Bhutan, often referred to as the last Shangri-La, when made a destination for an idyllic travel, can bring smiles to the most sedate faces on earth. Such is the charm of this small Himalayan kingdom tucked up in the north eastern corner of the Indian Subcontinent, that it teleports you into a distant utopia and never lets you come out of the trance, unless you leave its boundaries.
If you are the time –crunched package traveler or the decelerated backpacker, Bhutan can satisfy both of you. Spending time in the country which has renounced GDP for GNH ( Gross National Happiness) will surely make you happy, whether you are a photographer or just a traveler, ready to get soaked in the predominantly Buddhist, yet an unique and intriguing cultural aroma of Bhutan.
My motorcycle journey started from the north eastern district of Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, India and took a semi circular trajectory through the width of Bhutan, to be completed at Guwahati in Assam, India. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a serious photographer at that time and all the shots are from a casual point and shoot cam, which I carried for taking the “Been there done that” clicks. The thought of going there again and capturing those moments which I missed or could have captured better, is precisely, the inspiration for this post.
Following are the places and moments, I would love to see again and again and freeze them for eternity, whenever given a chance:
1. The Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang Goempa) at Paro – The resplendent monastery almost dangling from a cliff in Upper Paro valley. This place will need some trekking effort, but its view from the opposite hilltop is simply breathtaking. The monastery interior cannot be missed for its designs and patterns, but unfortunately you can’t click inside. Only to be captured in your mind and penned down, just like I did.
2. The Tsechu festival – Mostly held in and around October in almost all districts of Bhutan. The masked dancers are a special attraction of this festival.
3. Jigme Dorji National Park – If wildlife and snow capped Himalayas are your interests, then you can’t miss this place. It is located in the northwestern part of Bhutan and ranges from sub-tropical forest at an elevation of 1400m to alpine glaciers at about 7000m.
4. Black Mountain National Park – Currently known as the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, includes the Phobjikha Valley, which is an important habitat of black necked cranes, one of the highly endangered birds in the world.
5. Thrumshingla National Park – This park lies in the east central part of Bhutan and is one of the highest habitats for tigers in the world. Not to miss the red pandas and the 22 species of rhododendrons here.
6. Chalela Pass – A two-hour uphill drive from Paro, wherefrom you will be able to view frozen rivers, waterfalls, alpine flowers and snow on the way to the pass. This pleasant pass offers astounding views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
7. The Dzongs – If you are in Bhutan, you can’t miss these majestic structures. They were fortresses of the past, converted into administrative offices in most places. Not to be missed Trashichoe Dzong ( this place hosted the coronation of the new king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in 2008), Paro Dzong and Punakha Dzong. Also the dilapidated Drugyel Dzong can be paid a visit just in case you have a profound interest in history.
8. The beautiful people of Bhutan
Bhutan is one country I would love to visit again and again. Do share your thoughts on the post, if you have some other places or things in mind, bring it down in the plate and post in the comments, I will update the post with your addition.
For detailed daily logs of my motorcycle journey check the Travelogues section:
Happy shooting, walking, paddling, caging to all of you and happy planning for your next Bhutan trip (hoping that’s the reason why you landed up here).
Signing Off for today