Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bhutan Newsletter

6 11 2013
Kuzu zang pola (Hello) everyone!
The warm days and cool nights of Autumn are slowly giving way to winter and the peaks of distant mountains are already covered in sparkling layers of powder soft snow.
During this season the sky is a crystal clear blue and the warm rays of the sun quickly dispel any lingering chill. With beautiful sunny days and cozy evenings spent relaxing by a bonfire late Autumn is one of the best seasons to visit Bhutan.
This month we will be taking a look at one of Bhutan’s most well known destinations, the Paro Dzongkhag (district)!
Paro valley extends from the confluence of the Paro Chhu and the Wang Chhu rivers at Chuzom upto Mt. Jomolhari at the Tibetan border to the North.
This picturesque region is one of the widest valleys in the kingdom and is covered in fertile rice fields and has a beautiful, crystalline river meandering down the valley. Accentuating the natural beauty are the many elegant, traditional-style houses that dot the valley and surrounding hills.
Paro is one of the most popular destinations in Bhutan and visitors can often spend many days here. This is because in addition to its picturesque natural beauty, Paro is also home to over 155 ancient temples and monasteries including Bhutan’s most iconic temple, Taktsang (The Tiger’s Nest).
Taktsang Lhakhang is Bhutan’s most iconic landmark and religious site. The name Taktsang translates to “The Tiger’s Nest“. This temple is one of the most holy sites in the kingdom and clings impossibly to a sheer cliff face 900 hundred meters above the Paro Valley.
It was first built in 1692 at a cave where Guru Rimpoche meditated in the 7th century A.D. Legend states that Guru Rimpoche flew to the site atop the back of a tigress and meditated in the cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours in order to subdue evil demons residing within it. The cave has been considered a sacred site ever since and many famous saints have travelled to meditate in it.
Taktsang Lhakhang is located approximately 10 km north of Paro town at an altitude of 3.120 meters. In order to arrive at the temple visitors must trek for around 2-3 hours through beautiful, shady pine forests. No trip to Bhutan would be complete without a visit to this remarkable heritage site.
Drukgyel Dzong means ‘The Fortress of the Victorious Bhutanese‘. It was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646
to commemorate his victory over marauding Tibetan armies. It was the foremost defensive fortification against Tibetan invasions.
Though the Dzong was destroyed by fire in 1951, the massive ruins still retain a measure of their former grandeur. While in Paro it is highly recommended that you pay these ruins a visit. The fortress grounds are a popular picnic spot amongst tourists and locals alike.
The National Museum is set inside a conical watchtower that once helped defend Paro Rinpung Dzong from invasions. The watch tower was built in 1649 by the first governor of Paro.
The tower is uniquely shaped as resembles a conch shell with an internal ascending spiral. In the 1950′s the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck proposed that the tower be renovated and converted into a museum.
The museum was opened to the public in 1968 and has displayed valuable historical artifacts and paintings ever since. It plays an invaluable role in preserving and promoting Bhutan’s rich history and culture.
Paro Tshechu (Annual Religious Festival)
The Annual Paro Tshechu is undoubtedly one of the popular tshechus in the country. Pilgrims come all over the country to attend the festival and it is also hugely popular among the many tourists that visit the country. On the final day of the three day festival a gigantic Thongdrel (Embroidered Religious
Painting) is unfurled. The thongdrel is so sacred that simply gazing upon it is said to clean away the viewers sins.
The Paro festival features various masked dances and prayers, some dating back hundreds of years. However like all tshechus the festival is not only a religious occasion but also an opportunity for people to relax and spend time with their families and friends.
A lively, jovial air surrounds the festivities making it a fun and uniquely Bhutanese experience that visitors won’t want to miss.
For more information on the various tshechus in Bhutan visit our website at:
The Jomolhari Loop Trek
The 7 day Jomolhari Loop Trek is the shortest of the treks around Mt. Jomolhari. These treks are easily the most popular in Bhutan as they offer spectacular views and an interesting
array of flora and fauna. The Jomolhari Loop Trek is a good choice for trekkers that want to enjoy the dazzling beauty of the region without undertaking too strenuous a challenge.
However the path climbs to high altitudes ranging from
2500-5000m and should not be underestimated.
For more information on the various tshechus in Bhutan visit our website at:
Nomad Festival (22nd February 2014)
This annual gathering of Bhutan’s nomadic highlanders bring together the herders of the northeastern and northwestern Himalayan frontiers in an unforgettable celebration of their unique culture and traditions.
You’ll gain an intimate glimpse into the proud communities that have survived virtually unchanged to this day and form a rich part of Bhutan’s ethnic and cultural diversity.
The festival takes place in Bumthang, the sacred heartland of Bhutan. This region is dotted with some of the most beautiful and ancient monasteries and temples in the Himalayas.
The two major nomadic tribes of Bhutan, the Brokpas in the east and the Layaps in the west, inhabit some of the most rugged terrain in the kingdom. Their economy still mainly consists of ancient bartering practices and is heavily dependent upon their yaks and the products they derive from it such as milk, cheese, wool, meat and leather. In recognition of this interdependency, the yak features prominently in many of the nomadic festivals and celebrations.
Chorten Kora Festival (February 2014)
This festival is set in Trashiyangtse, the eastern most district in Bhutan. The festival is known as Dakpa Kora and is held on the 15th day of the 3rd month
corresponding to 28th February and Drukpa Kora (circumbulation by the Bhutanese) is held on the 30th day corresponding to 15th March every year.
According to legend a young girl from Tawang, believed to have been a Khando (Dakini) agreed to be buried alive inside the Chorten. For this reason a ritual known as
Dakpa Kora is organized every year where hundreds of people from Arunachal Pradesh known as the Dakpas make it to Chorten Kora to circumambulate.
In Bhutan, hot springs are known as Tshachus and are found all over the Kingdom. The medicinal properties of these hot springs have been used by the Bhutanese people for centuries to cure various ailments ranging from arthritis to body aches and even sinuses. It is a popular tradition among Bhutanese to visit hot springs during the winter months.
Learn more at:
For further information, please contact:
Tourism Council of Bhutan, India Representative Office
C/o Charson Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd.
1104 Arcadia, 11th Floor, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400021 – India
Tel: 91 (22) 65172273; Fax: 91 (22) 22828835; Email: Tourism Council of Bhutan
Tarayana Centre, Chubachu, Thimphu, Bhutan
Tel: 975 2 323251/2 ; Email:; Web:

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