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292 Kms from Lhasa
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 wor...
3. Colours of Tshechu: Tshechu is the annual religious festival celebrated in every district of Bhutan. Colourful mask dances and other religious rituals are the main attraction of every Tshechu. The Tshechus are organized in honour of Guru Rimpoche. Every Dzong organizes Tshechu at different times of the year so one can plan the trip accordingly. We planned our trip during Thimphu Tshechu and attended the first day of Thimphu Tsechu. The courtyard of the Thimphu Dzong was packed with both locals and tourists. The locals came dressed in their colourful traditional attires and jewellery and took part in the festival with lots of funfairs. We too enjoyed every moment of this colourful extravaganza.
First thing we did was to submit a copy of our permits and fill a permit entry form for visiting Punakha & Haa Valley at the Immigration office. This is a very quick and easy process. Take photocopy of the permits (stamped at various checkposts) and submit. You’ll get your permit within an hour. You can also collect the same by evening.Places to visit in Thimphu1. National Heritage Museum: This is a good place to learn about Bhutanese heritage. You can see the display of tools used, taste Ara (Rice wine), etc. Entry Fee: Rs. 502. Art & Crafts School: Here you can witness live painting by students of this art school. An interesting place located opposite the heritage museum. Entry Fee: Rs. 100
Thimphu:We took one of those share-taxis amply available in the city to reach Thimphu the next morning. Thimphu is a city like no other. It is a capital with no traffic signals! A capital with only traffic police whistling to control traffic. We were lucky as the time we went in (September end) happened to be during their festive season. Hence we got to see the famous traditional masked dance happening in the Tashichö Dzong.
The one hour ride takes you to Thimphu, the capital city. For visiting the village of Punakha, you have to apply for another permit at the Immigration office in Thimphu, which I did on arrival. Later I hired a taxi to visit Buddha Dordenma, a huge Budha statue on the top of a hill.
DAY 5: THIMPUThere aren’t a lot of places to cover in Thimpu. You will be able to cover all the places in 1 day itself.Incase you plan to go to Punakha or any other places in Bhutan, please apply for a permit in Thimpu. It shouldn’t take more than 30 mins for you to get a permit.
You will have enough time to explore Paro (visit Tiger’s Nest perhaps!) and still reach Thimpu in time, because Paro to Thimpu is a short stretch of nearly 50km, and a smooth highway connecting two cities is moreover the best in the country, thus saving you enough time no matter when you leave.Since Paro has the only international airport in Bhutan, and Thimpu is the capital, the highway moreover stays good in shape throughout the year. It takes one and a half to two hours to travel between the two cities.
Day 3, Nov 3rd, 2017: Our hotel was right opposite to the clock tower which is supposed to be the most happening area of Thimphu. We strolled in the beautiful clean streets of Norzing Lam, which was surrounded by green mountains & pine trees everywhere. The mountains were running parallel to the road & the air was so fresh that you instantly will feel the happiness within you. We were amused to find that at 08:00 hrs no shop is open for breakfast or anything. They have this protocol of everything opening at 09:00, to which they strictly adhere to..Sharp at 09:00, we met Vishnu, our trip guide at the reception of the hotel. His attire, posture, body language everything was very formal & gentle.
The bus dropped us at the taxi stand in Thimphu by 7:30 pm. Our hotel was about 2 kms from the bus stop. While we were bargaining with the taxi driver, someone asked us if we wanted a lift to the hotel. My friend was a bit sceptical as we were new to the place and being from India, it is not easy to trust strangers; but later we agreed to take the lift. While driving us to the hotel, he introduced himself as the Chief Auditing Commissioner of Bhutan. Yes, that was when we realized how helpful Bhutanese people are to their guests. He not only dropped us to the hotel but also helped us plan places we should be visiting the next day.
308 Kms from Lhasa
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 l...
