Holiday Destination Information
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Thimphu - Lying in a beautiful, wooded valley, sprawling up a hillside on the banks of the Thimphu river, it is the only world capital without traffic lights. It has an abdundance of Bhutanese culture and has retained its charm with brightly painted, elaborately decorated fascades which gives the town a medieval feel. Dominating the horizon is the imposing Trashi Chhoe Dzong ( Fortress of the Great Religion), which after being completely renovated in the 1960's, now houses the King and the central monk body. The most visible religious structure in the city is the National Memorial Chorten which contains numerous sacred religious paintings and tantric statues.The Weekend Market is an ideal time to experience an urban and rural blend, as villagers jostle with well-heeled Thimphu residents for the best bargains.
Bumthang - This is the spiritual heartland of Bhutan and is home to its most ancient and precious Buddhist sites. Bumthang encompasses four major valleys, with the main one, Choskor, home to the most important dzongs ( fortresses), temples and palaces. Jakar Dzong is the largest in Bhutan and was founded in 1549 and has a circumference of 1500m (4920ft). The temple of Jampa Lhakhang was built in 659 and hosts one of the kingdom's most spectacular festivals, the Jampa Lhakhang Drup. Once you have had your fill of sacred, old buildings, take a drive in the countryside and see where and how the majority of Bhutanese live, as they have for thousands of years.
Phobjika Valley - This is a glacial valley on the Western slopes of the Black Mountains and is a designated conservation area. It is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country, because of the large flock of rare, black-necked cranes that winter here. These birds have a special place in Bhutanese folklore. Other residents of the valley include muntjaks (barking deer), wild boars, sambars, Himalayan black bears and red foxes. The Black Mountain National Park is a vast area still in its natural state and has an impressive array of plant species and animals, such as tigers, red pandas, gorals, leopards, serows and golden langurs.
There is no domestic air service or railway tracks and the best way is by foot or road. Public buses are crowded and rough and the winding roads make them uncomfortable. You can hire a car and driver, although taxi's operate without meters and fares are very much negotiable. The government is interested in promoting biking in Bhutan, but that is still in the future.
The largest and most colourful festival takes place at Bhutan's dzongs ( fortresses) and monasteries once a year, in honour of Guru Rinpoche. They normally take place in spring and autumn and consist of up to 5 days of spectacular pageantry, masked dances and religious plays that have remained unchanged for centuries.
The Jama Lhakhang Drup takes place in October and is one of the kingdom's most spectacular. The festivals are also great social gatherings, with the Bhutanese dressed in all their finery and it provides the visitor with an ideal opportunity to appreciate the essence of Bhutanese culture.
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