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Paro Ta Dzong
Once a watchtower built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century, Paro Ta Dzong was inaugurated as Bhutan’s National Museum in 1968. The museum houses many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past.
Rinpung Dzong was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan. The Dzong continues its age-old function as the seat of the district administration, district court and the monastic body. Rinpung Dzong has the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime.
The southern approach to the Dzong has a traditional roofed cantilever bridge called Nemi Zam. A walk across the bridge offers a wide view of splendor of the Dzong’s architecture and an opportunity to tread the same path as the ancient warriors.
Tachog Lhakhang is built by Thangthong Gyalpo known famously in Bhutan as Great Iron bridge builder.
Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
Paro Taktsang is a sacred pilgrimage site loved by both visitors and locals. This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. The trail is broad and takes approximately 2 hours of walking that will take you about a kilometre above the Paro valley floor. Those who are unable to hike can request from your guide for a horse to ride up to the viewing point.
Originally built in the 7th century, Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the two oldest temples in Bhutan. It is one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo (where currently only three remain). Inside the temple is a great golden image of Buddha Shakyamuni.
Located almost 3750 above sea level, Chelela Pass is the highest motorable point in the country. Here, you can hike up along the meadow to reach Kung Karpo La, sitting at 4100m above sea level. Weather permitting, you can enjoy the breathtaking views of the snow capped mountains while walking above the tree line along the ridge that divides Paro and Ha valley.
The nuns, also called anims, in the nunnery of Kila Gompa live a life of contemplation and seclusion, with daily prayer and spiritual practice. The temple itself is surrounded by numerous meditation huts, and many hidden caves lie inside the rocky cliffs. The Gompa is surrounded by a lush forest dominated by tall fir trees. Sparkling mountain streams wind down the slopes, which are covered with a variety of wildflowers and plants.
About 30 anims live here, ranging from about 20 to 80 years old. The community is one of the oldest of the seven nunneries in Bhutan, and was initially established in the early 9th century as a meditation site. After being destroyed by fire, the temple was rebuilt and officially established in 1986 as an anim dratshang (religious community of Buddhist nuns).
Kila Gompa is historically significant as a sacred meditation site. Many renowned Buddhist saints have come here to find peace and seclusion. The main temple houses ancient statues of Chenrezig (Avalokiteswara) and Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) among others.