1. Trek to the Takstang Monastery: Takstang monastery or the Tiger’s Nest is the most iconic monument of Bhutan. So a trip to Bhutan, without visiting this sacred monastery will be incomplete. Located outside the Paro town this monastery can only be reached on foot. Although the two hours (or maybe more) trek to reach the top may sound difficult for many, but it is worth the effort. Just like the exteriors even the interior sections of this monastery are also magnificent. Our guide explained the importance of all the sections and also shared some of the beliefs associated with the monastery. It is incredible, how the monks build such a massive structure on such a high cliff of a mountain.
Paro:This is where you land if you fly into the country. This beautiful little city located 2 hours away from the capital city is right next to the river, the Paro chu. As we reached by midnight the first thing we saw there was the Dzong beautifully lit in all its beauty.
Paro Tsechu Festival : Paro Dzong also houses “Paro Tsechu” the annual paro festival during the month of March/April. So, when we reached there, the area was swarming in vibrant colours and happy people. Unfortunately, we got a bit delayed after an exhilarating hike to tiger’s nest that we missed witnessing the mask dance performance. But, we did manage to see some other traditional dance performances.
DAY 4 : PAROTaktshang Monastery/Tiger’s Nest : The most photographed place in Bhutan. It clings to a cliff which is 3120 meters above the sea level. Legends says that Guru Rinpoche, father of Bhutanese Buddhism arrived here million years ago on the back of a tigress and meditated at this place
Day 3: The plan was to cover Paro, Thimpu and Punakha, in order. But rarely things go as per the plan. For eg: We had planned to reach Paro by noon, see a couple of places and do Tiger’s nest the next day. But, the immigration formalities took longer than expected, we ended up reaching Paro by evening, leaving us just 1 day to cover Paro including the tiring hike to Tiger’s nest. First because we landed on a weekend and wasting a day for the permit, second the never ending wait for the permit. Sigh!Okay! Coming to actually how day 3 went was as follows. We reached the immigration office at sharp 8.30 am, but there were already a so many people waiting before us. But, that didn’t really make a difference because as soon as they opened the shutter at 9 am, everyone just rushed in. It’s a huge mess inside, completely unorganised, people are clueless what’s the procedure and just chaos. The permit would have taken just an hour, if not for the uncivilized mad rush, it took us almost 4 hours. By the time, we got the permit it was 12.30 pm.Without wasting much time, we immediately called our driver and headed straight for Paro. The drive from Phuetsoling to Paro is beyond beautiful. As we moved further away from the border, the landscape became divine and air deeply serene. On the drive, the river flowed gently by the road overlooking rugged mountains. You will encounter small waterfalls and fresh streams of water on the way.
The journey to Paro to Phuentsholing takes nearly 4 hour if you’re driving, or 6 hours if you’re taking a public bus. The journey is rather impressive and enjoyable. From the sea level of Phuentsholing you only pretty much go uphill throughout the journey before you end up a much colder town of Paro located at 2100+ meter altitude above the sea level.The well maintained four way highway, built by Indian Border Road Organisation (BRO), moreover makes Phuentsholing to Paro & Thimpu a very sought after Himalayan Roads for motorbikers in India wanting to ride in Bhutan.Day 2: Paro To Thimpu
Paro to tiger’s nest (40 kilometers ride and 4-5 kilometers trek)The last time I had visited Takstang Monastery, also known as The Tiger’s Nest, I was mesmerized by it and I wanted Swatabdi to witness the same. We first rode to the Drugyel Dzong which is a monastery which was burnt in a fire and now lay in ruins. We then proceeded to the base of the trek to the Tiger’s nest. The difficulty level of the trek to Tiger’s nest is slightly higher because of the altitude and the steep trail. Huffing and puffing we kept walking one step at a time. Swatabdi felt like quitting the trek a couple of times but I etched her on. The sight of the monastery which kept getting bigger and bigger was also inspiring. After almost 4 hours we saw the awe-inspiring view of the monastery. I fail to fathom the effort taken to build this monastery so high in the mountain. The monastery seems as though it is almost hanging on a cliff and can fall down to the deep valley below any moment! The trek was worth the effort. The trek downhill was slightly easier and we reached the base late in the evening. The rest of the evening we spent riding around in Paro and watching the beautiful Paro Dzong and the national museum which were lit up with vibrant lights in the night. We had hired the motorcycle for 16 days which meant that this was the last day of our trip. We celebrated the last 15 days over my favorite beer, the Druk 11000; and a plate of delicious momos.
