I have always wanted to visit Bhutan. But after a previous bad experience with a travel agent who left me completely stranded messing up my vacation, I was taking no chances when it came to my first trip to Bhutan. So I booked my package which included booking my Drukair return flights, hotel accommodations, conveyance, guide and sightseeing with Tragopan Tours and Travels. This travel company is owned and run by Bhutanese who know the in and out of their kingdom.

Tragopan is licensed by the Bhutanese government as well as registered with the Tourism Council of Bhutan. With an experience of over a decade, I was in good hands. My flight tickets were in my inbox on the promised day and my driver cum guide was at the Paro airport to receive me. The 1 hour drive to Thimphu was amazing with non polluted air and lush greenery giving me glimpses of Bhutanese life. I had already discussed my itinerary and hotel options with my travel advisor before leaving India. Tragopan customizes itineraries as per your time, budget and preferences.

After check in at my hotel, I proceeded to the Memorial Chorten where you get to see men dressed in the traditional gho and women in kira chanting prayers and circumambulating the chorten with prayer malas in their hands. The Buddha Dordenma which is a short drive from Thimphu will awe you with its sheer size. The statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha standing at an impressive 169 feet is the tallest in the world. After lunch, it was time to face the takin which is the national animal of Bhutan. The Motithang Takin Preserve has some of them and they are the only highlight here apart from a walk amidst nature.

I would recommend getting to the Tashichho Dzong or Thimpu Dzong (dzong means fortress) by around 4:30 pm to witness the ceremony of how the National Flag of Bhutan comes down complete with bugles and march past. The dzong opened to the public only after 5.30 pm as it houses important offices within it. The intricate hand carved and hand painted carvings, the prayer wheels, monastery and the sheer size of the fortress with a rose garden is worth visiting.

For shopping you can either visit the shops in front of Clock Tower Square or near the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan. The Royal Textile Academy exhibits outfits of the royal family, crowns, varied weaves and jewellery. A unique and popular tourist attraction is getting your face on your own stamp at the Bhutan Post Office. Don’t miss a visit to Simtokha Dzong which is the oldest fortress of Bhutan. In addition to these, Tragopan can also arrange for your visit to an indigenous Paper Factory, Folk Heritage Museum and the Academy of Art and Craft.

My guide spoke fluent English. Tragopan also organizes for Hindi speaking guides on request. Not visiting Dochula Pass when in Thimphu is like eating kheer without sugar. The Pass has 108 memorial chortens and the view of Cypress forests around you as you sip coffee sitting on a wooden bench outside the café is something you are not going to forget. On a clear day you can get to view the Himalayas. Dochula also has a handicrafts shop and a monastery.

Tragopan Tours and Travels

Tel no- 00975 17119022

00975 8272320

Email- info@bhutantragopantours.com, kjigme@yahoo.com

Website- www.bhutantragopantours.com

Khursheed Dinshaw

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