The best of Bhutan: Thimphu, Punakha and Paro

View from the Dochula Pass at a height of 3100 metres looks captivating.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

A beautiful mountainous country- Bhutan’s stunning natural landscapes, without a doubt, make this mountain kingdom a delight to visit.

Its golden triangle – Thimphu, Paro and Punakha are ideally situated at almost equal distances and concentrated in the western area, making it easy to combine them all together during a trip.

Fly into Paro from where you can drive to Thimpu. En route you pass the Tamchog Lhakhang built by Thang Tong Gyalpo (iron bridge builder-a saint from the 14th-15th century who introduced the art of building suspension bridges with iron chains).

Thimphu, the pretty capital of Bhutan, is a blend of the traditional and the modern. It is the only capital in the world without streetlights, relying, instead, on the elegant gestures of the traffic policemen. The population of Thimphu stands at around 40,000. Geographically speaking the capital lies in a valley with the Thimphu River running through the valley.

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This suspension bridge, while driving from Paro airport to Thimphu, has become a popular selfie point.
This suspension bridge, while driving from Paro airport to Thimphu, has become a popular selfie point.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela
Memorial Chorten at Thimphu is a religious structure with a golden spire crowning it.
Memorial Chorten at Thimphu is a religious structure with a golden spire crowning it.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela
The mesmerising view of hills enroute to Punakha
The mesmerising view of hills enroute to Punakha
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

Head to Punakha the next day. Here you can see the Punakha Dzong, the most beautiful structure of its kind in the country, straddling a beautiful valley floor at the confluence of two gushing rivers. En route, you will cross the Dochula pass in Punakha.

One of the most revered temples of Bhutan, Chimi L’hakhang in Punakha is considered as the temple of fertility, dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, popularly known as the Divine Madman.

Devotees walking through the 108 memorial chortens, popularly known as Druk Wangyal Chortens at the Dochula Pass.
Devotees walking through the 108 memorial chortens, popularly known as Druk Wangyal Chortens at the Dochula Pass.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela
Colourful houses at the banks of Punakha river surrounded by yellow fields paint a beautiful picture.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela
Punakha Dzong is located amidst beautiful mountains at the banks of Punakha river.
Punakha Dzong is located amidst beautiful mountains at the banks of Punakha river.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela
The architecture of the Punakha Dzong looks mesmerising with clear blue skies.
The architecture of the Punakha Dzong looks mesmerising with clear blue skies.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela
A group of tourists enjoying rafting in the waters of Punakha river.
A group of tourists enjoying rafting in the waters of Punakha river.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela
A young monk walks out of the door at Chimi Lhakhang Temple or the Fertility Temple in Punakha.
A young monk walks out of the door at Chimi Lhakhang Temple or the Fertility Temple in Punakha.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela
A breathtaking view of Bhutan from Punakha
A breathtaking view of Bhutan from Punakha
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

You can then return to Paro, to stroll around its main street for cool restaurants, stores and souvenir shops. Pay a visit at Paro Dzong in the late afternoon, followed by the National Museum.

The last day is kept for the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which has to be accessed after a hike straight up for 6 hours. It can be strenuous, so break up the climb if you want. It is worth every effort for that view which makes all others pale in comparison.

Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest is a Buddhist monastery that hangs on a cliff at 3120 metres.
Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest is a Buddhist monastery that hangs on a cliff at 3120 metres.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela
These oil lamps lit up the temple complex of Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest.
These oil lamps lit up the temple complex of Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest.
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

The smiling apple-cheeked kids, the friendly and hospitable people at every turn and the uplifting and positive air is reason enough to visit this vibrant nation at least once.