Western Bhutan

Tashichhoedzong

Tashichhoedzong western bhutan

Tashichhoedzong means “The Fortress of the Glorious Religion” is fortress of capital city of Bhutan and located on the western bank of the Wang Chu or Thimphu river. It has traditionally been the seat of the DrukDesi-the head of Bhutan’s civil government, an office which has been combined with the kingship since the creation of the monarchy in 1907. ”It was built by the first Dharma Raja, who also founded the Lho-drukpa sect of Buddhism, which has remained the distinctive sect of Bhutan. The main structure of the whitewashed building is two-storied with three-storied towers at each of the four corners topped by triple-tiered golden roofs. There is also a large central tower or utse. The original Thimphudzong was built in 1216 by Lama GyalwaLhanangpa where DechenPhodrang now stands above Thimphu. Soon after, Lama PhajoDrukgomShigpo, who first brought the Drukpa Kagyu lineage to Bhutan, took it over.

Thimphu Buddha Dordenma Statue

Thimphu Buddha Dordenma Statue western bhutan

Buddha Dordenma is a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue under construction in the mountains of Thimphu(KuenselPhodrang facing Thimphu Valley). It is 6 km drive from Thimphu Town. Approved by His Majesty the King and the government, the Buddha Dordenma project is being initiated by the chairman of MenjongChhothuenTshogpa, Lam TsheringWangdi, to commemorate the hundred years of monarchy in 2007.The statue is expected to be a major pilgrimage centre and a focal point for Buddhists all over the world to converge, practice, meditate and retreat.It is also meant to fulfill the prophecy of bestowing blessings, universal peace and happiness to the world.A Singaporean businessman, Rinchen Peter Teo, is the main sponsor of the project.

This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha Dordenma statue, 100,000 8 inch tall and 25,000 12 inch tall statues respectively. Each of these thousands of Buddhas have also been cast in bronze and gilded. The throne that the Buddha Dordenma sits upon is a large meditation hall.

Takin Mini Zoo

Takin Mini Zoo western bhutan

The Takin(Budorcastaxicor) is the national animal of Bhutan . The takin rivals the muskox as the largest and stockiest of the subfamily Caprinae, which includes all goats, sheep, and similar species. Short legs are supported on large, two-toed hooves, which have a highly developed spur. The body is stocky and the chest is deep. The large head is made more distinctive by the long, arched nose, and stout horns that are ridged at the base and can reach 64 cm (25 in) in length. Both sexes have small horns which run parallel to the skull and then turn upwards in a short point, these are around 30 cm (12 in) long. The long, shaggy coat is light in color, with a dark stripe along the back, and males (bulls) also have dark faces. Four subspecies of takin are currently recognised, and these tend to show a variation in coat color. Their thick wool often turns black in color on their undersides and legs. The overall coloration ranges from dark blackish to reddish-brown suffused with grayish-yellow in the eastern Himalayas to lighter yellow-gray in the Sichuan Province to mostly golden or (rarely) creamy-white with fewer black hairs in the Shaanxi Province. The legend of the 'golden fleece', searched for by Jason and the Argonauts,[6] may have been inspired by the lustrous coat of the golden takin (B. t. bedfordi).[5] The hairs of the species can range from 3 cm (1.2 in), on the flanks of the body in summer, up to 24 cm (9.4 in), on the underside of the head in winter.

Zhilukha Nunnery

Zhilukha Nunnery western bhutan

Zilukha is a northern district, located between Jungshina to the north and Sangyegang to the south. It contains the DrubthobGonpa/Zilukha Nunnery once belonged to the Drubthob (Realized one) Thang Thong Gyalpo often referred to as The King of the open field. In the early 15th century with his multiple talents he popularly became the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas. The place also has a great view of the majestic, TashiChhoeDzong (Fortress of Glorious Religion) and government cottages nearby. A golf course spans much of the district flanking the lower eastern part. The Zhilukha Nunnery is overlooking the Tashichhoedzong or ThimpuDzong. You can see many nuns chanting prayers and turning prayer wheels in Zhlukha nunnery.

