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One of the best sights of Bhutan is its monasteries. There is no doubt that these resplendent structures appear to be inspired by palaces that adorn the pages of fairy tales and stories. Built as Dzongs (fortresses), enjoying the most striking natural splendour and accessible through exhilarating hiking trails, these timeless edifices weave together all possible holiday moods – from leisure to heritage and spirituality to adventure. No Bhutan tours are complete without experiencing the unbound peace and accomplishing the feeling of fulfilment here. Here’s what you must know about the must-visit Bhutan temples.

Taktsang Monastery

Hugging a 3,000 feet high rocky cliffside in the picturesque Paro Valley, this monastery complex is built over the site where Guru Padmasambhava arrived riding a tigress and meditated. Famous as Tiger’s Nest, it was built in 1692 and consists of eight sacred caves and four temples. Stunning paintings, a water-powered prayer wheel and a holy scripture carrying scripts in gold dust are some of the highlights of the monastery. That’s not all, a thrilling hike (2.6 miles; 1.5 hours) with intriguing views of the valley adds to the pleasure.

Timings: 08:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 02:00 p.m.-06:00 p.m.

Punakha Dzong

Overlooking the confluence of Pho Chhu (Father River) and Mo Chhu (Mother River), this grand structure was built in 1637 and is undoubtedly among the best places to visit in Bhutan. The colossal white-washed walls make the monastery shine like a diamond under the sun. Breath-taking murals and thangkas (paintings on fabrics), sacred relics and remains of monks, gold statues of Buddha and marvellous wood carvings. Jacaranda trees in full bloom during springs lend exquisite charm to the place.

Timings: 09:00 a.m.-05:00 p.m.

Chimi Lhakhang

A scenic trail through the lush green paddy fields leads to ChimiLhakhang, better known as the ‘Fertility Temple’. Built in 1499, the temple is believed to bless the childless couples with fertility. It is built at the site where Lama Kunley (popular as ‘Mad Saint’) defeated the demon of Dochu La. The quirky paintings and wood carvings of male phalluses is definitely a sight. Other highlights include the sacred Bodhi Tree and gigantic prayer wheels.

Timings: 09:00 a.m.-05:00 p.m.

Gangteng Monastery

The monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa School of Buddhism and flaunts an extraordinary architecture. Established in 1613, it promises the commanding views of the glacial Phobjika Valley and the Black Mountains. The monastery has some elaborated architectural elements like intricately carved pillars and beautiful mural paintings. The sacred black-necked cranes from Tibet visit the monastery in winters and follow the ritual of circling the monastery thrice on arrival as well as before returning.

Timings: 09:00 a.m.-05:00 p.m.

Rinpung Dzong

Exemplifying the highest level of awe-inspiring Bhutanese Dzong architecture, this monastery is set amidst the verdant greenery. The spellbindingly carved wood is among the most eye-pleasing specimens of creativity. The Dzong is known for its Sandalwood stupas and 13 other beautiful shrines. If you plan your Bhutan tour package in March or April, you can witness the Tshechu Festival, which is a grand celebration with energetic mask dances and display of huge embroidered paintings.

Timings: 08:00 a.m.-06:00 p.m.

Things to Remember:
• Photography is prohibited inside the temples
• Make sure you remove the shoes before entering
• Backpacks, phones and other items must be deposited in the locker rooms
To explore the best of Bhutan’s temples, speak to SOTC before you plan your next holiday.