PARO – Most doted travel destination in Bhutan
Popularly known as “Land of the Thunder Dragon”, Bhutan lies between China on the North and Northwest and India on the South, Southwest and East.With the advent of 21st century, Bhutan became more open to promoting its tourism potentials and in the process introduced several attractive travel options. As a result of which Bhutan began receiving numbers of tourists every year. With this grew the popularity of Paro Valley. For travellers wishing to unveil the religious uniqueness, historical richness, intrinsic culture and pristine custom of Western Bhutan, Paro has become a favourite travel destination.
Paro Valley lies amidst the majestic panorama of Mount Chomolhari overlooking the captivating view of deep gorges, Paro Chu River and lush vegetation of rice fields, apple and peach orchards and willow trees. Paro is 65 km away from Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan and it normally takes a two-hour drive from Thimpu to reach Paro. Many festivals and discourses can be witnesses at the temples and monasteries of history laden Paro. Its cultural heritages, religious significance and landscape never cease to fascinate travellers. Paro has an airport, several hotels, restaurants, internet cafes and handicraft centers to cater well to tourists’ requirements. While travelling to Paro, one should not miss visiting the following places:
History has it that in 1647 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel erected this fortress as the commemoration of his victory over the Tibetan invaders. This dzong safeguarded Bhutan from invasions for centuries. Tragically, Drugyal dzong caught fire in 1951 and consequently its structures were badly ruined. So overpowering was its historical significance that even in today’s time it still remains a historical monument for locals and tourists. On a favorable whether, this dzong offers a visual treat of Mt. Jomolhari view from a perfect vantage point.
Nestled against the granite cliff, Takstang monastery stands 900 meter high above the Paro Valley. This monastery gained its popular nickname, “Tiger’s den”, from a local mythological tale which says that in the 8th century Guru Padmasambhava arrived at this place riding on the back of a tigress to mediate. A temple was built at the place where Guru Padmasambhava meditated and later his devotees built a monastery which was named Takstang Monastry. In 1998, the monastry was engulfed by fire and this ruined many paintings and religious objects. Government of Bhutan renovated this sacred monastery. Local people visit this place for religious discourses.
Bhutanese refer to this fortress as “the fortress on a heap of jewels”. Rinpung dzong was constructed in 1646 and is a sheer portrayal of great Bhutanese architecture. This fortress has Paro monastic school and Civil Administration Office. In spring, one can witness Paro festival at this site which takes place once in every year.
This fortress was constructed in 1651 as a watch tower and its architecture exhibits the influences of European architecture. After 1967, Ta dzong was used as the national museum of arts, relics, religious thanka paintings and several historical objects. A visit to this fortress takes one to the memory lane of ancient Bhutan.
The most fascinating and immersing way of experiencing the real lifestyle of Bhutan is by visiting the farm house. Local people have their houses normally built with three storeys painted colorfully which depicts pristine Bhutanese arts; ground floor is used for sheltering cattles and other domestic animals, first floor is for the family and the attic is for storing hay and other household assets.
This 7th century temple built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo is regarded very sacred by locals. A visit to this temple gives a chance to learn, understand and internalize the religious perspectives of Bhutanese.
The best way to travel around Paro is by using the service of a local professional guide. From March to May, weather in Paro stays at its best behavior. There are several options to exploring Paro, either on foot, mountain bike or a vehicle. Whichever way one chooses, it would definitely be soul-searching and lifetime experience and an intimate encounter with real Bhutan.
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