Cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown (Paro, Bhutan)
I borrowed the title from a book written in the 60s by the late californian buddhist philosopher Alan Watts. I feel it fits perfectly with the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Bhutan is one of the most mysterious country of the world. When talking about Bhutan, you realize fast that many people never even heard about this small remote himalayan kingdom. Landlocked in the western Himalayas between India and China, Bhutan was in self-imposed isolation for centuries. When looking at the fate of other himalayan countries around, it looks like its isolation served it quite well.
Paro Dzong above is the centre of civil and religious authority in the Paro valley in western Bhutan. There is nothing that looks like a city in this valley, just a one street village with a few shops and restaurants. Paro hosts the only international airport in Bhutan since it was the only valley that was large enough. The airport has one runway and serves a single airline Druk Air which owns 2 aircrafts.
The Dzong was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and was used to defend Paro valley from invasions by Tibet. It is also known as Rinpung Dzong; which means “ Fortress on a Heap of Jewels”. It survived an earthquake in 1897 and was severely damaged by a fire in 1907, but was rebuilt the following year. Many scenes from the 1995 film Little Buddha were filmed in the Paro Dzong. Every year a Tsechu is held at this Dzong in honour of Guru Rinpoche.
On a ridge, immediately above the Paro Dzong, is the small, circular Ta Dzong which was once the watchtower of the valley. It was built in 1656 and has since been renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum. This Museum houses ancient Bhutanese treasures and artefacts, as well as a collection of Bhutan’s exquisite and world-renowned postage stamps. As you wander through this Museum you will find a doorway that leads to the Tshogshing Lhakhang, the Temple of the Tree of Wisdom, which was built between 1965 and 1968.