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What to see in Bhutan

Punakha

A road route of about 65 km marked by sinuous curves, links the valley of Thimphu with that of Punakha and halfway between them is the mountain pass Dochula at 3140 m. Here you can find the Buddhist monastery Druk Wangyal Lhakhang, which was built in 2008 to celebrate 100 years of monarchy and in front, on a small hill, are the Druk Wangyal Chortens, 108 small white stupas. Each of them is painted with a red stripe and has a roof and three levels inside where Buddhist images, sacred texts, and offerings are kept. Its construction was completed in 2004 and was the idea of the queen mother to honor the soldiers who died in the battle of December 2003 against the rebellious Indians. It is a solemn and very inspiring place for Bhutanese who visit for prayer and meditation.From the viewpoint of the pass, you can see on sunny days the white and imposing sacred peaks of the Eastern Himalayas with the peaks Khang Bum, Gangchen Dha Gang, Gangchey Ta, Masang Gang, Tari Gang, Jejekangphu Gang, Zongphu Gang, and Gangchen Singye which rise between 6494 m and 7304 m. The highest of them all, Gangkar Puensum, measures 7564 m.From this essential stop, you have to descend along zig-zag roads to reach the fertile valley of Punakha, sat at 1300 m, crossing forests of rhododendrons and cypresses, fields of orange and magnolias and red rice crops that are mixed with the colors of the prayer flags that stir at the mercy of the wind to bring their plea of happiness and long life to all humanity.The capital of the country until 1955, Punakha is a small city that has grown around its fortress, which was built in 1638. From the road, as you get closer, it is exciting to see the spectacular silhouette of the Punakha Dzong and its magnificent and strategic location in a tongue of land at the confluence of the Father and Mother rivers, Pho Chu and Mo Chu. Through a picturesque covered suspension bridge built in wood, you can access the steep stairs of the second oldest and largest fortress in the country and for many, the most majestic and sublime. Inside, there are beautiful paintings of bright colors of mandalas and other deities of the country.During the spring, the jacarandas decorate the whitewashed stone walls and the river bank with violet flowers, embellishing more, if possible, this incredible place called the Palace of the Great Fertility and scene of the coronation of the kings of Bhutan. The temperate climate of Punakha is the reason why the monastery was chosen as the winter home of the spiritual leader of Bhutan and the monks of Thimphu and Paro. Within the walls of the temple resound the serious chants of the religious who repeat the mantras again and again for hours to the rhythm of drums and trumpets. The large courtyard is silent until the time for prayer is over and it is flooded with the garnet robes and smiles of the monks who have done their duty and go to eat or to their rooms.A beautiful and short hiking route can be made to the Temple of Fertility or Chime Lhakhang. It was built between 1455 and 1570 by Lama Drukpa Kuenley, famous for enjoying wine, women, and poetry and for using songs and humor as a teaching method for his students. Located on a small hill, couples who do not have children come to pray for their fertility. Inside there is a large Buddha statue. To get to the temple, you must pass through beautiful landscapes of rice fields and picturesque rural villages with stalls that sell, among their diverse crafts, wood carvings of different sizes and colors and symbols of good luck.

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