Bhutan things to do and see
Ommmm ma ni pe me hung chants will be showered on you while you visit the Himalayan Kingdom of "Bhutan".
It is a pleasure to help you plan this trip.
Here I am just reiterating what Aditi has already said to you before.
Visiting the place in mid Feb, we can expect moderate temperature over the day time & the mercury dropping to zero at night. So make sure you carry layered clothing.
The winter is a good time for touring in western Bhutan, bird-watching in the south's subtropical jungles, and whitewater rafting. The days are usually sunny, cool and pleasant, but it's quite cold once the sun sets and you will need to pack warm clothing. From December to February, there is often snow in the higher regions and occasional snow in Thimphu. The road from Thimphu to Bumthang and the east may be closed because of snow for several days at a time.
(Source: Weather in Bhutan - Lonely Planet Travel)
Paro is a gorgeous beautiful valley, surrounded with lush & green rice fields. Craggy mountain hills & undisturbed serene beauty is going to fill your heart with joy especially considering it is your honeymoon
Do take a walk down the road, checking out the colorful markets with local produce & handicrafts.
Cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown (Paro, Bhutan) (Source: Jean-Marie Hullot)
I also found other locations you could get to from Paro:
Chelela Pass is a two-hour uphill drive from Paro, wherefrom you will be able to view frozen rivers, waterfalls, alpine flowers and snow on the way to the pass. This pleasant pass offers astounding views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
(Source: Top 5 Must See Tourist Places in Bhutan)
One of the finest example of a Bhutanese monastery, this Dzong hosts the Paro Tsechu i.e festival of masks. Did you know that Bertolucci's 1995 film Little Buddha was filmed here? The scenic beauty surrounding the monastery is worth capturing.
Bhutan Paro Dzong Rinping 17 (Source: Rafael)
Here's a very small history lesson for you
Paro Dzong's full name is Ringpung Dzong, which means "the fortress of the heap of jewels". In the 15th century, two brothers (descendants of Phajo Drugom Zippo, the founder of the Drukpa Kagyupa School in Bhutan) named Gyelchok and Gyelzom lived in the Paro valley. Gyelzom established himself at Gantakha Monastery; his brother Gyelchok travelled to Tibet to study theology. When Gyelchok came back to Paro, he was not respected in the community due to the many years he had spent studying without any money. His brother Gyelzom, renounced his existence, in his eyes a "beggar" could not be part of the family.
Gyelchok moved to Humrelkha, a place which took its name from the guardian deity of Paro, Humrel Goemba. He then built a small structure that would later become the Paro Dzong. Gyelchok's descendants, who controlled a large portion of the valley, are well known through Bhutanese history as the "Lords of Humrel".
In 1645, the "Lords of Humrel" relinquished their small fort to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, thus recognizing his religious and political prowess. Immediately, the Zhabdrung began construction of a much more superior fortress and in 1646, the Dzong was consecrated.
Paro Rinpung Dzong | Bhutan 2008 (Source: Paro Rinpung Dzong | Bhutan 2008)
Bhutan Monasterio de Taktsang (Source: Rafael)
One of the holiest places in Bhutan. The monastery is mounted on a high granite cliff and was established for meditation.
Here's small review:
Taktsang Monastery is the most famous and picturesque monastery in Bhutan. The monastery clings impossibly and precariously to a sheer granite cliff almost a kilometer above Paro valley.
The name means "Tiger's nest". The legend was that Guru Rinpoche flew over the Himalaya from Tibet in the 7th century on the back of a tigress. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. The cave is said to be the origin of Buddhism in Bhutan.
From the car park and start of the trail, the monastery looked rather near but the ascent took us three hours. It was continuous uphill walking. There were a few viewpoints along the way where one could get a better view of the monastery. The last part of the trail was a descent of about a 100m on one side of the cliff and then ascending up to the monastery on another side of the cliff. This hike was a good acclimatization trip prior to the actual trek in the mountains.
A few Bhutanese army soldiers stood guard at the entrance to register the visitors and to ensure that no bag or camera was brought into the sacred monastery.
Originally a watch tower and later renovated as a fantastic museum, it is open 5 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm. Exhibits rich stamp collections, slate carvings, Thangka paintings, prehistoric items, jewellery, traditional weapons and other articles reflecting Bhutanese culture.
Statue of a Kore (Source: Sharon Mollerus)
Here's a small review:
This building (Ta Dzong) was the protection and the watchtower of the Rinpung Dzong. Built in 1651 by Tenzing Drugda. It's been decided to turn into a museum in 1965 by Cigme Dorce Vangchuk and opened in 1968. Circular planned structure has 7 flats. Each one of them has different objects like thangkas (Buddhist banners used in religious ceremonies), sculptures, photographs of the royal family, weapons, valuable postage stamps, etc. (Yes, stamps. I've been told that Bhutan's stamps were so popular among philatelists.) The top floor has a 3 dimensional mandala called the Tshogshing lhakhang or the "Tree of Life". So, the top floor is also a temple.The collection of the museum is not so rich. But it is a good opportunity to understand the life in Bhutan and see the amazing structure. It has many holy relics, so local people visit the place as if it was a temple. Also you can see a model of Taktshang (aka Tiger's Nest) monastery in this museum. It is luck, because this monastery is hard to see because of the mist. Museum is located over the Rinpung Dzong and Paro. You can see Paro Valley perfectly, and have some nice shots of the Dzong around the museum.
