Places to Visit in Paro
Paro, a small and a charming town lies in the center of the valley on the bank of Pa Chhuriver. The valley of Paro is indeed encapsulating a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends within itself. We can find some of the oldest temples and monasteries here. The National Museum and the country’s only airport lie in this place too. Mount. Paro is well known for its fertile plains and the paddy terraced fields. It is very famous for the cultivation of rice of different varieties, especially red rice.
Places of interest in and around Paro
Paro Rinpung Dzong built on the steep hillside opposite to the main valley. It is towered with the most artistic Bhutanese architecture. It was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyalin 1646. The Dzong houses both the monastic body of the district, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. The means to the access to the Dzong is through a traditionally constructed bridge called Nemi Zam. The experience of walking through the bridge, over a stone mosaic path towards thearchitectural wonder ofdzong will be something worth remembering. It is also the bursting venue of Paro Tshechu which is takes place every year.
This Dzong is situated 14 kms north of Paro town with a delightful village nestling at its foot. It was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to memorialize his victory over the Tibetan invaders. The Dzong survived all its glory throughout and was featured in 1914 vied National Geographic magazine archaeologically and strategically. Drukgyel Dzong could endure everything and maintain its glory even when it was destroyed by the fire in 1951.
Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest)
Paro is a valley of religion and myth. The most famous landmark, the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), stands on a granite cliff about 800m above the valley. We know that Guru Rinpoche, a famous Buddhist saint, flew to Paro on a tigress and meditated at Taktsang. The monastery is considered as a national treasure of Bhutan
This location has been recognized as a most sacred place as it was visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646. Every Bhutanese makes an attempt to visit this sacred place at least once in their lifetime. It was damaged by fire on 19 April, 1998, but now this it has been restored to its original grandeur.
Kyichu Lhakhang shines out as one of the oldest and most beautiful temples. The sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century is found. The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in original pattern.
Ta Dzong, built in 1949, was once a watch tower to guard Rinpung Dzong during the civil wars during the 17th century. Ta Dzong serves as the National Museum of the country since 1967. It is amazingly built in the shape of a conch shell. It has a labyrinth of layout inside with all the exquisite displays. The museum has impressive collection of thangkas, the festival masks, various heritage treasures, textiles, stamps of different times, some fine arts, and lots others.
Dungtse Lhakhang is located between the Paro valley and the village of Dopshari. It is a chorten-like temple. This was built in 1433 by the iron bridge builder Thangtong Gyalpo. It has three floors representing hell, earth and heaven and the paintings inside are said to be some of the best in Bhutan.
This Lhakhang is located behind Paro Dzong. This small temple contains the glorious statue of Sakyamuni Buddha which was brought down from Lhasa. One can also see the statue of the protector deity of Paro in this Lhakhang. Legend has it that the statue of Sakyamuni was destined for Paro Dzong and merely placed in the temple for overnight safe keeping. However, when the time came to move the statue, it proved impossible to lift. As a result, it became a permanent feature of the lhakhang.
Built in 1525, this town temple was formed by NgawangChhogyel, one of the prince-abbots of Ralung in Tibet and an ancestor of the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
Excursions around Paro Valley
We will begin the day early for drive to Haa through Chele-la pass. the road to Haa diverts towards the right hand side 4 Km away at Bondey village and the way to the chele-la pass. The drive will take us through blue pine & rhododendron forest for about 45 km along the Chele-la pass ( 4200 meters). This point provides us with terrific views of Mt. Chomolhari & Jichu Drakey. This is a very good place to walk around for few minutes enjoying the view. It will take still one more hour before we reach the valley of beautiful Haa.
The Haa Dzong is currently occupied by military, but still it gives stunning outlook from outside. Our picnic lunch visit to the famous Monastery of Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple)will be followed by visit to Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple)
We will come across the three giant hills looming over the borders of Haa valley . They were initially called “Me Rig Puen Sum” especially after the incidence of the LhakhangKarpo construction. Today the three hills are popularly known as “Rig Sum Goenpa” which signifies the three deities-JambayangChanaDorji and Chenrizig.
Later in the afternoon we will drive back to Paro the same way. The drive will take us uabout 3 hours.
Chele la (pass), run along the elevation of 3,988 meters. It 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 strikingly beautiful views of the surrounding mountains,Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. It is furthermore elevated by hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind. Here, visitors are welcomed by the torrents of wild roses; purple and yellow primulas; and swathes of deep blue iris carpeting the forest floor. The pretty rhododendrons bloom in varied colors-pale pink, deep pink, burnt orange, mauve, white and scarlet.
This Goemba resembles Taktshang and is known as mini Taktsang. Dzongdrakha is a temple complex on the western side of the Paro Valley. The complex is made of four shrines dedicated to Drolma (Tara), Tsheringma (Goddess of Longevity), Guru Rinpoche and the Buddha of the Future, Maitreya. It is known that when Guru Rinpoche first came to Bhutan, he came from Nepal and landed at Drakarpo and then at Dzongdrakha before he reached Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest). It takes about 20 minute to drive from Paro. These temple is built on a cliff above Bondey village. From the road, it takes only about 30 minutes walk to reach here, through forests of rhododendron and oak trees. You find it astonishing to to white monkeys ushering you friendly to the place. Dzongdrakha also hosts an annual Tshechu (festival) that takes place the day before and the day after the larger Paro Tshechu held at Rinpung Dzong near the main town. During the festival at Dzongdrakha, one of the main blessings takes place when the chorten (stupa) of the past Buddha is opened so that attendees are blessed by the relic held within.
It is a nunnery which has the strength of about 100 nuns. These nuns have dedicated their life for spiritual serenity and in leading unobstructed life of sacred studies, prayer and meditation. The goemba is settled in a rugged patch of a mountain. From Chelela pass, the lhakhang is about an hour walk along the lush woody extent.