Paro is a historic town with many holy sites and historical buildings distributed through the area. In addition, the Paro Valley is wide and luxuriant and is recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in Bhutan. We commenced our drive from Phuntsholing post lunch. It would be a day of driving through the distance was just about 150 km. Like I mentioned before, whilst traveling in Bhutan (true for every hill location) there’s no connection between distance and driving time. Paro is also home to Paro Airport, Bhutan’s only international airport. Paro airport has been represented as “the most difficult commercial airport in the world”. The airport has only one runway. As a result, only a handful of airline pilots are certified to operate commercial airplanes there.
1.Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest)
Today morning began rainy and chilly in Paro, Bhutan. The forecast had been low temperature accompanied with rain. Not to mention encountering possibly muddy and slippery trails, for our must awaited trek to Tiger’s Nest, the cultural icon of Bhutan. It had poured last night, so the always pleasant and pleasing Bhutanese said we’d have no rain today as it had already washed itself out. I hoped the weather agreed with their optimistic outlooks, but we took rain jackets and umbrellas with us anyway.
Dangerously balanced on the edge of a 1,200 meter cliff, this monastery creates an impressive sight, and is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan. It is about a 2-to-3-hour, totally up-hill hike from the parking lot to the monastery. Taktsang was established as a sacred place for meditation by Guru Rinpoche who visited the location on his second visit to Bhutan in 747 ce. In 1998 a tragic fire destroyed most of the original buildings, but these have since been meticulously restored to their former glory.
Waked up at 6 AM, dressed in layers, putting things in bag, we wanted to carry, we went outside and found it was very cold, but a misty rain was still falling and heavy fog covered the hillsides and mountains. Around 8 am we boarded the cab and headed out. Driving up the twisting bends imitated the trails that led up to the cliffside Paro Taktsang Monastery, but I didn’t realise that until later. The altitude is high; the climb starts at 10,200 feet reaching up to Paro Taktsang at about 13,200 feet so it was not like hiking near the ocean, at sea level. When we reached the parking lot and walked through the muddy trail we found in this weather it is not possible for us to cover that height.
We met large groups of people from Kolkata, India, travelling over their Puja holidays. We saw the monastery from the parking lot from different angles. The environment is spectacular, even in the clouds it was beautiful.
From October to March Tiger Nest opening time
8 am to 1 m and 2 pm to 5 pm
From April to September
8 am to 1 m and 2 pm to 6 pm
2.Rinchen Pung Dzong
Then we went to Rinchen Pung Dzong. Rinchen pung Dzong means ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels,’ once served as the meeting hall for the National Assembly. Now, Rinchen Pung houses both the ascetic body and district government offices, including the local courts. Most of the area is prohibited for the tourists, but visit this Dzong for its marvel architecture. It was inbuilt 1644 beneath the order of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the holder of Drukpa- Kagyud Buddhist School, and the unifier of Bhutan. This dzong has been used on varied occasions to safeguard Paro from the invasion of Thibet. Outside the dzong is that the ground wherever dancers perform the favored dance forms of tsechu. Below the dzong is a ancient wooden bridge known as Nyamai Zam, which was reconstructed when the original one got washed away in a flood in 1969. The Dzong courtyard is opened daily however on the weekends some areas within has restricted entry.
One of the best samples of architecture, the Rinpung Dzong, also known as the Paro Dzong, has a very spiritual environment. Gorgeously lit-up at night, the dzong has many illustrations depicting the life of Buddha. A hike to the top of the fortress welcomes you with the outstanding view of nearby valleys. A religious site overflowing with faith and grandeur is everything which one needs to revitalize the mind. Not simply a major holy site in Paro, it also offers panoramic views of the Paro Valley and Paro Chhu (river) to the visitors. Like most dzongs in Bhutan, it houses monks and is an important administrative center in the city. The 1995 Little Buddha’s shooting site and a perfect family place, it has an environment so nice which makes one’s evening even more bright and cheerful.
With a structure as grand as Paro Dzong, there is always a rich history associated with it. Before the Rinpung Dzong was constructed, a small temple was founded on the same site by Drung Drung Gyal in the 15th century. He was a Lama and a successor of Pajo Drugom Zhigpo. The temple was later built as a fortress, which came to be recognized as Hungrel Dzong. In 1644, once it had been offered to Ngawang Namgyal, he broke down the existing dzong into pieces and started construction of a new one, which came to be known as Rinpung Dzong.
