Welcome to Thimpu friends! After the 5 hour zig zag ride through hundreds of mountains ( it almost felt like hundreds ) we arrived in Thimpu. It was around 5 in the evening when we got there. The journey had exhausted us. We checked into out Hotel & spent the rest of the evening relaxing over some great food, tea & the cool Thimpu air.
The next morning, we were ready to greet the Capital city of Thimpu with open arms! And my! Were we amazed! Lets start from the first place we visited.
Buddha Dordenma Statue
The hugeee Buddha statue is built over looking the Thimpu valley & is built as a mark of celebration for the 60th anniversary of their fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuk. It is infact one of the largest Buddha statues in the world at 51.5 meters. In fact when we visited it, parts of it were still under construction & the work was finally completed on September 25th, 2015.
The construction of the statue is also a tribute to the monarchy of Bhutan which celebrates its centennial anniversary this year. Now here is the interesting part. This Buddha monument fulfills two prophecies. A renowned yogi called Sonam Zangpo prophesied that a large statue of either Padmasambhava, Buddha or a Purbha would be built in this region to bestow peace, happiness & blessings upon the whole world. The second being that the mention of a statue like that is present in the ancient terma of Guru Padmasambhava himself which dates almost back to the 8th century! Isn’t it something?
The one thing that I loved about this statue is how beautiful looking the face of the Buddha is! The people who worked on this masterpiece must have been so exceptionally talented!
Just to give you an idea of how huge the statue is I am sharing an image from the blog.voanews.com.
Isn’t the place where the statue stands absolutely beautiful? So serene, peaceful & gorgeous! You can almost get a view of a part of Thimpu town from up here.
Can you see the roads in the picture? They are the ones that lead us to this monument!
Now, whenever you are in Thimpu, make sure you start your Thimpu sight seeing from this point. Just stand where I was standing when I took the above picture ( you will know where, just look around) Take in the sight of Thimpu town, & start on this wonderful adventure called Bhutan.
I hope you will love this place as much as I did when you visit! As always, I am looking forward to your comments ! Leave them in the section below!
After having spent a night in Phuntsholing & visiting the two most beautiful Monasteries, we decided to travel to the Capital city of Bhutan, Thimpu the next morning.
Thimpu is located around 200 kms away from Phuntsholing. Although the distance does not seem much, it takes a longer time to travel because you cross mountains after mountains to get there & with the winding roads, you cannot speed.
(Tip – If you have a tendency to get sick because of the winding roads, its best to pop a pill & have a very light breakfast before you get in the car)
It took us around 5 hours to get to Thimpu with a stop for Lunch on the way.
The road to Thimpu is pretty good & well maintained. But I will advice you, not to travel via road to Thimpu during the Monsoon, you do have land slides & huge boulders coming down the mountain because of the rains. In fact if you can, visit Bhutan during the spring to get the most out of your trip & avoid the rainy season entirely.
The road route to Thimpu though is also the most beautiful drive there can be.We were lucky the weather was clear & it hadn’t rained since the past few days. The Mountains, Valleys, Waterfalls, Clouds, its like a dream. Again, it is better experienced than photographed. But till you see it with your own eyes, here are a few pictures.
Palden Tashi Chholing Tsuglangkhang is a Monastery & Monk School located pretty close to the Bhutan Gate in Phuntsholing. It is one of the recently built Monastery’s in Bhutan.
Inaugurated by his Holiness 70th Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choeda on 28th October 2014, the construction of this Tsuglangkhang was funded by Ap Dophu , Aum Karma Yuden & Family.
The entrance door to the Monastery is beautifully painted with Images of Buddha in his various forms.
After visiting the monastery’s of Bhutan, I have a deep desire to learn about the different stories of Buddha that are depicted via pictures across Monastery’s in Bhutan.
The Monastery is built on a huge area & the Landscape is absolutely beautiful. Right behind the Monastery you have a river bed. The sound of the river flowing, the surrounding mountains & the peace of the Monastery simply gives an ethereal feeling here.
