Bhutan, better known as the last Shagri-La- Bhutan is a divine country.
It wont be wrong if i said that Bhutan is magic! I remember feeling very unsure about what to expect when “the explorers” first broke it to us that we would be visiting Bhutan next ! The thing was, I knew nothing about Bhutan, quite literally. This is the reason why what happened in the next ten days blew my mind.
We flew to Sealdah, Kolkata and then travelled by road to Jaigaon, a little town in Bengal that shares the border with Bhutan. One look at the Majestic gate of the Royal republic of Bhutan mermerised us. we had our permits checked and moved into the town of Pheuntsholing.. and might I say, it was incredible. Colourful, grand and absolutely majestic. It was hard to believe that we had moved into another drastically country just in a span of 2-3 minutes.
If you are traveling to Bhutan, do not come back without trying every variety of momos they have. The food in Bhutan comprises alot of red rice and curries, but the momos are absolutely incredible. Definitely a must try.
The locals in Bhutan are very like-able. They love smiling at foreigners, making them happy, and before you know it, you get into the habit of smiling a lot too.
We left after lunch for Timphu, the capital of Bhutan. As you leave Pheuntsholing, one can see the tiny lane snaking up the hills to Thimphu.
Bhutan is a land of stories, beliefs and faith. One instance which led me to believe in this was the presence of hundreds of little pots along the mountains of Bhutan, which as per Bhutanese culture bore the remains of its ancestors.
The people of Bhutan believe that these “tshakas” protect the country and its people from the evil forces. The “land of the thunder dragon” or Druk yul as referred to by the people is a monarchy and is represented by the Dragon.
The gorgeous town of Thimphu was quite, peaceful and a hub of the political buildings of the country, one of the most important being the Tasiccho-dzong or the parlimentary house.
We visited the beautiful nunnery called the Drubthob Goemba, followed by the Tango Monestery and Chery Monestery. The lower markets turned out to be a delight as we shopped for natural creams, powders and what-nots.
Our next stop was the serene town of Paro, and it was here that we started our trek to the Taktsheng monestery- better known as the Tiger’s nest! The climb up to the monestery is steep and extremely dangerous. Alot of people climb the monestery half way and then turn around. It is believed that the Monestery holds so much divine power that even if a person starts the climb with the genuine intention of reaching to the top, he is blessed. What comes after the “half was climb” and what we noticed to our horror was the “valley of death”! Literally known as the Valley of death, The climb was followed by a tricky and very slippery descent into a valley with no barriers and safety nets! I still feel the thrill of the experience, even today. A good 3.5 hours later, we finally made it to the top of the Monestery, and the feeling was non comparable to anything I have experienced before. I don’t know whether it was the satisfaction of having done something that will make me proud for life, or whether it was the sheer divinity of this sanctuary where little girls and boys were training, studying to be monks.
A life of sacrifice and selflessness, so high above everything else in the world.. You have to experience it once to know what that feels like. We did end up catching the take off routine of one of the only three flights which would fly from Paro airport (The only airport in Bhutan) from the Bird’s eye view.. but nothing after could top the Taktshang Monestery and what it had left me with.
Today, when I remember Bhutan, I smile..What comes to my mind if the happy faces of children, the lovable demeanor of the locals..even the animals there seemed affectionate, kind of polite. 🙂
If you do happen to visit the last Shangri-La at some point in your life, remember to carry a very good camera.
The country may be geographically isolated but its got some of the most beautiful sceneries I have seen in the world, and whats incredible is that, even though you will try to capture every bit of the beauty there, you will most probably come back with a camera filled with happy, shiny faces of the people. They love to smile, and even the little children love being on camera. All the best 🙂