Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, is known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys.
Our long awaited CAS trip began as we reached the majestic capital of Bhutan, Thimphu. Here, we got a taste of what the most modern city in Bhutan is like and see the difference between lives here versus life in other parts of the vast country.
As soon as we landed, the scenic beauty seen in Bhutan blew everyone away and the purity of the land could be felt. We also met our wonderful guides outside the airport, who gave us information about Bhutan throughout our trip and travelled along everywhere with us. From the airport there was a bus ride to our hotel Migmar in Thimpu. After we checked into our rooms we left for a delicious lunch where we got to try out a few traditional delicacies. Now we headed towards the Pangri Zampa, which was an astrology school. Here we met a monk and learnt about the importance of astrology in Bhutan’s culture. As always, nature was at its best around here. The rest of the day was spent at the hotel with some much-needed rest.
We personally witnessed the evolvement of the Pangri Zampa (Astrology school), accomplished the trek that led us to the national animal of Bhutan, the takins at the preserve centre & toured through the Bhutanese culture by visiting the Folk Heritage Museum (a three storied, 19th century traditional house giving an insight to the Bhutanese lifestyle, and artifacts from the rural households), Institute for Zorig Chusum (Traditional Art & Craft School), The Institute of Traditional medicine – Medicines are prepared according to the Tradition practices in this institute, Kuenselphodrang – the fantabulous Buddha Point and Textiles Museum (has a stunning collection of exclusive and antique Bhutanese textile artifacts).
Regardless the tiring day we had the most prominent CAS activity at Thimphu which was also the climax of our excursion, the visit of the Bhutanese children and the assembly. We showcased the Indian culture and provided a gist of what India is like through informative speeches, melodious music and trendy Bollywood dances. This experience aided us to have a great ethnic exchange with the children of our own age but different nationalities.
Day three took us to the most picturesque location of our trip, Punakha. Located at a height of 4265 ft., Punakha valley, one of Bhutan’s most scenic destinations, is the perfect place to awaken the nature lover in us. The drive to Punakha was a treat to the eyes and to top it off, we went to Dochu La pass (3080Mts / 10102Fts) that made us forget about the city lights completely. The Punakha Dzong (Buddhist Temple) and Chimi Lhakhang (Monastery), the fertility temple, were the highlights of the outing to Punakha. We then went to the Zhingkham resort and then visited the river side and went into the river experiencing the calmness of the environment. The extreme cold water freshened up our minds and threw away our weariness.
The fourth day was the day of arrival in Paro. There was a visit to the royal botanical garden which had various types of rhododendron species. This included each person planting one type of plant as a part of the CAS project. The suspension bridge was also an amazing experience as it is a very lengthy one to cross. Upon the arrival in Paro, there was a visit to the Ta Dzong and the Ringpung Dzong. The national museum and a monastery respectively. The museum had all kinds of birds, animals, masks and the paintings depicting different deities.
Today was our last day of sightseeing in Bhutan. We went to the tiger view-point and saw the Tiger’s Nest from a distance. Then we headed towards the Paro Dzong, which again allowed us to understand the culture and traditions of Bhutan. We also visited the Ta dzong, which is the national museum of Bhutan and it showcased traditional artifacts. It also had multiple species of animals preserved there, which was fascinating to see. For lunch we went and had traditional Bhutanese food, which was delicious and got a chance to go to their farm and pick chillies. Using this fresh ingredient we made a local dish called chilly cheese. We also got a chance to do archery, something new to most of us. Today was the day we also got to do some shopping! At night there was an amazing bonfire especially for us and we all had fun singing and listening to music around it!
The final day we departed from Paro to Mumbai via Kolkata on 8th of September.