Landing into Paro, at the only international airport in the country (there are three domestic airports), it is clear that Bhutan is different from most countries. The airport is lovely, with traditional style buildings or at least facades, and these amazing baggage carousels, with models of some of the most important buildings in the country.

Paro was once a relatively small place known as the rice bowl of Bhutan, but has now grown to a town of about 70,000 people. Three quarters of them work in agriculture, and the airport and tourism are also big employers. As with the rest of Bhutan the buildings are in traditional style. They can be any colour or building material but need to incorporate traditional design elements.

The National Museum of Bhutan is housed in a circular watchtower built for the Paro Dzong below. No photos are allowed inside but there are some incredible masks used in festivals, held annually in each of the twenty districts in Bhutan. There’s a scale model of the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, and information on the rich fauna of Bhutan.

Paro Dzong is a mighty fortress built in the 17th century. now home to the district civil and religious administration. Locals can only enter wearing their smartest traditional clothing as a sign of respect.

A lovely traditional span bridge called Nynami Zam crosses the river in front. The original was washed away in 1969 and rebuilt.

After which are a group of six chortens and another of five chortens.

To finish with the Druk Choeding, the town temple, where I learnt to pray Bhutanese Buddhist style, with three prostrations in front of Buddha, which is hard on the joints.

Author: jontycrane

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