Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan since 1960, lies at an elevation of over 7600 ft. The Tashichhodzong is the center of administration and also the summer residence of the monastic order. The annual Thimphu Tshechu is held in its courtyard. The other significant structure is the SAARC Secretariat, which houses Assembly. Thimphu town, although small, is nonetheless a vibrant place. The Handicrafts Emporium Emoporium, displaying the best of Bhutanese textiles and souvenirs, and the Memorial Chorten, dedicated to the late king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, are worthy of a visit.
- Monuments to visit in Thimphu
- Day hikes in Thimphu:
2. Paro Valley
One of the biggest and most fertile valleys, Paro is the location of Bhutan’s only airport. One can fly here from Kathmandu, Delhi, Calcutta and Bangkok. Shortly new destinations like Singapore, Hong Kong, Yangyon and Bangalore in India will also be linked. People here are mainly farmers, working terraced fields against the backdrop of the imposing Rinpung Dzong. It also boasts the National Museum wherein is preserved much of the rich history of the nation. Overlooking the valley from the north is the Taksang Monastery, or the Tigers Nest.
- Monuments to visit in Paro
- Day hikes in Paro:
Punakha valley lies below the 10,500 ft Dochula Pass where one can get the most spectacular view of the Black Mountain range. Punakha Dzong, astride two rivers, is the winter to the monk body. Despite ravages by several fires through the years, the Dzong houses many artifacts and the embalmed body of Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal. Some distance from the Dzong, on a promontory stands the Chime Lhakhang, or the temple of fertility.
- Monuments to visit & walking tour in Punakha.
4. Wangdue Phodrang
Wangdue Phodrang is the last town on the highway before entering Central Bhutan. The town is little more than an enlarged village with a few well-provided shops and hotels. Wangdue Phodrang Dzong is the town’s most visible feature. In the 17th century, Wangdue played a critical role in unifying the western, central and southern Bhutanese districts.
In this district lies the famed Phobjikha valley, the winter roosting ground for the endangered Black Necked Crane. Here one can also visit the 17th century Gangtey Gonpa.
- Monuments to visit & walking tour in Wangdue Phodrang.
In the center of Bhutan and four hours by the road from Wangdue Phodrang, Trongsa offers a welcome rest to travelers. Trongsa is an ancestral home of the present royal family.
Trongsa Dzong is an impregnable fortress; the Dzong itself is a labyrinth of temples, corridors and offices holding court over the local community. It is built on many levels into the side of a hill and can be seen from every approach to Trongsa.
- Monuments to visit in Trongsa.
The Yotongla pass and the series of hair-raising bends at 11500 ft separate the valleys of Trongsa and Bumthang. This is one of the most beautiful valleys in the kingdom. It is also the religious heartland where many saints and masters meditated leaving their imprints as sacred places of worship and pilgrimage.
Apart from the Dzong at Jakar, smaller monasteries are situated all over the valley. Tales of Padmasambhava dominate these holy shrines. The valley is home to the Jambay and Kurjey Lhakhags where body imprints of Guru Rimpoche remains preserved upon a rock.
- Monuments to visit & walking tour in Bumthang.
Making up the eastern part of the nation, these four districts boasts the most diverse elevations and climatic zones. From lush sub-tropical forests to extreme alpines and mountains that form the natural formidable border, the east is a must visit. Here, rivers teem with Mahseer, tigers roam the rich forests and the Black Necked Crane roosts in highest climes. Trashigang and Lhuntsi have spectacular Dzongs replete with ancient history. The people of the east are also distinct in their way of life and culture.
Phuentsholing is the gateway into Bhutan from the sweltering plains of Indian West Bengal. The small town is spread at the foothills of the mountains that lead into the interiors. Given its border status and linkage to India, Phuentsholing also forms the hub of most industry and business in Bhutan.