Our one month getaway to Bhutan. November mid- December mid 2008.
Bhutan celebrated as the ultimate hidden kingdom in the world is a snow capped Buddhist Kingdom tucked away in the Himalayas. Driving along the entire length of the country was our goal..Padma was again taking us away into yet another paradise..
Trivia: Padma is our Qualis named after midnight’s children, Saleem Sinai’s caretaker though I think Barry probably has a major yen for PadmaLakhmi, the authors ex- He’ll kill me when he reads this!!
Welcomed by hundreds of prayer flags that dot the landscape to prayer wheels that are powered by mountain streams, the kingdom of Druk Yul (the land of dragon) welcomed us to a space that was seeped in hundreds of years of mythological dragons and other folklore.
Trivia: The prayer flags in 5 colors printed with chants symbolize the 5 elements and are used to invoke blessings and protection and clean energies in the air…
Driving through Thimpu, Paro, Ha, Punakha Wandue, trongsa, Jakar, Trashiyangtse , Trashigang and Sandrup Jongkhar back into India I thought I would highlight my two favorite parts of Bhutan : The trek to Taktshang Gompa in Upper Paro Valley and Phobjika Valley in Western Bhutan.
The greatest of all of Bhutan’s monasteries is Takstang, the temple perched on the side of a 3000 foot sheer cliff, wedged into the side of a mountain. Known famously as Tigers nest, the trek to the temple is accompanied only with the gurgling of water and chanting of monks. The two hour trail climbs through blue pines and ridges with valley views that are simply breathtaking. Panting my way up, I realized how unfit I had become in Bombay and promised myself to get back into shape…. Umm that still has not happened.. :(
Start of the trek
Climbing up it made everything that I did in my urban infested life in Bombay almost trivial…the realization that I don’t even breathe fresh air hit home over and over. Once done with the climb I actually felt like a hero till the guard at the temple told me some devout Bhutanese make their ascent on their stomachs.. Sigh. Will I never win!!!
Moving on to Phobjika, my favorite valley in Bhutan, home to the migrating rare and endangered black necked cranes it is the one of the most important preserves in the country…
Bharath watching the valley with black necked cranes
Peppered with villages and hiking trails and with Bhutanese practicing their national sport, archery, this valley is dotted with houses built with wood and stone in traditional style which are almost reminiscent of Swiss chalets, 2 storeys high with an attic to store produce
The friendly but non-intrusive people all over Bhutan made it even more pleasurable. Talking to them in broken Hindi about their philosophies on Buddhism and sharing their tea and food all over the place( while Bharath claims that I talk to anything in sight-even a tree!) I know I will go back there again…Soon.
Trivia: Bhutan is supposed to be the 7th happiest country in the world!
There is so much more I could write about Bhutan..It would take a whole book…So for now I’ll let you soak with the pics and the little bits of info I have put in there…