Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,October,November,December
One would assume that Thimphu is still settling into its role as the capital of one of the happiest countries in the world, Bhutan. Simple at heart, grappling with growing commercialisation, Thimphu is bustling with energy and is the heart of the country. Thimphu is a delight to explore if history interests you and also if you want a break from the quiet and serenity of Bhutan. Brimming with cafes, nightclubs and restaurants, the city welcomes people from all over the world with open arms. While here, do check out Changangkha Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the National Folk Heritage Museum which offers a peek into the life of the Bhutanese people, especially the rural way of life. There are tons of parks, gardens and galleries in and around Thimpu and you cover most of these in a single day depending on your interests. The exhibits here range from archaic to contemporary and are definitely worth taking a look at.
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Bhutan has gradually become a popular tourist destination. And if you are visiting Bhutan, you can't possibly miss the lovely city of Paro. Considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, it is definitely a must visit! A perfect mix of culture, beauty, nature and history, Paro offers you an experience unlike another. Do visit the unofficial Taktsang Monastery or Tiger's Nest, which is a delight for trekkers and explorers! Located on a hill, the trek to this monastery is something you'll always remember. Do carry water, wear proper shoes before you start your trek lest the number of halts increases your trek time. Another wonderful place to visit is the National Museum of Bhutan which is located in a former watch tower and hosts a collection of artefacts tracing the history of Bhutan. Among other places to visit, Rinpung Dzong and Drakhapo are definitely worth visiting. The Paro market is also a great place to explore and makes for a perfect location for an evening stroll. If you don't want to stay in the city, Paro is where you should head to. The lush valleys here are a delight to explore and the streams and meadows are nothing less than a postcard.
Best time to visit - March,April,May,September,October,November
Nestled in the midst of the breathtaking sceneries of Bhutan, Punakha is famous for its picturesque beauty and Buddhist majestic dzongs. Among the many fascinating things to explore here is the Punakha Dzong, which is a stunning piece of architecture with an amazing view of the sparkling water. This dzong or palace is also the administrative centre of the Punakha district. Discover your spiritual self at the Chimi L'hakhang Temple, which can be reached by hiking through some charming paddy fields. The Punakha suspension bridge here gives you a perfect bird's-eye view of the surrounding mountains and the magnificent river flowing below. This bridge is an adventure in itself, and is definitely not for the faint hearted! You can enjoy some river rafting at the Druk Rafting Service, which makes for a fantastic experience. Although the rapids are small, but they are enough to get the adrenalin flowing! Punakha is an ideal destination to savour the authentic flavours of Bhutan. The Chimi Lakhang Cafeteria and Dochula Resort Restaurant are great for some authentic food. Since Punakha is quite popular with tourists, one can easily find suitable accommodation here. Endowed with natural beauty, Punakha is sure to make for a memorable trip!
Best time to visit - March,April,May,September,October
A thriving commercial centre and a gentle mix of various ethnicities, Phuentsholing is a beautiful small town located in southern Bhutan. This is the town where the gorgeous big Bhutan gate is located and also where you can get your visa to visit Bhutan. While you wait for the visa, you can visit the Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang, a small temple representing the heaven of Guru Rinpoche, located at the city centre. This temple houses statues of manifestations of Guru Rinpoche and paintings on Buddha's life and times. The Kharbandi Goemba situated in the city is a charming monastery illustrating the life of the Buddha. From the monastery garden, you can get a fascinating view of Phuentsholing town and its surrounding plains. The local landscape and markets are fun to explore and offer the first peak in Bhutanese life! Phuentsholing has a great food scene as well. Don't forget to try the delicious meat dumplings and the chicken corn soup at the Zen restaurant. Once you are done exploring the quaint towns and completing all government formalities, take a bus or cab forward to visit Paro or Thimphu.
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Lying on the India-Bhutan border, Jaigaon is not a tourist place, but is frequented by tourists on their way to Bhutan. The border area is the location of the majestic Bhutan gate, which brings you face to face with Bhutanese architecture. The gateway is covered in beautiful illustrations of dragons and has authentic Bhutanese artwork all over it. The town has many small and big hotels, where you can halt the night before moving on to get the visa at Phuentsholing, on the other side of the gate. The border area has some street side food stalls, which sell momos and chowmein. The Jaigaon region is quite small and can be easily covered on foot. This destination also houses the very unique Dalsinghpara Buddist church, which is an amazing amalgamation of Buddhist engineering and Christian spirit.
We crossed the second highest motorable road too, stopping at Dochula to enjoy a 360 degree view of the Himalayas. A hundred and eight chortens have been built as memorials for Bhutanese kings marking the auspicious place. A photography session was conducted with all the riders.
Reaching Trongsa (Stats) - Distance : 350 kms, Time : 14 hours, Checkpoints crossed : 2 (Sarbang and Cheso Pani), Casualities : 1.Anand from the group met with a severe accident fracturing his shin bone. Our doctor acted timely and got him to a medical facility nearby. He had to be sent back to India for surgery. He is recovering fast. God bless him!
Khuruthan Lhakhang, a newly built temple is not very popular. It was built by queen’s mother and consecrated in 2005. In the complex there’s a large nepali style chorten said to be built by an Indian guru.
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,July
Lush greenery, refreshing sights and a town dipped in Buddhist culture, Jakar in Bhutan is a delight. If you are looking for a quiet, peaceful escape, perhaps there is no better option than this cluster of villages. Housing numerous monasteries and places of religious importance, including Kurje Lhakhang, one of Bhutan's most sacred monasteries, Jambey Lhakhang, Tamshing Gompa and Zangtopelri Lhakhang, these places are a must visit. The monasteries represent different facets of Buddhist culture and a visit to these sites will remain with you for a long time. Do plan your itinerary after consulting the locals since there are some norms and rules that every Buddhist town usually follows. The main bazaar here is another interesting aspect of this bustling town. A visit here will give you a peek into the daily lives of the locals and also an opportunity to connect with the energy of Jakar. You can buy woollen garments, wooden items and souvenirs from the emporiums here. There are quite a few guesthouses here – though they offer everything you may need for a comfortable stay, they are far from super luxurious. The village believes in simple living and everything here represents the elements and essence of Buddhism.
Getting to Phajoding Monastery, located at a height 3500 meters, is one of the best day hikes you can undertake while in Thimphu. The monastery serves as a school and orphanage for young Buddhist monks. I was lucky enough to climb the harsh, muddy and narrow trail leading up to the monastery in the clouds. Truly worth a climb as I had an interesting conversation about life, Buddhist principles and gifted my copy of Mahatma Gandhi's Book "My Experiments With truth" to Lama Namgay Tenzin.
Lobesa - Metsina
The next morning welcomed us with some of the most beautiful sceneries. The endless mountain ranges quite far off, having their peaks covered with snow which glittered with the first rays of sun. It was truly amazing for us, for we has never seen such beauty of Mother Nature.