3. Kyichu Lhakhang
Kyichu Lhakhang location is within the north of Paro city. It is one of the antique, silent and stunning temples in Bhutan. The temple was established by the Buddhist King Songstsen Gampo of Tibet to spread Buddhism. Kyichu Lhakhang was among the twelve temples out of the 108 temples that had been created on definite plans within the seventeenth century. The temple’s construction was done overnight. Kyichu Lhakhang was initially small in size but after multiple visits over the years by the Buddhist saints, the temple expanded both in splendor and size.
In the eighth century, Guru Padmasambhava was believed to have visited the Kyichu Lhakhang and hidden a variety of treasures in the temple. The temple was later reconstructed within the year 1836-1838 by the twenty fifth Je Khenpo Sherab Gyaltshen. In 1968, a new structure of the temple was built and named Guru Lhakang. The extension was made by the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck.
As one walks toward Kyichu Lhakhang, the environment is noiseless and calm. An ancient monastery is a fantastic place that you simply can notice older pilgrims that are typically walking round the temple as they spin the prayers wheels. Inside the inner grounds, there’s a painting of the King named Gesar of Ling on the wall simply close to the doorway. The king was a famous person in Tibet, and his epic is that the longest within the world in step with the history.
The Kyichu Lhakang conceals the statue of Jowo Jamba originally from the 7th century. The icon is one of the greatest treasures of the valley. There is additionally another sculpture of Chenrezig outside the shrine that has 1000arms and eleven heads. There is the wood floor that has grooves worn by the generations of prostrators. The main entrance door is coated with gold. Kyichu Lhakhang holds ancient relics and also the floor of the most temple created with wood adorned with turquoise and different precious stones and gems.
The structure next to Kyichu Lhakhang is that the Guru Lhakhang that consists of Kurukulla and 5-meter high sculpture of Guru Rinpoche holding an arrow manufactured from flowers and a bow. On the skin of the temple, there are two orange trees that bear fruits throughout the year. There also are monk homes, prayer wheels, Lenza script on tiny prayer wheels.
The international airport of Bhutan is among the top 10 most fabulous and stunning airports in the world. It is also counted among the 10 most exciting airports in the world, that only 8 pilots are certified to land the flights here. The neighboring peaks as high as 5000 m makes it a bit of challenge, and yet Paro airport is something you should eye for. Getting mesmerized every second with the view of vivacious green valley with gushing sound of Paro river below, spectacular blue sky above, and high mountains around the Paro valley makes it an charming picture. Don’t miss the sight of departing flights which in itself is an experience. In 1968, the Indian Border Roads Organization designed an flight strip in the Paro valley, which was primarily used for on-call helicopter operations by the Indian Armed Forces on behalf of the Royal Government of Bhutan. Drukair inaugurated scheduled revenue flights from Paro to Kolkata and returning the next day as Flight 102. Buddha Air became the primary international airline to control charters to Paro. Tashi Air, Bhutan’s initial private airline was started in Dec 2011.
5.National Museum of Bhutan
The National Museum is the pride of Bhutan. Pompous art and traditions, it has six floors, each of them narrating a exceptional tale from past. You can see paintings, art pieces, animal masks and many more facets of the rich culture. Built in 1649 as a watchtower against Tibetan soldiers, it was transformed to the National Museum in 1968, conserving the rich history of Bhutan within its walls ever since.
A heaven for history lovers and the ideal place for those who have a keen interest in attainment more information about Bhutan, National Museum in Paro is where history meets the present. Floating above Paro Dzong, it houses all the important artefacts and belongings from the past. The conservation of the historical objects, inscriptions and artefacts are necessary to keep the future generations updated about the history of the nation. Things that are quite 1500 years recent also can be found here. The best place in the world to know Bhutan by its roots, it gives an insight into the local people’s lifestyle and the evolution of the culture of Bhutan.
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third king of Bhutan, ordered the creation of National Museum in 1968. The structure was abandoned in 2011 earthquake, after which it was closed for rebuilding purpose. It was reopened in 2016. The six-story museum is constructed in a circular shape, having white colored walls. During the revamp of Ta Dzong, art galleries were formed and proper storage arrangements were made to keep the ancient artifacts safely, to preserve their reliability.
Entry Fee for SAARC Tourists 50 NU; Entry for Non SAARC Tourists 200 NU
6.High-Quality Thangka Painting
This is Bhutan’s leading art gallery which has two branches (Paro and Thimphu). The one in Paro is about 5 km away from the town near the 7th-century monastery. The Thimphu branch is much larger and you’ll see Thangka painters at work there. Mr. Pema Tshering, the businessman may be a highly-trained creator who includes 6-year painting credentials from Zorig Chusum.
I hope this information was helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I would be glad to answer. These are the places are top 6 places to cover in one day as per my opinion. If there is any place that you think must visit place in Paro, you are most welcome to suggest in