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MONASTERIES IN BHUTAN

Bhutan is not just known for its breath-taking beauty, for its warm friendliness, for its unending happiness or for the clear fresh air. The unspoilt pocket of the Himalayas is home to some of the best monasteries in the world. You feel literally feel the touch of spirituality and also the simplicity in the air as soon as you step foot on the land. Monasteries in Bhutan best encapsulate the nation’s mysterious and ancient heritage. They are most popular for their astonishing architecture and peaceful environs. SO if you are a traveller looking to explore the Buddhist Kingdom, delve into the history and heritage of this very land by visiting its breath-taking monasteries.

List of Bhutan’s most charming monasteries

Taktsang Monastery

A sacred site that has become the cultural icon of Bhutan, the Taktsang monastery or what is popularly known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is synonyms for mystical wonder. Located in the cliffside perched 3,000 meters above the sea level, the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave will leave you mesmerized. Undoubtedly the best known among all the other monasteries of Bhutan, the Locals have great importance for this in particular. It is because it is believed that in the 8th century, the Buddhist Guru Rinpoche meditated in the caves that bound this place for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours exact. He was carried here from Tibet on the back of a tigress. That is where this monastery derives its name from.

Location: Taktsang trail BT, Par 11001, Bhutan

Timings: 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Entry fees: INR 500 approximately

Festivals celebrated here: Tsechu festival

Cheri Monastery

The Cheri Gompa is Bhutan’s first-ever monastery. It has become a favoured tourist destination. The trail has you cross the bridge over Wang chhu River that makes the journey fascinating. The Goemba is a silver chorten that houses the ashes of Zhabrung’s father. The place is an essential venue for meditation and for all those who are interested in knowing more about the Buddhist philosophy. It requires you to undertake an hour-long hike if you want to be greeted to the monasteries topmost part that offers a picturesque view of green forests and lush valleys.

Location: Norzin, Lam 2 21, Thimphu, Bhutan

Timings: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Entry fees: No entry fees

Festivals celebrated here: Trongsa festival

Places to visit nearby: Buddha Dordenma, Folk Heritage Museum, Changangkha Lhakhang

Memorial Chorten

One of Bhutan’s most iconic monuments is one of the tallest religious institutions in Thimphu. It’s elegant architecture attracts tourists from all across the globe. Its great artwork, marvellous sculptures and wall carvings highlight Buddhist culture and contributes to the spiritual aura of the site. Whirl the large prayer wheels and spend some time at the well-maintained garden that is located in front of the chorten. With the spectacular views of the entire town from its topmost floor, the Thimphu Chorten is truly a wonder to watch.

Location: Chhoten Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan

Timings: (Monday – Friday) 5:30 AM – 6:30 PM and (Saturday, Sunday) 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Entry fees: INR 300 approximately

Festivals celebrated here: The Monlam Prayer Festival

Places to visit nearby: The National Folk Heritage Museum and the Bhutan Post Office Headquarters

Places to visit nearby: Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan and Motithang Takin Preserve

Kurjey Lhakhang Monastery

This monastery of Bhutan is tucked away against the backdrop of blue, green and golden Bhumtang valley. It is the place where Guru Rinpoche left the imprint of his body on solid rock. It derives its name from there as the imprint is called Kurjey in Bhutanese language. The complex comprises of three large temples that are bounded by a perimeter of 108 stupas. Do not miss out on spotting the tall cypress tree that locals say has sprouted from Guru Rinpoche’s walking stick.

Location: Bhumtang Valley, Bhutan

Timings: 9:00 AM – 6:30 PM

Entry fees: No entry fees

Festivals celebrated here: Kurjey Lhakhang Tshechu and Nimalung Festival

Places to visit nearby: Bumthang Brewery, Burning lake Thrumshingla National Park

Punakha Dzong Monastery

Often regarded as the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan, the Punakha monastery is also the most important one when talking about Bhutan’s history. It is the second-largest and oldest dzong and also makes for a majestic and famous structure. The most striking feature is that it is constructed without the use of even a single nail. It is also very serene as it is set between the two major rivers of Bhutan, namely, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu.

Location: Punakha Valley, Bhutan

Timings: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Entry fees: INR 300 approximately

Festivals celebrated here: Domche festival (also known as Punakha festival)

Places to visit nearby: Punakha suspension bridge, Khamsam Yulley Namgyal Chorten, Torsa Strict Nature Reserve

Gangtey Monastery

Located atop a hill at an elevation of 2800 m, the Gangtey monastery in Bhutan offers a stunning view of Phobjikha valley. It also happens to be the winter home to the rare Black Necked Cranes. It takes a hard climb through dense forests before you reach the wide and flat valley on which the structure is plonked. The valley boasts two stunning meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu and Gay Chhu. It also has an observation room equipped with telescope for catching the best view of the black-necked cranes.

Location: Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan

Timings: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Entry fees: INR 150 approximately

Festivals celebrated here: The annual Black-Necked Crane festival

Places to visit nearby: Jigme Singye Wagchuck National Park, Black Necked Crane Information Centre, Gangtey Nature Trail

Rinpung Dzong Monastery

Beautifully lit-up at night, the Rinpung Dzong is replete with illustrations portraying the life of Buddha. A hike to the top of the fortress will welcome you to a spectacular view of nearby valleys. This dzong is also an important administrative centre in the city. The watchtower here is considered to be very alluring with the intrigued carvings and woodwork.

Location: Paro, Bhutan

Timings: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Entry fees: No entry fees

Festivals celebrated here: The annual Rinpung Dzong Tshechu

Places to visit nearby: National museum of Bhutan, Airport bird’s eye viewpoint

Tashichho Dzong

The Tashichho dzong is of great relevance to the country as it has always been the seat of the government. It is built in a traditional style without the use of nails or written plans.
The dzong stands tall overlooking the city of Thimphu and is set on the banks of the Wang Chhu River. The monastery is enclosed by manicured lawns and beautiful gardens.

Location: Chhagchhen Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan

Timings: (Monday – Friday) 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM and (Saturday, Sunday) 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Entry fees: INR 300 approximately

Festivals celebrated here: The Thimphu festival at Tashichhodzong

Places to visit nearby: Folk Heritage Museum, National library and archives, banks of River Wang Chhu

The land is dominated by a large number of Buddhists and hence it is only natural to find so many beautiful monasteries in Bhutan. They make a significant and a prominent part of the history of the country and your trip to Bhutan cannot be completed without basking in the spiritual aura of these monasteries.

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