Bhutan, popularly known as the Last Dragon Kingdom is the only of its kind. A Country which gave birth to the philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). The Country that has also been blessed by many great enlighten being as early as the 7th century, When one of the greatest Indian saint Guru Padmasambhava visited the Dragon kingdom following an invitation of a local king who’ve remained ill health after his soul being taken away by the evil rival king and the only antidote that can cure the king at the time was the Indian saint.
Many great Buddhist philosopher wandered blessing the land, converting most of the evil local deities into local protective deities by conjugating them all. As a result building many Buddhist headquarters all around the country. Most of these massive giant buildings were also being used as a fort to defend against internal revels and foreign invaders during the 17th century.
One of the most venerated Buddhist masters at the time was the great “Zhabdrung” (the Unifier of Bhutan) responsible for the construction of many of these Dzong(Fortress). One can still enjoy these historic monuments by visiting the country even today. Some of these majestic Dzongs, monastery and temples are as follows.
Tiger’s nest in Paro, locally known as Tak-tsang is one of highlights in Bhutan. It was founded as a cave back in the 8th century by a saint named “Guru Rinpochhe”, he who planted the seed of Buddhism in this Himalayan Kingdom. It was built to the present form by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye, the temporal leader, during the 17th century.
Ringpung Dzong in Paro, the Fort that was built on a hill that looks like “Heap of Jewels”, which was later used to defend the people and the valley against enemies. However, the Dzong is now a Govt. owned property housing both monastic body and administrative office of the local area just like the rest.
The National Capital of Bhutan is the one of the two world capital without traffic lights. The capital is merely 55yrs of age approximately. Until 1950’s Punakha used to be the old Capital city of Bhutan.
The giant statue of Buddha Doderma is going to be one of the largest in the world. It is about 55m tall and contains one hundred thousand 12inch statue of “Lord Buddha” and twenty five thousand 8inch tall statue of “Buddha of compassion” placed within. It was being constructed following a prophecy left behind by 21century Buddhist masters.
The “Memorial Stupa”, was built in 1974 by the Royal Queen Mother in a memory of her late son, “Gongsar Jigme Dorji Wangchuck” , the third Dragon King. It is also pious landmark for most Bhutanese from all walks of life.
The Palace of Great Happiness (Punakha Dzong) was built in 1637 by Tuebe Zao Balip (Magic Carpenter)
Under the command of “The Unifier”(Zhabdrung). Although we have a Dzong in every province but Punakha Dzong in particular is the most beautiful Dzong in whole of Bhutan.
“Chimi Lhakhang” literally meaning, “Temple without dog”. In the early 15century, a truly renowned “Drukpa Kuenly” who came to the hill where Chimi Lhakhang now stands, following a carnivorous demon who have disguised herself as a dog.”Lama Drukpa Kuenlay” , soon after subduing the demon and forcing her to take oath saying that henceforth, she will not harm the people but to protect us from negative emotion and evil spirit in general. Some childless couple often visit the site to be blessed by a phallus for fertility. The temple of fertility was built around 15century on a hill which looks like a women’s breast. “Lama Drukpa kuenly “or the Divine Madman was a peculiar Buddhist practitioner who is obsessed by beautiful women, alchohol and songs. He left behind many great stories, songs and not to mention his progeny.
A glacial valley popularly known as the land of the “Black Necked Cranes” is one of the most remote areas located in western Bhutan. Like many other parts of Bhutan, the people of Phobjikha valley practice matrilineal, tradition of bestowing prosperity to the daughters of the family. The sons have to go out on their own, but if they intend work for the family, they are given To-Zhing, a land to substitution.
The valley boast two beautiful meandering rivers, Nake-chhu and Gay-chhu. According to the local legend, the two rivers actually represent a snake and a boar. The two animals once raced each other with an agreement that if the snake (Nake-chhu) won, Phobjikha valley would be able to grow rice, but if the boar won, then the rice could never be cultivated in the area. The snake lost since it had to meander all the way. Thus rice is not grown in the valley.
Gantey Goenpa(Gantey Monastery) is one of the highlights of the valley. It is the only Ningmapa monastery in western Bhutan, said to have been built in around 15century by Terton Pema Lingpa(Treasure Revealer), considered as one of the true reincarnations of “Guru Rinpochhe”.
Trongsa, literally meaning “the new town” lie in central Bhutan. An ancestral homeland of the Wangchuck Dynasty. Chogyal Minjur Tempa is the man responsible for building this massive Trongsa Dzong under the command of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal(The Unifier.). In 15th century, the great grandfather of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal visited the site where he built a small temple and made a prophesy mentioning about a man named “Namgyal” will visit the place and built “Trongsa Dzong” later during the 17th century.
“Jakar Dzong” or the “Castle of White Bird” was originally founded by Lam Ngagi Wangchuck, a true Buddhist master who existed sometime during the 15th century. Legend has it that, when “Ngagi Wangchuk wandered the valley in search of a perfect location to establish his Buddhist headquarters. Until he discovered a white bird that had been following him all the way from the beginning and ultimately giving Ngagi Wangchuk a the perfect to build his headquarters. Buckwheat pancakes and buckwheat noddles is the main staple diet in this part of central Bhutan.
Eastern Bhutan or Sharchog Dzongkhag is known for being of one the most remote areas here in Bhutan. Where modernization is still very young in this part of the country. It provides the visitor a chance to see and capture real Bhutanese way of living and working just like we used to do some hundreds of years ago. Unlike, western, southern and most of the central parts of Bhutan have huge impact of western culture.
Bumthang or “the land of holy vase” is often considered as the spiritual heartland of the country. It is also the place where in the 8th century planted the seed of Buddhism.
Wandue Phodrang Dzong has recently being destroyed by fire in mid-2012. But there is plan to be built again.