Jaigaon to Paro (180 kilometers)The embassy at Phuntsholing opens at 10 AM and we reached there at 9:45 hoping to be among the first people to get the permits. We were proven terribly wrong when we saw that there about a thousand people already waiting. The situation was similar to a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata. There was utter chaos. No one knew what to do or whom to approach for the permits. What made it worse was that there were agents who were standing in the queue with dozens of applications in their hands. For hours we stood in various queues which didn’t move an inch. There was a lot of pushing, shoving and shouting happening which pissed off Swatabdi. She went inside the embassy and somehow caught hold of an influential female officer and explained to her our situation rather sternly. In no time a new counter was opened for female applicants who were not in large groups and we managed to get our permits from that counter. By this time it was late evening and we rushed to the RTO office to get the permit for our motorcycle. There was a queue of drivers waiting for us and the office hours were coming to a close. Swatabdi again used the feminine card and we got preferential treatment and our permit was among the last to get approved that evening. Thousands had applied to visit Bhutan that day; only a lucky few were allowed to enter. While coming back from the RTO office I cut my toenail with the sharp side stand of the motorcycle and started our ride to Paro with a shoe on one leg and a bandaged toe in a flipflop on the other. We started for Paro with dying sunlight and braced ourselves for a cold ride. There was a brief spell of rain which made it worse. An hour into the ride my foot went numb. I somehow shoved my bandaged foot inside my shoe and continued riding. Thankfully the roads in Bhutan are good which made it easier to ride in the night. The cold though was still unforgiving. We reached Paro at 8:30 in the night and found most hotels to be either closed or fully occupied. Shivering and shaking we moved from one hotel to the other in search of a room. At a certain hotel Paro, the owner of the hotel took pity on our shivering souls and offered us a place to stay in the roof attic where the employees sleep. We took it! With temperatures dipping below zero and the roof attic becoming really cold, we tugged ourselves in the quilt, hugged each other tight and slept. It was a truly long day!
The morning drive from Thimphu to Paro was exciting. Paro is a very small town compared to Thimphu. Thimphu has ATMs but I found few in Paro. Once reached, I set out for Chelela Pass. Clouds were floating by and freezing wind was blowing. In the midst, prayer flags were fluttering as if they were protectors of this remote and mythical land.
246 Kms from Lhasa
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,July,August,September,October
Tawang has always been in the midst of conflict and controversy. But if you look beyond the controversy, you'll discover...
We reached Tawang at around 2:30 pm and then start deciding for the next day trip up to Bum La Pass.2 of us were involved in formalities to get id proofs and ILP copies. Apart from ILP, a separate pass is required to go up to Bum La pass, near Chinese border which gets done by the taxi drivers on the day of travel with both id proof and ILP copies. Meanwhile,i started looking for stay options nearby and luckily got one named Hotel Massang, near the bus stand again.My friends also got stay in the same hotel. I had lunch and was determined to cover at least something nearby the same day.I walked up to the Giant Buddha statue nearby. Tawang has some shortcuts with stairs leading up to higher altitude places. The stairs can be quite slippery, plus the dogs were a bit hostile as well. I fell twice while climbing these shortcuts. But all the effort put in led me to a pretty spectacle.
