Bhutan – The land of the Thunder Dragon

In the month of May I traveled to the kingdom of Bhutan. Bhutan is a paradise for nature lovers. The country lies over the eastern Himalayas, the hills covered with thick forests and deep gorges and valleys with beautiful springs and waterfalls.

Travelling through the country, I tried to capture the essence of the country through a series of pictures.

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Phuensholling is located at the base of Himalayas. The market of Phuentsholling is interesting as a lot of products here come from Bangkok. A lot of influence of India can be seen as a lot of Indians have also settled there permanently.

20.JPGParo Dzong is one of the most beautiful structures I have come across in my whole life. A Dzong, which means fort in Bhutanese, is the administrative building of a city. Each Dzong has a religious center, like a Gompa.

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Bhutan is a Buddhist country. This huge statue of Buddha Dordenma, which measures 169 feet, is one of the biggest statues of Buddha and is situtated on the outskirts of Thimphu.

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Prayer wheels have an important role in Buddhism. According to Buddhist scriptures, rotating the wheel brings wisdom and good karma and purifies bad karma.

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The roads and mountain sides of Bhutan are dotted with religious flags. These are said to bless the surroundings and also promote peace and prosperity.

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The capital city of Thimphu seems like a balanced combination of modern culture and native traditions. The women of Bhutan wear both western casuals and their traditional dress called Kira. The same goes for the men, who have Gho as their traditional dress. The freedom of choice, makes the people happy and content.

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Dechencholing. The royal residence of the King of Bhutan – His highness Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. He is known for his generosity and care for his subjects. The Dzong is only open after 5:30 pm, since during the day the administrative affairs of the kingdom are carried out here. The Dzong is very beautiful and rich in cultural artifacts.

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Bhutanese paintings are same as Tibetan art. They depict stories, Buddhist ideals and folklore. Although I couldn’t decipher the stories, I loved the beautiful blend of bright colours in order to depict the culture of Himalayas.

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Located in the central Thimphu, memorial Chorten is a unique as unlike other chortens it doesn’t house human remains. This beautiful landmark was built in the honour of the third Druk Gyalpo.

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The highlight of my Bhutan trip was climbing the cliff of Tiger’s nest, also called Tatsang monastery, situated at a height of 3000 ft. from the starting point. It is one of the best sights I have ever witnessed and a once in a life time opportunity. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava meditated here for 3 years.

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Dochula is a mountain pass between Thimphu and Punakha. Built here are 108 chortens or stupas, in the memory of the Bhutanese soldiers who lost their lives in the battle against Asamese insurgents in 2003. From Dochula, one can see the beautiful sight of snow clad Himalayan peaks and in winters, the pass is covered with snow thus making the route inaccessible to tourists.

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Chimi Lankhang is the temple of the divine mad man. He was a saint known for his unorthodox ways such as the worship of phalluses. This temple, located on a hillock overlooking the Punakha River offers a peaceful experience to the visitors.

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The National museum of Bhutan, which is now being renovated, is a place one should definitely visit. It houses relics dating back to hundreds of years. One of its attractions is a hologram projector which displays different artifacts.

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The Takin reserve is located near Thimphu. Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. It is somewhat like a combination of an Antelope and a Goat.

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The city of Paro as seen from the Paro dzong. The Paro river flows through the city. The airport is located in Paro, where the commercial airlines to Bhutan fly in.

Bhutan is not only rich in happiness, it is also culturally rich. The people are warm hearted, kind and helpful. The air is pure, the roads clean and the surroundings serene. Given a chance I would love to go back and explore deeper in the country of Bhutan to understand its culture and society better.

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