Zilukha nunnery in Drubthob Goemba,Thimphu is biggest nunnery in Bhutan. The Nunnery and Goemba once it belonged to the Drubthob (Realized one) Thang Thong Gyalpo often referred to as The King of the open field. In the early 15th century with his multiple talents he popularly became the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas. It is located above Tashichhoedzong(2 KM drive from the Dzong). The Zhilukha Nunnery is overlooking the Tashichhoedzong or Thimpu Dzong. You can see many nuns chanting prayers and turning prayer wheels in Zhlukha nunnery.In the same compund there is one-storey building which is serving as sleeping quarters .You can see views of Golf ground and other side of Thimphu valley.

Tango Monastery(Day Excursion)

Tango Monastery western bhutan

The Tango Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) to the north of the capital city of Thimphu in Bhutan, near Cheri Mountain. It was founded by Lama GyalwaLhanampa in the 13th century and built in its present form by Tenzin Rabgye, the 4th Temporal Ruler in 1688. In 1616, the Tibetan, ShabdrungNgawangNamgyal, meditated in its cave. The self-emanated form of the wrathful Hayagriva is deified in the monastery. It belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism in Bhutan. According to a local legend PhajoDrugomZhig popropounder of the teachings of Dodeyna who was on a visit to this place during his teaching mission heard the neighing of a horse coming from the direction of the Tango. Concurrently, he witnessed the cliff in the form of god Tandin (horse head or Hayagriva) engulfed in flames. The deity appearing before Zhigpo prophesised that the place was meant to build a monastery for meditation.The prophesy also mentioned that Zhigpo would marry the Dakini, KhandoSonamPeldon and establish the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism in Bhutan. The earliest history traced to this location is when Guru Rinpoche on a visit to the place in the 8th century had identified the place as representing the Hayagriva or horse head. It was only in 1222 that the place again got its recognition when PhajoDrugomZhigpo, propounder of the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism, witnessed the cliff in the form of god Tandin (horse head) or Hayagriva.

Cheri Monastery(Day Excursion)

Cheri Monastery western bhutan

Cheri Monastery was founded by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the 17th century unifier of the Bhutanese nation state. Initially coming from Tibet, Shabdrung moved to Bhutan and promoted a distinct Bhutanese cultural identity - distinct, that is, from the dominant Tibetan culture. He established Cheri Monastery at the end of Thimpu Valley in 1620. Cheri, also known as Chagry Dorjeden, had been a sacred place ever since Guru Rinpoche visited it in the 8th century. Shabdrung added to its sacredness, and nowadays, it is a prominent teaching centre of the Drukpa Kagyu order. Like many monasteries, Cheri offers ample opportunities for people to go into retreat, and even in the 20th century, a new meditation centre was opened. Shabdrung himself spent three years in retreat, and later, regularly used it as a residence.

Prayer flags were hanging from long strings spanning the empty space between the monastery and the surrounding trees on hills. Not only could we hear the flapping of the flags in the wind, their prayers were flowing in the air, benefiting everyone who would be touched by the wind. After entering the main building, we proceeded past beautifully painted wooden prayer wheels, a small building next to the main monastery, where a monk was lighting butter lamps, before entering the building itself. Before explaining anything, my guide threw himself to the floor in prayer. Once on top of the building, we had a great view of the surrounding area and Wang Chhu valley below. Next, we entered a separate area of the monastery, with a sign saying that the demons threatening this monastery had been subjugated, and that a special permit was required to enter. Fortunately, my guide could produce one, and we saw this sacred place, giving access to the very spot where the Shabdrung had spent three years in meditation. The friendly, sacred atmosphere of Cheri monastery gave me a very good feeling of my visit to Bhutan - and I was looking forward to seeing much more of this unique country.