Bum La Pass (37 km)Early morning ( by that I mean 8.30 am ) we left for another picturesque ride to the Indo-China border at Bum La Pass. A permit from the Army is required to visit this place and can be obtained from Tawang a day in advance.Our first pit stop was the Army Canteen. Every time I meet the Army men I feel this sense of awe at their joviality despite living in such adverse conditions and in such extreme situations. They enlightened us about the tribulations of living at an elevation of around 15,000 ft. It's not just the stress from human sources but the strain of mother nature that they have to endure. Sub-zero temperature, hypoxia leading to dyspnea (difficulty in breathing), and sleepless nights. A big salute to their courage, tolerance, and sacrifices!The army canteen had some mouth-watering samosa (kept us returning for it!), momos, Maggie and brewing chai for us and some awesome army goodies at bargainous prices. Like I got this incredible jacket which managed to keep me warm even in the sub-zero temperature and protected me from the glacial winds. Just for 700 bucks. Deal of the year!The road to Bum la is horrendous. I felt like the roads just kept getting worse and worse with each passing day. The sadistic universe must have been like, "Oh you survived that, let's throw something worse at you."But then again, the universe must be bipolar. Cause it threw at us the most pristine of places which took out breaths away. Quite literally! There are numerous lakes en route. Good luck with counting them cause I lost my count.
After two days of transit riding we were starting for the first “destination” of the trip. We had a comfortable start from Bomdilla and enjoyed the views of the Himalayas. However, the road was a mixture of broken tarmac and unforgiving off roads which made us cover distances at a very slow pace. About 100 kms from Bomdilla we reached the highest point of the trip at Se La at 13700 feet above sea level. We spent considerable time at Se La by enjoying the ride around the paradise lake and clicking loads of pictures and videos of the milestone boards and the gate welcoming us to Tawang. When we were having a cup of tea at the cafeteria at Se La, a biker coming from Tawang came to us with a very grim and tensed look. He gave us a very stern warning about a patch of black ice about 2 kilometers before Jaswantgarh and advised us to be very cautious at that stretch. This made us a little worried and we immediately started towards Tawang without wasting any more time. We counted down the kilometers to Jaswantgarh and the warning turned out to be true! There was a stretch of around 250 meters of very slippery and very dangerous black ice on the road. The condition was so bad that it was even difficult to walk on that stretch without slipping. Thankfully, we had the company of Tejas who helped me to push the heavy Royal Enfield step by step across that stretch of black ice. It was a physically exhausting experience! We thought that the worst was over and we were relieved and continued towards Tawang. This turned out to be a big mistake as there were many other small but invisible stretches of black ice all along and we weren’t as cautious as we should have been. At one such descent, there was a small stretch of black ice right before a turn. I braked to slow the motorcycle down to take the turn and before we knew it, BAM! We found ourselves on the ground with the motorcycle on top of us and the cliff only a couple of few feet away! In spite of all its flaws, one of the advantages of the Royal Enfield is that one can add large sized crash guards. Fortunately for us, the team at Destination Adventure had installed these large crash guards which were covered with a rubber mesh which along with the panniers helped us walk out of the crash with minor bruises. We were startled to say the least and then started to ride extremely cautiously. Our tensed nerves were relieved when we reached the Nuranang waterfalls at Jang. Since it was winter we could not see the waterfall in its full glory but it was beautiful nevertheless! We finally reached Tawang, the town which we had been dreaming off, at around 7 PM. It was already dark and there was not much to do. At dinner Tejas and Shashank gave us valuable tips about our onward journey to Meghalaya. They also advised us to not take too much stress as it was supposedly a “honeymoon ride” and not a test of endurance. To which we jokingly replied that we have had our share of relaxed holidays and we wanted to have a honeymoon unlike anyone else’s. We had a satisfying sleep that night.
I spent a day in Tawang exploring its famous monastery. It's massive, to say the least. The Tawang Monastery is said to be the largest in India and the 2nd largest in the world.
The picturesque town of Tawang. It is known for its tranquil beauty and vibrant soothing energy. Talk of the hospitality or the amiable nature of the residents, the towering mountains overhead or the speeding thundering valleys. Tawang touches your soul in every amazing way.Rediscovering Northeast. 'Tawang', A MUST visit.
