Places to see in Bhutan

12 major attractions of Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small country between China and India, lost at the very spurs of the Himalayas, a coveted dream of many travelers. This amazing state uses the term “gross national product” instead of the dry economic term “gross national happiness,” and among the state institutions is the very real Ministry of Happiness.

Tibetan chronicles from two hundred years ago describe Bhutan as the “Secret Holy Land” and the “Lotus Garden of the Gods”. The history of the Kingdom is quite interesting – the country for many centuries was not known to its powerful neighbors, it has long been able to avoid the invasion of the colonizers and the penetration of foreign culture. Perhaps that’s why it has preserved almost medieval identity and pristine nature.

Bhutan is a state where the inhabitants are still friendly and not spoiled, where there is practically no crime and hunger. The traveler expects magnificent natural scenery, clear mountain rivers, the majestic peaks of the highest mountains on the planet and the unique culture of local people, preserved in almost unchanged form from the XV-XVI centuries.

What to see in Bhutan?

The most interesting and beautiful places, pictures and short description.

Taktsang Luckhang Monastery

The world-famous Buddhist monastery, built high in the mountains and “floating” over the abyss. The viewpoints and balconies of the monastery offer spectacular views of the mountain peaks, precipices, and gorges. The place, as many tourists testify, is literally imbued with holiness, mysticism and spirituality. The name of the monastery is translated from the local language as “the nest of the tigress”.

Taktsang-Lakhang Monastery.

The town of Paro

Located in the picturesque and fertile Paro Valley, which is considered the most prosperous and wealthiest area in Bhutan. The city is located at an altitude of nearly 2,500 meters above sea level. The city buildings are lavishly decorated and painted examples of ancient architecture. The only road to Tibet passed through Paro for a long time.

The city of Paro.

Punakha-dzong

A 17th-century fortress and monastery in Punakha. In the past centuries, the structure was known as the Palace of Great Happiness. Punakha Dzong is located at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu rivers. To get to the grandiose gates of the palace, you have to overcome a steep staircase in the rock. The structure itself is located at an altitude of over 1200 meters above sea level.

Punakha-dzong.

Drugyal Dzong Fortress

A ruined structure in the west of Bhutan that formerly served as a monastery. Here begins the trail to Tibet and the Jomolhari Trail, which leads to the Great Himalayan Range. The fortress is believed to have been erected in the 17th century to commemorate the victory over Tibet. After a fire in the mid-20th century, the fortress was never rebuilt.

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Drugyal-dzong fortress.

Trashi Cho Dzong Monastery

Residence of the Supreme Lama of Bhutan. It is also the seat of the government and court sessions. Local monks do not lead a reclusive lifestyle. They actively communicate with the population, organize children’s festivals and preach their religion. Tourists can enter during the Thimphu Tsechu festival, when interesting shows and performances are put on especially for guests.

Trashi Chho-dzong Monastery.

Thimphu chorten

One of the most visited attractions in Thimphu. The temple was built in the 1970s in honor of the third king of Bhutan, who, according to his subjects, was a saint. Inside the structure is an altar with the deity Buddha Samantabhadra, and on the sides are other deities in mournful poses. In 2008 the temple was renovated and the area was slightly enlarged.

Thimphu chorten.

Trongsa-dzong

It is considered the largest dzong in Bhutan. Inside is a monastery and the administration of the dzongkhag Tongsa. In the 17th century, the building was used as a military fortification, and after the Wangchuck dynasty came to power in the early 20th century, it was used for administrative purposes. Trongsa Dzong is located on the passage through the gorge that connects east and west Bhutan.

Trongsa-dzong.

Buddha of Dordenma.

Huge statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, built in 2010. Inside is 125,000 gold-plated statues of the deity. Buddha Dordenma reaches 51 meters in height and is the highest located statue of the deity in the world. About $50 million was spent to build the structure, the entire cost of the project was about $100 million.

Buddha Dordenma.

National Museum of Bhutan

The building that now houses the museum was formerly a dzong. The exhibition features valuable Buddhist relics that attract tourists and pilgrims. The museum consists of six floors, where the exhibits are collected on topics: the history of Buddhism, the history of the country, and ethnography. There are also two altars in the national museum that are unique in terms of religious history.

National Museum of Bhutan.

Rinpung-dzong Monastery (Paro-dzong)

Like the other monasteries in Bhutan, is a fortress and the seat of administration. It is a shrine of the Drukpa Kagyu Buddhist school. Inside there are 14 temples, a watchtower, and the National Museum of Bhutan. A great festival is held here every year to celebrate the local deities.

Rinpung-dzong Monastery (Paro-dzong).

