An early salivating breakfast awaits you at Kathmandu as you open your eyes to another beautiful morning. Then, we check out from the hotel and move to the airport where we shall board a flight to the world's happiest country, Bhutan. When you land at Paro, you shall be guided by our representative to Thimphu which is just an hour's drive away.
Visit the Simothkha Dzong which literally means 'On top of a demon'. Folklores tell us that the fortress was built to protect travelers from a demon who was harassing them. This Dzong is the oldest Dzong in entire Bhutan and greets you with colorful murals of four kings Vaishravana, Dhritarashtra, Virudhaka and Virupaksha who guard Bhutan against enemies coming from four directions. The most attractive mural is of the King of North handling the jewel vomiting mongoose. The Utse (central tower) stands tall at three-stories and has 12 sides to it. There are more than 300 slate carvings which depict saints and philosophers. The most famous being that of Sakyamuni being heard by bodhisattvas adorn the main hall and colorful Dhvaja (victory flags) hang through the ceiling. Thangkas offer surreal beauty to this place and you just feel that time has stopped here.
We visit the National Memorial Chorten which was built in the loving memory of the third king of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. The structure is a beautiful white building which has a golden spire on its head. Chorten means the seat of faith in Bhutanese language and the name is justified as you can see many elderly Bhutanese doing a parikrama (circumnavigation) around the Chorten in the morning hours. The Chorten contains intricate sculptures and paintings which are some of the finest that can be found in Bhutan.
Which was the largest book you ever read? How much did you say 500, 600, 700, 1000 page! Okay, then we challenge you to read this one. Stored in the National Library of Bhutan is the largest published book in the world. It is so huge that we don't need to count the pages. Instead, we use a different unit of measurement, weight. The 68-kilograms and two meters tall book called Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey across the Last Himalayan Kingdom steals the limelight.
The National Library of Bhutan holds a large variety of such treasures. The old manuscripts are stored between blocks of wood and bound tightly by cloth to preserve them.
We shall visit the Zilukha Nunnery after the National Library. The Nunnery is a small building housing around 70 nuns, who have dedicated their lives to Buddhism and serving the people. The calm on the face of nuns is magnetic and makes you wonder that even after leaving all worldly possessions how can these nuns be so happy? Or is it 'because' of leaving the worldly possessions that they are able to remain so cheerful. Drubthob Chakzampa built the Zilukha Nunnery in the 15th-century. He was also known as 'Father of Tibetan Opera' and the 'Builder of bridges'.
After pondering over the meaning of life with the nuns, we move on towards visiting the National Institute for Zorig Chusum or the School of Bhutanese Fine Arts. 4 to 6-year courses are conducted in this school which is commonly known as the painting school among locals. Students of this school are well-versed in painting on furniture and thangkas. Students also learn painting, wood carvings, embroidery and the art of making clay sculptures. You might just find the next Bhutanese as a master using his hands to create a masterpiece as you click photos from your digital cameras.
Next, our tour moves to the Zangtopelri Lhakhang which is a pristine white-colored monastery with golden rooftops. The monastery was built by the person who composed the Bhutanese National Anthem Dasho Aku Tongmi. The Zangtopelri Lhakhang is famous for Guru Rinpoche's 8 statues and has some mesmerizing thangkas of Buddha. The monastery is famous for rolling dice as a ritual to have childbirth.
They say the best therapy is 'Retail Therapy' and Thimphu has enough of it. We visit the National Handicrafts Emporium next to satisfy the shopper bug in you. The emporium is run by the government of Bhutan and hence you will find here authentic souvenirs which include traditional hand-woven textiles, masks, paintings, jewelry and carved wooden items which include arra pots.
Overnight stay at the hotel.