BBS Tower

BBS Tower western bhutan

The place is ideally located uphills with good motor road to access across the hills, which gives elderly and sporty people a pleasure for a walk and jog uphills from the base area. Most people living in Thimphu get themselves shed few kilos of calories while giving themselves a hourly walk or jog towards the Tower place. As you go towards the BBS Tower, you get the chance to take the road or climb the steep slopes or take gentle steep and burn the fats of your body.

Sangaygany is the most heard place with the lovers around the Capital City of Thimphu, as the lovers and people of all kind rush towards the top of the hills, their feeling and sentiment changes watching the picturesque Thimphu Valley from a point as when in evening, you get to see the sun closest the Thimphu valley and the lovers or people just feel warmth inside their heart. Lovers from all junction comes there taking a ride with their loved one or some comes walking uphills keeping their vehicle parked in the base camp and chanting the lovers mantra. Perhaps the most lovers get their sweetheart towards the evening side. With increasing in the romance, most couples can be seen in and around sangaygang. The place has caught the attention of everyone hearts that if you are asking for a blind date, sangaygang has never been out of the mind for romantic people.

Bhutanese Traditional Paper Factory

Bhutanese Traditional Paper Factory western bhutan

Jungshi handmade paper factory is located near River view hotel. It is 1 km drive from main city of Thimphu. The word “Jungshi” means natural. The factory uses the bark of two tree species in the manufacture of traditional paper (“deh-sho”)- dhenap (Daphne) and dhekap. You can see entire process of producing had made paper in traditional way.

In Bhutan paper has been made to provide to monasteries for woodblock and manuscript books and also for writing prayers and prayer books. Today handmade paper making continues to preserve and promote this age-old tradition by Bhutan Government. The Factory also diversify the paper in making other products, such as stationery and greeting cards.

Jungshi Hadmade Paper Factory was under Govt. and now it is run by private entrepreneur Mr.Norbu Tenzin and his son. They were sent to Japan for training in the same field.

National Library of Bhutan

National Library of Bhutan western bhutan

Established in 1967, National Library of Bhutan (NLB) has extensive collection of about 6,100 Tibetan and Bhutanese books, manuscripts and xylographs and about 9000 printing boards and the wood printing blocks for religious books. The stock of books is growing. The library boasts of one the largest holdings of Mahayana Buddhist literature in the world, originally written in classical language of the lamaist world, called choekad choekad (chos skad). It also has a sizeable and rich collection of English or Western books related mostly to Himalayas, Bhutan and Buddhism. It is dedicated to the collection, preservation and promotion of the cultural and religious heritage of Bhutan, especially its ancient written and printed resources related to Bhutanese history, religion, social traditions and culture.

At first, Bhutan's National Library was situated within the premises of Tashichodzong and was later moved to various locations, before it was finally shifted permanently to the present site at Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, in 1984, under the National Commission for Cultural Affairs (NCCA). The new building complex is built in the traditional Bhutanese style. The four-storyed white stone building built in the fashion of a temple houses all the collection of books and documents and is reminiscent of a rdzong-fortress with a central tower. It is a sacred place representing all the three aspects of Buddha. Statues and paintings in the library represent the physical aspect of Buddha, books and printing blocks represent the verbal aspect of Buddha while the eight stupas on the altar on the ground floor of the building represents the mental aspect of Buddha.

There is a two-storied building in the library complex housing the administrative offices, staff accommodations, technical equipments such as computers, special room containing the collection of wood blocks and the microfilm section. Library opens from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm during the weekdays (Monday to Friday) from March to October and 9:30 am to 4:00 pm from November to February. On weekends and government holidays, it remains closed. Anyone can browse through books, magazines and newspapers in the Reading Room but only the members of the library can borrow the books from there and take them out of the building. There are some very old and rare books in the library, which people can access for research work and other academic pursuits.

