For most people, Paro is their first destination in Bhutan. That’s because, most people fly down to Bhutan. For us though, Paro was our final destination. We’d be going back from Paro via Phuentsoling to India. And we were stationed there for 2 nights and one day. The first night saw us arrive from Gangtey, tired and crying for sleep. Paro sight-seeing would start the next day, we promised ourselves as we bade one another good-night.
Taktsang Monastry, Tiger’s Nest: Paro visit’s iconic destination! That’s the reputation the Taktsang Monastry commands. Popular the world over as the Tiger’s Nest, millions arriving in Bhutan don’t leave it withour having trekked up the hills to visit the monastery made famous by Guru Rimponche’s visit on the back of a tigress to kill a tiger demon. I have written in detail about the Tiger’s Nest trek in my previous blog – read it here — Tiger’s Nest Trek
Note that the Tiger’s Nest takes up a good half part of your day. We had started early, and so, had completed our climb by noon. Post lunch, we went to the following places with Paro City, all close to one another.
Rinpung Dzong: Right at the heart of the beautiful Paro city, it stands over the city almost as if in vigil for its people. Majestic and sprawling, the Dzong, as is usual with all of the Dzongs in Bhutan, houses a Monastry as well as the Paro administrative offices. Its premises is the venue for the famous Paro Tsechu (Paro Festival of Dances) in Mar-april. The very fact that the area would be swarming in colours and beautiful magic, made us long to see it.
Ta Dzong or the National Museum of Bhutan: The Ta Dzong overlooks the Rinpung Dzong. In fact, it had been built in the 17th century to be a watch tower for the Rinpung Dzong. The government converted it to a museum sometime mid-20th century, and housed some of Bhutan’s most expensive and precious pieces of art, paintings statues, textiles and stuffed animals there. A strong earthquake had caused considerable damage to this beautiful tower, and the Dzong has since been under renovation. A number of the art pieces has been moved to a building a little away from the Ta Dzong temporarily.
National Museum of Bhutan (Temporary): With the Ta Dzong under repair and renovation, the National Museum has been shifted to a temporary building a little above the Dzong itself. It houses a numerous sections such as masks used in different festivals, textiles, utensils, etc and also a very extensive section on the different types of wildlife found in Bhutan. One place where you get to see all what Bhutan cares for, it rich history and its rich culture.
By now, it was evening. We hung around the main city square looking for things to buy or Momos to eat. And then, headed straight back to our hotel – Hotel Olathang. Next morning was for the Chele La, or the Chele Pass.
Chele La, Chele Pass: Touted as one of the highest motorable Pass in Bhutan, we made it a point to drive down, nay, drive up to the Chele La before we bade Bhutan goodbye. An hour’s drive through a winding road in the hill covered with lofty pines and their beautiful yellow flowers, we were at the Pass. Our heart was heavy when we realized that this was probably the last sight in our Bhutan trip. We didn’t want to go back from this beautiful country. Instead, we wanted to walk down the Pass to the other side. We couldn’t. Sigh!! And came back to our hotel to check out.
Checked out, had lunch at a local restaurant in Paro, and started our 5 hour drive back to Phuentsoling. A night’s halt at Hotel Druk once again, and the next morning, we crossed into the Indian side to go to Darjeeling. Holiday wasn’t over yet. Bhutan sojourn was.
Goodbye Bhutan. We loved it there!!