Generally visitors enter the Kingdom at Paro by the National Airline Druk Air. Thirty years ago, all visitors would have walked for five days across the mountains from the Indian border. Now the journey by air is only one hour from Kolkatta , India or Katmandu , Nepal . Paro valley is one of the most populated areas of the country. Because of its proximity to the airport there are hotels and tourists facilities.
One of the biggest and most fertile valleys, Paro is the location of Bhutan’s only airport. One can fly here from Kathmandu, Delhi , Kolkotta and Bangkok. Shortly new destinations like Singapore , Hong Kong, Rangoon , and Bangalore in India will also be linked.
People here are mainly farmers, working terraced fields against the backdrop of the imposing Rimpung Dzong. It also boasts the National Museum wherein is preserved much of the rich history of the nation. Overlooking the valley from the north is the Taktsang Monastery, or the Tigers Nest, built on a sheer rock face.
Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche (Padsambhava) flew here on the back of a tigress.
At the far end of the valley stand the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong, the fortress from which many Tibetan invasions were repulsed.
Monuments to visit in Paro
- Ta Dzong : Built in1656 and renovated in 1968, an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum .
- Rimpung Dzong: (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge.
- Drukgyal Dzong: Now in ruins was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in1644; the dzong name’s means indeed “victorious Druk”. The Dzong was used as an administrative center until 1951 when a fire caused by butter lamp destroyed it. Most of the Tibetan Invasions including the Mongolian Invaders led by the Famous Mongolian General, Gushri Khan were repelled back from this Dzong which has a strategic Defense location.
- Kichu Lhakhang: It was built in 659 by the Tibetan King Srongsen Gampo. The Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo married the Chinese princes Wencheng in 641. A part of the dowry was a statue called Jowo, which was an Indian image of the Buddha Sakyamuni as a small boy.
- Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery: Hike about 2 hrs. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.
We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery.
The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below.
Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan , flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favourite consort