Institute of Traditional Medicine Services

Institute of Traditional Medicine Services western bhutan

Established in 1978, this interesting government facility researches, prepares and dispenses traditional herbal and other medicines. The small museum details ingredients that range from herbs and minerals to animal parts, precious metals and gems. The institute collects medicinal plants from remote corners of the Bhutanese Himalaya such as Lingzhi, Laya and Lunana and then distributes pills, tablets, ointments and medicinal teas to regional health-care units around the country.

Of particular interest is yartsa goenbub (cordyceps), the high-altitude cure-all 'Himalayan Viagra' that is actually a caterpillar that has been mummified by a fungus. The curious 'worm-root' sells for up to US$25,000 per kilogram in China.

If you're feeling under the weather, the on-site clinic will tell you if your wind, bile and phlegm are in balance and prescribe appropriate medicines or treatments, all free of charge. Lasgang root is said to do wonders for a sore throat; we're not quite sure about the elephant's gallstone.

Folk Heritage Museum

Folk Heritage Museum western bhutan

The museum gives you a glimpse of the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle, in addition to artifacts from rural households; it also displays an impressive collection of typical household objects, tools and equipment. The museum also organizes regular demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs as well as hosting educational programs for children.

The activities of the museum follow a seasonal rhythm, just like the activities of a true rural household, offering you something new to see every time you visit the place. The museum does a remarkable job of recapturing the rural setting and ambiance of a traditional household by setting up paddy, wheat and millet fields, a traditional water-mill with mill stones more than 150 years old, traditional style kitchen gardens with vegetables that were typically grown during the past 100 years and even one of the traditional hot stone baths that are famous throughout the country.

In an effort to maintain our knowledge of indigenous natural resources, native trees and plants that had domestic uses in a rural Bhutanese household is grown, creating an oasis of greenery, right in the heart of the capital city of Thimphu.

Tourists may also avail the special offers of the museum at a nominal fee with an advance booking of at least one week. These include demonstrations of the traditional way of extracting oil or Markhu Tsene, brewing ara or Ara Kayne, roasting rice or Zaw Ngowni and pounding rice or Tham Dhungni within the museum premises. The museum also organizes an open air buffet lunch and dinner offering visitors a taste of traditional cuisine. The menu for such arrangements is available at the Museum and consists of a variety of traditional dishes from every region of the Kingdom.

However, lunch and dinner arrangements are only available for groups with five or more members. The museum is closed on government holidays. Hours of operation are from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday, from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays and 11:30 am to 3:30 pm on Sundays.

Painting School

Painting School western bhutan

Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.

Phajoding Day Hike

Phajoding Day Hike western bhutan

It is a 5km walk uphill from the youth centre in Motithang to Phajoding Goemba (3640m), a large monastic complex with 10 lhakhangs and 15 monastic residences, many of them used for extended meditation retreats. It was founded in the 13th century by Togden Pajo, a yogi from Tibet, who was searching for a place of meditation. Most of the buildings were constructed in 1748 through the efforts of Shakya Rinchen, the ninth Je Khenpo, whose image is the central figure in the main Khangzang Lhakhang here. The monastic school is housed in the Jampa Lhakhang and offers a more scheduled environment than the Dechen Phodrang School in Thimphu. From Phajoding you can ascend another 3000m to Thujidrag Goemba. This is the last day of the Druk Path Trek in reverse.

Chanzamtok weaving center

Chanzamtok offers you a glimpse of most sophisticated Bhutanese textile with a great sense of touch and patterns & designs. The National memorial stupa is one of the pious landmark for the residence of Thimphu, built for the Late third king and for World Peace, SimtokhaDzong and ZangtopelriLhakang.

Changangkha Lhakhang

Changangkha Lhakhang western bhutan

This popular fortress-like temple perched on a ridge above central Thimphu regularly hums with pilgrim activity. It was established in the 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, who came from Ralung in Tibet. Parents traditionally come here to get auspicious names for their newborns or blessings for their young children from the protector deity Tamdrin (to the left in the grilled inner sanctum, next to Chenresig). Don't leave without taking in the excellent view from the back kora (pilgrim path), with its lovely black and gold prayer wheels.

