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WESTERN REGION
THIMPHU
Thimphu, as the political and economic centre of Bhutan, has a dominant agricultural and livestock base, which contributes to 45% of the country's GNP. Thimphu has the country’s most of the important political buildings that including the National Assembly of the newly formed parliamentary democracy and Dechencholing Palace and the official residence of the King.

The culture of Bhutan is fully reflected in Thimphu in respect of literature, religion, customs, and national dress code, the monastic practices of the monasteries, music, dance, literature and in the media.

PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST

MEMORIAL CHORTEN
This Stupa was built in 1974 in the memory of Bhutan‘s third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into the Buddhist philosophy.

SIMTOKHA DZONG
This Dzong was built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Institute for Language and Cultural Studies is located here. The most noteworthy artistic feature of this dzong is the series of over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard.

NATIONAL LIBRARY
The history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts, which are preserved at the National Library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and ancient texts, the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.

INSTITUTE FOR ZORIG CHUSUM
Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, this Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.

THE FOLK HERITAGE MUSEUM (PHELCHEY TOENKHYIM)
This Museum showcases the Bhutan’s rural past through its various exhibits and educational programmes and documentation of rural life. The main exhibit in the museum is a restored three storey traditional rammed mud and timber house, which dates back to the mid 19th century. The museum also houses interesting articles from the history like household objects, typical domestic tools and equipments used in the ancient times. The museum is also developing some of the native trees and plants that were used for various domestic purposes in the rural households.

NATIONAL TEXTILE MUSEUM
The Textile Museum was opened under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden. It has today been able to make Bhutanese textile one of the most visible distinct art form. The textile museum exhibits six major themes - warp pattern weaves, weft pattern weaves, role of textiles in religion, achievements in textile arts, textiles from indigenous fibers and the royal collection that includes crowns of Bhutan’s Kings, Namzas (dresses) and accessories . The goal of the museum is to gradually become a center for textile studies that will carry out documentation, research and studies on Bhutanese textiles.

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PARO
The valley of Paro has a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and country’s only airport. Mt. Chomolhari (7,314m) at the northern end of the valley and its glacial water plunge through deep gorges to form Pa Chhu (Paro River) offers a picturesque landscape. Paro is also one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.

PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST

RINPUNG DZONG
Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal , the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called Nemi Zam. This Dzong is also the venue of Paro Tshechu, held once a year in the spring.

TA DZONG
Once a watch-tower, built to defend Rinpung Dozng during inter-valley wars of the 17th century, the Ta Dzong is now a National Museum of the country since 1967. It houses a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and the exquisite postage stamps of Bhutan. The museum circular shape augments its varied collection displayed over several floors.

DRUKGYEL
This Dzong was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. On a clear day, a clear view of Mt. Chomolhari from the village below the Dzong is worth a look!.

KYICHU
It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century with the exception of Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang. The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in original pattern.

FARMER’S HOUSE
The beauty of Paro valley is embellished by cluster of quaint houses. Bhutanese farmer houses are very colorful, decorative and traditionally built without the use of single nail. All houses follow the same architectural pattern. A visit to a house is a rather interesting option, as it offers the opportunity to get a close glimpse into their daily lifestyles.

DUNGTSE LHAKHANG
Dungtse Lhakhang, a chorten-like temple is an unusual building that was built in 1433 by the iron bridge builder Thangtong Gyalpo. It has three floors representing hell, earth and heaven and the paintings inside are said to be some of the best in Bhutan.

UGYEN PELRI PALACE
Ugyen Pelri Palace was built by the Paro Penlop, Tsering Penjor, in the early 1900s. It is designed after Guru Rinpoche’s celestial paradise, Zangto Pelri, and is one of the most beautiful examples of Bhutanese architecture.

JANGSARBU LHAKHANG
Located behind Paro Dzong, this small temple is home to a magnificent statue of Sakyamuni Buddha that was carried all the way from Lhasa and also houses the protector deity of Paro. Legend has it that the statue of Sakyamuni was destined for Paro Dzong and merely placed in the temple for overnight safe keeping. However, when the time came to move the statue, it proved impossible to lift. As a result, it became a permanent feature of the lhakhang.

TAKTSHANG LHAKHANG
Popularly referred to as Tiger’s Nest, it is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro Valley. The monastery gets its names from the legend that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime.

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PUNAKHA
Punakha is the administrative centre of Punakha dzongkhag, one of the 20 districts of Bhutan. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu.
Located at an elevation of 1,200 metres above sea level and rice is grown as the main crop along the river valleys of two main rivers of Bhutan, the Pho Chu and Mo Chu. Dzongkha is widely spoken in this district.

PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST

PUNAKHA DZONG
Strategically built at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637, by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal it is the religious and administrative centre of the region. Having played an important role in Bhutan’s history, the the Dzong has been fully restored by the present King to its full gloey. The Dzong is open for visitors during Punakha festival and in summer months when the monk body moves to Thimphu.

CHIMI LHAKHANG
The Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humour, songs and outrageous behavior to dramatise his teachings and due to this also known as ‘Divine Madman’. This temple is also known as the ‘temple of fertility’.

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WANGDUE PHODRANG
Wangdue Phodrang is more like an enlarged village, located in the south of Punakha. Famous for its fine bamboo products, slate and stone carvings, this quaint town offers breathtaking views of the surrounding region.

PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST

WANGDUEPHODRANG DZONG
At the confluence of Punakha Chhu and Tang Chhu rivers, Wangduephodrang Dzong is a very grand structure. The Dzong is open for visitors during Wangduephodrang Tsechu celebrated in autumn.

GANGTEY
The Valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful places in Bhutan. It is a flat valley without any trees that aguments the impression of vast spaces especially after the hard climb through dense forests, an extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed.

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PHOBJIKHA
A few kilometers beyond the Gangtey Monastery, on the valley floor lies the village of Phobjikha. The winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains of the in the north. It lies on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu (Chhu Naap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water).
According to a 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 (Nakay Chhu) won, Phobjikha valley would be able to grow rice, but if the boar won, then rice could never be cultivated in the area. The snake lost since it had to meander all the way during its journey. Rice cannot be cultivated in the valley even today.

PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST

GANGTEY GOEMPA
The Gangtey Monastery is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountain’s and also the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens who take care of the Monastery.
Gangtey was founded by Pema Trinley, the grand son of Pema Lingpa, the famous Nyingmapa saint of Bhutan. In 1613, Pema Trinley established the monastery and became the first Gangtey Tulku. The religious traditions of Pema Lingpa are still taught there. The second Tulku, Tenzin Legpa Dondrup (1645 to 1726), enhanced the size of Gangtey while keeping up good relations with Drukpas, and rebuilt the monastery in the form of a Dzong.
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