Travel Diaries: Arriving in Bhutan and Thimphu Day 1…
Travel Diaries: Arriving in Bhutan and Thimphu Day 1
As we Boarded the Druk Air flight to Bhutan, I felt a wave of excitement grip me. I’d read about great views while flying over Himalayas, landing in one of the most challenging Paro airport and immersing oneself in one of the most mesmerizing places and it was all about to come true. Keeping camera on stand by is an absolute must as the aircraft navigates through the narrow gaps between the mountains giving the glimpses of snow clad peaks in the distance, lush green vegetation on the mountains next to you, clear rivers gushing down the slopes, the beautiful traditional houses set like jewels in the landscapes of the countryside to make one of the most memorable landings in to Bhutan. The airport building itself gives you a peek into the architecture, while we walked towards the terminal, we could not resists taking a few clicks of the beautiful surrounding valley. The immigration was pretty smooth as we didn’t need any visa being an Indian.
While most visitors to the country book a package trip, we had planned everything ourselves. We had pre booked our pick up through Hotel Norbuling, where we were going to stay in Thimphu and our driver (Thinley) was waiting for us as we got out with our luggage. It takes about an hour and half to cover the distance of about 50 kms from Paro International Airport to Thimphu and the drive is pretty smooth on good and slightly winding mountain roads.
The hotel staff at Hotel Norbuling consists of only ladies and they were very courteous to get our luggage quickly into the lobby. While we checked in, we were offered a traditional welcome drink and explained a bit more in detail about the city, places to eat etc. We had the best of the family rooms on the top floor given to us. The hotel itself has one of the best locations overlooking the Archery grounds. We refreshed a bit and set out for the day in the city. We wanted to have a traditional Bhutanese meal and headed to Bhutan Kitchen. The meals in Bhutan are not as detailed as in India, we enjoyed a buffet of red Ema Datshi, Bhutansese Red Rice, Chicken Curry, Spinach fried along with some shots of local drink Arra.
Once through the lunch we decided to spend the day in partially sight seeing of greater Thimphu area. We took a local taxi who took us to the following places.
Clock Tower: One of the most prominent places in Thimphu city, this four face clock tower is decorated with Bhutanese paintings and carvings. The numerous shops selling everything from books to antiques line up the market around the clock tower.
National Memorial Chorten: The religious structure is richly painted and one can expect to take nice shots of the typical and one of the largest Bhutanese Stupa.
Giant Buddha Statue: One of the landmarks of Thimphu, the statue is visible from far off highways and multiple locations in the city. It has a temple below the statue and the grandeur and simplicity amazed us
Changangkha Lakhang: A picturesque set of stairs leads to this Lhakhang, the hums of religious music soothes you totally and we spent some time looking over the valley.
It was getting towards the evening so we headed back to the hotel to relax a bit. We came out again in late evening and had our dinner at The Zone which I would totally recommend to anyone who wants to try a western cuisine like burgers, pizzas, pasta etc. They make it in house and one of the best places in whole of Bhutan.
We have had a wonderful day 1 in Thimphu and were still excited to watch the Thimphu festival the next day. We called it a day bit early to be ready early for the festival.
Read more about our Bhutan Trip in following articles