Day-2: Thimphu Sight-seeing
Good morninggg...Thimphu. This morning was far different from the usual days, watching beautiful sunrise enlightening the valley from the window looks so pleasant and enticing, which u can't give a miss. We began our day with a lighter breakfast from a corner eatery which gave a feel of landing in a lumberjack's camp. Everything was wooden including table, chair, stairs, floor giving an artistic interior look. We preferred koka (bhutanese maggi) and tea/coffee for breakfast. After breakfast, at around 09:00 hrs we began to explore Thimphu, our first stoppage was
a. National Memorial Chorten
(Entry Fee- Rs 300 or 300Nu/person)
This is a large three tier Tibetan style chorten, where bhutanese people gather around for their daily worship. They come here to spin prayer wheels and walk around the chorten in a belief that it would bring good karma. Inside the chorten, you could see the main idol, standing tall behind the glass wall. People make their offerings in front of the idol that ranges from biscuits, chips, maggi or any edible item. The Walls had paintings of various deities and their preachings. Its a must visit place and also a delight to the photographers. After clicking some selfies and capturing moments soon we headed for our next stop. This time it's...
b. Buddha Dordenma statue(Buddha Point)
(Entry Fees- zero)
To reach here, we have to drive up the hill in a zigzag. What we saw on reaching the top was a bliss to the eyes. It's so huge that Golden Buddha can be seen shimmering in the sun from almost any part of Thimphu. Perched on a hill, in all tranquility and peace, the 170 feet high buddha statue stands overlooking Thimphu 24x7 and bestows blessings to the world. But there's a secret, you are not looking at just one buddha, there are 125000 miniature buddhas encapsulated inside the glimmering golden chest. The statue was surrounded by bodhisattva's idols, the miracle sons of buddha offering their prayers, that were also very beautiful . There was a vast platform in front of the statue from where you get a breathtaking view of the valley, a paradise for nature enthusiasts & photographers. You could easily give 1-2 hours for the serene and peaceful environment.
At around 12:00hrs, we headed for lunch. Our driver stopped by in a restraunt near Norzin Lam. For the first time, we're trying Bhutanese cuisine. We ordered Thukpa and Bathuk(a variant of soupy noodles). I couldn't let my cravings wait for the bhutanese cuisine. However, The food was very delicious and i instantly became a fan of bhutanese food.
After the lunch, At around 13:00 hrs, we were now heading to...
c. Royal Takin Preserve, Motithang -
( Entry Fees - Rs100 or 100Nu/person)
Which is home to the national animal of Bhutan. Takin is an endangered species whose head looks like a goat and body of a cow. We didn't enter the preserve and took shots of takin from a distance, as our time was precious. In my opinion, this can be skipped if you are short on time. Then, we headed for our next stop...
d. Royal Textile Museum
( Entry Fees - Rs 50 or 50Nu/person)
Its a museum dedicated to the textile history and culture of bhutan. Here, you could learn about the process of weaving of bhutan traditional dresses, Gho(for men) & kira(for women). Ground floor of the museum is dedicated to royal Gho, that includes the wedding dresses worn by the king and his wives. Upper floor focusses on traditional dresses, weaving techniques etc. The museum also have a shop where you could purchase some interesting books and hand-made textiles & jewellery. However, photography NOT allowed. This stop will take your 15-20 minutes, without wasting much time we headed for our next stop...
e. Changangkha Lhakhang Monastery
( Entry Fees - zero)
This was our first visit to a bhutanese buddhist monastery, situated over a ridge in Central Thimphu. The atmosphere was very calm and peaceful humming with pilgrims activity. Traditionally, parents come here to get auspicious names for their newborns or seek blessings for their children from the protector deity Tamdrin. Monastery was surrounded by a lane full of black and gold prayer wheels. Its a ritual to spin prayer wheels in clockwise direction so as to accumulate good karma and purifies negativities(bad karma). This place gives a serene view of central thimphu, we clicked some selfies and landscape shots and then headed for our next stop...
f. Simply Bhutan
( Entry Fees - Rs 300 or 300Nu/person)
Its a museum cum restraunt that also showcases an art gallery that would provide an enriching bhutanese experience. Here, you would get acquainted with a brief history of Bhutanese culture and tradition through artifacts, music, dance performances, food, games and much more. Firstly, we were served with traditional wine in a traditional cup as a welcome drink, then a brief introduction began on various aspects including art, dance, music,weapons, utensils etc. The brief chat ended with an amazing game of archery. Here, you could also try traditional bhutanese dresses. The place is a must visit for sure, would take 30-45 mins of your time. Then we headed for our next stop...
g. National Folk Heritage Museum
( Entry Fees- Rs 30 or 30Nu/person)
Again one of the museum dedicated to preserving the traditional and ethical values of indigenous and rustic lifestyle of bhutanese people. Here, you will learn about 17th century household tools and farming equipments, leopard skin bags, yak hair hats,
Water mill stone and much more. You would also find the courtyard full of apple trees. However, plucking of apples is strictly prohibited. This place could be skipped if you are short on time. Soon, we headed for our next stop...
h. Tashichho Dzong-
( Entry Fees - Rs 500 or 500Nu/person)
It's a fortress located at the banks of river Wang Chhu. It serves as a monastery and also as the main secretariat for Bhutanese government in summer. It also has a throne room which serves as the seat for the ruling monarch. Its one of the most beautiful dzong in bhutan. It was around 17:00hours. and we were lucky to witness the royal change-of-guard/ flag de-hoisting ceremony from one of the view points, it was such an exciting experience. Its a bliss for photographers to capture spectacular views of the beautiful dzong standing tall amidst nature. In the night, the fortress gets completely lit-up giving a magical appearance and breathtaking views to the eyes.
Things to remember- Always be in proper formals and never point fingers to anyone inside the dzong.
Its a must visit place. Till now we had covered almost all the view-points and there was still some time left for the sunset, so we decided to visit the market area of thimphu, so now we headed for...
i. Clock Tower Square, Central Thimphu
It is one of the most popular site among visitors, surrounded by hotels, restraunts, cafe's and souvenir shops. People usually visit here in the evening to enjoy the night life, to attend a concert or a play(if only you're lucky), to spend some priceless moments, to go out for shopping or for some hangout plans. There are nice and affordable restraunts in abundance around the clock tower that offer delicious bhutanese as well as indian delicacies.
After spending some quality time here, at around 18:30 hours. we headed back to the hotel. The sun began to lose its shine behind the mountains, darkness slowly began to take cover over the city, citylights undergoing transition to illumination, it was like a Hide & Seek game in motion. With our day coming to an end, we had already started thinking about the dinner. After reaching hotel, we had tea/coffee that refreshens us slightly, a session of watsapp calls(thanks to hotel wifi),and then had light dinner.
Thimphu had an enthralling nightlife,ranging from casual bars to nightclubs featuring live music, dj sets and plenty of good times. Locally produced drinks were served here such as Druk lager(beer) and whiskey K5. However, you could also prefer red wine and peach wine which you could readily get from the liquor store at an affordable price.
Today was a slumber day, with no time for rest. We covered most of thimphu today, pleased with ourselves, now its time to fall onto the beds and get drifted to deep sleep.
# Bhutan doesn't have traffic signals... Seriously!!..m i not kidding??? Yes, every single one, including the children follow the traffic rules.
# You wouldn't find KFC, Macdonald's, Burgerking, Starbucks or any other western food chain in Thimphu.
# Cars like landcruiser & nissan leaf is a common sight here, which we don't normally see in India.