Hi, My name is Raghav Rai Ralhan, A businessman / Photographer. Recently I have started travelling to capture more than just my daily life images. And this Post is about my second trip so far To BHUTAN.
So I started my trip by getting on a flight from Delhi to Bagdogra(Siliguri). BTW my flight trip was a prize that I won on a travel photography contest held by Tripoto.com . So the flight takes only two hours but the actual journey starts after it. I was traveling with a group of people so there was these cute buses allotted to us.
it took us almost six hours to reach the Bhutan Gate. At around 7pm we checked in our hotel the Hotel Tsheringma in Phuntsholing , Bhutan. Had dinner there and went to sleep.
On the second day the journey was still incomplete as we had to reach Thimphu the capital of Bhutan. But first we all had to visit the immigration office ourselves and get the permits. After that we started our rest of the journey to Thimphu.
After a really long drive filled with mountains we reached our second hotel, Hotel Silverpine. It is located just outside the Thimphu City's Gate.
The Memorial Chorten is a stupa in Thimphu, Bhutan, located on Doeboom Lam in the southern-central part of the city near the main roundabout and Indian military hospital. The stupa, built in 1974 to honor the third Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–1972), is a prominent landmark in the city with its golden spires and bells. It is popularly known as "the most visible religious landmark in Bhutan" as you can see its in the center of the valley surrounded by hills. The Entry Fee for this monument was Rs300 for Indians and was different for people of other countries.
Inside there were all the locals walking around the stupa praying quietly, they had to complete a certain amount of circles while praying which I tried to show by the shot above. other than this one more thing I found facinating was that the lawn was cleared by the locals using their hands. they were manually plucking the grass in order to keep the lawn clear. Which I guess just makes them more down to earth.
The Great Buddha Dordenma. It is a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue in the mountains of Bhutan. It was placed there as celebrating the 60th anniversary of fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck. It's the biggest Statues of Buddha in this position at 177feet or 54 meters. The location of this statue is something that will make you sit there for a while. you can enjoy a great scenic view of the mountains from there. Below the statue is a temple which you can visit free of cost but like any other temple no video or photos are allowed to be taken.
After spending almost half of our day on these two places we decided to spend the rest of the time in the City. as it was lunch time and we were staving for some good food we asked our driver to take us some place really good and that's exactly what he did.
At Burger Point I ordered this burger for myself and when it came to the table it was like the burgers you see only in commercials And it tasted even better. After enjoying every bite of this burger we decided to have a walk around the clock tower which is in the center of the city. Now one thing you'll notice if you are walking in the cities of Bhutan is that there are no traffic signals, there are just the zebra crossings which both pedestrians and the drivers respects a lot . People cross the road by only walking on the zebra crossings and drivers respectfully stop and let pedestrians pass first.
I got some street shots and then just sat down and enjoyed the environment. All the buildings have the cultural elements and the mountains surrounding them all gives such a warm feeling.
After that on our way back the driver took us to a view point from where the Tashichho Dzong was visible.
It was built by the first Dharma Raja, who also founded the Lho-drukpa sect of Buddhism, which has remained the distinctive sect of Bhutan. The main structure of the whitewashed building is two-storied with three-storied towers at each of the four corners topped by triple-tiered golden roofs. We didn't get a chance to go inside this as it was late so we went to our resort and had complete rest for the journey tomorrow.
The Dochula Pass is a mountain pass in the snow covered Himalayas within Bhutan on the road from Thimpu to Punakha where 108 memorial chortens or stupas known as "Druk Wangyal Chortens" have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother.
It was really cloudy that day as clouds were touching our feet so we couldn't view the Himalayan range which is visible from this point.
The dzong houses the sacred relics of the southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, including the Rangjung Kasarpani and the sacred remains of Ngawang Namgyal and the tertön Pema Lingpa. You will get to know all about it's history when you'll enter inside . The guides make sure that you know all about this beautiful place. And whenevr you visit the Dzong make sure to go inside the Temples as well the guides will give you meanings of all the statues and the paintings inside the temples. And believe me listings to those stories and viewing those paintings and Statues is a treat in itself.
