PARO (7,500 ft)

Generally visitors enter the Kingdom from Paro by the National Airline, Druk Air. Mt. Chomolhari 7320 reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial waters plunge through deep gorges to form the Pa-Chu (Paro river). Paro is one of the most fertile valleys in the kingdom producing a bulk of the famous red rice from its terraced fields and the home to some of Bhutan’s oldest temple & monasteries. 

Drugyal Dzong: It means victories fortress built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, led by Mongolian warlord, Gushri Khan in 1644. Strategically built over the only passage into Paro valley, the dzong helped to repel numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. It so impressed early visitors that in 1914 the dzong featured on the cover of the National Geographic magazine. An accidental fire gutted the dzong in 1951. The ruins, as it stands today still attract tourists. 

Taktsang Monastery: Literally means the Tiger’s Nest (den). This temple clings precariously to a granite cliff 800m above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the great Guru Padmasambhava flew to this spot on the back of a Tigress and meditated in a cave during the 8th century. The temple was built around the cave and is a hallowed shrine for Bhutanese pilgrims. A terrible fire in April 1998 destroyed Taktsang’s medieval wall paintings and all inner temples. A new construction has already begun by the Royal Government. 

Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong): Rinpung Dzong, meaning the fortress on a heap of jewels was built during the time of Shabdrung in 1646. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge. A walk to the Dzong offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it. The Dzong now houses the Paro monastic school and the office of the civil administration. It is also the venue of the great Paro Tsechu (festival) held once a year in spring. 

Ta Dzong: The castle-shaped Ta Dzong was built in 1651 as a watchtower to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. Ta Dzong has housed the nation’s heritage in Bhutan’s National Museum since 1976. It holds a fascinating collection of arts, relics and religious Thanka paintings. 

Farm House: The beauty of Paro valley is embellished by cluster of quaint farmhouses. Bhutanese houses are very colourful and traditionally built without the use of a single nail. The house looks very big from outside but is quite simple inside. It’s normally three storeys. The ground floor is always used for cattle while the attic is used for hay. The families live in the middle floor. The best room is always kept for the family chapel. A visit to a farmhouse is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the life style of a farmer. 

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