PARO BHUTAN DESTINATION
Paro valley extends from the confluence of the Paro Chhu and the Wang Chhu rivers at Chuzom up to Mt. Jomolhari at the Tibetan border to the North. This picturesque region is one of the widest valleys in the kingdom and is covered in fertile rice fields and has a beautiful, crystalline river meandering down the valley.
Accentuating the natural beauty are the elegant, traditional-style houses that dot the valley and surrounding hills. One of the distinctive features of Paro town is that it is situated in a flat valley bottom and follows a grid-like pattern. The central plaza is adorned with a large prayer wheel and a small amphitheater where events are held throughout the year.
There are over 155 temples and monasteries in the area, some dating as far back as the 14th century. The country’s first and only international airport is also located in the region. Its close proximity to the historical and religious sites in the region has resulted in the development of an array of luxurious, high-end tourist resorts making Paro one of the main destination for visitors.
The region contains one of Bhutan’s most iconic landmark, Taktsang Monastery, the Tiger’s Nest. This awe-inspiring temple was constructed upon a sheer cliff face, above forests of oak and rhododendrons. The national museum, Ta Dzong, is also set in Paro. An ancient watchtower that displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artefacts and artwork including traditional costumes, armour, weaponry and handcrafted implements for daily life. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snap-shot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. Another site worth visiting in Paro is Drugyel Dzong or The Fortress of the Victorious Bhutanese. It was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over marauding Tibetan armies. The fortress was destroyed by fire in 1951 but the ruins remain an impressive and imposing sight.
Taktsang Lhakhang is Bhutan’s most iconic landmark and religious site. The name Taktsang translates to “The Tiger’s Nest”. This temple is one of the most holy sites in the kingdom and clings impossibly to a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the Paro Valley.
It was first built in 1692 at a cave where Guru Rimpoche meditated in the 7th century A.D. Legend states that Guru Rimpoche flew to the site atop the back of a tigress and meditated in the cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours in order to subdue evil demons residing within it. The cave has been considered a sacred site ever since and many famous saints have travelled to meditate in it.
Taktsang Lhakhang is located approximately 10 km north of Paro town at an altitude of 3.120 m. In order to arrive at the temple visitors must trek for around 2-3 hours through beautiful, shady pine forests. No trip to Bhutan would be complete without a visit to this remarkable heritage site.
The country’s first international airport is located in Paro.
Due to the close proximity of the airport and the many historical and religious sites in the region, there are a large number of luxurious and high-end tourist resorts in Paro.
Paro is also home to the National museum.
The museum is set in Paro Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower that now displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artifacts and artwork including traditional costumes, armour, weaponry and handcrafted implements for daily life. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snap-shot of the rich cultural traditions of the country.
Another site worth visiting Paro is Drugyel Dzong or The Fortress of the Victorious Bhutanese.
This dzong was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over marauding Tibetan armies. Though the fortress was destroyed by fire in 1951, the ruins remain an impressive and imposing sight.
Jangtsa Dumgtseg Lhakhang is a Buddhist temple in Jangtsa, Paro. The temple is notable as it is in the form of a chorten which is very rare in Bhutan.
It is located on the edge of a hill between the Paro valley and the Dopchari valley, across the bridge from Paro. The Buddhist iconography depicted in the Chorten is considered a unique repository of the Drukpa Kagyu school. According to a local legend, the Lhakhang was built by the saint Thangtong Gyalpo to subdue a “serpentine force” that was located at the foundation of the chorten. Another legend says that Lhakhang was built on the head of a demoness. According to a Bhutanese source it was built “on the nose of a hill that loos like a frog in order to counteract Sadag (earth-owning spirit) and Lunyen (powerful naga spirit). It is said that the hill, by which the temple is built, is a black vicious snake moving downwards
Tamchog lhakhang is temple that is dedicated to the 13th century saint Thangthong Gyalpo, the bridge builder. This temple is located across the river from the Paro to Thimphu. In order to get to the temple one must cross an iron chain bridge, one of the few remaining of the many that Thangthong Gyalpo built.
This is a private temple however tourists are allowed to visit if they are given permission. Crossing this very old bridge with its swaying and undulating movements can be quite an experience. The temple’s location on the ridge and the high rocky barren hills which serve as it’s backdrop makes this a good location to take pictures.