The most beautiful of all Bhutan’s valleys was also historically the centre of two of the most important trade routes to Tibet. The Paro Chu flows from its watershed in the Chumolhari range. Above it on the rocky outcrop of the steep hillside stands the Paro Dzong, at an altitude of just 7000 feet over looking both sides of the valley.Built with stones instead of clay the dzong was named Rinpung, meaning “heaps of jewels”.Today it is the house of Paro monastic body, office of the Dzongda (district commissioner) and Thrimpon (district judge). Behind the Rinpung dzong further on the hilltop stands the Ta-dzong, now houses the National Museum, since 1967.
Further up the valley 18 kms from the Paro town remains the Drukgyel Dzong was built by Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate an early military victory, the dzongs name means, indeed “Victorious Druk”. It was laid waste by fire in1954 and now in ruins recalls the days of the past. More to see the Kyichu lakhang one of the kingdoms oldest and most sacred monastries and Dungtse lakhang an unusual shaped building that houses important art are also centre of attraction.
The name of the gravity defying cluster of buildings means literally “the Tiger’s Nest” an illusion to the popular legend that Guru Padma Sambhava flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger. A visit to the monastery can be a challenging walk that is thrilling and exhaustive, that is most amazing attraction of paro is gem-like Taktsang monastery which clings to a sheer of 3000-foot rock face (900m).Build amazingly on a cliff, it brings pride to the bhutanese about the work of their ancestors. It is said that Guru rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognised as most sacred and visited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visitedby all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. This monastery built in 1692 caught fire on 19 April’ 1998, that damaged the main structure of the building and some religious content. The monastery has been renovated and restored to its former glory. From the road point the hike up to Taktsang, on a well maintained path, is quite uphill and it takes around 3-4 hours at an average walking speed. On a sunny day please do remember to carry sunscreen, water, walking stick, and a hat. Once the monastery, please do not forget to have a peep at the tiger’s nest. It is usually led into by a small door. On the way to Taktsang there is a cafeteria where you can have your lunch.
The Thongdel painted in rememberance of Guru Padma Sambhava the Thongdel is large and exquisite example of Bhutanese art of fashioning religious scroll paintings from silk and cotton. It depicts the eight manifestation of Guru Padma Sambhava with the two attendants Khendu Yesey Tsogyel and Khendu Minda Rawa, is displayed for a few hours on the 15th of the Bhutanese 2nd month during the Paro Tsechu (festival) that is held from the 11th to 15th century. It is unrolled at dawn and can be seen for kilometers around.
Rinpung Dzong:This is also known as the “fortress of the heap of jewels.” It was build during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 after the small Hungrel fortress build by lam Drung Drung was offered to Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered cantilever bridge. A walk through the bridge to the dzong, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it. The ta Dzong overlooks this Dzong.