I somehow knew that my scars would continue to fester until I embraced a geographical change. Well, recruiting friends for company is difficult with most of them busy with their jobs, some were broke and a few simply not the game for it. I faced with the dilemma of whether to sulk in unhealthy dose of self pity or travel without a company. It didn't took me long to recognise that travelling made room for much needed self-reflection and a decluttering of the mind. I was pretty much impressed by Buddhism on my earlier trips to Ladakh. My Boss was kind enough to give me a 7 day break to reboot and refresh my mind for I had not taken a vacation in the past 6 months. Tawang was a natural choice for me, though the region is prone to heavy rains and landslides during May-June. I was skeptic about the whole idea initially, but the vision of beautiful valleys and lakes for photography was too exciting. How to reach Tawang?The nearest airport is Tezpur which is about 300 km away. In addition, there are a very few flights to Tezpur from rest of India. The best option, therefore is Guwahati which has one of the busiest airports in the entire northeast. Guwahati is located 480 km from Tawang and is connected to all the major cities in India. One can drive down to Tezpur from Guwahati Airport, which is about 4 hours away. Tata Sumo, Mahindra Bolero or Maruti Eeco are easily available for hire from Tezpur to Tawang. Taxis charge approximately ₹ 7k-8k. It's a 16 hours long journey from Tezpur to Tawang which holds you tight with its unparalleled beauty and the gift of nature displayed in every inch of the land. On the way, you would be able to see the beautiful Tenga Valley, Bomdila, the spectacular Sela Pass and lake, the Jaswantgarh Memorial and the famous Nuranang or Jang falls. While at Tawang A lot of good hotels are available in Tawang which provide comfortable stay and great food as well with charges ranging from ₹ 1000- 3000 per night. It gets extremely cold at night so carrying woollens and warm clothes is a must. The hotels generally have tie ups with local travel agents to provide vehicles to visit in and around Tawang. They charge around ₹4000-5000 to take you to all the places around Tawang which includes the Tawang Monastery, Tawang War Memorial, Bum La, Taktsang Gompa, Shongatser Lake and Pankang Teng Tso. The journey from Tawang to Shongatser lake is a mesmerising one with a number of isolated lakes and beautiful valleys. The best time to visit Tawang is Feb-Mar, Oct-Nov and Apr-July. You got to watch out for extreme cold and unhygienic roadside food. And hey, the civilians require something known as the Inner Line Permit (ILP), as Tawang is located near the international border with China. ILP can be easily obtained from Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Tezpur and the Tawang district headquarters It takes approximately 10-12 hours for the process. It's the best to apply for it at Tawang itself as you can plan a day out there itself. For more details you can visit the Arunachal Pradesh tourism website. Tawang is a heaven for photographers and nature lovers out there. Don't forget to carry your medicines for motion sickness, sun-tan lotion, sun hat, goggles, raincoat and an umbrella. For all you hesitant solo travellers, don't let your fear stop you. Travelling solo allows us to know ourselves a little better. And, remember you hold the power to your feelings and being your own doesn't equate with loneliness. So, chuck that damn phone away and strike a conversation with yourself. Bon Voyage!
Since I had to return the next day, I got in touch with the one of the local tour operators for my return to Tezpur. Next day morning I boarded the cab from the guest house and said good bye to our beautiful host Dehra Lama and he wished me all the best in his own unique gesture of folding the hand. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture with him (forgot to take one).Being a curious guy myself to know more about the places and people. I had good interaction with the migrants here (mainly Bengalis and Biharis) and how they have come to be here and doing business. Also, interacted with ITBP personnel and his experience. All these talks gives us a fresh perspective into a life outside ours and changes our thinking in some way or the other.I stayed overnight in Tezpur at one of the guest house nearby the bus stand. Next morning, I took the Volvo to Guwahati and then reached airport in a cab to board my flight in the afternoon.My journey ended with lots of beautiful memories which I have tried to put above. I would suggest to go out and explore. Life is meant to be enjoyed and experienced and what better way than travelling and meeting people.I am now locating a new place to visit. Signing off. Inbox me for contacts and any suggestions if you want visiting these places.
