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Bhutan

Main attractions

On Dochula Pass, Bhutan
On Dochula Pass / Göran Höglund, / CC BY 2.0

Bhutan is exotic country in Himalaya, with extremely well preserved natural heritage and rich, well maintained local culture.

Nearly every place in Bhutan is beautiful. Here are found countless tall waterfalls, unique ecosystems and species - most of these are little known. Exciting discoveries are waiting us! The same can be said about the prehistory - here are located thousands of megaliths and nearly all of them are not visited by scientists.

Today the best known landmarks in Bhutan are dzongs - unique buildings which serve as fortresses, Buddhist monasteries and keepers of local culture and traditions. Most dzongs are well maintained and active up to this day.

Natural landmarks

  • Animo Tsho - Bumthang. Sacred lake where speaking is forbidden.
  • Cypress of Baylangdra - Wangdue Dzongkhag. Enormous, legendary cypress tree (Cupressus cashmeriana). According to legends this tree grew from a stick of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century AD.
  • Cypress of Kurjey - Bumthang. Another legendary cypress, planted upside down in the 8th century AD.
  • Namling Falls - Mongar. Possibly most impressive waterfall in Bhutan.
  • Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary - Trashigang. Gorgeous primeval forest in Himalaya, mostly - temperate forests and subalpine ecosystems. One of the reasons for the creation of this sanctuary is protection of migoi - man-like cryptid, whose existence has not been proved but local people are convinced that it exists.

Man made landmarks

Megaliths

  • Dagana Megaliths - Dagana. Three stone stelae (most likely - natural formations) in the opposite side of the valley from Daga Dzong. Largest stone pillar - Do Namgi Kaw - is some 20 m tall, it has a footprint on the crown. According to legends, when Dzong was constructed, stone pyllar started to speak (in a telepathic way) asking to build the dzong lower than the summit of stone pillar. Two other stone pillars are Do Kelpai Genthey and Tha Namkhai Dzong with a cave in it.
  • Dorje Dolmen - Bumthang. Enormous stone, which is placed over several smaller stones. Nearby are stones with cupmarks. This dolmen is just one example of countless megaliths in Bhutan.
Adornment of Chimi Lhakhang monastery, Bhutan
Adornment of Chimi Lhakhang monastery / Stefan Krasowski, / CC BY 2.0

Dzongs and other Buddhist monasteries

  • Chagri Monastery - Thimphu. Large, important Buddhist monastery, founded in 1620.
  • Changangkha Monastery - Thimphu. One of the oldest monasteries in Thimphu valley, built in the 15th century. Temple has a collection of old scripts.
  • Chimi Lhakhang - Punakha. Old Buddhist monastery, built in 1499. Monastery was the site where acted Lama Kunley - the "Mad Saint" who taught Buddhism with humour, outrageous behaviour, bizarre sexual overtones. People visiting monastery are blessed with wooden symbol of phallus.
  • Gangteng Monastery - Wangdue Phodrang. Nyingmapa Buddhist monastery with grand view on Phobjika Valley. Founded in 1613 and gradually increased. Monastery acts as a keeper and developer of local traditions and culture.
  • Jakar Dzong - Bumthang. One of the largest historical fortress in Bhutan with a circumference of more than 1,500 metres. Construction started in the middle of the 16th century.
  • Lhuentse Dzong - Lhuentse. Large and important monastery - fortress. Established in 1543, built after 1654. Important keeper of local traditions and customs.
  • Lingzhi Yügyal Dzong, Bhutan
    Lingzhi Yügyal Dzong / Christopher J. Fynn, / CC BY-SA 3.0
    Lingzhi Yügyal Dzong - Thimphu. Mountaintop fortress - monastery, located among dramatic mountain scenery at the height of 4,150 m. Constructed in 1668, one of most important border fortresses of Bhutan.
  • Paro Taktsang - Paro. This monastery is in a dramatic setting on the side of a cliff, 700 metres above the bottom of valley. It was built in 1692. Next to the monastery is located the 60 m high Taktsang waterfall.
  • Punakha Dzong - Punakha. Second oldest, second largest historical fortress and Buddhist monastery in Bhutan. This magnificent building was constructed in 1637 - 1638.
  • Rinpung Dzong - Paro. Large Buddhist monastery and fortress. Current building was constructed in 1644 - 1646.
  • Simtokha Dzong - Thimphu. The oldest historical fortress in Bhutan, built in 1629. This small building is former Buddhist monastery, now - language learning institute.
  • Tango Monastery - Thimphu. Historical monastery, founded in the 13th century. Current buildings constructed in the 17th century. Next to the monastery are located the sacred caves, where holy saints have meditated since the 12th century.
  • Tashichho Dzong - Thimphu. Large, ornate fortress - Buddhist monastery in Thimphu. Built in the 17th century and rebuilt in later times, last time in 1902.
  • Trongsa Dzong - Trongsa. One of the largest historical fortress in Bhutan, constructed in the 17th century and enlarged in later centuries. Located in beautiful location - on a wild, rocky area above Mangde Chuu valley.
  • Wangdue Phodrang - Wangdue Phodrang. Enormous fortress, built on mountaintop in 1638. Burned down in summer 2012, but relics have been preserved.
Yagang Lhakhang, Bhutan
Yagang Lhakhang / Christopher J. Fynn, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Other buildings

  • Dechencholing Palace - Thimphu. Official residence of King, built in traditional style in 1953. Beautiful, traditional furnishings.
  • Kyichu Lhakhang (Kyerchu Temple) - Paro. Oldest Buddhist temple in Bhutan, originally built in the 7th century AD, reconstructed in the 15th - 16th century.
  • Yagang Lhakhang - Mongar. Buddhist temple, built in the 16th century. Contains rich collection of religious treasures, armour and weapons.

List of described attractions by districts

Bhutan consists of 20 districts:

Bumthang
Chukha
Dagana
Gasa
Haa
Lhuntse
Mongar
Paro
ArrowParo TaktsangBuddhist shrines
Pemagatshel
Punakha
Samdrup Jongkhar
Samtse
Sarpang
Thimphu
Trashigang
Trashiyangtse
Trongsa
Tsirang
Wangdue Phodrang
Zhemgang

Map of Bhutan

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