Bhutan – The Land of the Thunder Dragon

Bhutan will be the second part of our exciting adventure later this year, following on from the first part in Assam. On Peter and Hilary’s visit to this stunning kingdom, they very quickly realised what a unique and very special place Bhutan is. Not many visit this ‘country in the clouds’ that nestles in the Himalayan foothills and is populated by the most charming and delightful people you will ever meet.

 

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Bhutanese wooden wall. Photo rbcoolz /Shutterstock.com

 

Instead of Gross National Product, the Bhutanese follow the constitutionally elected government’s decree of GNH – Gross National Happiness! It may sound silly, but the truth is everyone seems happy. The country’s traditional values are based on compassion, tolerance and wisdom. Everyone seems so proud and willing to wear the handsome national costume. We loved our visit and really want to share it with some intrepid Ross Travellers.

 

Darts – much larger weighing half a kilo – second national sport. Photo – Peter Whitehead

Darts – much larger weighing half a kilo – second national sport. Photo – Peter Whitehead

 

Flying into Paro, following our departure from Darjeeling, we were lucky enough to catch glimpses of the mighty Himalayan Mountains.

 

Pretty Paro valley – rice paddies and rushing rivers. Photo – Peter Whitehead

Pretty Paro valley – rice paddies and rushing rivers. Photo – Peter Whitehead

 

 

Thimpu is the national capital and home to the parliament, museums and the world’s largest book! Being a devoutly Buddhist country, Bhutan is scattered with temples, stupas, prayer flags and intrically carved prayer wheels.

 

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Chillies (a staple food together with rice) in Thimpu market. Photo – Peter Whitehead

Thimphu Dzong. Photo – Oksana Perkins / Shutterstock.com

Thimphu Dzong. Photo – Oksana Perkins / Shutterstock.com

 

Every district in Bhutan features a dzong  – distinctive towering fortresses that serve as Buddhist monasteries. One of the most famous is the Punakha Dzong, meaning “the Palace of Great Happiness”. Situated at the confluence of two icy cold rivers, Punakha Dzong was built in the 17th Century. This stunning landmark is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan, and served as the administrative centre and seat of the Government of Bhutan until it was moved to Thimpu in 1955.

 

Punakha Dzong Monastery. Photo – Peter Whitehead

Punakha Dzong Monastery. Photo – Peter Whitehead

 

Aside from the breathtaking scenery, one highlight was a visit to the most sacred Taktsang ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Temple that clings precipitously on to an almost sheer mountainside. For the more intrepid explorer, the trek to the top – an ascent of over 1000 steps – brings with it a sense of achievement. But if that’s not really your thing, you can simply relax and savour the glorious mountain scenery!

 

Clinging precipitously to a sheer mountain-side, the Taktsang Palphug Monastery is known as the ‘Tiger’s nest’. Photo – Photopictures / Shutterstock.com

Clinging precipitously to a sheer mountain-side, the Taktsang Palphug Monastery is known as the ‘Tiger’s nest’. Photo – Photopictures / Shutterstock.com

Looking at the Himalaya through the Dochula Pass ‘stupas’. Photo Peter Whitehead

Looking at the Himalaya through the Dochula Pass ‘stupas’. Photo Peter Whitehead

 

We then very sadly farewelled Bhutan and the happiest people in the world, flying out of Paro back to Calcutta where the adventure started only three weeks earlier.

We hope you’ll join us on this fabulous tour in November. What stories you will have to tell on your return?

 

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