I just stood here for a good 10-15 minutes, enjoying the calm & peace within & outside.
On the other side of the Monastery lies the residence of the Monks. When we visited, it was almost dinner time for them, so could not really interact with any of them to learn more about the place.
The experience here was simply beautiful. I am sure the monks feel like they are living in the lap of mother nature & protected by lord Buddha.
This is a must visit place while in Phuntsholing. I would say early evening is the best time to visit here. You might not get the best photos, but the experience is something that will stay on with you forever.
Karbandi Monastery was founded by the royal grandmother Ashi Phuntsho Choedron in the year 1967. It is located above the town of Phuntsholing at a height of about 400 meters. The best way to get there is by a cab or a private car.
The Monastery is absolutely beautiful & the view around the Monastery makes this a must visit place if you are ever in Phuntsholing.
The view of Phuntsholing & Jaigaon town is absolutely unparalleled, coupled with the prayer flags flying in the wind.
The Sunset from here looks absolutely beautiful as well. We spent a beautiful evening here.
In the Monastery you will come across large statues of Buddhist deities, Shakyamuni Buddha, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal & Guru Rinpoche. While we were there, the monks were praying & the monks in training were beating the drums. The entire experience was almost ethereal. Coupled with the sounds you are almost transferred to another world entirely.
Once outside in the garden, you will find 8 chortens or stupas as we call them in India.
Legend has it that an Indian couple who did not have any children visited this Monastery & prayed for a child. Shortly after their visit, thy were blessed with one! It is since then that couples hoping to have a child visit this monastery & pray that they conceive.
This monastery for me was the high point of my visit to Phuntsholing. Little did I know, this was just a beginning of things. As I continued with my journey, one after other, the beauty of Bhutan just left me mesmerized! Stay tuned for more!
Phuntsholing is the first town you come across as you cross into Bhutan from Jaigaon, India. Since Bhutan & India have friendly relations you won’t find a heavily guarded border like you usually come across when it comes to International Borders. The only thing that separates the two countries is a beautiful Gate, you cross it & voila you reach Bhutan!
India supplies almost everything that Bhutan does not produce itself. So Phuntsholing is a gateway for all the trade that takes place between the two countries.
Most foreigners choose to fly into Bhutan via Delhi, India to Paro ( the only airport in Bhutan) so don’t really get to visit Phuntsholing. However most Indians choose the road route, which is what we had to do since we did not get the flight tickets ! Remember to book your flight tickets way in advance as the seats are limited, the plane being small.
So, we took a flight from Mumbai, India ( my hometown ) to Bagdogra, West Bengal. From Bagdogra, we hired a private car to take us to Jaigaon, the Indian border town to enter Phuntsholing, Bhutan. As soon as we entered Bhutan, the weather got cooler & the roads were more ascending compared to the plains of Jaigaon. You can immediately sense the difference in the two cultures & architecture. (In Bhutan, all building need to have a uniform structure, you cannot design a building the way you want to)
We immediately checked into our hotel to freshen up, since we were tired because of the journey! The roads from Bagdogra to Phuntsholing were very bumpy in certain areas!
We had already booked our stay for a night at The Park Hotel, Phuntsholing. One thing to remember in Bhutan is when picking a hotel, pick one that is close to the Local market area. Getting around if you don’t have a private rented vehicle can be very difficult.
The one reason why I recommend this hotel for your stay at Phuntsholing is because of its excellent location. It is pretty close to the India Bhutan border & also the local market. The service, staff & food are amazing.
The rooms are neat & well maintained. (I am a complete neat freak when it comes to hotels ) So you can trust me on this (I am not even paid to say this!) You can find them online at parkhotelbhutan.com.
After freshening up, we decided to do some local sight seeing! One whole day is more than enough to enjoy Phuntsholing. There is not much to see here except a few beautiful monastery’s. We hired a local cab & asked the driver to take us around town. The two must visit places while in Phuntsholing are ,
1- Karbandi Monastary
2 – Palden Tashi Chholing Tsuglangkhang ( Monastary & School of Monks)
We will be covering both, in separate posts this week! So stay tuned for more!!
