Bhutan

Bhutan is a mountainous kingdom with lush valleys, sacred monasteries and fortress-style dzongs. The country has a strong desire to preserve its traditions and environment with tourist numbers limited to this effect. But if you are one of the lucky few to visit this charming land you will experience an ancient culture like no other.

Paro

Located in one of the most historical areas of Bhutan, Paro Valley boasts a large number of monasteries and dzongs (fortress-style buildings). The most famous is Taktsang Monastery, popularly known as the Tiger’s Nest, which clings to the cliff-side in the upper Paro Valley. Hike up the trail to reach this sacred Buddhist site.

Visit the well-preserved Rinpung Dzong which contains 14 shrines and chapels and is home of the Paro Festival. The Dzong sits next to a river which is crossed by an ancient cantilevered bridge. On the hill above is Ta Dzong, a seven-storied watchtower that houses the National Museum of Bhutan. Other historical sites include Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan; and Drukgyal Dzong which was a fortress to protect against invading Tibetans but is now in ruins.

Thimphu

Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan and its commercial hub. One of the most impressive buildings in the city is Tashi Chhoe Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress which is now the seat of Bhutan’s government. Simtikha Dzong is a small building but important as it is the first of its kind built in Bhutan and houses a national language institute.

Other important centres within Thimpu include the new National Library which preserves traditional and sacred texts and the Institute for Zorig Chusum, a centre for Bhutanese art education.

Punakha

Until 1955 Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and its most iconic building, Punakha Dzong, was the former seat of government. This building is the second largest dzong in Bhutan and is set at the confluence of two rivers and flanked with jacaranda trees. Just outside Punakha is Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the Temple of Fertility. Here you will discover its unusual history and why infertile women from all over the world have made a pilgrimage here.

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