Dechen Phodrang Monastery

Dechen Phodrang Monastery western bhutan

DechenPhrodrang meaning "Palace of Great Bliss" is a Buddhist monastery in Thimphu, Bhutan. It is located to the north of the city. In 1971 it became a monastic school and currently it has 450 student monks enrolled in eight-year courses with a staff of 15. The monastery contains a number of important historical Bhutanese artifacts including 12th century paintings monitored by UNESCOand a noted statue of ShabdrungNgawangNamgyal on the upper floor. In the downstairs chapel, there is a central Sakyamuni Buddha.

Paro Taktsang

Paro Taktsang western bhutan

It is also one of thirteen small monasteries or "tiger's lairs" where the Guru Rinpoche or "Precious Master" also known as the "Second Buddha" of Bhutan is said to have meditated. Padmasambava was a Brahmin royal who spread Tantric Buddhism through Bhutan and Tibet in the 700s, and is seen in those areas as nearly as holy as the Buddha himself.

As legend has it, Padmasambava landed at Paro Taktsang to meditate when he brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the seventh century. He is said to have arrived on a flying tiger which had recently been his Tibetan concubine. He then meditated in a cave high on the mountain for four months after which he subdued the local 'demons' and began the conversion of the Bhutanese to Buddhism.

For those without flying tiger concubines, getting to the Tiger's Nest is significantly more difficult. There is a two hour climb from the valley floor, which is already quite high at 7000 feet, to the Tiger’s Nest 3000 feet above, 10,000 feet above sea level. As one climbs the well-maintained but very steep trail over ever more vertical switchbacks, the monastery seems to appear and disappear in and out of the trees and the mists. After two hours of a long slow climb -- going slow is recommended to help manage the pace of the altitude -- one arrives at the only beginning of the entrance to the Tiger’s Nest, a rock outcropping overlooking a vast chasm, with the monastery on the other side.

Kichu Lhakhang

Kichu Lhakhang western bhutan

Kichu Lhakhang was originally a small structure at the time of its establishment. Over the years the temple was visited and blessed by many famous Buddhist saints including Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century, Lam Kha Nga and Phajo Dugom Zhigpo to list few. Many of them also expanded the temple in size and grandeur over the period of time. One such personality was Je Sherub Gyeltshen who lived in the 18th century. He extended the Jowo Lhakhang and added many new statues. The latest extension was carried out in 1965 under the initiative of the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck. She added another new structure to the temple known as Guru Lhakhang. As one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the temple has many relics. The inner hall of the main Jowo Lhakhang conceals the valley’s greatest treasure, an original 7th century statue of Jowo Sakyamuni, believed to be cast at the same time as its famous counterpart in Lhasa. Guru Lhakhang temple contains 5m high statues of Guru Rinpoche and Red Kurukulla. Also in here is the chorten containing the ashes of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, a revered teacher who was cremated nearby in 1992.

National Museum Bhutan

National Museum  Bhutan western bhutan

At the top of the hill above Paro Dzong is an old watchtower that was renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum. The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell, with 2.5m-thick walls; it was completed in 1656 and was originally the ta dzong (watchtower) of Paro Dzong, which lies undefended below. An underground tunnel is said to lead from the watchtower to the water supply below.

At the time of research, the ta dzong was closed owing to the damage suffered in the 2009 and 2011 earthquakes. A sample of the museum's exhibits are currently on display in an adjacent annexe, in what was the portrait gallery. Restoration of the ta dzong is expected to be completed in 2015.

Cameras are not allowed inside the museum, but you can photograph the ta dzong and surrounding grounds. Displays in the various galleries include an impressive collection of thangkas, both ancient and modern, depicting Bhutan's important saints and teachers, as well as fearsome festival masks. There's a natural-history gallery, while the Heritage Gallery displays a collection of religious statues and early stone carvings, plus a few original iron links from the nearby Tamchhog Bridge.

