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Bhutan Travel Guide
"Bhutan, nestling in the heart of the great Himalaya, has for centuries remained aloof from the rest of the world. Since its doors were cautiously opened in 1974, visitors have been mesmerized: the environment is pristine, the scenery and architecture awesome and the people hospitable and charming."
Festivals Place to Visit Fast Facts
"If ever there was a place where nature and man conjured to create their dearest image, it must be the Paro Valley. To the north Mount Chomolhari (mountain of the Goddess) reigns in white glory and the glacier waters from its five sister peaks plunge torrentially through deep gorges finally converging to form the Paro River that nourishes the rice fields and fruit orchards of Paro valley.
Takshang, literally meaning Tiger's Nest, built around a cave in which Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambava ) meditated, clings seemingly impossible to a cliff of rock at 3,000 feet (800m.) above the valley floor. For local people it is a place of pilgrimage, but for a tourist, a hike to the viewpoint opposite the monastery in exhausting, thrilling and mystical. "

Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan lies at an elevation of 7,600 feet in a valley transversed by the Thimpu River. Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building houses the Throne Room of the King of Bhutan, the summer residence of the Central Monk Body and the National Assembly Hall. The city of Thimpu is nothing like what a capital city is imagined to be. Nevertheless, for Bhutan it is a fitting and lively place. The shops vie with each other, stocked with varieties of commodities ranging form cooking oil to fabrics. Old wooden houses stand side by side with newly constructed concrete buildings, all painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese architectural style.

Blessed with a temperate climate and drained by the Phochu (male) and Mochu (female) rivers, the fertile valley of Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan and even today, it is the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the Central Monk Body. In 1667, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built Punakha Dzong at the junction of Phochu and Mochu rivers to serve as both the religious and administrative center of Bhutan. Punakha Dzong houses many sacred temples including the Machen where the embalmed body of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal lies in state. Damaged four times by fire in the late 18th century and early 19th century and by earthquake in 1897, the Dzong was completely restored by the present King. The drive from Thimpu to Punakha crosses the high Dochula Pass, site of one of Bhutan's most enchanting views.

Towards the south of Punakha valley lies the valley of Wangdi Phodrang and the confluence of Mochu and Tangchu rivers stands the impressive Wangdi Phodrang Dzong. The higher reaches of the valley provide rich pasture land for cattle. Phubjikha in Wangdi Phodrang is the winter retreat for the rare Black Necked cranes. The district is also known for its fine bamboo work including slate and stone carvings. (* also spelt as Wangdue Phodrang).