Bhutan is rated as one of the happiest nations in the world and Thimpu makes you reminisce the fairytales you have read about. Anamika Reddy brings the story.
Nestled in the Sublime Himalayas, Thimpu is an ideal retreat for those looking for a short sojourn in the mountains. Whether solo or with friends, tranquil and peace are guaranteed, as GDP here is measured not in terms of wealth but happiness. People in Bhutan are warm and friendly and they love to preserve their culture, which is why both men and women dress up in their traditional attire. The first country in the world to be declared as carbon negative, seventy percent of its lands are covered in greens and forest.
As one travels from the scenic airport to the main city via a hired cab, the beauty of the Himalayas and the stark contrast of the tiny abodes dotting it, brings a feeling of ecstasy. While buzzing and alive, the market place of the capital city Thimpu is surprisingly quiet, as there are no horns and no traffic signals. Thimpu is laidback with many shopping places and cafes. The food here is well suited for the Indian palate as it is spicy, authentic, earthy and delicious. The Bhutanese version of Jhaal Mudi in its equally spicy and piquant avatar will leave one wanting for more.
Tip: The Thimpu market place is also ideal for picking up souvenirs for friends back home. As Indian currency is accepted here, it makes shopping more easy.
The 169 feet tall giant Buddha Dordenma Statue on the hills of Thimpu is awe-inspiring in its magnitude. This classic gold and bronze giant statue is symbolic of this Buddhist country. The Thimpu Dzong is a must-visit architectural wonder too and must be seen during the day as well as the night, when the lights add new splendour. The colorful Buddha idols perched in the dzong in different sizes are captivating, and the guides here often regale tourists with the legends of Bhutan, The King of Bhutan and the secret of happiness of the people here.
Tip: Dzongs are the fortresses of Bhutan. To enter a dzong both men and women need to be in proper attire.
To end the day with a bang, party lovers can explore Bhutan’s night life which is in stark contrast to the serene environment outside. Mojo Park has a live band performance.
Tip: Having a conversation with locals in Hindi is easy, which is learnt as a second language in schools.
A two and half hour journey to Punakha from Thimpu comes much recommended. The most visited Punakha Dzong offers a stunning view with the river flowing alongside and the lilac trees showcasing their full splendor. Dochula Pass which comes on the way to Punakha is a must visit as well. It consists of 108 Stupas or Chortens which remind people of the Bhutanese soldiers who were martyred in the battle against the insurgents from Assam.
Tip: Pack in your camera to capture the moments forever.
Paro Taktsang, Tiger’s nest
As per legend, the Tiger’s nest is where Guru Padmasambhava who introduced Buddhism in the country meditated. The trek to Tiger Hills is ethereal while maneuvering through the cave temple is a divine experience in itself.
Tip: Before you plan a trip here, mark the peak and non peak seasons so you can enjoy the region at its best.
Where to stay: Home stays are great to experience traditional culture and cuisines. Our hosts welcomed us with their traditional drink ara and saffron rice.