Bhutan is landlocked country where to the East, West and South lie Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam respectively while to the North, Tibet’s Chumbi Valley sandwiched between North Bhutan and Sikkim.
The most common interpretation of the name Bhutan comes from Bhot-stan which is land of the Bhotias. In Sanskrit, Tibet people were called as Bhotias. This later got corrupted by the early British explorers to call it Bootan or Bhotan.In the Dzongkha Language (offical language of Bhutan), they refer to this land as Druk Yul or land of Thunder Dragon and themselves as Drukpas.
When to visit Bhutan? Bhutan offers choices as per needs and you could choose the seasons indicated below:
Spring (March, April, and May) – The time for festivals in Paro, one of the largest monastic festivals, Paro tshechu (festival) take place.
Season for trekkers in moderate altitudes. The temperature is pleasant mild even up to Alpine regions.
Summer (June, July, August) – This time of the year is monsoon, but this should not deter travelers. In the settled areas of central and western
Bhutan pleasant summer temperatures without heat or humidity can be experienced. Rainfalls for short period daily but its manageable with
adequate planning and equipment.
Autumn (Sept, Oct, Nov) – The traditional high season in Bhutan have the highest number of festivals. Trekkers enjoy the clear view of the
mountains in October and low rainfall. Rice harvest means a picturesque landscape, remarkable terraces and changing colour.
Winter (December, January, and February) – The dry and pleasant conditions make this the best time of the year for bird watching in the jungles, village to village trekking in the lower altitude or a bicycle trip along the mountain roads is one way to spend a perfect holiday.
What to see in Bhutan? : Paro , Thimphu, Punaka, DochuLa,Wangdue, Bumthang.
For itinerary, click here
Continue reading on the blog to know more about Bhutan, the last Shangrila
Day 1: After landing in Bagdogra, it was time for us to start journey to Bhutan via Sevoke from Siliguri and reach Coronation Bridge which connects road to Bhutan, Sikkim and Darjeeling. After passing Torsa River Bridge, we came to Jaigon and then reached Phuentsholing by night and checked in to the hotel.
Day 2: This day was a very spectacular one in terms of feast to the eyes as we were leaving to Paro. After completing the custom formalities (you would require Passport / Voter ID / Driving License for Indians) we got 7 day entry permit into Bhutan. Once the permits were completed, we started our journey via Gedu and the whole scenery got changed with amazing views of valleys and the mountain ranges. We reached Vince waterfalls and was amazing to watch it and enjoy the splendor. We stopped at the tourist hotel at Bunakha and had first taste of Bhutanese meal but Indian style. In Bhutan, you get all kind of Indian food like Chappatis, Rotis, Sabzi, Dal, Curds etc., Resuming our journey, we came to the highest point on the route to Paro / Thimphu at 8350 feet.
Proceeding further with lot of scenic beauty, we landed at Tachogang Gompha. Gompha is a ‘solitary place’ where monks can isolate themselves from the world for further meditative practices. It is worth to visit Tachogang Gompha. You would be able to visualize with these photographs.
We reached the Thimphu gate and turning left, we entered into valley which takes to Paro and reached Paro by early evening. Checked into the hotel and we were ready to explore the town.
Day 3: Paro Sight seeing and visit to Taksang Monastry (Tiger Nest). This day, we had a very nice time of getting up early and trekking upto Tiger Nest.
Came back to the hotel by afternoon and started on Paro sight seeing.
1. The ruins of Drukgyel Dzong
As we drove from Zhiwa Ling we were set with a spectacular view of the surrounding valley the ruins of this fort, which once protected against Tibetan invasions, provides a wonderful architectural insight to the structure of forts in Bhutan.
2. Paro Dzong: It was time to see the beautiful government monument which is an architectural wonder in Paro which is depicted in pictures.
3. Paro Airport
This is yet another beautiful building in Bhutan and Paro airport is the only airport in that country.
It was time to leave to Thimphu which is 31 kms from Paro.
Day 4 Thimphu sightseeing:
After breakfast, visited Tashichhodzong, the main secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty, the King. Tashichhodzong is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the central monk body. We then went to see the National Library, which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, with some works dating back several hundred years. By afternoon, it was time to visit the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School), where a six year training course is given in the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
Later in the day, we visited Takin Reserve where Takin is an animal which is half goat and half antelope. There is a legend to how this animal was formed and would be a good reason to visit this place.
We then visited Memorial Chorten followed by the biggest Buddha Statue installed in Bhutan and this place is called as Kuensel Phodrang or Buddha Point. There is another specialty in Thimphu. Exactly @ 5:00 pm, at Thimphu Dzong, they lower the Bhutanese flag for the day and that is a ceremony worth watching. Thus, we spent sometime in Coronation park (The Buddha statue there is presented by Thailand) and later proceeded to Thimphu Dzong to see the flag lowering ceremony.
Day 5: Thimphu-Punaka-Wangdue
This day was to be a magnificent day. After breakfast, we drove to DochuLa pass. Dochula Pass which is the most known pass in the Bhutan is just 30 odd Km drive from the Capital City Thimphu on the way towards central Bhutan. Dochula pass is around 3150 meter from sea level and it’s mostly covered with white clouds, where on a clear day you can see spectacular view of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges. Dochula pass serves the stop for all the passer by traveling to and fro to punakha and wandgi for a hot cup of coffee well served from the Dochula Cafeteria located just above the Beautiful Dochula Pass.
The 108 Chortens at the Dochula pass gives the passer the beauty of the fresh and high altitude vegetation around, bhutan being the Buddhist country the construction of 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens brings multi fold merit to all sentient beings.The Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens is offered as a tribute to his majesty the king to the selfless service and visionary leadership of His Majesty the King, and now a sacred legacy to the nation and the Bhutanese people, the Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens represent a symbol of appreciation, loyalty, dedication, and love that touches the nation and blesses its people.The 1008 druk wangyel khangzang chortens makes a must visit place for all the people.
We then, headed to Punaka and had a classic visit to this Dzong. This is the most popular Dzong in entire Bhutan and a main one. Worth seeing.
Later in the evening, we went to see Wangdue Dzong which is being renovated by India before retiring to the hotel.
Day 6: This day, we started back to Phuentsholing and with an awesome scenery on the way and checked into the hotel later in evening.
Day 7: Time to start back to Bagdogra airport and then to Bangalore
Our dream vacation to Bhutan ended with lot of fascinating and interesting memories.