After spending a substantial amount of time there we started our journey back to our resort in Thimphu. And on the way we stopped for the infamous Fertility temple. it's a little hike that you have to do in order to reach the temple but when you come from 2000kms away like me 30-40 mins of hiking wont stop you. Inside the temple there's nothing much to see and it's only a place to visit if you want to have a baby and need a blessing for that. In short you can skip this one if you want.
On reaching back to our resort in thimphu we packed our bags and left for the Next city right away.
Paro is a historic town with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered throughout the area. It is also home to Paro Airport, Bhutan's only and International airport.
There too we were staying at the Silverpine resorts.
the first site we visited there was the national museum. it is located above the Paro Dzong giving the nice view of the whole town. the museum is full of traditional masks used in all the festivals along with the wildlife of bhutan. Plus if you are an Indian you also might be interested in watching the gallery based on 50 years of friendship between Bhutan and India. And obviously you cannot carry any kind of cameras inside.
Our next destination was the Paro Dzong itself. also known as Rinpung Dzong is like all the others Dzongs a Buddhist monastery and fortress of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school in Paro District. From inside the difference is only of the size ither than that all the dzongs in bhutan are made on the same layout. What you can look for inside is old temples and Monks. And if you are a photographer like me , Monks are all you need.
After our visit to the fort we went to one of the oldest temple in Bhutan the Temple of Kyichu. and like all the temples no photography was allowed inside still I got a shot of the very famous Orange tree which bear fruit all year long. and if the fruit falls on you then it is said that you are a blessed soul.
The Famous Orange tree
in case you are wondering , no it did not fall on me or anyone from my group. Don't judge us until you visit the place yourself. BTW the other specialty of this temple is that all the paintings and statues inside have never been restored.
After our complete day of city tour we went to the main city to have our dinner and we went to one of the most famous cafes in bhutan the Mountain Cafe.
At the cafe I ordered this burger which cost me Rs400 but believe me it was completely worth it. You'll never know when it'll fill up your stomach. So after filling up my stomach we all went back to our hotel to have for the toughest challenge of our trip.
For the sixth and our last day in Bhutan we had to climb up 3000 feet hiking around 3 kilometers one side. And hiking from 7000 feet above sea level to 10,000 feet above sea level will give you a challenge. You'll see a flee market at the starting point which you should only visit when you come back from the temple because hiking with extra things is just stupid. With thye market you'll also get the Handmade hiking sticks and Horses if you wanna opt for that. The sticks were for Rs50 and the horse ride will cost you Rs500 which can only take you upto the cafe which is in the middle of the trek. So like all the youngsters we took the sticks and began our trek. it took us more than an hour to reach the mid point cafe but judging from the view it all seemed worth the trouble.
And then after another hour and a half of hiking I saw the Temple up-close for the first time.
I had seen so many pictures from the exact same point I was standing on but still it looked so beautiful and peaceful like I had actually achieved something by getting myself up there. Even from this last view point there are many strais you have to go down to in order to reach the temple and once you get there you'll have to submit all your cameras at the front door.
And finally we entered the temple. The entry fee was Rs500 which you have to pay at a booth on the very starting of the hike. But I suppose all that money goes into the up-keep of this beautiful temple on the cliff.
Inside the temple there were many rooms and some of them were really very interesting. Like the one where the actual Tiger's nest was. I didn't get to see the cave were the Guru actually meditated but you can see it when it opens during the festival which is celebrated in Paro valley in months of March or April. Other than this there are many different complex that you can visit and listen stories of. The overall location and the positive energy of the place makes you forget about the three hour long hike that you do in order to reach there.
After spending our time in the temple we walked down to the parking lot and finally did some shopping. Now one thing to keep in mind while shopping in Bhutan is that most of the stuff is imported from India only even many statues of Buddha , so keep an eye open for stuff made in Bhutan itself. After that we went back to the Hotel and Had rest.
On the last day we left the Hotel nearly 5 am in order to reach the Siliguri Airport for my flight which was scheduled for 6:30 pm. It took us almost eleven hours to reach the airport when we made three stops. two for tea and snacks and one for lunch. But all I did was thanked my bus driver for getting us to the airport before the time.
This is my first time sharing my travel experience with everyone. Hope you guys had a nice time reading it. If you want to see more pictures from my Bhutan and other trips, Do check out my Instagram Handle @Raghav.Rai.Ralhan .