“Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints”
I have always been fascinated by simpler times… A time when our schedules were not run by computers; A time when the television did not raise our children; A time when human beings lived as a community, a collective soul!
While I imagined this existence in my head, I never thought I could ever experience it. That is, until I visited Bhutan! Right from the moment we landed at airport in Paro, the beauty, the simplicity and the spirituality that flowed from the place took our breath away. We saw beautiful monasteries high up on the mountains, symbolic white prayer flags fluttering in the wind, wonderful Dzongs next to flowing rivers, and glorious nature everywhere! Here are 5 must-see highlights from our trip to Bhutan.
1. Punakha Dzong
Punakha Dzong is the most impressive and the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan. It is adorned with beautiful paintings and statues of Buddha. There is a confluence of the Pho Chuu and Mo Chuu rivers flowing next to the Dzong. We visited Punakha Dzong and the site left us pretty awed! Once you visit it, you will be spoiled while visiting other Dzongs.
2. Chele La (pass)
Chele la, at an elevation 13000 ft., is considered to be one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan. Chele la was a sight in itself, with white cottony clouds around green mountains and crisp, cold temperatures. Chele la provides stunning views of the sacred mountain Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. The pass is covered with white flags, a Buddhist belief where the family members of a deceased person put a white flag as high up in the mountains hoping that person will find solace after death and go to heaven.
3. Taktsang monastery
One of our favorite highlights in Bhutan was vising the Taktsang monastery – also called as Tiger’s nest. Legend has it that the person who bought Buddhism to Bhutan – Guru Rinpoche – flew here on the back of a tigress in the 8th century and meditated for some months in the cave.
The monastery is built on a cliff at 3000 feet, where one has to trek uphill for 3-4 hrs to see it. The view is absolutely worth it after the difficult trek. Where the rest of the world is busy working on major highways, to increase the speed of our lives, Bhutan is working on a simple one lane roads leading to mountains and valleys. After all, that is all we need for peace and happiness, don’t we?
4. Haa valley
Haa Valley, also know as the valley of the Guardian spirit, is one of the most picturesque valleys in Bhutan. The drive to Haa valley from Chuzom is a spectacular drive with fabulous views on both sides, snowy tops peeping over green conical hills and prayer flags clustered on the pass. You can see the Bhutanese and the Indian army base here, which was only opened to visitors.
From the moment you enter Thimpu, you will spot a huge Buddha statue set upon a mountain. This Buddha statue is one of the tallest Buddha statues in the world and a must visit. Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, is the largest city in Bhutan, but interestingly has no traffic lights or airports.
We had a really great time in Bhutan! It has become one of our favorite destinations. Have you been to Bhutan? Do share your experiences.
This article was penned by a fellow travel blogger: Maya Vora