Paro valley, the only airport town in Bhutan and that has a thriving Bhutanese culture, beautiful scenery and wide spread of terraced paddy field. This beautiful terraced valley is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries. The National Museum (ancient watchtower) is based on top of hill in the valley and home to the most sacred and famous monastery – The Tiger’s Nest locally known as Taktshang Monastery.
Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest)
Built amazingly on face of a rock cliff, it brings pride to the Bhutanese about the work of their ancestors. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a Tigress and meditated at this monastery giving the place the name “Tiger’s Nest”. This site has been recognized as most sacred and visited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visted by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. The monastery caught fire in 1998 that damaged the main structure of the building and some religious contents. The monastery has been renovated and restored to its former glory. The average hiking hour is 3 hours up till the cafeteria where you will have spectacular view of the monastery clinging on the sheer rock face. From this point you walk further up one hour to reach the monastery.
This is one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gyambo in the 7th century to subdue the ogress that lay across the whole of the Himalayas. There is another temple said to be built on the same day Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang. It is believed that Kichu was built over her left foot and Jambay over the left knee.
National Museum (Ta Dzong)
Located on the ridgetop, overlooking Rinpung Dzong and Paro valley was built as a watch tower. Unlike the rectangular shape of the Dzongs, Ta Dzong is conical. Since 1947 the Dzong was re-established as the National Museum and holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious Thangkha paintings, and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps.
This is also known as the “fortress of the heap of jewels”. It was built during the time of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646. This dzong can be reached by crossing a cantilever bridge, from which it offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the dzong, and the Ta dzong overlooks this dzong.
Ugyen Pelri Palace
It was built in 1930 by Paro Penlop, Tshering Penjor. It is believed that a carpenter was sent to India to get a sample and the carpenter who never had any formal education made the sample out of a pumpkin. It is also believed that the palace used to be on wheels, and thereby got its name as Palace on wheels.
Drukgyal Dzong with a delightful village nestling at its foot was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung to commemorate his victory over Tibetan invasions. ‘Druk’ means land of the thunder dragon or the land of dragon people. ‘Gyel’ means victory. The Dzong caught fire in 1951 and now it remains as ruin. This dzong is built at a strategic point where the route from Tibet enters Paro valley. Later when the invasions ceased, this route was used for trade between Tibet and Bhutan. On a clear day, one can see the beautiful view of the majestic mountain Jumolhari from the village, below the dzong.