Tuesday, June 28, 2011

‘It’s the last Shangri-la’ My Journies In Bhutan By Nisha JamVwal

Sparkling Silent Bhutan


For someone who has “roller coaster schedules and tough deadlines — that make for a madding crowd my trip to mountainous Bhutan was a much needed-escape. High in the Himalayas, it’s unspoiled and pure. Nothing prepared me for this last Shangri-la on earth. The customs, friendly people and deeply-held beliefs was therapeutic.

Monasteries & mystery

I stayed in the heart of the Himalayas, in Thimphu, the charming capital, 7500 feet above sea level. I awoke to the towering mystical mountains with my suite at Taj Tashi overlooking the Wang Chu river everyday. 

Taj Thimpu

                                                                                             Situated in the centre of this capital city, I chose this magnificent hotel because it has adopted age-old Bhutanese traditions in its architecture and I adored the magnificent panoramic views of neighbouring mountains as much as their velveteen service which made me feel like home away from home. 

My palatial suite overlooked the rambunctious river and waking up to the sound of it playing with the morning mist was a pleasure I cannot recreate in words.

The view of the blue green mountains melding with the blue green sky was exquisite and if the day did not promise even more beauty I'd have stayed there enjoying the moment even longer.

Ravi Nischal ,Sumeet and the entire Taj family made my stay even more memorable.

While I stayed at Taj Thimpu -probably one of the smallest capitals in the world in a pristine valley-I made to visit Paro twice. 

Peace & Tranquility

The most exquisite life changing 
experiences is at the Dzongs which are the fortified monasteries and the temples all with astonishing views over mountains and of rivers. I met some monks inside the place of worship and they invited me to dine with them. The silence and quietness is therapeutic.

Winding Bridges

Paro's traditional covered bridge up the        

drive through the valley to the atmospheric ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, winding hill of fields, monasteries, picturesque villages, prayer wheels and children with whom I posed for pictures — were lovely.

Butter Tea

Momos & butter flavoured tea: With the weather being cold there was no surprises as to the culinary fare. The food in Bhutan is very spicy, in fact, all roofs of the old houses are strewn with red chillies drying for the winter, used as a vegetable — and the national dish of Bhutan is ema datshi — the chilli cheese curry which I loved.

I also enjoyed the local momos, yak cheese and meat soups. The tea in Bhutan took a little getting used to with its peculiar butter flavour.

Mysticism Re-beckons 

I picked up a few hand-woven shawls, rugs and stoles as well as some antiquities from the local Thimpu bazaar. 
And yes, a special talisman to protect someone special! Its called a Dorji!

Guru Rimpoche : Padmasambhava

But the piece de resistance was my Guru Rimpoche created in clay , hand crafted and hand painted by one of Paro's most 

famed artists. He sits here before me as I 
write this blog, empowering and blessing with his fixed somewhat strict smile!

Oh to Go Back!

I would go back to Bhutan every few months if I could, and never again will I voluntarily go to Switzerland, given a choice.

The Wang Chu Dancing Through My Dreams
The Wang Chu River winding down adjacent the street calls me back, as do the mountains, mysticism, quiet-itude and humility of Buddhism, that far surpasses any tailor-made clockwork tourism for me!

Written For & Published in the DNA Newspaper
Nisha JamVwal nishajamvwal@gmail.com
Tweet Nisha @nishjamvwal
By Nisha JamVwal
Picture Credit Nisha JamVwal
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