songtsan Gampo and then Lhakhang Karpo was built in that spot, similarly a dark light emerged from him and hence, Lhakhang Nagpo was built in that spot.
It is also believed that a white pigeon and black pigeon emerged from Songtsan Gampo to these two different sites therefore the temple was built accordingly.