TawangAfter 5 long hours of driving through the hilly terrain we reached our elusive destination Tawang. Tawang is synonymous with the Tawang Monastery, the mammoth structure very easily visible from far away in the hills. It is the soul of the Tawang hill people. Spirituality flows from here. The monastery is the 2nd largest in the world after the Potala palace in Lhasa.
After Sela you will pass the Jaswant Singh War Memorial. He fought the Chinese in the Sino-Indian war of 1962. You can google more on this place. Jaswant Singh has been elevated to the position of a saint and the local believe that he protects the valley from disaster. This war memorial has on the outside beautiful quotes engraved on the walls and the stones. One thing in Buddhism is that they have heart touching quotes.
This picturesque town in Arunachal Pradesh is located at an elevation of 2,669 meters and is cradled in the Himalayas. Covered in glistening snow for most parts of the year, Tawang has an exotic elegance, with its pristine wildness, criss-crossed by gushing streams, surrounded by deep valleys and glassy lakes in a mountainous backdrop, making it one of the perfect places to visit in May in India. The streets are dotted with monasteries, as most of the people residing here are Buddhists. The whisper of the Tashi Delek can be heard all along the valleys as one treks along the region, seeking pleasure in adventure!How to get there: Tezpur in Assam is the nearest major transit point to Tawang and is well-connected by rail, air and road. From Tezpur, government and private buses ply at regular intervals, SUV s could be hired as well.
265 Kms from Lhasa
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 ...
2. The grandeur of the Dzongs: A Dzong is a fortress that acts as the centre of administrative and religious activities. Build in the exquisite Bhutanese design, these Dzongs are massive in structure, has big courtyards and artistic interiors. Each district in Bhutan has at least one Dzong, so no matter which part of Bhutan you visit you will get to see one. Out of all the Dzongs we visited, Punakha Dzong was the most beautiful one. The Dzong is located at the confluence of two rivers and can be reached by crossing a wooden bridge. The Dzong was full of intricate woodwork and beautiful paintings related to Buddhism. The Punakha Dzong may be the best but the other Dzongs are nothing less.
So when we were moving from Thimphu to Punakha & stopped in between at a restaurant for having lunch , My friend said ,’RK, Look at backside painting’. What !!!! Really ???? They have painted a Phallus at front of their restaurant openly. Are they freaking Mad. How could they ? So these are the questions which raised in my mind immediate after 5 second of watching that painting.
Although everybody says it is nearly impossible to cover Punakha in a round trip, I found it misleading. For Rs 3000, you can hire a cab and visit Punakha and come back to Thimphu before night. On the way is Dochula Pass, which has beautiful stupas and more beautiful skies.Once reached Punakha, we behold vast paddy fields, a clever use of terrace farming and I being native of Palakkad district( the rice bowl of Kerala), felt like I am back home.
DAY 6 : PUNAKHAPunakha was Bhutan’s ancient capital. Unlike other places in Bhutan, Punakha experiences warn and temperate climate. As mentioned above, you need to renew your permit in Thimpu to visit Punakha and other places in Bhutan.We left early in the morning from Thimpu and headed towards Punakha. Even though the distance is just 75 kms, it takes almost 3 hours, as the roads are in a bad condition which is mainly because of the many landslides. Sometimes, many vehicles get stuck for 7-9 hours due to the landslides. We were lucky to have encountered none.
Day 6, Nov 6th, 2017: After the last night’s party, I needed a coffee badly, so we went to the ambient café, which is rated as one of the best places for breakfast in Thimphu. Vishnu got our road permits done for Punakha & picked us up from hotel at 10:30 hrs.On the way to Punakha, we halted at Dochula pass, where there were 108 Chortens built in memory of Bhutanese soldiers. The pass was at an elevation of 10,200 feet & we could witness a spectacular panoramic view of the snow-capped Himalayan range.
