…………Continued Day 2
The first thing that struck us on our entry to Thimphu, was the quietness and serenity. Being the capital city of Bhutan, it is the main centre of commerce, religion, and royalty. It houses shopping complexes, monasteries, and many chalet-like buildings. However, far from the traffic noises, flashy lights and the urban grime that is witnessed in almost all the past cities that we had visited, Thimphu has grown whilst religiously preserving its nature and guarding its traditional integrity.
We felt that the city of Thimphu has been very carefully planned and built with minimal disturbance to the natural beauty. They have taken care of the Kingdom’s spectacular century old Fortress- monasteries, popularly known as Dzong in Bhutan, the scenic mountains and green wilderness with rows and rows of Pine trees.
Witnessing the Greatness of The Great, -visit to Buddha Dordenma….
For everyone who is wondering, let me tell you that we did not contact any guide for our trip but to our utter pleasure, the driver of our hired car turned out to be more than a guide. His frequent trips to Bhutan, as informed by him, sometimes even four to five times a month, had made him not only fluent in the local dialect, and an expert in all the famous tourists spots, but also helped us in seeing Bhutan from the perspective of a seasoned connoisseur, who was well versed with the history and lore of all the places that we visited.
The Great Buddha Dordenma is a must visit site if you are visiting Thimphu. Majestically sitting on top of Thimphu, this enormous Buddha Statue made of bronze and covered with gold, symbolizing indestructibility, measures almost 168 feet and is one of the largest and tallest Buddha Statues of the world. Also popularly known to the tourists as Buddha Point, the first word that came to our mind on seeing the Great Buddha Dordenma was “it’s Grand”. Overlooking the Thimphu Valley with calm and serene eyes and meditative posture, one can really find affinity with the predictions associated with this statue- to bestow blessings and happiness to the world and to radiate an atmosphere of peace and happiness in the world.
The throne where the Buddha Dordenma sits upon is a large meditation Hall which can house 100s of people at one time. Walking across the pedestal we witnessed wonderful 3D carvings of beautiful peacock and beautifully carved mythical characters. Also surrounding the pedestal are beautiful golden nymph like Goddesses, said to bring good luck.
Descending the Buddha Dordenma offers you two options - get in your car or else climb down the hundreds of wide and pristine white stairs with gusty winds blowing on your face making you feel the heavenliness of the place.
And a surprise awaits us!!!!
As we were driving down from the mountain top through the curvy roads and wonderful landscape, a wonderful surprise awaited us which made us feel about the health awareness of the people of Bhutan. It was a one of a kind experience for us seeing the open-air Gym with its own share of exercise equipment. Not only were these lying in the open but what surprised us more was that they were clean and very well maintained. We too tried our hands (and off course our legs) on the equipment and stretched our muscles.
We came to know that Public outdoor Gym is a popular concept in Thimphu and houses many more such open Gyms in different places of the city.
Made a new friend - Young Zayn….
To taste the culinary of Bhutan, we took our lunch in one of the eateries at the Clock Tower Square, Thimphu. Lunch for us comprised of the popular dish of Bhutan, Ema Datshi, stew made of chillies and cheese and Khewa Datshi made of potatoes and cheese,
a plate full of crispy fried potatoes and our kids’ all-time favourite, a bowl of noodles. The smooth cheesy flavour mixed with chillies tingled our taste buds and we savoured the unique taste of the local food.
Walking out of the diner, we reached the Clock Tower Square. It is in the centre of Thimphu and surrounded by many well-organised small shops, malls, cafes, and diners. There is an open pavilion which, we were informed, is used as amphitheatre for cultural performances. One can shop here to his or her heart’s content or may just stroll around the square or simply sit there absorbing the aura of place. I felt time too,
passed very leisurely here. The clock itself has four faces and stands out amongst the traditional buildings surrounding it. And here we met young Zayn riding his hoverboard. Zayn studies in class 9 and has an elder brother who runs a shop in the Clock Tower Square. Zayn does his schooling in India while his parents are in Bhutan, whom he was visiting during his school’s summer break.
Fun and Learn time for the kids….
Would a trip ever be complete without giving your kids the benefit of visiting a Zoo,
especially if you want to introduce them to a new species of animal. More precious is the visit, when this unique animal happens to be the National animal of Bhutan - The Takin. We visited the Royal Takin Preserve at Motithang Distrct in Thimphu to meet this vulnerable species. Legend has it that a great monk had fixed the head of a goat in the skeleton of a cow and the animal became alive which was named as Takin. I thought this explains the unique appearance of a Takin which has the head of a goat and body of a cow. Takin was declared as the National Animal of Bhutan in the year 1985.
In the entry point itself there is a huge board detailing about the nature, habitat, and food habits of this docile and quiet animal. Although as informed, the preserve houses some rare and exotic residential and migratory birds, our half an hour walk across the preserve was fruitless as we did not encounter any of the species.
Leaving the kids and husband to carry on with the exploration, I decided to rest a bit on one of the logs and wooden benches kept along the way for people like me, I guess. There were wooden stools too, which might have been left there naturally when the Preserve was built.
Reclining there on the wooden bench, my eyes fell upon the clear blue sky with shiny silver clouds scattered above. The blue of the sky left me spell bound. These days of course one can see this blue sky because of locking down of towns and cities and resultant reduction of pollution, but for me, sitting there amidst nature and surrounded by sky high green Pine trees, it was the most beautiful and purest blue sky.
While coming out of the preserve we saw a board with the words of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan delivering the message of loving and taking care of the nature which in turn itself will be a contribution towards Nation Building.
End of Day 2
If you missed reading Day 1 of our trip to the Land of the Thunder Dragons - Bhutan, you can read it here