Dzongs, Lhakhangs and Chortens

Punakha Dzong (Bhutan’s most picturesque fortress)

L: National Memorial Chorten: R: Zangto Pelri Lhakhang (and chorten), both in Thimphu

If, by the end of your tour in Bhutan, you are unable to recognise a dzong, lhakhang and/or a chorten, then clearly you’ve been asleep or just not bothered to listen to your guide at any point.  Throw in a few goembas, some nunneries, the ubiquitous prayer flags plus some great valley views and that’s pretty much your sight-seeing itinerary in Bhutan.  Apart from the natural sights, almost everything else you see is related to Buddhism.

Trongsa Dzong (strategically sited over the only trail linking east and west Bhutan giving it significant control over tax revenues)

Prayer flags and prayer wheels

All in all it makes for some pretty striking scenery, both man-made and natural.  Unfortunately photo opportunities are limited to the outsides of buildings only: photographing the gods and altars inside is strictly prohibited.

The 108 chortens at the Dochu La (at 3140m) set against the backdrop of the Bhutan Himalaya

Chorten above the Dochu La

And just for reference, a dzong is a cross between a fort and a monastery; the premises are shared between the government administration offices and religious quarters.  A lhakhang is a temple while a chorten is a monument which often contains religious relics.  A goemba is a monastery, typically built on remote hilltops (the idea being that the monks can find peace and solitude in these remote locations).

Kila Nunnery (Bhutan’s oldest nunnery (9th century)) and chorten

L: Paro Dzong and Valley; R: Haa Valley




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