Travel to Bhutan: experience the charm of Paro district
Paro district receives the highest volume of travellers annually. It's also easily one of tourists favourite places in Bhutan.
Paro is the first touchpoint for any visitor to Bhutan. It’s home to the one and only international airport in the kingdom. All travellers entering Bhutan by flight will land at Paro International Airport. And most will share the same awe at the beautiful architecture of the airport, and the mountain scenery surrounding it. Paro district also boasts many beautiful temples, monasteries, the National Museum and great places to chill.
Top Attractions in Paro
Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
Taktsang Monastery is the most iconic landmark of Bhutan. It is a revered temple and monastery built in 1692 and located 3120 meters above sea level. One can only reach the monastery by trekking through rugged paths. A visit to Tiger’s Nest monastery is often an unforgettable and unique experience. It’s considered one of the holiest sites in Bhutan that pays homage to Guru Padmasambhava (aka Guru Rinpoche), who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to Tiger’s Nest on the back of a pregnant tigress and meditated in the cave for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours. And that’s how the sacred site got its name.
Drukgyel Dzong was built in 1649 to honour Bhutan’s victory over the combined military forces from Tibet and Mongolia. The ancient fortress served as an important defence base in the region and housed sacred documents until 1951 when it was almost completely destroyed by fire. Reconstruction work began in April 2016 after the command of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck. The existing ruins and original defence structure of the Drukgyel Dzong are well preserved and protected. The ancient ruins of Drukgyel Dzong is a famous archaeological site in Bhutan. This impressive structure was even featured in the National Geographic magazine in 1914.
Kila Gompa Nunnery — the oldest nunnery in Bhutan — is located on the cliffs below Chele Pass at about 3,500m above sea level – between Paro and Haa. It takes 1 ½ hour to reach the Chelela Pass from Paro and then a downward hike of about half an hour to the nunnery. Many colourful fluttering prayer flags can be spotted on the way to the nunnery. From Kila Nunnery, you’ll get a spectacular view of Paro Valley.
Tachog Lhakhang Bridge
Tachog Lhakhang Bridge is an ancient iron chain bridge built by Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo, the great Buddhist master and architect, popularly known as the great ‘Iron Bridge Builder’. He built numerous iron bridges and temples across Bhutan in the early fifteenth century. The Tachog Lhakhang bridge was built to access Tachog Lhakhang, a private temple run by the descendants of Thangtong Gyalpo.
Paro Rinpung Dzong
Rinpung Dzong or Paro Dzong is one of the finest examples of architecture in Bhutan. Rinpung Dzong was built in 1645 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgayal. It houses the administrative office and alsto a religious centre for the monks in the Paro district. The Dzong is built right on the edge of a hillside overlooking one of the most breathtaking views of Paro Valley and the Paro-Chu River. Below the Dzong is a traditional wooden bridge called Nyamai Zam.
Rinpung Dzong is also the venue for the popular annual festival, Paro Tshechu.
National Museum of Bhutan, Ta Dzong
The National Museum is located on the hill behind Rinpung Dzong. It was originally built in 1649 as a watchtower for Rinpung Dzong. It is an ideal place for those who have a keen interest in gaining more information about Bhutan. The museum has seven floors, each of them narrating a unique tale from the past. It houses important artefacts, antique and precious objects ranging from ancient and modern scroll paintings (Thangka), earthen, copper and bronze pots dating back to the 17th century and a variety of swords. There are also exhibitions of objects and artefacts relating to insects and animals of Bhutan, ancient armoury and weapons, as well as farming tools.
The museum provides great insight into the local’s lifestyle and the evolution of the Bhutanese culture.
Drakarpo (Split Rock)
Drakarpo Monastery is considered an extremely holy and sacred site perched on a small hilltop of Paro. Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated at this temple and his footprints imprinted on the rocks can be seen. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche split a rock into pieces, revealing an evil spirit hiding in it. Pilgrims circumambulate the sacred hill for 108 rounds to cleanse their sins. The entire process can take up to four days. If one does not have sufficient time, they can also do the lite version of 13 rounds. You can reach the monastery by a 30 mins drive to Shaba from Paro town, followed by a two hours walk on a steep cliff.
Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest and most beautiful temples in Bhutan. The temple was constructed by King Songsten Gampo of Tibet in 659 AD to restrain the left foot of the demoness who was constantly preventing the spread of Buddhism in Tibet. Kyichu Lhakhang is said to be one of the main 12 temples out of the 108 temples that were built overnight across Tibet and borderlands to pin down the demoness. The temple has a peaceful ambience and there are two magical orange trees in the temple that are said to bear fruits all year round.
Chele La Pass
Chele La Pass is situated at an altitude of 3988 metres. It is the highest motorable road in Bhutan separating Paro and Haa valley. On a clear day, it is a picturesque spot to witness the snow-capped mountain peaks of Bhutan such as Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake. You can also spot variety of birds, including the elusive blood pheasant Magpie, Kalij pheasant, Nutcracker. Aside from Dochula Pass, Chele La Pass is one of the most scenic spots for photo enthusiasts.
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