Manas National Park

Nature conservation area with unique flora and fauna. It is the habitat of Bengal tigers, Himalayan bears, gaur, Indian buffalo, leopards, elephants, and rhinoceroses. Gangetic dolphins are found in the rivers. The park’s nature is an ecosystem of rainforests, alpine meadows, and ice fields.

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Manas National Park.

The Himalayas

Not only the highest mountains on Earth, but also the most mysterious. Various explorers have inhabited these places with powerful races, representatives of extraterrestrial civilizations, and sages. Someone was looking here for the secret reserve country of Shambhala. The Himalayas are picturesque mountain peaks piercing the cosmos and breathtaking landscapes of high mountain deserts.

Himalayas.

Complete the article by describing your impression of the city (country) or individual attraction.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

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Nepal

Nepal

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Bangladesh

Bangladesh

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India

India

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Pakistan

Pakistan

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Bhutan’s 14 Best Sights

The Kingdom of Bhutan, located in the Eastern Himalayas, is famous for its ancient culture formed under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism. In addition, this small mountainous country has preserved untouched forests, ancient monasteries and temples.

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Things to do in Bhutan

Bhutan is an unusual place lost in the high mountains between India and China. It used to be accessible only by personal invitation from the king. Its inaccessible geographical location and lack of foreigners protected the state from outside influences and helped preserve its cultural heritage.

Half a century ago, the government changed its policy and opened the country to the world. Now tourism is an important part of Bhutan’s economy, but to protect nature and culture from destruction, the activity of foreigners is limited. Only travelers who have paid a high fee for each day of stay can enter.

This peculiarity does not stop connoisseurs of Buddhist culture, dreaming to see the sacred places, luxurious temples, original houses with colorful wooden facades, stone dzongs, statues of Buddha.

Bhutan widely celebrates folk festivals and important national dates:

  • The harvest season begins with Blessed Rain Day. The water in rivers and lakes becomes sacred. All people rush to ablution, which cleanses karma and bestows blessings for the next year.
  • With no less splendor celebrate the Winter Solstice according to the Tibetan calendar and the entry of Buddha into Nirvana.
  • Among the annual religious festivals, especially popular is Tsechu, held by Buddhist schools in different districts. The festival lasts for five to six days. People dress up in traditional costumes, perform sacred dances, and attend fairs.
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It is not possible to explore the natural sites of Bhutan on your own. To go to the mountains or forest, you need to use the services of a travel company and hire a guide. Specialists will find a suitable route and ensure safety.

Hiking on the sacred mountain Jomolhari, rafting on rivers, walking through mountain valleys and forests are available to tourists.

Bhutanese cuisine, rich in spices, healthy and delicious. It is based on highland red rice with a delicate nutty flavor, corn and buckwheat. Gourmets will certainly appreciate the braised fern with lentils and meat, Tibetan noodle soup, and a thick seasoning of green peppers, cheese, and yak milk.

Architecture

Punakha-dzong

punakha dson

The fortress-monastery in the center of Punakha was built in 1638. The architectural complex stands at the confluence of two rivers and is surrounded by massive walls of white brick. In the courtyard are the main temple, dwellings of the monks, and watchtowers. Across the river to the gateway is a stone bridge.

Inside the dzong is the mausoleum of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan, a library of religious books and the royal treasury. The temple is home to 300 monks led by the leader of Bhutanese Buddhism.

Trongsa-dzong

trongsadson

A majestic white fortress rising in the heart of Trongsa, it was founded in 1543 as a fortification to protect the ruling dynasty from enemies. It is Bhutan’s largest dzong. Behind the high walls hidden monastery, temples, administrative buildings.

The vaults of the shrine are painted with colorful paintings depicting the Buddhist universe and the life of the gods. During the visit, guests are shown ancient cannons, the equipment of ancient warriors, the traditional red robes of monks and stone statues.

Paro Taktsang

paro takcang

The Taktsang Temple Complex is easy to find in the mountainous Paro Valley on top of a cliff. The local caves have been used for meditation since ancient times, so it was here that the lakhang Taktsang was erected in 1692.

The monastery is a famous landmark in Bhutan. The architectural ensemble consists of neat white houses with gilded roofs. The buildings are linked by steps carved into the rock. A prayer wheel is displayed in the courtyard. Every morning the monks turn it to mark the beginning of the day. You can walk up to the lakhang via a mountain path through the pine forest.

Kyichu lakhang

kiuchu lakhang

On the outskirts of Paro is a preserved monastery founded by the 33rd king of Tibet back in the 7th century. The luminous temple in the traditional style is the center of pilgrimage in Bhutan. It preserves a large sculpture of Jho Shakyamuni, cast by an unknown master in the same 7th century, and statues of Buddha.