This capital of Bhutan, tucked in the beautiful valley fanned by the Thimpu Chuu river is majorly attractive for museums, galleries & places of historic visits.
This is the main secretariat building with the Throne Room of His Majesty. Also known as the "Fortress of the Glorious Region". You can read more about it here.
Bhutan Thimphu (Source: Rafael)
The very first Dzong of Bhutan was built at a junction. It is approximately 5-6 km from Thimpu and houses the School of Buddhist Studies.
The fine detailed statues & the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture is a sight TO BE captured in your camera lenses.
Bhutan (Source: Steve Evans)
Built in memory of the third king of Bhutan, this chorten (stupa) features mandalas, statues and altar dedicated to the third Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan.
The National Memorial Chorten in Thimphu was built to honor the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who died in 1972, by his mother. It contains no relics. The king himself had initiated a project to put into tangible form the three traditional pillars of Buddhism: the Word, Body and Mind of Buddha. He had the Commentaries of Buddha, the Tanjur, transcribed in letters of gold to represent the Word of Buddha and had 1,000 statues made to represent the Body of Buddha, but he died before completing the Mind of Buddha which was to be represented by a Chorten. Thus, his mother completed his goal by erecting the chorten.
(Source: Jean-Marie Hullot)
Punakha is located about 72 km from Thimphu, and can be reached by road in about 2 1/2 hours.
The drive to the destination is breathtaking and it is recommended to take the Dochula Pass.
Bhutan Punakha Dzong (Source: Rafael)
Situated over the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Do not miss the Coronation Hall, zongchung at the entrance & the recently renovated cantilever bridge.
The Utse or the central tower in the Dzong is open to tourists and is mostly covered by tour packages in Bhutan. Be amazed by the intricacies of the architecture inside the towers and feel the elegance and the history of the very old Dzong.
The Kuenrey is also a must see when going to Punakha Dzong. You will be surprised by how beautiful the statues and the paintings are considering that they have been made more than hundreds of years ago. The giant statues of Buddha and the highly detailed dragons painted on the ceiling will surely tell you much about Buddhism.
The beautiful scenery in and around Punakha Dzong is also spectacular and should not be missed by all tourists. It is a must that you visit the Dzong during the afternoons since the monks are in a more calmed pace and the sun beautifies the paintings and the entire Dzong even more.
Bhutan Punakha Dzong (Source: Rafael)
Chimi Lhakhang, a temple is dedicated to 'the divine madman', a famous teacher known as Drukpa Kinley.
The temple, flanked by hundreds of prayer flags, sits edge of on picturesque plateau, at the periphery of fertile rice fields. Chimi Lhakhang is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley or Drukpa Kunleg (1455 - 1529) also known as 'The Divine Madman'. He was a great accomplished master of Mahamudra Buddhist tradition but he is remembered more for the outrageous nature of his teachings, often using strong sexual overtones and inclinations. It is a pilgrim site, especially for childless couples. It is accessed by easy walk of 15 minutes each way, from near Mitsina at the intersection of Punakha and Wangdue road.
So the time that you are going to be there in Bhutan and honeymooning, is potentially the time for a a great festival in Punakha.
So the thing is I have found conflicting dates for this particular event. The VisitBhutan website claims that this will happen between 13-15 February and other websites cite its end around 20th February.
I found it worth recommending because of the nature of the festival.
The Punakha Tshechu, as all Tshechu festivals, honors Padma Sambhawa, also known as Guru Rimpoche, the precious yogi and saint who is credited with having introduced Tantric Buddhism throughout the Himalayas. The festival's masked dances are performed by monks clad in colorful brocade attire and permeated by chants and reading of Buddhist scripts. The culmination of festival constitutes the unfolding of a huge cloth thanka, a sacred scroll, depicting Padma Smabhawa and imagery from Buddhist pantheon.
Punakha Tshechu (Source: Druk Asia Singapore)
The best season to visit Gasa & Laya are from April to June & mid Sep to mid Nov. The best time to trek is in month of April.
However, you can plan for the Gasa Hot Spring Trek.
Here's an itinerary I found online detailing the route for the trek:
BEAUTIFUL GASA HOT SPRING TREK
DAY 01: ARRIVAL at PARO
DAY 02: PARO - THIMPHU
DAY 03: THIMPHU-TASHITHANG [Trekking]
DAY 04: TASHITHANG - GEON DAMJI [Trekking]
DAY 05: GEON DAMJI - GASA HOT SPRING [Trekking]
DAY 06: GASA HOT SPRING HALT
DAY 07: GASA HOT SPRING - GEON DAMJI [Trekking]
DAY 08: GEON DAMJI TASHITHANG / ZOMLINGTHANG [Trekking]
DAY 09: ZOMLINGTHANG -THIMPHU
DAY 10: THIMPHU - PARO [Departure]
Do note that I found this on a Lonely Planet forum as of Dec '10
May not be worth it to visit Gasa. It was damaged recently by flood and the road leading to the area has been paved, leading to less fulfilling trek.
You should consider going Haa Valley and Gangtey. DrukPath is a good alternative if you are new to trekking.
Bhutan - Things to do (Source: Lonely Planet travel forum)
I have put in some links for you for the alternative suggestions in case you decide differently.
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