Rinpung Dzong

Rinpung Dzong western bhutan

From the airport towards Paro town there is a traditional wooden bridge, some two kilometres away, called Nyamai Zam, leading towards a huge fortress (dzong) built with stones. It is white washed and is known by the name of Rinpung Dzong. The fortress was built in 1646 AD by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Earlier it was known as Rinchen Pung Dzong literally meaning “fortress on a heap of jewels.” It is one of the finest example of Bhutanese architecture and it contains fourteen shrines. The fortress houses the office of the district administration and the court including the monk body. The courtyard inside the fortress is used for Paro Tsechu, a festival conducted in the first day of spring. It is one of the most important festivals in Bhutan.

Drukgyel Dzong

Drukgyel Dzong western bhutan

Drukgyal Dzong was one of the four principal Dra Dzongs (defense fortress). Accounts differ on the founder of Drukgyal Dzong. Most writers feel that it was Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who built it to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan army in 1649. Others believe that it was Tenzin Drugda, the second Desi, (who was Paro Penlop at the time) who built it at the behest of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal. Despite differences of opinion on the founder of the Dzong, people agree on the fact that it was built to commemorate the victory of the Bhutanese over the allied Tibet-Mongol forces. Hence the name Druk Gyal “the fortress of victory’ The Dzong was used as a summer residence by the Ringpung Rabdey. In 1951, in the 10th month of Bhutanese calendar, on the last day of the three-day annual prayers, the Dzong was burnt. It is said to have been caused by the fire when a butter lamp fell in the central tower. Only the ruins of giant walls, charred gigantic wooden posts, beams and watch towers can be seen of what was once an important fortress that repelled several invasions from the north.

Dumsey Lhakhang

DungtseLhakhang, the little three storied chorten-shaped temple, was built in 1421 by ThangtongGyelpo to subdue the ogress on the top of whose head it is said to be built. It was restored in 1841 by the 25th Head Abbot of Bhutan, SherabGyeltshen and the names of the Paro donors can still be seen written on the wooden pillars of the ground floor. Men of great stature and strength known as the “Nya goe” were employed in the construction to lift the massive pillars used in the temple. It is said that on the day of construction, the founder himself appeared in the form of five vultures, and circled the temple showering his blessings before taking flight to Tibet. One can also see the central tower (utse), the pinnacle of the temple, chained from four directions to the roof of the temple. It is believed that while the consecration was being performed the central tower moved, attempting to fly to Tibet. Thus to stop it from its flight the central tower was chained down. This temple is unique in Bhutan as its paintings show the progressive stages of Tantric Buddhist philosophy as well as the most important deities and figures of the DrukpaKagyudpa School.

Kila Goenpa

Kila Goenpa western bhutan

The Sanskrit meaning of Kila is subjugating spiritual dagger that destroys the negativities. A hike uphill will take you to a magnificent cluster of temples on the cliffs, a home for the nuns. Some refer to the group of seven temples built on a cliff at a height of 3,500 meters as tree houses. It houses some 70 nuns.It is a treat to those who love hiking because it is just an hour’s hike passing through forests and steep slopes and offers a magnificent view of Paro valley.Kila Gompa is also known as Chele Gompa.

Dochula 108 Stupas

Dochula 108 Stupas western bhutan

At over 3000 meters above sea level, Dochula pass grants one a view of Bhutan in all directions. At one of the viewing points, 108 stupas (chortens) were constructed as a memorial built by the queen, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, to honor the victory of the Bhutanese army in the 2003 war of Southern Bhutan. Each one contains effigies of Buddha and religious texts. On a slope nearby, there is a large collection of colorful prayer flags and poles. This site represents peace. On a clear day, the snow capped mountains of the Himalayas can be seen. However, the weather was too foggy, making it so nothing was visible past the cliff edge. It is an eerie feeling not knowing if there is something twenty feet out or twenty miles.