2. Punakha - 5 hours driving through serpentine roads and stopping at numerous locations to click pictures and we ended up at Punakha. The moment we mountain roads ended and we saw the plains, our reactions were the same - our jaws were touching the floor. We did a short hike through the fields and reached the Chhimmi Lhakhang (temple). This temple is famous for its offerings to the gods in the shape of a phallus. There are souvenirs in the shape of a phallus and even homes have paintings on their walls of phallus.
House of Juliet, Punakha had a real version of Romeo (Singye) and Juliet (Galem) from the 14th century. It’s a touching love story of two ordinary people and their extraordinary love for each other, who reunited after death. This historically built house which is in ruins now, belongs to Galem (Juliet). News has it that it is getting converted into a museum of love!
235 Kms from Lhasa
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...
Thimpu to Bhumtang is a long way and a brutal ride -- at least that what it was last year, when the road widening work after Punakha was going on last year, and made it worse. There are some specific timings within which you need to cross the stoppages, otherwise you may need to wait on a few checkposts for few hours.If you keep going and not stopped anywhere, you still need nearly eight hours to cover the 250km stretch of a highway-under construction. Though a few handy night-lodge services right next to the Bus station in Bhumtang offer an easy option of booking a dorm bed for as little as 150 Rupees, making it upto you for a long and rough journey.As a town, Bhumtang doesn’t offer much to see than a 15th century monastery and old-world charm. Located in a massive valley, the town of BhumtangDay 4: Bhumtang to Trashigang
A bustling little one-street town with an abundance of restaurants and handicrafts stores, but somehow manages to outdo every other street on the valley. The “Castle of the White Bird” dominates the Chamkhar valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, the Dzong played an important role as the fortress of defense of the whole eastern Dzongkhags. It also became the seat of the first king of Bhutan. This will probably be your base for several days as you visit the surrounding valleys.
We chose to arrive in Lhasa by travelling on the world’s highest railway, a journey of breath-taking beauty that lasts 24 hours from the Chinese city of Xining, and crosses the Tanggula Passat 5072m. Arriving late at night, we were greeted by our guide in Lhasa with khatags, the white silk ceremonial scarf that is commonly given in Tibet as a sign of welcome. This was the first of many khatags we received. Lhasa literally means 'The abode of the gods'.
The land of the abominable snowman,they call it.Our first major destination in Lhasa was the Potala Palace.The entire site was as clean as it was touristy. We were limited to a visit of only 1 hour due to the integrity of the structure (it could risk collapse from the weight of too many visitors) but all in all it was absolutely gorgeous. The temples were just breathtaking and I enjoyed watching the monks walking from room to room continuing their daily tasks all the while examining the hundreds of different rooms, shrines and statues.After taking in the Potala Palace, we were set free to enjoy Johkang Temple and the surrounding vicinity that’s known as the Backhor Streets. It was quite interesting to see the layers of culture in such a small place. Lhasa was a much larger city than I had anticipated. Shops and stalls lined every corner and were filled to the brim with Tibetan prayer beads, necklaces, singing bowls, yak blankets and many other ornaments. Tibetan & Chinese restaurants filled the streets with an almost intoxicating smell of yak meat, bread & other cultural foods.We then explored both the Drepung Monastery & Sera Monastery. The Drepung Monastery, which happened to be the Dalai Lama’s old winter residence (up until the 5th Dalai Lama moved it to the Potala Palace), happened to house the largest amounts of monks in Tibet. We were very lucky to arrive just as many of them were gathered for their afternoon lunch and meditation sessions. The energy that protruded from them was nothing short of intense!Later, we passed through Gangbala Pass with a quick pit stop at Yamdrok Lake where we took some very scenic pictures of turquoise blue waters that were overlooked by snow-peaked mountains.