…………Continued Day 3
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, -----“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
For me, the most wonderful feeling I get when I am travelling is that the sunrise is always in a different place than the sunset. This itself gives me a sense of moving on and is moving on not a synonym of life?
We continued with our onward Journey to Paro, leaving Thimphu. However, before leaving, we wanted to witness the Royal palace of Bhutan and although our driver informed us that visitors are not permitted, he promised to bring us to a site which provides one of the best views of the Palace. We drove across the city passing by the Principal Seat of Bhutan, the Legislature, and some other important Govt. departments. We observed that are no traffic signals in the capital city of Thimphu. Instead, one will find the smartly dressed policemen guiding the Traffic in few of the busiest roads. But we found that most of the roads in Thimphu were usually empty and the cars were parked across the streets in a highly organised way in the parking spots as marked.
An approximately two-hour drive on the two-lane asphalt highway, will take one to Paro. This highway is one of the most beautiful, picturesque, and most used highways in the country.
One of the main reasons being, Paro hosts the only international airport of Bhutan. While driving up and going down the mountainous slopes and valleys, one should be cautious of the sharp bends and winding roads.
The green paddy fields and the clear blue water of the river Paro Chhu will welcome you to this beautiful historical town. The main street of Paro boasts many historical buildings and traditionally decorated buildings.
The National Museum of Bhutan- a historian’s delight
The National Museum of Bhutan was established in the year 1968 in the renovated ancient Ta-Dzong building. Ta-Dzong was a watch tower of 17th century, situated above Rinpung Dzong. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the museum and so we tried to absorb as much of the history, culture, and evolution of Bhutan as we could.
Housing more than 3000 exquisite works of Bhutanese art including, fine arts, bronze statues, and paintings, we could journey into the history of Bhutan spanning for almost 1500 years of Bhutan’s cultural heritage.
The museum also showcases a hall of stamps containing diversified stamps of different eras and houses a Bhutanese textiles, jewellery, and handicraft section.
We also witnessed a group of people and an elderly gentleman engaged in a serious group discussion. We came to know that the Museum is one of the few educational institutions that interprets the history, culture and traditions of Bhutan and also conducts seminars, and publishes research findings and works towards the conservation of the art and artefacts that depicts the evolution of Bhutan from the Palaeolithic age, Neolithic age, bronze age to the modern day Vajrayana Buddhist, multicultural and colourful Kingdom. Surrounded by scenic beauty and wide vista of Paro Valley, the museum is a paradise for scholars, tourists, and an art enthusiast.
Street Momo- In the streets of Paro
Coming out of The Museum, we met a Street Vendor selling steaming Momo (Dumplings). Looking at the huge crowd surrounding him, we too decided to give it a try. After all, coming from Kolkata ,which is famous for its street food culture, how could we say no to it. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian momos are popular in Bhutan. We tried the vegetarian one which was filled with cabbage and cheese with a healthy amount of chili. Although this food is available and famous in the north eastern part of India, from which I belong, I still could not help myself in falling in love with its - across the border unique flavour and taste.
Drugyel Dzong, the witness of bravery, sacrifice and victory
Located in the upper part of the Paro District, Bhutan, we discovered this fortress and Buddhist Monastery. Built in the 17th century to commemorate the victory over the invasion of Tibetan army, the strategic location of Drugyel Dzong near the Tibet Border itself states that it was built for strengthening Bhutan’s defence against future invasions. Although destroyed in a fire in 1950 and lying in ruins, I believe, its indomitable spirit might have kept on calling the courage and bravery of the people of Bhutan. In the year 2016, govt. of Bhutan declared the reconstruction of this impressive and imposing site and we witnessed on our visit that it was being rebuilt. Hopefully, it will not be long that the Drugyel Dzong will be standing there once again in its full valour to keep reminding the people of Bhutan and the visitors of its glorious history.
Paro Taktsang- A Tiger’s Nest in the clouds
Paro Taktsang also called as the Tiger’s Nest, is a Buddhist Monastery situated on the Cliffside of the upper Paro valley. Although we reached half the distance, due to inclement weather, we decided against hiking three hours to this famous and sacred temple which has its own share of legends.
Even though we could not visit it, I have included this site here so that my readers do not miss out on this much loved and revered monastery of Bhutan.
To reach there one may also opt to ride colourfully dressed docile Mules, although it will cover only halfway, and the other half by trekking.
Returning to the town of Paro, we viewed some hot stone baths, farmhouses, and bought trinkets and souvenirs from a Bhutia shop.
One can also buy colourful shawls, sweaters, traditionally woven bags, 3D stamps or Thangka paintings. Although the women in Bakus (traditional attire of ladies) may speak only local language, their easy and expressive ways will always help you in making the best purchase.
Staring out from our hotel balcony into the river Paro Chhu flowing just across the road, the last evening spent in this beautiful Himalayan Abode brought within us a mixed feeling as always happens in all the travels that we have made.
We feel a sense of completion and accomplishment; the kids are a tad more disciplined and confident. Our exuberance for learning about a new culture and society was rekindled. Travelling always help us in building trust towards a society and it also builds up a trust within ourselves.
It was a rainy day when we drove back to India. The highway roads, built by Border Road Organisation, India, with its quirky but serious messages kept us company all throughout our journey from Bhutan to India. We saluted this organization of brave hearts who serviced humanity sans borders so that people can connect easily and safely and bring the world a little bit closer. Our journey ended the same way it had started when we boarded the train from Hasimara back to Sealdah, Kolkata, India, however, this time along with us we brought back with us our own share of memories, laughter, serenity and simplicity of Bhutan.
Mesmerising video of River Paro Chhu merrily flowing downstream
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
-----“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost