Paro, a valley town in Bhutan is situated west of the Capital, Thimphu. The valley starts from the confluence of the Paro Chhu and the Wang Chhu rivers at Chuzom to Mt. Jomolhari at the Tibetan border to the North. This majestic valley serves as one of the biggest valleys in the kingdom and is covered in fertile rice fields and is decorated with beautiful, crystalline river meandering down the valley. Paro houses the country’s first international airport along with the many historical and religious sites and only the international airport of the Country. There are over 155 temples and monasteries in this area, some dating as far back as 14th century, among which Taktsang Monastery is considered as the most popular and ideal landmark of Bhutan.
Taktsang Monastery (The Tiger’s Nest)
Taktsang Monastery located outskirts of Paro town at an altitude of 3.210 meters is the important and popular monasteries in Bhutan both among locals and tourists. The monastery is perched on a vertical cliff defying all te engineering logics. Hike to Taktsang is the most popular activity among tourists, hiking along the beautiful forest of blue pine and rhododendrons and walking uphill towards the monastery. The monastery itself is surrounded by majestic mountains and beautiful green valleys. Its architectural design is shaped with best of Buddhist traditions and arts. The monastery is a white building with a golden roof and has four main temples and several dwellings. A large statue of tiger is located at the hall of thousand Buddhas carved into the rock. Taktsang is also popularly known as the “Tiger’s Nest” which is associated with the legend that during 7th century Guru Padmasambhava flew here on a back of a flying tigress and meditate here for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours. Taktsang is located about 10 km from Paro town and the hike to reach the monastery is about 2-3 hours. No trip to Bhutan would be complete without a visit to this remarkable heritage site.
National Museum of Bhutan
The National Museum of Bhutan is a renovated form of Ta-Dzong, an ancient watchtower that now displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artifacts and artwork including traditional costumes, armor and weaponry, masterpieces of bronze statues and paintings, and handcrafted implements for daily life. The museum houses over 3,000 works of Bhutanese art, covering more than 1,500 years of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. Its rich holdings of various creative traditions and disciplines represent a remarkable blend of the past with the present and are a major attraction for local and foreign visitors.
Drukgyel Dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Historically this Dzong has withstood the taste of time and the glory of Drukgyel Dzong remained unchanged even it was destroyed by fire in 1951. Majestic view of Mt. Jomolhari can be spotted on a clear day from the village below the Dzong.
Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang
Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang is a Buddhist temple and is notable as it is in the form of a chorten, very rare in Bhutan. The Lhakhang is situated on the edge of a hill between the Paro Valley and the Dopchari valley, across the bridge from Paro. It is believed that the Lhakhang was built by the saint Thangtong Gyalpo to subdue a “serpentine force” that was located at the foundation of the chorten. But according to Bhutanese source it was built “on the nose of a hill that looks like a frog in order to counteract Sadag (earth-owning spirit) and Lunyen (powerful naga spirit). The Buddhist iconography depicted in the Chorten is considered a unique repository of the Drukpa Kagyu School.
Dobji Dzong is situated at an altitude of 6,000 feet on the way to Haa in western Bhutan. It was built by Ngawang Chogyal, the brother of Drukpa Kuenley popularly known as the “Divine Madman” in 1531. The dzong houses relics such as the statue of Jetsun Milarepa, Guru Langdarchen, Dungsay Dewa Zangpo, and Ngawang Chogyal while the gonkhang the Goem-Chamdal Sum: Mahakala, Mahakali and the Raven Crown.
Tamchog Lhakhang is located along the Paro-Thimphu highway across the Paro river and was built by the great Tibetan saint, Thangtong Gyalpo. Tamchong Lhakhang is the private temple however may visit the temple by taking permit. One must cross an iron chain bridge, one of the few remaining of the many that Thangthong Gyalpo built to reach the temple.
Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan build during 7th century in 659 AD by Tibetan King Songsten Gampo to suppress down the giant demons. Kyichu is said to be one of the main 12 temples of the 108 temples that were built overnight across Tibet and borderlands. In the 8th century the temple was visited by Padmasambhava and it is believed he concealed many spirituals treasures in the temple.