Last month, we spent ten days travelling through Bhutan. I’m not even going to attempt to describe in words the kind of beauty that is SO commonplace in Bhutan. We’d have readily stayed on there for the rest of our lives, but we had to drag ourselves back, leaving pieces of our hearts behind. Our trip began and ended in Paro. Paro has the country’s only international airport, one of the most dangerous ones in the world. It’s also really small and quirky – people get off the plane, and generally wander about for a while taking pictures, and nobody really bothers you unless another plane has to take off or land!
The fertile Paro valley is full of lush green paddy fields – it literally looks like a green bowl formed by the mountains around it.
Paro has a beautiful dzong that you can spot from the airport itself. Dzongs are like fortresses, but they also house a monastic section and the local district administration. Ngawang Namgyel, known as the Shabdrung or the unifier of Bhutan, brought the whole country under one rule for the first time, back in the 17th century. He is worshipped as a deity all over the country. Most of the dzongs that you see in Bhutan today, were built by him.
The most famous and most sacred site in Paro, and probably in all of Bhutan, is the Tiger’s Nest monastery, that sits high up on a cliff at an altitude of more than 3000 meters! Guru Rinpoche, an Indian Buddhist saint, is credited with spreading Buddhism across Bhutan. It is said that he flew to the top of the cliff on the back of a tigress, and meditated there for a long, long time. Here’s my post about the trek up to the monastery)
While in Paro, we stayed in Hotel Olathang. It was quite a nice place – decent food and a slightly dark but very cozy and comfortable room. We got a good night’s sleep before and after the trek up to Tiger’s Nest.