Ever since my last post, I have been getting a lot of comments from you guys about the King & Queen of Bhutan. A lot of you have come across them for the first time on my blog post. So for the benefit of those not very familiar with them, this post is for you.
The King of Bhutan
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk is the fifth & current Druk Gyalpo or Dragon King of the Kingdom of Bhutan ( Bhutan is referred to as the Land of the Thundering Dragon ). His public coronation was held on the November 1, 2008, the year the Bhutan completed 100 years of Monarchy, when his father the fourth king of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuk , decided to abdicate the throne in the favor of his son & pass on all responsibilities to him.
The current King is the eldest son of the former King of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuk & his third queen Tshering Yangdon ( Bhutan is a country where polygamy is allowed. The former King has four wives, they are all sisters ). He has a younger sister & brother & four half sisters & three half brothers.
The people of Bhutan have a lot of love & affection for the King & the Royal family. If you visit restaurants, public places or even residences of the locals, you will find pictures of the King & Queen & the Royal family adorning their walls. The King is very accessible to his people & is often seen interacting with them.
It was in the opening session of the Bhutanese Parliament in May 2011, that the King declared his engagement to the very beautiful Jetsun Pema, now Queen of Bhutan.
The Queen of Bhutan
The very beautiful Jetsun Pema, is the daughter of Dhondup Gyaltsen ( grandson of the former governor of Bhutan ) & Sonam Chuki ( belongs to one of Bhutan’s oldest Nobel families ). She has completed her High School education from India & graduated from Regents College, London with a degree in International Relations.
Describing Jetsun Pema, the King while announcing his engagement said,
“Now, many will have their own idea of what a Queen should be like – that she should be uniquely beautiful, intelligent and graceful. I think with experience and time, one can grow into a dynamic person in any walk of life with the right effort. For the Queen, what is most important is that at all times, as an individual she must be a good human being, and as Queen, she must be unwavering in her commitment to serve the People and Country. As my queen, I have found such a person and her name is Jetsun Pema. While she is young, she is warm and kind in heart and character. These qualities together with the wisdom that will come with age and experience will make her a great servant to the nation.”
The King & Queen got married on October 13, 2011 at the Punakha Dzong. ( I will be doing a post on the Dzong soon) During the wedding ceremony the, crown of ‘Druk Gyaltsun’ (Dragon Queen) was bestowed upon her by the King, formally making her the Queen of Bhutan.
I remember, I was at University when the Royal wedding took place. I do remember my Bhutanese room-mate J & my other Bhutanese friends were over-joyed as they looked up the various updates on the Internet of the Royal Wedding, hence this event has stayed with me . The Bhutanese do love their King & Queen very very much.
My room-mate J is now settled in Thimpu, Bhutan ( this is where the Kings palace is located ). J tells me that the King is very down to earth & when he is in Thimpu, you can see him interacting freely with the people & is very accessible.
I heard from her recently that the King & the Queen visited her school ( J is a teacher now ) & interacted with the students & the staff. He encouraged them & asked them to pay attention towards their studies and spoke to them about the importance of education. ( The King offers a lot of scholarships to students who wish to study further ) . I asked her if she had pictures, but you are not allowed to take pictures of the King if you see him unless you have special permission. Remember that if you are ever in Bhutan & see the King.
The Queen is greatly admired for her Fashion sense & her style influences the way the Bhutanese girls dress a lot.
Honestly, I am a fan of the Royal couple myself, so much so that now their picture adorns my fridge ( I got myself a Fridge magnet with their picture on it )!
My country India has always had friendly relations with Bhutan.The Royal couple were Chief guests at the 64th Republic Day celebrations held in New Delhi.
I hope you guys have enjoyed the post as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. Do let me know in the comments section below if there is anything else you would like to know! Aren’t the Royal Couple just so amazing!