Monday, May 01, 2017

Bhutanize Yourself

I'm back home after a lightening trip of 5 days and 6 nights at Bhutan. From my outward appearance, I look absolutely charred and burnt like a badly cooked piece of Tandoori Chicken, but from the inside I'm filled with warmth and joy, much like the serene blue haired Golden Buddha Dordenma at Thimpu. 

Even before my flight could land at Paro airport in Bhutan, the view outside blew me away. The majestic mountains all around my aircraft beckoned to me. Being a city kid all my life, the pristine beauty was overwhelming to my senses. Upon landing, all passengers (self included), hurriedly began taking pictures of the cutest airport in the world, Paro. The architecture of the airport and the breathtaking view of the intimidating, majestic green hills were all a little too much. We all felt like Alice stuck in our respective wonderlands. 

After completing our immigration, we were welcomed by our enthusiastic young guide, Eelo (to be pronounced as ILU from the cheesy ILU ILU Bollywood song, as explained by him). 

After a day of rest at our local hotel in Thimpu, we began our exploration of the city. We were taken to the Thimpu Chorten to begin with, where we had our first sight of the cylindrical golden prayer bells. Next, we headed to the Buddha Dordenma, one of the largest Buddhas in the world at a majestic 169 feet. This Buddha can be seen as you ascend up the hills of Thimpu and your excitement level will mount as you near closer and closer to the enormous statue. We ended our day by visiting the Tashichho Dzong, where we took multiple selfies with amused monks and gleefully ran our fingers (like a child in a candy shop!) over the multiple cylindrical golden prayer bells. The centre of the monastery will remind Kung-Fu panda fans of Master-Shifu and the Furious Five. I almost expected all of them to emerge out of the woodwork and give me a flying kick.

The next day began bright and early. We checked out of our local Thimpu hotel and began our 3 hour journey to Punakha. Enroute Punakha, we stopped at Dochula Pass where we breathed in huge lungfuls of almost snowy air and took pictures galore with the cutely built 108 memorial chortens/stupas. Next we stopped at the vertigo-inducing Puakha suspension bridge. An architectural wonder and a sight to behold for nature photographers, as the bridge offers panoramic views of the river and the surrounding landscape. However, if you have the fear of heights (like me), look straight ahead and march on without clinging on to either sides of the bridge! Our day ended at the cozy local hotel in Punakha, which was set right on the banks of the Mo Chhu river. Needless to say, our evening and morning were spent attempting to dip our feet and face (Tamasha style like Ranbir) in the freezing cold Mo Chhu.

The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and began our journey excitedly towards Tiger's Nest. Tiger's Nest is home to a very sacred Buddist temple by the name of "Paro Taktsang". Situated on the upper Paro valley, the climb up to the temple is not for the faint of heart. The total climb up and down is a steep 9 km and takes 6 hours in total (if you are an expert mountain climber!). Buddhists believe that love for God must be shown by bodily effort and pain, which is why most of their temples are situated on a hilly terrain. My climb up the Tiger's Nest was not a successful one, I could only reach upto the halfway point of 4.5 kms which was home to a well laid out Cafeteria. I apologized to lord Buddha and promised him I'd be back next year to give it another shot. 

Whether you seek tranquility of the mind, an adventurous trek or virgin beauty, you will find it all here in Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon. 

How to get there :
Calcutta to Bhutan by Drukair flight takes you 50 minutes exactly

Hotels to stay in :
Thimpu :
Tara Phendeyling Hotel

Punakha :
Damchen Resorts

Olathang Hotel

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