By Sanjukta Das Bhowmick
Semester done with. Tickets booked. Back home. Trip planned. We decided to celebrate this New Year in Bhutan. It was a family trip after a long time. Everyone was in high spirits. After all, winter in Bhutan is supposed to be breathtaking.
We reached Bhutan on 1st January. After a crazy buffet, we headed to Phuntsholing. It lies just on the other side of the gate dividing India and Bhutan. So you can actually be in two countries at the same time if you stand wisely. One foot here, the other there.
Our real journey started from the next day. A seven-hour bus ride took us to Paro. The driveway was beautiful. Snaking its way through the mountains, giving you a peek into the majestic nature, with the azure blue sky spread above, it sure was everything you could ever wish for.
After a long journey, we reached our hotel at 6 in the evening. Tired as hell, we retired to freshen up and get some sleep for the next day. Nevertheless, we did have a sumptuous dinner.
Selfie crazy freaks at Chele-le-la Pass
The next day, we went to Chele-le-la pass, situated at a crazy altitude of 3988 metres. The view is something out of the world surely. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, it makes you feel so insignificant.
Be warned, if you have breathing problems or vertigo, take it easy, and do not go prancing around.
But if you are as cool as me, be sure to go gaga with your cameras.
Gazing at Paper planes
While coming down, we stopped for some time to gaze at the quaint little international airport of Paro. From such a distance, the planes looked like paper air crafts.
Sighing over a missed locale
In the afternoon, we visited the local monastery and satisfied ourselves with a glimpse at the famous Taktsang Lhakhang, commonly known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’. Now this place can only be reached by trekking. Nestled there in the hills, is an age old monastery, Bhutan’s iconic religious site.
We didn’t have the time to explore that bit. But if you have it in you, be sure to trek up and take a look at the marvellous place.
Shaking it up in the capital
The second day saw us coming down to the capital city, Thimpu. It houses the royal residence. And boy is it nice.
On our list was Thimpu Chorten or the Memorial Chorten, the ‘most visible religious landmark in Bhutan’. Curiously, it doesn’t enshrine any human remains.
Consecrated by Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje, he wanted it to represent the Buddha’s mind. At present, only a hall on the ground floor is adorned with the Druk Gyalpo’s photo in ceremonial dress.
When we entered a flock of pigeons swooped in and flew over my head, in such a dramatic style, I felt like the Feast of Crows in The Game Of Thrones. Only the White Walkers didn’t show up.
‘Blowin’ in the wind’
Next, we went to Buddha Dordenma. The winds blowing there was so strong that you would feel like you are standing at the edge of a deck on a storm-torn sea.
The statue was one of a kind. It was so freaking huge, that its face was almost in the clouds. Think of the persons who had made it. An amazing feat of art.
Still in Thimpu
After a quick lunch, we were out again, this time to check out the Tashichho Dzong or as it is commonly known as the Thimpu Dzong, a Buddhist monastery, and fortress. Situated on the western bank of the river Wang Chu, it has traditionally been the seat of the head of Bhutan’s civil government, the Druk Desi, or the Dharma Raja.
It is a huge fortress, with the seminary for the priests and also houses other administrative buildings.
The building is majestic and standing there in the open courtyard, you will feel like you have been transported to some bygone glorious era of kings and queens and legends.
Here the various administrative offices are located. And right beside is the main courtyard.
This is the entrance to the Dzong.
Bridge mania-not for the faint-hearted
Now the fun part. These are the sightseeing places. The next spot is a bit off the radar.
The rope bridge suspended over the river, where we literally had the time of our lives. So, they have this thing, everyone passing on the bridge shakes it up.
So imagine this, you are standing there, over the river, and the bridge is swaying. So much fun, no.
After all, this when I came back to the hotel, dead tired, I found this cutie waiting for me. Needless to say, I did name it, Fluffy after the three-headed dog in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Living it at Dochula Pass
This was yet another highlight of my journey. Located at an elevation of 3,100 metres. It falls on the road leading from Thimpu to Punakha. The place has 108 stupas or chortens, built in honour of the fourth Druk Gyalpo.
Apart from that, there is also a monastery up there. It was freezing cold when we reached there. From there the hills looked majestic. The road leading to it is steep and known for its sharp curves.
Bhutan is surreal in its beauty. It has a certain charm to it. You can feel it in the air, as you turn around to take a last glimpse at the confluence of the two rivers- Paro Chhu and Wang Chhu.
Bidding adieu to such a place was indeed hard. We could not cover many other parts as we were only there for five days. Surely have to visit at least 3-4 times more to fully explore such a beautiful country.
I hope you guys had fun checking out the pictures and are already planning a trip to Bhutan.
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