The Tiger's Nest Monastery is an icon of Bhutan. All of the effort required to get there (around a 3-hour hike) is 100% worth it. It's located 3100 meters high and you have to climb 1500 steps. It actually caught on fire a few years ago and several monks died. Restoration efforts started a few years back and today the monastery is beautiful. Unfortunately, you can't film or take photo in the interior. There's a cave in the monastery where the monks isolate themselves in the most intense silence and darkness for months on end. There are various chapels on the inside and many more stairs. The view of the Paro Valley are spectacular and I'd say it's one of the best view in the world.
Until 1955, Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and today it remains the winter seat of the central monastic body. It has an altitude of 1,220, whereas the highest point in the rest of the country is over 7500 meters high. Therefore, it has the most mild climate in all of the country. At the junction of the two rivers, Pho Chhu (male river) and y Mo Chhu (female river) stood in a sort of picnic where the view of the castle, the dzong-on whitewater descending from the Himlayas is impressive and both serene. Bhutan's bridges are one of its most iconic images, and the most popular is probably the Punakha bridge. A flood in 1958 took the bridge that had been built while the dzong in the seventeenth century. Because Switzerland was a great international cooperator, which is actually a country that is similar to Bhutan because of its terrain and rough surface, in 2006, undertook the reconstruction of the bridge, which went from 35 meters to 55 in length because of the flood, but retains the same look as the old one, a pedestrian bridge and cantilever-type cattle, that now hides under some strong steel cables. In May 2008, the new bridge became open, and this was just a few months before the coronation of the Fifth Druk Gyalpo on Punakha Dzong itself. Very interesting, isn't it?
To the east of the province of Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan, lies the Wangduephodrang. Its dzong, built in the 17th century at the confluence of two rivers, overlooks a beautiful valley with rice paddies. Even though we thought we'd miss the Tshechu festivals due to the dates we chose to travel, thanks to the good work of our guide Tashi we could at least see a dress rehearsal of the Wangdue Tshechu, less frequented by tourists than the one in the capital, Thimphu.
After visiting a workshop and textile crafts store in the capital of Bhutan, where we saw women's clothing consisting of a skirt or sarong called a kira and a small jacket ( a Toedgo) and then tried the menswear, called the Gho which consists of a long gown with sleeves, in which the length of the bottom is adjusted by the belt, which also then serves to create a bag, according to Tashi, our guide: "The biggest pocket in the world". After that we went to the National Institute of Arts and Crafts, which in dzonkha, the main language spoken in Bhutan, is called Chusum Zorig - translated as the 13 crafts. We were able to watch students at work, weaving, working with clay on Buddhist-themed sculptures, thangkas painted or wooden masks. Finally we visited a handicraft factory of paper items.