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In the mausoleum rests the ashes of King Songtsen Gampo. The courtyard is decorated with flowerbeds. And not far from the entrance is a mural depicting the Tibetan warrior Gesar.

Thimphu chorten

cimphu chorten

The capital of Bhutan is the city of Thimphu. In 1974 here was built a monastery in the form of a stupa. The shrine appeared to commemorate King Jigme Dorji Wangchuke. A photograph of the monarch in ceremonial robes occupies a place of honor on the first floor. Nearby stands an altar to Buddha Samantabhadra and other tantric deities. A staircase decorated with wooden carvings leads upstairs.

On each tier are niches with altars and divine sculptures. The chorten, topped with a golden spire, is surrounded by a garden. In front of the entrance is a prayer wheel, which is spun by monks and pilgrims.

Dechenholing

dechenholing

The capital is adorned by the palace of Dechenholing. This is the residence of the king, erected in the national style in 1953. The three-story building is framed by lush trees, lawns, and ponds. The Queen Dowager of Bhutan lived here until her death.

The current monarch doesn’t live in the palace, but uses it for official meetings and events. In the spacious halls hold banquets, receive international delegations and heads of state. The palace has an art school and a center that teaches woodcarving.

Buddha of Dordenma.

budda dordenma

For the centennial of the monarchy in Bhutan, a giant gilded statue of Buddha sitting in the lotus position was created. It is located in the center of the capital on Mount Changri Kensel Phodrang. The sculpture is 51.5 meters tall. Buddha Dordenma is the third largest statue in Asia.

Inside the square pedestal is a temple filled with small and large statues of gilded Buddhas. About $100 million was spent to build the complex.

Museums

National Museum

nac musei

In 1962, the National Museum of Bhutan opened its doors in Paro. The collections were housed in a restored watchtower. The six-story dzong, rounded shape resembles a spiral snail.

Inside, the best examples of Bhutanese art are preserved: paintings by local artists, bronze statues, and gilded sculptures of deities. Visitors can see traditional clothing, musical instruments, ceramics, numerous Buddhist relics.

Textile Museum

musei tekstilia

The textile museum is managed by the National Commission for Culture. The exhibitions display the country’s success in textile arts and promote Bhutanese culture. Each department is dedicated to a particular area.

Tourists are shown looms, samples of fabric with intricate patterns, a collection of royal clothing, national outfits, appliques, and fabric paintings. There are workshops for those who want to learn how to dye yarns and weaving.

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Design contests and textile shows are regularly held in the museum.

National Library

nac biblioteka

The library, opened in 1967, is under the patronage of the Royal House of Bhutan. A four-story octagonal building resembling an ancient dzong has been allocated for the storage of religious literature.

Central to the collection are the printed text of the Seven Treasures and the collection of works by Padma Karpo. In addition to ancient books and manuscripts, the library preserves documents, letters from officials, and photographs.

Natural Monuments

Manas

manas

The oldest national park of Bhutan has an area of 1057 sq. km. The protected area includes tropical lowland forests and green hills. The jungle is home to pygmy pigs, hares, Bengal tigers, wild bulls and elephants. The park is also home to a large population of Indian rhinos and buffalo.

There are convenient trails in the green area. During the tour, people watch birds, admire rare trees and flowers, go into small villages to get acquainted with the life of the locals.

Phibsu

phibsu

With an area of 269 km², Phibsu is located on the outskirts of Phuentsholing and borders on Assam, India. The reserve’s forest is home to the Shoreia giants. The rare plant is revered in Indian culture and is considered Vishnu’s favorite tree.

The national park is home to tigers, Asian elephants, golden langurs, and rhinoceros birds. An endangered species of Gangetic river dolphin is found in the water bodies. Designed to preserve the flora and fauna of the region, the reserve is supported by the government and the International Wildlife Foundation.

Jigme Dorji National Park

nac park dgigme

This is the second largest national park in the kingdom, covering different climatic zones. It includes the mountain peaks of Jomolhari and Jitchu Drake, glacial lakes, gorges and alpine meadows.

The park is home to animals listed in the International Red Book: Himalayan bear, snow leopard, red panda, smoky leopard, black deer. Blue poppies grow in the meadows of Jigme Dorji, and ferns, pines, and cypresses are found in the forests. There are ancient Buddhist monasteries in the mountains.

Terai

terai

The swampy areas at the foot of the Himalayas, formed along the banks of mountain rivers, are called terai. It is a wide area overgrown with bamboos, ferns, magnolias, vines, and orchids. The forest is home to wild animals, including Indian rhinos. Much of the terai is covered with silt and tall grasses.

In Bhutan, this space is drained, plowed, and used to grow rice, sugarcane, corn, and wheat.

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