Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 14: Ride to Punakha Valley

Route: Thimpu - Dochu La - Punakha Valley - Thimpu (160 KM)
Road Condition: Excellent Roads
Max. Altitude: 10330 ft (Dochu La)

Once again got up early at 6. Today we wanted to go to Punakha valley. We left at 9:15 for the cultural department to apply for permits to visit Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest). To visit most of the dzongs(monasteries), you need a separate permit from cultural department. It’s somewhere on the way to the Takin Reserve(Zoo). We had to ask around to find this department. In Bhutan, all the administration of a particular area is under a dzong. We were surprised when we were given a form in local Dzongkha language! But luckily one of the guys were helpful and he filled up the form for us and immediately gave us the permits. The actual process says that you have to apply in the morning and then get them in the afternoon. Now that’s something which tells you that you are welcomed in this majestic Himalayan kingdom!
We started for Punakha soon after we got the permits. The road was in excellent condition with no problems at all. This is the same road (or highway if you wish to say) which takes you across Bhutan. I had decided to leave my rainwear behind at the hotel, a decision I soon started cursing as it started raining a bit as we started climbing the Dochu La pass. Before Dochu la pass we have to show the permits at a check point. After some time we reached Dochu La which is highest point on the road to Punakha. Here we saw one of the famous landmarks of Bhutan i.e. the 108 chortens. After clicking some snaps, Manas & Parag decided to visit a structure at Dochu la. I decided to just laze around my bike.
108 chortens, Dochu la

108 chortens, Dochu la

Soon after they came back we started descending to Punakha Valley. Few km before Wangdue there is a left turn which takes you to Punakha.

We took that turn. It was a smooth road, the climate was temperate and it was getting bit hot here.
Bhutan Country Side

As we reached the place, we could see this beautiful dzong building which had the river flowing from its both sides. Punakha, I guess is their ancient capital city or the oldest city. There is this beautiful bridge which takes you inside the dzong area. The whole structure was very huge and beautiful. Generally I get bored when it comes to visiting such place but I liked this one. We spent a good time at the place clicking snaps and relaxing.
Punakha: Ancient city

Punakha Dzong(Monastery)

Punakha Dzong(Monastery)

Punakha Dzong(Monastery)

Punakha Dzong (Monastery)

Punakha Dzong(Monastery)

Punakha Dzong(Monastery)

Punakha Dzong(Monastery)


You get yak cheese as well

We left back for Thimpu and reached Thimpu at around 4 pm. From the recommendation of our friend Sangay(The singer), we searched the place where you get Sikam Paa(Pork). Initially we thought it was something like a kebab but turned out to be very different. The moment we all had one bite we knew we had enough of it! I didn't quite like it and left it. So with this bad experience we decided to head back to our hotel and have lunch there.
Sikam Paa..was highly recommended by Sangay the singer.. But then he was joking I guess..its horrible in taste!

National Stadium, Thimpu

In the evening we went for a stroll on the main street and went to Tiger Pub which only served Tiger Beer. It was a karaoke place where we got bored pretty quickly decided to get back to the hotel.

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