A trip to Bhutan normally begins and ends at Paro since country’s only international airport is in this district. The beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates within itself a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and country’s only airport. Paro is also one of the most fertile valley in the Kingdom producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.
- Drukgyel Dzong
This Dzong was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Historically and strategically this Dzong withstood all its glory and was featured in 1914 vide National Geographic magazine. The glory of Drukgyel Dzong remained even when it was destroyed by fire in 1951. On a clear day, one can see the splendid view of Mount. Chomolhari from the village, below the Dzong.
- Rinpung Dzong
The dzong was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal , the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan. The Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. It is linked by the traditional cantilever bridge (called the Nemi Zam) over the Pa chu where one may pose a photograph. It is also the venue of Paro Tshechu, held once a year in the spring.
- Ta Dzong
Above Rinpung Dzong is the Ta Dzong, built as a watchtower to protect the Dzong from intruders and warring factions. In 1968 Paro’s Ta Dzong was inaugurated as the National Museum. The museum’s collection includes ancient Bhutanese arts and artifacts, weapons, and stamps, birds and animals, and an incredible collection of silver tea ware. The museum circular shape augments its varied collection displayed over several floors.
- Kyichu Lhakhang
It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang). The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in same original pattern. Next to the temple is the house that is now turned into a museum dedicated to the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. One can come across photographs and other artifacts belonging to Rinpoche.
- Dzongdrakha Temple
It is located on the cliff, half an hour walk from Bondey Town (the town near Paro airport). It is a group of 4 Temple monasteries. These are dedicated to Tara, Tsheringma, Guru and Jowo Jampa. From this temple one can witness magnificent view of terraced fields of Bondey and the valley.
- Kila Goemba
This magnificent clusters of temples built on the cliffs have been home for nuns for a long time. The goemba is nestled in a craggy patch on mountain side below the Chelela pass and perched precariously along the rock face. From Chelela pass, the lhakhang is about an hour walk amidst magnificent wooded area. Kila in Sanskrit means a subjugating spiritual dagger that destroys the negativities. Hike up this temple and subjugate all the negative energies within you.
- Taktshang Monastery
Taktsang is located on a high cliff towards the north of Paro town. It is said that Guru Rinpoche (Precious Master), the father of the Bhutanese strain of Mahayana Buddhism, arrived in Paro Valley more than a millennium ago on the back of a legendary flying tigress. He meditated for three months in cave where a monastery was later built, called Taktshang Lhakhang, or Tiger’s Nest. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and visited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendor. “Trip to Bhutan is never complete without climbing to Taktshang”, says one tourist. Indeed it’s true as the journey turns into a pilgrimage and fills you up in spiritual bliss. For those not choosing the spiritual side it is the dramatic, artistically built monument that becomes a hiker’s delight.
- Dungtse Lhakhang
Located just above Paro town across the bridge over Pachu River is the Dungtse Lhakhang. The Lhakhang was built by the great Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo (the Builder of iron chain bridges).
- Tachog Lhakhang
Tachog Lhakhang is located between Paro- Thimphu Highway before reaching Chunzom. It was built by the great architecture Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo in 14th century. One may get to the lhakhang by crossing the iron chain bridge build over the Pa Chu.
- Farm Houses
The beauty of Paro valley is embellished by cluster of quaint farm houses. The two to three-storied Bhutanese farm houses are handsome in appearance, with colorfully decorated outer walls and lintels, and are traditionally built without the use of single nail. All houses follow the same architectural pattern. A visit to a farm house gives an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of a farming family.
- Druk Choeding
Druk Choeding also known as Tshongdoe Naktshang is located in Paro Town. The temple was built in 1525 by Ngawang Chhogyel, the prince of Ralung and an ancestor of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Temple houses a statue of the Future Buddha known as Jampa in the seated position. There is also an image of the deity known as Gyenyen, the protector of Bhutan.