Monday, July 15, 2013

Best time to go Bhutan

Bhutan Stunning Tours


After making two trips to Bhutan, I am still missing my time spent in this lovely Himalayan kingdom, which had always been shrouded in mystery for so many years.

There was immense peace, and tranquillity, when you face the broad green valley, and the thick lush forested hills. No congestion of so many high-rise buildings, and tall skyscrapers surrounding you, and definitely no hustle and bustle compared to all the big cities.

I love the nature, and always feel at ease when I embrace the beautiful greenery around me. And Bhutan is indeed a land with its pristine wilderness, yet it emanates the magical sense of serenity, which you could not feel in any other parts of the world. They called Bhutan - "Switzerland of the East". And yes, it is comparable in terms of the mountain vista, but it is not like Switzerland in many ways. The people here still live their lives with their age-old traditions that had hardly change over the years, despite the challenges that they face while they progress towards modernisation.

It is July now, and it is the monsoon season. However, by the end of July, most of the rainfall will go away. And then when September comes, it is heading towards the autumn season. And this is indeed the best time of the year to visit Bhutan, as many festivals are coming up, including the spectacular Thimphu Festival, which will be held from the 13th to the 16th of September. And many others will be held in their little villages including Bumthang, and Tangbi.

Here are a few good places that are worthwhile for you to do the little walking/ hiking to see more of the countryside, and yet enjoy this wonderful country while you are there.

Well, most of the people would be too familiar with the famous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest) Hike which takes three to four hours walk up to where Guru Rinpoche, who had meditated up there.
This is Bhutan's most revered temple, and thus there is every reason for you to attempt the walk up. Unless, you have some weak knees, or not so strong legs, you could arrange for a pony ride up to the mid way point , near to where the Takstang Café is located. And you could see the monastery from afar, while enjoying your tea of coffee.

This monastery is perched on the side of a 900m cliff above the Paro valley. While you make your way up, you could see the beautiful Paro valley right below you, as you passed many fluttering prayer flags along the trail. According to the legend, Guru Padmasambhava (another name for Guru Rinpoche) is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress from Singye Dzong in Lhuentse, to meditate in a cave where Taktsang now stands. Hence, the name 'Tiger's Nest'. It was from there the propagated Vajrayana Buddhism that was prophesized by the Buddha at the time of attaining Nirvana. This site has been recognised as a sacred place and was visited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646. It is believed that a Bhutanese should visit the monastery at least once in their lifetime. In April 1998, a fire destroyed the main structure of the building and its religious contents but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour. This is indeed a most unforgettable experience for anyone who is visiting Bhutan.

2. Khansum Yulley Namgyel Choeten
This is an invigorating one-hour hike from the road head in Upper Punakha. It was built to removev negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the changing world. One can enjoy breathtaking views of the valley from the choeten which dominates the upper Punakha valley.

3. Chimi Lakhang
To make this trip to the Fertility Temple, which is the meaning of the name of Chimi Lakhang, you walk across a local village and rice fields from the road head of Sopsokha. The temple was built in 1499 and is located on a hillock in the centre of the valley. It is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley, who in the late 15th century used humour, songs and outrageous behaviour to dramatise his teachings and hence he was also known as the 'Diving Madman'. It is widely believed that childless couples who pray at this temple are usually blessed with children.

4. Haa Valley
This is also known as the 'the Hidden Land Rice Valley'. This is a very narrow north-south valley, and a new dzong was built in 1915, near the old one, which was destroyed by a fire. And Haa was the ancient centre of trade with Yatung in the Chumbi valley in Tibet. The valley has been the strong hold of the Dorji family to which Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuk, belongs.

Haa is characterised by a rugged and mountainous terrain, which makes access and delivery of development services difficult as well as expensive. It has a short growing seasons and limited arable land as only about two percent of the land is cultivable. The main crops in the valley are wheat, barley, millet, potato, and some rice is grown in the lower reaches of the valley. Potatoes, chillies, apples and other crops are grown by farmers on the valley floor along terraced hillsides. Almost 78 percent of Haa is covered with forests, and forest products play an important role in the local economy.

And you could arrange to go for a few days' hike to this lovely Haa valley, which was only recently opened to tourists.

Tickets to Bhutan.
There is only DrukAir, the  national carrier of Bhutan , that flies to Paro, the airport city.

Flights depart from Singapore, Delhi, Kolkata, and Kathmandu to Paro.

For cheap tickets from Singapore, please contact