Druk Wangyal Lhakhang

Druk Wangyal Lhakhang western bhutan

This was built over a period of four years (2004-2008) under the vision and patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother AshiDorjiWangmo. The Lhakhanghonors the courageous service of the Fourth King, who personally led the troops against the insurgents, as well as the regular Armed Forces of the country.

With funds from Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, the construction of the Lhakhang began in March 2004. The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang was constructed as a tribute to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo for his selfless service and visionary leadership. It is also an expression of gratitude for resolving the militant problem which further strengthened the security and sovereignty of the kingdom.

Chimi Lhakhang Monastery

Chimi Lhakhang Monastery western bhutan

ChimiLhakhang, also known as Chime Lhakhang or Monastery or temple, is a Buddhist monastery in Punakha District, Bhutan.[1]Located near Lobesa, it stands on a round hillock and was built in 1499 by the 14th Drukpa hierarch, NgawangChoegyel, after the site was blessed by the "Divine Madman" the maverick saint Drukpa Kinley (1455–1529) who built a chorten on the site.

In founding the site it is said that Lama Kunley subdued a demon of Dochu La with his “magic thunderbolt of wisdom” and trapped it in a rock at the location close to where the chorten now stands. He was known as the "Mad Saint" or “Divine Madman” for his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism by singing, humour and outrageous behaviour, which amounted to being bizarre, shocking and with sexual overtones. He is also the saint who advocated the use of phallus symbols as paintings on walls and as flying carved wooden phalluses on house tops at four corners of the eves. The monastery is the repository of the original wooden symbol of phallus that Kunley brought from Tibet. This wooden phallus is decorated with a silver handle and is used to bless people who visit the monastery on pilgrimage, particularly women seeking blessings to beget children. The tradition at the monastery is to strike pilgrims on the head with a 10 inch (25 cm) wooden phallus (erect penis). Traditionally symbols of an erect penis in Bhutan have been intended to drive away the evil eye and malicious gossip.

Punakha Dzong

Punakha Dzong western bhutan

Punakha is the administrative centre of Punakhadzongkhag, one of the 20 districts of Bhutan. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu. It is about 72 km away from Thimphu and it takes about 3 hours by car from the capital Thimphu. Unlike Thimphu it is quite warm in winter and hot in summer. It is located at an elevation of 1,200 metres above sea level and rice is grown as the main crop along the river valleys of two main rivers of Bhutan, the Pho Chu and Mo Chu. Dzongkha is widely spoken in this district.

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten western bhutan

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten stands out on a beautiful ridge above the Punakha valley. Her Majesty built the Queen Mother, AshiTsheringYangdonWangchuck it. It took 9 years to build and Holy Scriptures rather than engineering manuals were consulted to construct this 4-storey temple. It is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions. This temple has been dedicated for the well being of the kingdom, its people and all sentient beings. It is a 15-20 mins hike from the suspension bridge.

The Chorten would take a one-hour hike to approach. It offers a beautiful view of the Punakha Valley.

Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery

Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery western bhutan

A nunnery perched on a ridge with beautiful views over the Punakha valley, lying below the Talo Monastery and Dzong. This nunnery was established 2010, and there have been announcements in the local TV to encourage young well educated women like 10th grade students to come and join.

As this nunnery lies below the Talo Monastery on top of the hillside, in the buddhist tradition the nuns are supposed to be inferior to the monks. The Buddha established the first orders for nuns, and thus for the first time a woman could live a life of her own, instead of serving as a mother and wife. But the strong chauvinist tradition of his followers subdued the nuns back under male predominance: even the oldest and most learned nun is not allowed to give teachings to the youngest monk and has to greet him with respect. Some buddhistic traditions deny to a woman the ability to reach complete enlightenment and claim that a soul has to be reborn nine times in the body of a woman before it can be finally reborn as a man. Although Bhutanese parents are glad when a daughter is born to them - because she will care for her parents when they are old - the girl is still brought up under the impression that she is inferior to men.

