It was 7:30 pm. I could see street lights glinting in the dark. Roads started to get wider as we approached the capital. It had taken three days to finally land in Thimpu and it had been worth it all this while. In June, most of the tourist crowd from India make its way to Thimpu, an easy and accessible gateway to get relief from the scorching heat of June. However, once you move out of the capital, tourists are sparse.
Greenery is ubiquitous in Bhutan. It is lush green, a kind of green that has just blossomed, and has been nurtured by rain and soft-warm light of the sun. I could sense my lungs getting full of pristine air. It was quiet, no honking of cars and cabs. It was serene, cold and green, majestic and peaceful, oblivious to anything which might be happening in the world. It would take a lot to disturb the serenity and placidity of this place, I thought. I wished that it remains this way forever.
A quick shower, and I was out, meandering on the streets of Thimpu. Souvenir shops, small eating joints, retail stores, and karaoke pubs line the streets. I witnessed a unique culture in Bhutan where restaurants are places to sit with friends and eat rather than experiencing fine dining. Menus were limited, and the ambiance was warm and dim. I hogged on momos and kew datshi, strolled till my feet started to ache.
Second Day in Thimpu.
I had planned my day, or as I thought. I had listed the places which I wanted to visit. But before I could start, I had to get a visa extension to cover Punakha, Trongsa, and Bhumthang. At Phuntsholing, a visa is only given for Thimpu and Paro.
It was 8 am and the town was just rising from slumber. Roads were empty, and the day was clear. It took 35 minutes to complete the visa process. I spent some time wandering on the roads, clicking pictures of everything I found beautiful.
I wanted to walk, walking connects you to the place, opens opportunities to make friends out of strangers. After a light breakfast, my first stop was Thimpu Chorten from the city center. it is a newly built space for worship. It was overwhelming to see devotees completely immersing themselves. There were young couples who came to distribute fruits to the elders or kids who accompanied their grandmothers. I spent an hour just letting this feeling seep into me.
From Thimpu Chorten, I started to walk towards the oldest monastery in Thimpu, Changangkha Monastery. I made it in time for the afternoon prayer and could sit through when monks were hymning prayers with traditional instruments. This is also the place where people come with their newborns to get them blessed. Spirituality and calmness of this place had enraptured me.
There are two ways to reach this monastery, stairs and a carved-out path (which is mostly taken by the tourists). I was following a local woman who had her kid tied on her back. So, I ended up taking stairs, stairs are faster but exhausting. Once we reached back to the main road I was hungry. I went to a small woman run restaurant and ordered for Momos. These momos and eze (chilly sauce) were the best in my entire trip. I ended up striking a conversation with a local, he was from Bhumthang and was a guide for the French tourists. After a brief conversation, he suggested us to explore Tango and Cherri.
There is a lot in Thimpu
Two days can be spent going through the other places. Thimpu Dzong, Dochula Pass, Simtokha Dzong are a grand introduction to Bhutanese culture and architecture. My vacation had just started, and adventures were waiting for us in Bhumthang. Read on for Tang Valley Trek experience here. You can find photos on my Instagram Channel
If you are looking to build your itinerary, do read this post: Bhutan it was