The town of Paro (2280m) lies in the centre of the valley on the banks of the ParoChhu River. Ta Dzong- built in 1656 and renovated in 1986 is an ancient watch tower that now houses the national museum. This unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell. The centerpiece of this Museum is a complex four-sided carving depicting the history of Buddhism and its propagation. One side is Sakyamuni and the great teacher Atisha, representing the Sakya School. On the next side is Geylup, a disciple of Dalai Lama. Another is Nyingma lineage, the head is Guru Padmasanva, and the final is Drukpa Kagyu with the figure of Vajra Dhara.
Paro Rimpung Dzong-literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, is the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. Here you can see the finest example of Bhutanese architecture.
Kichu Lhakhang– built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. This Monastery is one of the 108 monasteries built across the Himalayan region by the Tibetan King to subdue the Demoness that lay across the Himalayan region. The rest of the monasteries lie in other neighboring countries.
Drukgyal Dzong– built in 1647 by the Great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m).
Taktsang Monastery– the tigers nest. This is one of the most famous sights in Bhutan; the monastery is perched on a cliff in the midst of a lush green jungle. It is reached by a short walk and offers stunning views. This is one of the most memorable sights to visit in Bhutan and the main reason why a lot of visitors come here. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favorite consort.
Thimphu is at Altitude 7000 ft. it’s a bustling town on the banks of the Thimphu Chhu and set gloriously in the hills of the Thimphu valley. It is the capital city of Bhutan.
National Memorial Chorten-(1974) built in honor of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. Built in a typical Tibetan style, there are numerous religious paintings and the complex tantric statues reflecting both the peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist deities. This Chorten is also a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu.
Dupthop Lhakhang– This magical place is one of the only surviving monasteries in Bhutan that remains fully intact and operational.
Changhkha Monastery– this monastery was built in 15th century by the lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo and is where the new born children of Thimphu valley are taken to receive their1st blessings from a High Lama.
National Library– a place where you can loose yourself for hours amongst the piles of Buddhist manuscripts. Near to it is the painting school where the art of Thanka painting is taught. You can visit the classes and look at some really old style thankas, and see how they are made form initial sketches to the finished product.
Traditional Medicine Institute – here you can see where rational medicines are made and see how they are used as according to ancient practices.
The Tango Monastery-. The trail Tango is a climb of 280 meters and it takes an hour to reach the monastery. Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa founded the monastery in 12th century. The building was re-built in 15th century by the “Divine madman”. This is one of the best places for meditation in Bhutan.
Tashichho Dzong– (Fortress of the Glorious Religion). In 1216 the lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa built Dohon (Blue Stone) Dzong on the hill above Thimphu Where Dechen Phodrang now stands. A few years later Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who brought the Drukpa Kagyu line age to Bhutan, took over Dohon Dzong. In 1641 the Zhabdrung (The one who unified the country) acquired the dzong from the descendants of lama Phajo and renamed it as Trashi Chhoe Dzong. He then arranged to house both monks and civil officials in the same Dzong. Present it is a seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan).
Punakha is at altitude 4420 feet and served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955. It is the winter seat of the Je Khenpo the chief abbot.
Punakha Dzong– The Dzong is situated between the two rivers. The Dzong was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”.
Chimi Lhakhang– which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in 15th century. (This monk is popularly known as the Devine madman for his philosophy, “Salvation through sex”). He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. The Temple is also known as “The Temple of Fertility”. Sterile women from far and wide come to this Temple to get blessed.
Wangdiphodrang Dzong– built in 1638. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of this Dzong, four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass..
Chendebji Monastery– This Monastery is patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu and was built in the 19th century by Lama Shida, from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed at this spot.
Trongsa is at altitude 7,600 feet and its forms the central hub of the kingdom. It is the place from where Bhutan was first untied as one kingdom.
Trongsa Dzong– the most impressive dzong in Bhutan, built in its present form in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan and enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong.
Bumthang is at altitude 8,530-13,125 feet and this fascinating valley is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries in Bhutan and the world.
Bhutanese Carpet Factory– here they used Yak and Sheep wool and even pure silk to weave different carpets and Bhutanese Textiles. You can watch how they make these things and buy some to take home if you like.
Jakar Dzong– which literally means “The Castle of White Bird”. The current structure was built in 1667. Jambay Lhakhang- built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659 on the same day as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang and was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life force. Under the temple is said to be a lake in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.
Chakhar (Iron Castle) Lhakhang– the palace of the Indian King, the Sindhu Raja who invited Guru Rimpoche to Bumthang. The Original palace was made of Iron and hence the name Chakhar. The saint Dorji Lingpa built the Current building in 14th century. Its correct name is Dechen Phodrang.
Tamshing Lhakhang– the Temple of the good message, established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom.
Mongar is at altitude 5575 feet . Mongar marks the beginning of eastern Bhutan. The second largest town in the sub tropical east, Mongar, like Trashigang further east, is situated on the side of a hill in contrast to other towns of western Bhutan which are built on the valley floor.
Mongar Dzong– This Dzong was rebuilt in 1953 and is quite small. There are around 50 to 60 monks in the Dzong, many of them young boys eight to ten years old.
Gangtey Gompa -. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. you cannot go inside the temple, only visit from the outside Phobjikha valley- famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter. These cranes are very rare and endangered and highly protected by the Government. These cranes fly to Phobjikha valley which is their winter Habitat. The Cranes circle three times in a clock-wise direction around the Gangtey Gompa as a reverence to the Monastery before landing in the valley. They repeat the same practice before flying back to Tibet in early Spring.