Bhutan Diaries : Paro

Wow, I've been away from my blog for more than 3 months! But now that I'm back, get ready to be bombarded with posts about a country that I've fallen hopelessly in love with! Last month, we spent ten days travelling through Bhutan. I'm not even going to attempt to describe in words the kind of beauty that is SO commonplace in Bhutan. It is so overwhelmingly gorgeous that after a point, stuff like "wow" and "ohmygod" makes no sense, and all you can do is sigh and smile:) We'd have readily stayed on there for the rest of our lives, but we had to drag ourselves back, leaving pieces of our hearts behind.

Since we flew to Bhutan, our trip began and ended in Paro. Paro has the country's only international airport, one of the most dangerous ones in the world. It's also really small and quirky - people get off the plane, and generally mill about for a while taking pictures, and nobody really bothers you unless another plane has to take off or land! 
The white and red building that you see beyond the runway in the above photo is the Paro Dzong - I'll show you more pictures of it in just a moment. The fertile Paro valley is full of lush green paddy fields - it literally looks like a green bowl formed by the mountains around it.
Like the rest of Bhutan, Paro has as much man-made beauty as natural. The next few pictures are from the Paro Dzong. Dzongs are like fortresses, but they also house a monastic section and the local district administration. Ngawang Namgyel, known as the Shabdrung or the unifier of Bhutan, brought the whole country under one rule for the first time, back in the 17th century. He is worshipped as a deity all over the country. Most of the dzongs that you see in Bhutan today, were built by him. 
The most famous and most sacred site in Paro, and probably in all of Bhutan, is the Tiger's Nest monastery, that sits high up on a cliff at an altitude of more than 3000 meters! Guru Rinpoche, an Indian Buddhist saint, is credited with spreading Buddhism across Bhutan. It is said that he flew to the top of the cliff on the back of a tigress, and meditated there for a long, long time. Sadly, I had no tigress to carry me, so I had to rely on my Skechers :( It's a pretty exhausting trek to the top - especially if you are as lazy as I am! See the white specks on the top right in the photo below? That's the monastery. And I took this photo about midway during the trek up! I'll probably do a separate post about the trek.
While in Paro, we stayed in Hotel Olathang. It was quite a nice place - decent food and a slightly dark but very cozy and comfortable room. We got a good night's sleep before and after the trek up to Tiger's Nest.
Our stay in Bhutan wouldn't have been the same without Tenzing and Dorji, two of the loveliest people we have ever met. And I mean this with all my heart. Tenzing and Dorji, if you are reading this, you represent everything that is wonderful about your country. You inspire us to be gentle and kind. Thank you :)

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