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Paro, Bhutan

Paro (Dzongkha: སྤ་རོ་) is a town and seat of Paro District, in the Paro Valley of Bhutan.[1] It is a historic town with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered throughout the area. It is also home to Paro Airport, Bhutan's sole international airport.

History

Rinpung Dzong a fortress-monastery overlooking the Paro valley has a long history. A monastery was first built on the site by Padma Sambhava at the beginning of the tenth century, but it was not until 1644 that Ngawang Namgyal built a larger monastery on the old foundations; for centuries this imposing five-storey building served as an effective defence against numerous invasion attempts by the Tibetans.[2]

Built with stones instead of clay, the Dzong was named Rinpung, meaning "heaps of jewels" but Rinpung and all its treasures were destroyed by the fire in 1907.[2] Only one thangka, known as Thongdel, was saved. The Paro Dzong was rebuilt by the penlop dawa Penjor after the fire. Housed within its walls is a collection of sacred masks and costumes. Some date back several centuries; others were contributed by Dawa Penjor and his successor Penlop Tshering Penjor in recent times.[2]

On the hill above the Dzong stands an ancient watchtower called Ta Dzong which since 1967, has been the National Museum of Bhutan. Across a medieval bridge below the Dzong stands the , a royal residence constructed by penlop Tshering Penjor.[2]

Architecture

Along the main street there is a complex of traditional architecture with richly decorated buildings housing small shops, institutions and restaurants.[3]

The Dungtse Lhakhang is a 15th-century temple near the new bridge, and the is visible through the fence. Members of royal family lodge in the palace when passing.[3] Nearby is the old bridge by the Rinpung Dzong. Notable hotels include the Olathang Hotel built in an ornate style.[3]

About 10 kilometres (6 miles) outside Paro is the famous Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest) Hermitage on the face of a sheer 1,000-metre (3,281-foot) cliff. The place is highly sacred to the Bhutanese in that they believe Guru Rinpoche, the father of Bhutanese Buddhism landed here on the back of a tigress. The trek to Tiger's nest monastery takes about three hours one way. A scenic view of the town of Paro can be seen from the Tiger's nest.[3] A 16-kilometre (10-mile) road passes up the valley to the ruins of another fortress-monastery, Drukyel Dzong, which was partly destroyed by fire in 1951.[3]

Paro is home to Bhutan's tallest building, the Ta-Dzhong, which is 22 meters (72 feet) high, and has 6 floors. It was completed in 1649.[4]

Airport

Paro Airport has been described as "the most difficult commercial airport in the world",[5] The airport has only one runway. Airplanes on approach pass by 5,500m Himalayan mountain peaks, and the 1,980m runway length presents a double challenge, due to the extremely high density altitude at the site. As a result, only a handful of airline pilots (8 as of December 2014) are certified to operate commercial airplanes there. About 30,000 persons arrive at the airport each year.

Gallery

References

  1. ^ National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
  2. ^ a b c d "Paro - the beautiful valley". East-Himalaya.com. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e "In The Kingdom Of Bhutan". Global Sapiens. 6 October 2002. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  4. ^ https://www.emporis.com/statistics/tallest-buildings/country/100020/bhutan
  5. ^ [1] Paro Airport, atlas obscura (website), accessed 3 December 2014

External links

  • Paro travel guide from Wikivoyage