This beautiful valley, which encapsulates within itself rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends, is home to many of Bhutan's oldest temples and monasteries, the country's only airport and the National Museum. Mount. Jhomolhari (7300m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial waters plunge through deep gorges to form the Pa Chu (Paro river). Paro is also one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom, producing a bulk of the famous red rice from its terraced fields.
Thimphu, the modern capital of Bhutan lies at Alt. 8000 ft in a valley traversed by Wang-chu (Thmphu river). Tashi-chho Dzong is the main secretariat building which houses the King’s throne room and the summer residence of the central monk body. Although what one expect from the capital city, Thimphu is still a very interesting place to be visited. Home to civil servants, expatriates and the monk body. Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style.
Blessed with temperate climate and fed by Pho-chu (male river) and Mo-chu (female river), Punakha is the most fertile valley in the country. Until 1955, Punakha served as the capital and is even to-day the winter seat of Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and central Monk Body. The dzong was built at the confluence of male and female river in 1638 by Shabdrung. After the slight destruction of fire in 1984 and major by flood in 1994 the present dzong was renovated from 1994 – 2003. Punakha valley is flourished with rich vegetation and the dzong is extra ordinarily renovated with detailed arts and crafts.
To the south of Punakha, located at Alt. 4,500 ft., is Wangduephodrang Dzong built in 1639 by Shabdrung. The dzong stands at confluence of Puna Sang-chu and Dang-chu rivers. Phobjekha valley in Wangdue is the winter habitat for the rare black necked cranes. The region is also known for its fine bamboo works and its slate mining.
Trongsa forms the central hub of the nation and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched. It is from here the first Monarchy was elected and still traditionally the crown prince has to take the position of governor before he takes the seat of the Golden Throne. The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular, for miles on end, the dzong seems to tease you, wondering if you will ever reach there.
130 kms and 5 hours drive from Thimphu lies Phobjikha valley at an elevation of 9,500 feet. On the drive into the valley you can encounter the historic Gangtey Gompa monastery built in the 17th century. Situated on a prominent hilltop, this Monastery that is the home of the Gangtey Tulku, a highly respected reincarnate lama, dominates the scenery.Phobjikha is a wide, beautiful alpine wetland valley where the Black Necked Cranes fly down from Tibet to spend the winter. These majestic birds are some of only 5000 left in the world today. The hill side vegetation is mostly pine forests, interspersed with Rhododendron trees, with thick brush-like bamboo carpeting the floor.
To the east of Trongsa lies the four bumthang valleys at alt. 9000 ft. These valleys are the religious heartlands of the nation and home to some of oldest Buddhist temples. Here tales of Guru Padmasambhava and his followers re-incarnates, known as Lingpas, still linger in most nooks and corners that have now become sacred ground. Your stay in Bumthang will be mainly in Chamkhar valley and from here you will drive and visit as per your interest.
The journey from Bumthang to Mongar is one of the most beautiful in the Himalayas crossing 3,800 m high Thrunsingla pass. Mongar marks the beginning of eastern Bhutan. The second largest town in the subtropical east, Mongar, like Tashigang further east, is situated on the side of a hill in contrasts to other towns of western Bhutan which are built on the valley floor.
Mongar Dzong, one of Bhutan's newest Dzongs, built in 1930s. Yet the Dzong is built in the same method and traditions of all the other Dzongs, no drawings and nails have been used. A visit to the Dzong gives visitors an impression of how traditional Bhutanese architecture has continued to thrive through the centuries.
In the far east of Bhutan, on the bank of the gangri-chu (river), lies Trashigang, the largest district. Trashigang dzong stands astride a hill slope below the main street. The dzong built in the mid 17 th century, serves as the administrative seat and state monastery for the district. Trashigang, once the bustling center of trade with Tibet, is today the junction of the east-west high way, with roads connecting it to Samdrupjongkhar and then to the Indian state of Assam.
It is the gateway to the south, is a thriving commercial center on the northern edge of the Indian plains. Situated directly at the base of the Himalayan foothills, Phuntsholing is a fascinating mixture of Indian and Bhutanese, a perfect example of mingling of people and their culture. Being the frontier town Phuntsholing serves as the convenient entry/exit point for Bhutan and also the important link to visit the Indian state of West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam.