Punakha: Elevation 1,300m



WESTERN BHUTAN

Thimphu Elevation 2,320m

This is the capital of Bhutan with a population of approximately 100,000 people . Thimphu become the capital in 1916 and the town is the largest in Bhutan. It is about an hour from the airport in paro . As you enter the valley you drive on Bhutan’s first four lane expressway which takes you right into the heart of the town, over two dramatic flyover bridges.
             
Place to visit in Thimphu include the textile museum, the folk Heritage museum,the Trashichho Dzong , the national memorial chorten (a stupa dedicated to the third king of Bhutan) , and the vegetable market , a colourful market full of local produce and handicrafts. Buddhists can visit numerous monasteries around the valley as well as a vibrant nunnery.

         
The district of Thimphu , however ,stretches beyond the town and goes past Dochu-la, the first mountain pass in the western part of Bhutan . The 108 Druk Wangyal chor tens on the top of the pass where the ridges are draped in colourful prayer flags provide a scenic view. O n the clear day , you can see a panorama of the Himalayan mountain range.

Paro Towns: Elevation 2,280m
                 

The broad paro valley is the entry point for all visitors flying into Bhutan on to national carrier, Druk Air. As the plane takes a dramatic sweep into paro ,the flight captain usually warns relieved passengers not to worry if the aircraft’s wings appear to be almost touching the mountainsides.

                           
Places to visit include the paroDzong , the national museum housed in a round fortress called the Ta Dzong, and the ruins of the Drugyal Dzong , a7th century fortress that used to keep invading Tibetan forces at bay , destroyed in fire in 1951.

                   
The tiger’s nest or the taktshang is one of the most popular spiritual heritage sites, perched precariously on the rock face of a sheer cliff 900m above the ground. It is a short climb of 1.5 hours to 2 hours to the top.For those less inclined to climbing, you can catch a good bird’s eye view from the bottom of the monastery.


Punakha: Elevation 1,300m
     
Punakha is the ancient capital of Bhutan, about 21/4 hours drive from Thimphu across Dochu-la pass .Once you cross the pass , you wind down into a warm fertile valley and meander along a gently flowing aquamarine river that leads you to the punakha Dzong, the second dzong tobe built in Bhutan
                                
Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was by fire and glacial flood over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today , a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.
             
Punakha is a sub- tropical valley where food grains, vegetables and fruits grow in abundance.
                  
A short drive up the valley is the khamsum Yulley Chorten (stupa), constructed in 1992, as one of three such chortens in the world , one being the national memorial chorten in Thimphu.


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