Bhutan Vignettes

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Druk Air (the Bhutanese national airline) is the only airline that flies in and out of Bhutan, though a private airline will soon start operations. The Delhi-Paro flight is sometimes a direct flight, sometimes it is via Kathmandu. If it is a direct flight, it will take 3 1/2 hours. There is also a 30 minute time difference, since Bhutan is ahead. You will get a lovely view of the mountains, so make sure you get a left-side window seat for Delhi-Paro and a right-side window seat for Paro-Delhi. The camera has to have a zoom lens for good pictures. This picture is not of any mountain in particular, but is part of the Everest range.

This one is Makalu or Makaru, the 5th highest peak in the world. It is not very far from Everest and is on the border between Nepal and China. It is shaped a bit like a pyramid. All the pictures of the mountains will be taken from the south, since that''s the direction the plane will take.

This is Everest, with Lhotse and Nuptse. Pity that the clouds got in the way. You won''t get very good shots of Everest, unless you are lucky with the angle. From the flight, Kangchenjunga will be close. But Everest will be slightly far away

This is Kangchenjunga, the 3rd highest peak. Kangchenjunga actually has 5 different peaks and I focused on the main one.

This is not a famous mountain, at least the pilot didn''t mention its name. But it is part of the Everest range.

Towards the Delhi end, the mountains recede into the distance. Towards the Paro end, they are closer. The landing (and taking off) from Paro is quite a sight, as the plane weaves in and out among smaller peaks. This shot is of the Dhaulagiri range

This is an interesting animal. It is Bhutan''s national animal and is called a Takin. It is a strange combination between a goat, an antelope and a gnu. But there are different species of Takin and this picture is of the Bhutan Takin. This is from the Motithang Takin Preserve in Thimphu.

Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan. It is located on the valley of the Wang Chuu river. But no one calls the river Wang Chuu. The river is known as Thimphu Chuu. This is an old bridge across the river.

This is the Thimphu river, flowing in a north-south direction.

The Thimphu river again. The houses look beautiful. There is a lot of construction going on in the city and Thimphu is now estimated to have a population of 700,000. There is no airport in Thimphu. You have to drive down from Paro. The Paro-Thimphu road has improved, so you can do it now in 1 hour and 15 minutes.

This is a picture of the royal palace. It is one side of the Thimphu river and on the other side of the river is the Tashiccho Dzong, the seat of administration. There is a private bridge for the king to cross over. You need to be formally dressed to enter the Dzong.

This is the gate to the National Assembly. If you look really hard, you will see a monastery on the mountain at the back.

Slopes of Thimphu city. But there is a lot of modern construction going on too.

Bhutan is building the tallest seated Buddha statue in the world. It is atop a hill and you can see it from almost everywhere in Thimphu. The construction is still going on and is not yet complete. A Chinese company has put the statue together

This is the Namgay Heritage hotel, where I stayed. The tariff is around Rs 4000. The Bhutanese currency is pegged to the Indian currency in a 1:1 ratio. Indian currency will be accepted everywhere in Bhutan, but you may have a problem with Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. This hotel is close to the city centre. Since Thimphu is small, everything is close to the city centre. But be prepared to walk.

This is a rock face on the road from Paro to Thimphu.

On the way back, I got a better shot of Everest. As I have said before, Lhotse and Nuptse are also clustered around Everest. Lhotse is in front and Nuptse is to the left.

This is Kanchenjunga on the way back. With the light coming from a different direction, it looks like a completely different mountain.

Unnamed mountain, but a good picture.

This is a peak that not too many of us many be familiar with, by name. It is Cho Oyu, the 6th highest mountain peak in the world. If you go to Paro, with the exception of K2, you should be able to catch a glimpse of the top 10 mountain peaks in the world, either on the way to Paro, or on the return journey, though Nanga Parbat will be a little bit far away. Get that window seat and have your camera ready