By Air : Paro International Airport is the gateway to the country
The best seasons to visit Bhutan are during Spring (March, April
Uma by COMO, Paro #1 of 16 hotels in Paro Zhiwa Ling
Weekend bazaars and small shops sell precious stones brought from
Paro is the gateway to the country of Bhutan. Situated in the Paro Valley of Eastern Himalaya, the town is full of legends, heroism, and natural splendour.The town is located at an altitude of 2,250 m above the sea level with river flowing gently on its side and making it the most beautiful valley in the country. Though, the capital of Bhutan is Thimphu, but for a longer time of the history Paro had the control of this part of the country. The town of Paro in western Bhutan attracts tourists due to its scenic locales, beautiful landscapes, wooded villages and historic buildings. The Paro valley is unique in beauty and in history. The only airport of Bhutan is located in Paro. To the north, Mount Chamolhari (Mountain of the Goddess), reigns in white glory and the waters from its “five sisters” peaks passes through deep gorges, finally meeting in the end to form the Paro Chu river that nourishes the rice fields and apple and peach orchards.
The various tourist attractions in Paro are the National Museum, Philatellic Gallery, Taktsang Monastery, Rimpung Dzong and Thongdroel.
National Museum :
The National Museum is the main tourist attraction in Paro. This national museum is housed in Ta dzong which is an ancient watchtower. The white and brown ringed fortress, built in 1657 was made as the National Museum in 1967. This museum is the country’s only archive. The museum has the collection of old coins, stamps, birds and mammals and the costumes of the people of Bhutan at various times of its history. The ancient weapons including the
National Museum Paro :
bows used in archery, brass and copper house wares and a good display of ancient Bhutanese art and artefacts. A fragment of moon’s surface brought by Neil Armstrong in July 1969 is also displayed in the museum.
Philatellic Gallery :
The Philatellic Gallery near the top of the museum is also one of the great tourist interest. This gallery contains a large collection of stamps. Stamps are a big business in Bhutan and are an important source of foreign exchange. The postage stamps are also brought by visitors as they cover a wide range of subjects and are beautifully printed. On 30 October 1967, Bhutan issued the world’s first three-dimensional stamps in commemoration of man’s conquest of space. The world’s first steel stamps, printed on hair thin steel foil, reflects the importance of steel industry in the economic development of Bhutan. Silk stamps with religious motifs of Bhutan were also printed. The king of Bhutan has been featured on a series of gold embossed coin stamps. Bhutan was also the first country to introduce “Talking Stamps” in 1973. These stamps were gummed miniature phonograph records playing Bhutan’s national anthem. However, in spite of having some of the finest postage stamps, Bhutan has no strong postal system. Even today, runners carry messages across the country where no road links exist.
Taktsang Monastery :
The Taktsang Monastery means the Tiger’s Nest. This monastery is the most important religious site for the Bhutanese people, and located at a distance of around 80 km from Paro, precariously perched on the edge of a cliff. This monastery has been built around the cave where Guru Rimpoche and later his follower Dubthak Singye meditated. It clings to a cliff of rock which is about 800 meters above the valley. A visit to this monastery is a challenge, exhausting, thrilling and
Taktsang Monastery Paro :
mystical. According to the legend, Guru Padmasambhava arrived more than a million ago on the back of a tiger from Tibet to this place. He mediated in a cave for around two months where this monastery was built later. This monastery can be visited by either trekking or on horse. The Taktsang monastery is a pilgrimage place that every Bhutanese tries to visit at least once in a lifetime.
Rimpung Dzong :
The Rimpung Dzong or Paro Dzong is situated on the hillside above the gently meandering Paro River. Rimpung means the heap of jewels. Paro Dzong is the symbolic centre of religious and secular affairs of entire Paro Valley. This fortress offers the view of the Paro Valley stretched out below. Some centuries ago, it was an unreachable fortress that repelled invasions from Tibet. But, today, it houses the Paro monastic body and the office of the Dzongda (district commissioner) and Thrimpon (district judge). Consecrated in 1646, the Dzong is an architectural wonder that showcases the cultural strength of kingdom's strength.
The Thongdroel is the most sacred giant which is painted and an appliquéd scroll. This giant depicts the eight manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava with its two attendants, Khendu Yeshey Tsogyel and Khandu Minona Rawa. It is displayed for a few hours on the concluding days of the Paro Tesechu festival held from the 10th to 14th day of the Bhutanese lunar calendar’s second month. It is unfurled before dawn for the few hours before the direct rays of the sun strikes it. This giant is about 400 years old, and can be easily damaged by sun rays.
Haa valley :
aStart the day early for drive to Haa via Chele-la pass. 4 Km away at Bondey village the road to Haa diverts towards the right hand side and ascends towards the chele-la pass starts. After driving through blue pine & rhododendron forest for 45 km, reach Chele-la pass ( 4200 meters). From this point one can have a superb views of Mt. Chomolhari & Jichu Drakey. This is a very good place to walk around for few minutes enjoying the view. Drive on to Haa, descending all the way for another 22 km (under an hours drive), finally reaching Haa. The Haa Dzong is presently occupied by military, but the view from outside is stunning. After picnic lunch visit to the famous Monastery of Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) followed by visit to Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple).
The central shrine in Lhakhang Nagpo is said to have no difference with that of Lhasa JOWO in Tibet. The construction of the Lakhang Karpo is believed to have been assisted by the locality. As a result the place came to be locally known as "Hay" meaning" surprise" which later became "Haa" due to the differences in interpretations and pronunciations of different people over time.
The three giant hills looming over the fringes of Haa valley were called "Me Rig Puen Sum" especially after the incidence of the Lhakhang Karpo construction. Today the three hills are popularly known as "Rig Sum Goenpa" signifying three deities-Jambayang Chana Dorji and Chenrizig.
Later, other Buddhist saints like Guru Rinpoche and "Machi Labdorn" came to the Jungney Drag in Haa and blessed the locality. The principal religion followed is Drukpa Kagyupa. After the arrival of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the chief guardian deity of Haa became, Ap Chundu.
Later in the afternoon drive to Paro same way back. The drive will be under 3 hours.
Kila Goemba :
It is the serene home of Buddhist nuns who have dedicated their life for spiritual fulfillment and leading undisturbed life of religious studies, prayer and meditation. The goemba is nestled in a craggy patch on mountain side below the Chelela pass and perched precariously along the rock face. From Chelela pass, the lhakhang is about an hour walk amidst magnificent wooded area.
Chelela pass :
Chele la (pass), at an elevation 3,988 meters is considered to be one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan. About an hour's drive along a thickly-forested road, is this Pass-a botanical paradise. The pass provides stunning views of the sacred mountain Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. It is also marked by hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind. Here, visitors can see cascades of wild roses; purple and yellow primulas; and swathes of deep blue iris covering the forest floor. The top of the pass bloom with rhododendrons in a variety of colours-pale pink, deep pink, burnt orange, mauve, white and scarlet.