Although travelling to Bhutan may be slightly more challenging than flying to Spain, it’s still well worth the trek because you’ll get to engross yourself in the local culture and experience what it is like to live in this stunning country.
Below we have recommended four different temples and monasteries you’ll want to visit, if you wish to learn more of the Buddhist culture.
The Punakha Dzong is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Bhutan and is why it has held many important events, including the crowning of all Bhutan’s kings and the wedding of the current king.
This temple is located in between two rivers, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu, meaning your only way to enter is to walk over the charming, Bazam Bridge and grab a glance of the monastery’s reflection in the waters below. If you wander over this walkway during spring, you’ll see a contrast between the white-washed walls and the gorgeous, lilac jacaranda trees in front.
Inside you’ll discover three stunning courtyards: one showcasing a white-washed Stupa and Bodhi tree (fig tree), one holding the entrance to the spire-topped tower and the third leading to the historic temple where many precious treasures, including sacred relics and remains, are held.
Paro Taktsang, also known as the Tiger's Nest, was built in 1692 around the Taktsang Cave. It’s dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, who travelled up here on a tigress to meditate after spreading Buddhism throughout Bhutan. It’s positioned 900 metres above the Paro valley, so be prepared for a steep, uphill climb that’ll most definitely be worth the hard work.
Once you’ve completed your hike, you’ll be rewarded with the magnificent view of the monastery carved into the cliff. Observe its golden-roofed buildings with white facades and protruding balconies that overlook the valley below.
Explore inside the cave and feel its cold breath wrap around you as you marvel at the many paintings of Guru Rinpoche’s manifestations on both the walls and ceiling. Climb up the steps carved in the cliff to visit The Hall of a Thousand Buddhas that showcases a symbolic tigress statue.
This traditional Buddhist temple is perched on a ridge in Thimphu. Since being established in the 12th century, it’s been used as a place for parents to receive a blessing from Tamdrin, the god of protection,for their young child.
When you step inside the complex, you’ll be wowed by the central courtyard’s shrine of Tshomen, a detailed mermaid sculpture, as well as many beautiful murals. Next, you should walk down the pilgrim path, Kora, to have an astonishing view over the whole compound – make sure you’ve got your camera ready.
If you wish to truly engross yourself in Buddhist culture, why not visit the resident astrologer? You can tell him your birth date and he’ll consult divination charts to decide on which protective prayer flag benefits you best. If you like to read your monthly horoscopes, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this.
Also in Thimphu, you’ll find the Tashichho Dzong on the banks of the Wang Chhu River, surrounded by sloped planes. This magnificent monastery served as the seat for the Druk Desi – Secular ruler of Bhutan – from the 18th to the 19th century, so it has a rich political history.
Built without nails and written plans, this fortress has many glorious shrines, chapels and temples, as well as the Utse, the large central tower situated on the north side. Pilgrims would visit the chorten here to receive a betel nut from the 69th Je Khenpo, (the senior, most religious authority in Bhutan) which represented his blessing.
When wandering the outside grounds, you’ll notice three-storey-tall towers with red and gold roofs on each corner of the complex’s perimeter. These make for excellent photographs, especially with the sun shining and the astounding landscape in the background.
If you wish to book a trip to Bhutan to visit one of these awe-inspiring Buddhist buildings, contact us via our website or call us on 0800 021 3237. Alternatively, you can visit either our Ipswich or Woodbridge travel agents and speak to a member of the team.