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A small landlocked kingdom is full of breathtaking mountain ranges covered with unspoiled nature, a Shangri La, Bhutan. Set amidst the Himalayas, this country is iconic because it is home to the happiest people. This is the sole country in the world where Gross National Happiness measures development. There are no traffic signals, no newspapers on Sundays, and people who still wear their traditional clothes.
As you enter Bhutan, the first thing that strikes you is its tranquility. A demure, quiet, charming country full of monasteries, prayer flags fluttering right across, a land blessed with picturesque scenes and home to one of the most hospitable people, this is the ever-alluring Bhutan.
From the precariously situated Tiger’s Nest or Taktsang to the Buddha Dordenma, Buddhism echoes throughout the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Perched atop a precipice at an altitude of 3120 meters above sea level with a winding trail, Taktsang is truly unlike any other monastery in the world. Though the trek is strenuous, the reward that awaits at the end of it is beyond words. As you walk into Taktsang, you realize the true meaning of a pilgrimage. A mythical story of a guru who meditated for three years, three months, and three days coupled with the marvelous structures that lie inside, Taktsang is a dream come true.
The capital city, Thimphu, is a small quaint city that houses the famous Changangkha temple and the National Museum. Thangka paintings are exotic and have Buddhist motifs and prayers drawn on silk or paper. Moreover, these thangkas speak of the deeply ingrained Buddhist philosophies that are integral to life in Bhutan. The impressive Buddha Dordenma is a glittering bronze edifice that towers over the city’s skyline and exudes spirituality that touches your soul. Furthermore, a visit to the Motithang Takin Preserve unveils Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin. Similarly, Paro, which has the only International airport in Bhutan, is home to famous monasteries like Drukgyel Dzong and the Rinpung Dzong. Rinpung Dzong hosts the annual gala called Paro Tshechu, an extravaganza of dances with traditional attires and many activities.
A drive from Thimphu to Punakha is a journey like none other. On a clear day, an awesome view of Mount Everest captures your heart. Simultaneously, the Dochula Pass emerges as you approach the famous 108 chortens that the Queen Mother built. A visit to the wondrous Punakha Dzong, a 17th-century monastery, is a must when in Bhutan. Celebrate the colorful festival of Punakha Tshechu with dancers in colorful masks and dresses. Driving across the Bhutanese landscape is an unforgettable experience. As you travel from Punakha to Bumthang, it is like a painting of the Himalayan Ranges passing you by. Do visit the Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of the monarch with its golden roof glittering in the distance.
While in Bhutan, do taste their wonderful cuisine with red rice and mashed potatoes and cheese. For those who are brave enough, bite into a chilly and cheese dish that is as hot as you can get. Indulge in a hot stone bath and wander around the countryside to experience paradise far from the madness of urban life. Take a stroll into the weekend market in Thimphu, where you will be tempted by the produce out for sale. From vegetables and meat to textiles and handicrafts, this is no regular bazaar. Also, do try your hand at Bhutan’s national sport of archery.
Plan the perfect escape to the place where happiness thrives in the truest sense, Bhutan.
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