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Old 26th May 2009, 23:39   #46
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Hmmm... Real Good eye feast Sudipto. (Choke juriye gelo).
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Old 26th May 2009, 23:48   #47
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Thanks Arin. Here are a few more shots of the roads of Thimphu where Toyota Prados dominate. Bhutanese do believe in owning big chunky cars. If you can't afford Prados then at least a Tuscan !!

Incidentally, Bhutan has officially banned the sale of Nanos in the kingdom, fearing it will clog up the roads and parking space in the cities.
Attached Thumbnails
Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-prado1.jpg  

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-prado2.jpg  

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-prado3.jpg  

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Old 27th May 2009, 00:21   #48
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The road from Thimphu to Punakha goes through the Dochula Pass at around 11,000 feet. From here you get a commanding view of the Jumo Lahari, the sacred peak of Bhutan which is still a virgin peak. Expeditions are not allowed on this peak due to religious reasons.
At Dochula they have now created a huge monument of some 108 chortens, complete with night lighting and all. These are all modern constructions done very artfully though.
The road passes through a very dense forest which now also houses the Royal Botanical Garden. The road from Dochula to Punakha is a sharp downward journey, because Punakha is at an altitude of 4000 feet plus !! In fact Punakha being considerably warmer than Thimphu, it is the winter capital of the country.
On the way to Dochula we came across this beautiful traditional prayer wheel that is turned by water power on a continuous basis. Water coming down the mountain is channelised to hit the prayer wheel which gets turned continuously.
The traditional water powered prayer wheel on way to Punakha

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-prayerwheel1.jpg

My petrol operated wheels against the water operated prayer wheel
Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-prayerwheel2.jpg

Views of and from Dochula pass. These structures are modern, by the way but done in traditional style

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dochula1.jpg

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dochula2.jpg

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dochula3.jpg

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dochula4.jpg

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dochula5.jpg
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Old 27th May 2009, 00:59   #49
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If you travel in Bhutan you see such villages in the middle of nowhere. You would think who lives there? Why does he live there? It's essentially just one or two houses in the middle of literally nowhere that can make up a Bhutanese village. I find this isolation and solitude simply fascinating. You don't get to see or experience this solitude anywhere in our country.

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-village1.jpg

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-village2.jpg

The Punakha dzong is at the confluence of Pho Chu (father river) and Mo Chu (mother river). In the photographs below you see the Mo Chu. These two rivers combine to become the mighty river Sankosh when it enters India.

This dzong, according to Bhutanese mythology, was built overnight by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel and was once the capital of the country. It's simply a magnificent structure. It has been destroyed by fire several times but rebuilt very painstakingly every time.

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dzong1.jpg

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dzong2.jpg

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dzong3.jpg

Punakha dzong houses the district administration of Punakha and the monastic body. Traditionally this is the function of the dzongs - to house these two important bodies. In olden times they also doubled up as castles and hence were almost always built in a difficult to access place.
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Old 27th May 2009, 08:24   #50
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Those isolation pics of huts are beautiful, and see they have power supply, I think, at that isolation as well.

Also it looks as if Pickups are very famous in Bhutan
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Old 27th May 2009, 08:34   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
Those isolation pics of huts are beautiful, and see they have power supply, I think, at that isolation as well.

Also it looks as if Pickups are very famous in Bhutan
Bhutan earns 65 per cent of its national income from sale of hydel power to India. So power transmission lines in those parts of the country where there are hydel power stations are now a common sight. However, that has not translated into power for the villages all over the country.

Some small towns and villages in Bhutan have micro mini hydel power generation systems donated by the Japanese. They typically work on the flow of water in the local streams and can even stop generation in the lean months as the streams dry up. Such generators can take care of a very small village of a few households. We had one such in Mongar and also in Yadi 20 years ago. I hope they are still working.

Otherwise carrying power to remote villages all over the country is financially not viable. Despite all the Prados and Hi-luxes on Bhutan's roads, it remains one of the poorest of poor countries in the world.
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Old 27th May 2009, 09:04   #52
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The Punakha Dzong looks majestic. And Punakha doesn't look 'warm' by our standards, I guess it is a relative term. Maybe it doesn't snow there in winter?
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Old 27th May 2009, 09:17   #53
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Here is Punakha Dzong
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Old 27th May 2009, 09:36   #54
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Oh what a beautiful thread!
Sudipto, I'm enjoying this fully, as I've never been to Bhutan!
And also thanks to HVK for his inputs.
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Old 27th May 2009, 11:01   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjay_in View Post
The Punakha Dzong looks majestic. And Punakha doesn't look 'warm' by our standards, I guess it is a relative term. Maybe it doesn't snow there in winter?
Punakha is the winter capital of Bhutan - only 4056 feet - compared to Thimphu which is 7647 feet. Definitely no snow here.
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Old 27th May 2009, 11:43   #56
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HVK
Slightly off topic perhaps but I cannot help mention that most of the roads that you and I passed through recently have been blocked or wiped out etc. Several bridges have been washed out too. Cyclone Aila has caused one of the largest rainfalls in the country in 40 years of recorded history.
Eastern Bhutan is already cut off for rest of monsoon. Look here

Kuensel Newspaper - Flood news from across the land

This is really really sad.
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Old 27th May 2009, 17:49   #57
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Superb travel story and some very interesting facts and information.

As I see the road map of Bhutan, very superficially, is it possible to travel to the northern upper Himalayan remote parts by road or only trekking is the possibility out here?

PS: Capt Dey had also been to Bhutan, just a few days before you went - and he travelled around in one of those rented Prados!!

Last edited by adc : 27th May 2009 at 18:05.
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Old 27th May 2009, 18:55   #58
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Sorry ADC I don't really know this information. I suppose you will have to discuss this with the travel agents. Obviously there are many dirt tracks between the blacktop roads and trekking routes but I have no idea as to where all it's possible to go along those dirt tracks. But I think it is possible to drive a 4x4 to Gasha and Laya (beyond Punakha and very close to glacial lakes of Lunana). Please check this out.

One problem with the remote parts of Bhutan is you will not have the presence of Indian army there. In Indian Himalaya, no matter how remote a place you go to, Indian Army would be there to help you in crisis. In Bhutan no such things. You will be driving for miles and miles on end without meeting a single soul.

Good for Capt Dey that he travelled in a rented Prado in Bhutan. I saw a few HNI Indian tourists in Prados. That will have to remain an unfulfilled dream for me.
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Old 27th May 2009, 19:16   #59
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Hey thoroughly enjoyed reading your travelogue and have rated it 5 stars as it deserves to get.

Tell me, how is the power situation, do they have power all the time, our regular power cuts and all?

Also what did u mean by water operated prayer wheels?

Thanks
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Old 27th May 2009, 19:22   #60
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On with the Bhutan pics. Although we did not have the special permits to visit inside the Dzong, the security officer at the Dzong's gate accepted our general route permit to let us inside. Here are some of the photographs of the historic dzong. This is also the venue of annual Punakha Tsechu which is held inside the dzong's huge courtyard. The whole valley of Punakha and its surroundings comes down here during the colourful festival.

The entry to Punakha dzong is up this steep staircase

Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dzongstairs.jpg

This wooden ladder is equally steep
Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dzongladder.jpg

Being historic, the dzong houses some very important national treasures that require armed security. Historically Tibet has attacked this dzong several times without success
Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dzongsentry.jpg

Details of the dzong's woodwork
Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dzongdetail.jpg


Another view of the dzong's inside
Wet Bhutan and Green Dooars-dzonginside.jpg
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