Punakha Ritsha Village

Punakha Ritsha Village western bhutan

Punakha valley is famous in Bhutan for rice farming. Both red and white rice are grown along the river valley of Pho and Mo Chu, two of the most prominent rivers in Bhutan. Ritsha (meaning at the base of a hill) is a typical village in Punakha. The village houses are made of pounded mud with stone foundations. Each house is only two storeys high.

Surrounding the houses are the gardens and the rice fields. The gardens also usually have fruit bearing plants like oranges and papaya among the organic vegetables. In the recent years, the farming work is mechanized and power-tillers instead of bullocks are used to plough the fields and villagers have become relatively prosperous. This is a model rice growing village in western Bhutan.

Nalanda Buddhist College

Nalanda Buddhist College western bhutan

Nalanda Buddhist Institute(NBI), also known locally as Daley Goenpa or Dalida, is a Buddhist monastic school (shedra). The shedra is located in the western part of the Punakha District (Dzongkhag) in the Kingdom of Bhutan. It is located below Talo Monastery and is above Walakha. It is about a 25-minute drive from the main highway to Punakha, before reaching Kuruthang from the Metsina junction. Nalanda Buddhist Institute can be seen from Dochu La pass and from Thinleygang on the main Easst-West highway.

Chorten Nigpo walks

The walk to ChortenNingpo passes through several villages. Many visitors love this walk in summer and in autumn. In summer the rice fields are lush and gardens are filled with multitudes of vegetables and fruits. Likewise autumn enchants visitors with the golden hue of ripening rice. For adventure loving hard core walkers we recommend a detour to Hokotso, a lowland lake that holds many legends. This is recommended in autumn though.

Wangdiphodrang Dzong

Wangdiphodrang Dzong western bhutan

WangduePhodrang is a town and capital (dzongkhag thromde) ofWangduePhodrang District in central Bhutan. It is located in ThedtshoGewog.

The town shares its name with the dzong built in 1638 that dominates the district. The name is said to have been given by ShabdrungNgawangNamgyal, who was searching for the best location for a dzong to prevent incursions from the south. At the chosen spot, the Shabdrung encountered a boy named Wangdi playing beside the river and hence named the dzong "Wangdi's Palace".

Gangtey Gompa

Gangtey Gompa western bhutan

The Gangteng Monastery (Dzongkha: generally known as GangteyGonpa or Gangtey Monastery, is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, the main seat of the PemaLingpa tradition. located in the WangduePhodrang District in central Bhutan. The Monastery, also known by the Gangten village that surrounds it, is in the Phobjika Valley where winter visitors – the Black-necked Cranes – visit central Bhutan to roost, circling the monastery three times on arrival and repeating this circling when returning to Tibet.

The Monastery's history traces to the early 17th century and back to the prophecies made by the well-known Terton (treasure finder) PemaLingpa in the late 15th century. The Monastery is one of the main seats of the religious tradition based on PemaLingpa's revelations and one of the two main centres of the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism in the country.

Phobjikha Valley

Phobjikha Valley western bhutan

The Phobjikha Valley (also spelt Phobjikha and, in the past, Phubjikha,[1] the suffix kha means valley in Dzongka) is a vast U-shaped glacial valley, also known as Gangteng Valley named after the impressive Gangteng Monastery of the Nyingma sect in central Bhutan, where the graceful Black-necked Cranes in Bhutan (Grusnigricollis) from the Tibetan Plateau visit the valley during the winter season to roost. On arrival in the Phobjikha Valley in the last week of October, the Black-necked Cranes circle the Gangteng Monastery three times and also repeat the process while returning to Tibet.

The broad valley with its best-known marshland in Bhutan, is popular for its scenic splendour and cultural uniqueness. The valley is rich in faunal biodiversity and has, apart from the globally threatened Black-necked Cranes Grusnigricollis, 13 other globally threatened species. Within the ambit of the valley, an area of about 163 square kilometres (63 sq mi) has been declared a protected area, which is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN), for the protection of nature, authorized to manage, on lease basis, by the Ministry of Agriculture.

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