THIMPHU FESTIVALS “If  there  is  one  time   that   Bhutan really  comes  into  its  own, its at the Tshechu. This religious event is celebrated on the tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche - the ‘Lotus–Born’ sage who is responsible for bringing the Vajyarana Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan.

As I watched this sea of humanity coming together, locals and tourists alike, I  was  told  that this celebration had a spiritual side as well. For everyone who comes to attend a Tshechu, receives blessings and has their sins washed away. That didn’t come as a surprise anymore, for everywhere in the East there is a karmic reason for why things happen the way they do.”

PARO “On visiting the Paro Valley, I realized it had won my vote as being Bhutan’s most beautiful valley. For this prosperous valley manages to retain its charm in the face of rapid development.”

The Paro Dzong or “The Fortress on the Heap of Jewels” is a 15th-century fort, that was presented by the Dzong’s rulers to the religious and political authority of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who constructed a much more commanding fortress in 1646.

Almost burnt to the ground in 1907, this Dzong has now been rebuilt on the same design, thanks to Bhutan’s combined efforts. But what caught my eye are The Central Tower and Galleries - amongst the most beautiful in Bhutan with their inspired woodwork and classical paintings of Buddhist cosmology representing the universe as seen by two different philosophic streams. This, followed by an invitation to visit Paro’s ancient Choeding Temple where the evening prayer chantings of Buddhist monks was a unique spiritual experience.

Another day led to my hiking to one of the most revered pilgrimage spots in the Buddhist world, the Taktshang Lhakhang, popularly known as Tiger’s Nest. Looking back, Paro was one of the most adventurous and exciting parts of Bhutan and its most beautiful feature is that it retains its essence in the face of modernization – something I will always wish for, for Bhutan.”

PUNAKHA “I was taken to this spectacular valley which sits at the junction of what is called a Mother River and a Father River. Punakha was Bhutan’s capital for over 300 years and is known for its springtime Domchoe Festival which is dedicated to its protector deity, Mahakala.

Punakha is most famous for its historic Dzong that is said to be Bhutan’s most beautiful Dzong. I fell in love with the way this Dzong is framed – Jacaranda trees all over, serving as a lush frame to the Dzong’s elaborate use of gold, red and black on carved wood. All in all, a scenic journey with plenty of mysticism thrown in.”

BUMTHANG
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