Paro, a beautiful valley in Bhutan, is one of the most attractive tourist attractions in this mountainous country. One of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, historically it was also the center of two of the most important trade routes to Tibet. Today, the new road to Phuentsholing on the Indian border crosses the valley, amid a patchwork of paddy fields, wheat fields, trout-laden streams, and scattered settlements. Here, the Paro Chu (Chu means river) flows south from its basin in the Chomolahri range. Above, in a rocky outcrop of Sleepy Hill, is Paro Dzong, at just over 7,000 feet, overlooking both sides of the valley, historically one of Bhutan’s most powerful and strategic fortresses.
Places to visit in Paro
Let the ruins of this dzong tell you how Bhutanese warriors defended Bhutan against invaders from the north in the 17th century. This dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646, to commemorate his victory over Tibetan invaders. Although largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the outer walls and central tower remain a majestic sight. On a clear day, enjoy the beautiful view of Mount Jumolhari from the entrance to Drukgyel Dzong.
Rinpung Dzong which locals refer to as “the bastion of jewels”. Built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the dzong is located on a hill above Paro town. It is connected by a traditional cantilevered bridge (called Nemi Zam) over Pa chu, where photography is possible. Experience walking on the paved path surrounding the majestic outer walls. Once inside Dzong, you’ll be greeted by monks and stunning architecture.
On a ridge just above Rinpung Dzong is Ta Dzong, built as a watchtower to protect Dzong from intruders and warring factions. In 1968, Ta Dzong in Paro was inaugurated as a national museum and now houses a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, exquisite Bhutanese postage stamps, coins and wares. handicrafts, as well as a small collection of natural history.
Step back in time and history and visit the 7th century Kyichhu Temple. As the name suggests, the temple is a reservoir of peace where you will truly feel at peace. Next to the temple is a house now turned into a museum dedicated to the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. One can find photographs and other artifacts of Rinpoche.
If you can’t walk to the Tiger Nest, the other option is to visit Dzongdrakha, which sits precariously on the edge of the mountain peak and looks as splendid as the Tiger Nest. This is one of many local sites where Guru Rinpoche subjugates local demons and has an aura of another dimension. The monastery has four shrines dedicated to Tara, Tsheringma (goddess of longevity), Guru Rinpoche and the future Buddha, Maitreya. Dzongdrakha is a 20-minute drive from Bondey on the Paro Haa highway. After parking, you may have to walk another 15 minutes past some traditional houses. You can also get a good view of the Paro Bondey valley from here.
The Five Days of Paro Tshechu is one of the largest religious celebrations. The mask dances are performed to illustrate Buddhist moral stories from different Buddhist masters.
One can witness the famous folk dance known as Wochubi Zhey in remembrance of historical events.
Often called the Tiger’s Nest, perched on the cliffs, has awestruck many a visitor. “Trip to Bhutan is never complete without climbing to Taktsang”, says one tourist. Indeed it’s true as the journey there fills you with spiritual bliss. For those not choosing the spiritual side it is the dramatic, artistically built monument that becomes a hiker’s delight. Take a trip to this dramatically set Buddhist relic hanging from a cliff. Experience the climb as you climb more than two thousand feet from the bottom of the valley.
The only international airport of Bhutan is also located here. This airport is connected with Major Indian cities such as New Delhi, Guwahati, Bagdogra, and Kolkata as well as neighboring country capitals such as Kathmandu in Nepal and Dhaka in Bangladesh. The town is a few kilometers north of the Airport.
Paro can be reached easily by road from India through the Jaigaon – Phuentsholing border. The distance between Phuentsholing and Paro is about 175 km and takes about 6 hours.
There is no railway system in Bhutan. Indian Railways plans to link southern Bhutan to its network under an agreement signed in January 2005 The nearest railway station from Phuentsholing is Hashimara in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal in India. The nearest major railway station is at Siliguri namely New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) in India.
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