Accommodation: COMO Uma Paro The enthralling journey of the mysterious Himalayan kingdom begins with Paro, the gateway, in the northwest of which has the spectacular and trademark Paro Dzong; a monastery featuring some of the highest standards of Bhutanese architecture.
Best to be explored on foot, Paro sports a lovely natural charm, the likes of which are rarely replicated in other regions of Bhutan. The greens of willow in line with luscious red of apple orchards, staged all along the roads plus the milky-white farms and brightly colored temples at the steeped forested hills, make for a pretty setting in the peace of nature. While Paro is hardly into concrete establishments, you may find some fancy restaurants and shops as you explore its terrains.
Enroute Punakha, make a halt at Thimpu, the capital city with an intriguing character of the traditional shaking hands with the modern. Take it like a short-term bail from the heritage and spirituality of the Shangri La. It’s the camouflage of the new over old that offers you a promising unwind in the buzzing cafes, bars and restaurants, just when you are in need of a brief break from traditions.
Half an hour away from Thimpu is the popular Dochu La mountain pass that offers a panaoramic 360 degree view of the surrounding Himalayan Mountains, wearing strips of clouds on their necks. Not to forget the spectacular belt of 108 Chortens (Buddhist shrines) draped in fluttering prayer flags. Feel free to get into the shoes of the local devotees dressed in traditional attire at one of the Buddhist temples.
Reach Punakha by the evening and settle in the comforts of the ultra-luxurious COMO UMA Punakha, where a romantic dinner, in the firelight of the woods or overlooking the river, shall be arranged.
Squeezed between the scenic Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers, Punakha sits as a lush valley with a gorgeous monastery (Punakha Dzong) overlooking the breathtaking Himalayan green. Being under the confluence of two rivers has its perks, the likes of which you would be exploring across the farmhouses, all the way to the hill atop 15th century fertility temple of Chimi Lhakhang; perfect for those wishing to start a family.
On your way down the hill, take a detour at the 300 year old Punakha Dzong, the most beautiful and significant. Having served all of Bhutan’s kings in the past, the monastery also serves as a store house of the ancient ruins and architecture of the royal bygones. To experience a bit more on the royal side, visit the shrine named as Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten – built by the royal family.
Late in the afternoon, make your return journey to the blissful Himalayan road journey, paths of which will lead to another dimension of Bhutanese spirituality – Tamchog Lhakhang, an awe-inspiring temple dedicated to an engineer who connected Bhutan and Tibet with his suspension bridge.
Evenings are meant to be spent in leisure at Uma Paro; try archery for a change – Bhutan’s national sport.
Last days in Bhutan and we are only half way down in our schedule. Hence, start early, for we need to explore the tits-and-bits of Paro in all its phases. Start with Zurig Dzong, followed by Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong, Paro town, Kyichu Lhakhang and Drukgyel Dzong; the trails of which meander through lush pine forests to hefty plain grounds.
Been saving the best for last, It’s time you head for the most iconic and majestic piece of Bhutanese architecture – Taktsang Monastery or ‘The Tiger’s Nest’, named after a legend that narrates landing of a flying tigress carrying Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) in its attempt to summon Buddhism from Tibet to Bhutan. It’s a two-hour upward hike that walks past enchanting waterfalls, offering a scenic sight of the mammoth green down below.
Ward off your fatigue in the luxurious spa comforts of COMO Uma. Next day, board your flight from Paro International Airport for a journey back home.