It was a 50 minute flight from Kolkata to Paro and by the time fasten your seatbelts signs were on the soft drinks served in the flight were yet to finish. Halfway through the journey in air as we were descending, the landscape started changing and who can forget that in between we had flown through a rainbow (in true sense) also. I anticipated what the next 4 days would be like. I expected my Happiness quotient to go up.
Reaching Taj Tashi Thimpu Bhutan
We were on our way to Taj Tashi Thimpu, which is 48 kms from Paro Airport. The picturesque road through the mountains opens to new excitement at every turn. Paro Chhu river is locally known as Pachu river and it gave us company till it met Thimpu Chu river. It was almost as if Paro Chhu played a guide and handed us over to another friend – Thimpu Chu. The vast infinite blue sky hovered over our head with formations of white clouds blending and parting. As I child, while I would play with colours, I used to dip my paint brush in white and then would touch a bowl of blue liquid with the same brush to see the patterns it used to make. That memory was brought back by these bundles of clouds on a clear blue sky. The cloud chasing started from here till the last day I was in Bhutan.
Tips – The journey is of 1 – 1.5 hours but don’t forget to make a mandatory stop at Chuzom, the junction of Paro and Thimpu river. From here, the road splits to Haa in the southwest (79 kms ahead), Phuntsholing n the south (141 kms) and Thimpu to the northwest (30 kms).
Taj Tashi Thimpu Bhutan a Dzong lookalike – Dhungs, Double Dorjes and cloud – modern interpretation of traditional Buddhist motifs
Dzongs are a unique architectural marvel of Bhutan. They are an important part of the society of Bhutan, where they serve as administrative, social, military and religious centers of district. They are similar to a fortress with tall exteriors and every other facility and the courtyard spreads inside in a sprawling manner. As you enter Taj Tashi Thimpu, you realise how massive it is. There are 66 rooms across 5 levels and all the rooms face the mountains. Taj Tashi Thimpu Bhutan has been built with the characteristic of Dhungs – traditional Bhutanese horns which are present at the entrance gates. The sacred Double Dorjes, which are believed to kill all negative energies, are present as wood carvings all across. Same is with the murals of clouds painted inside the rooms including bathroom tiles, room numbers and key chain. The amount of thought that had gone into the designing of this property is seriously appreciable. Everything has been planned keeping in mind the national sentiment.
I made a video of my walk through to my room which you can find here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fSAecDhPDQ&t=14s
Did you know – The word Dorje (in Tibetan) is equivalent to vajra (in Sanskrit) and it means weapon, ray, scepter, diamond.
One can opt amongst –
4 Luxury Suite – 1000 Sq. Ft. The most premium ones situated two each at both corners of the hotels.
2 Duplex Suites – 900 Sq. Ft. – The interesting part of these rooms are the 26 stairs spiral staircases which connects both the floors.
3 Deluxe Suite – 700 Sq. Ft.
5 Luxury Rooms – 520 Sq. Ft.
4 Deluxe Rooms with Sit Out – 600 Sq. Ft. check out the beautiful sit outs of these rooms
48 Deluxe Rooms – 420 Sq. Ft.
Did you know – All windows in Bhutan have a similar pattern which is like the silhouette of Buddha’s head and the belief is that Buddha is watching over us.
Once I entered the room, which was deluxe category for me, the rich wooden (wood from hollock, pine, confer and oak) interior impressed me with hand painted clouds, huge sprawling bathroom with a bathtub, separate shower cubicle and all the other top end amenities, which you would expect out of any Taj Property. As we took a property tour later and during our 4 day stay, I found a happy coexistence and space sharing between traditional and modern architecture. A country which measures GNH or Gross National Happiness as a sign of prosperity and not GDP – happiness is all around.
This was the walkthrough to my room – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fSAecDhPDQ
Thongsel, Chig Ja Gye and Ara – The places of refill in Taj Tashi Thimpu Bhutan
When you are travelling to Bhutan, you are bound to get expert tips on local places to eat in but eating at Chig Ja Gye, is an experience in itself. The food at this 32 cover Chig Ja Gye is top draw. Don’t forget to check out 108 Dhungs as you enter this restaurant.The all day dining in any 5 star is a tough place where one needs to please all resident guests. However, the 80 cover, recently innovated all day dining of Taj Tashi Thimpu – Thongsel has enough food options to woo you. Our first meal here was a no risk play of Japanese fried rice with prawns and eggs with Gui Zhou fish. We debated on what fish it was and Exec Chef Piyush gladly confirmed that it was Tilapia. For all the days that I had my breakfast here, my quota of 2 eggs sunny side up was fulfilled to my hearts desire. Guess what? It was one magical moment, when Danseuse Sonal Mansingh ordered her share of 2 eggs sunny side up just after me and all my guilt of being an egg fanatic went out of window. Ara is the local rice fermented liquor and though that’s not available inside the Hotel bar, Ara tini– the Bhutanese take on Martini is the signature cocktail, as is Tashi Punch. They are both the signature drinks and highly recommended. We were also lucky to try out King’s speech, which is made from K5 whiskey.
Did you know – Trout consumption is banned in Bhutan? You can catch one but you have to release it immediately.
If you are in Bhutan and in Taj Tashi Thimpu, then put on your GHO as locals do.
Tourism and travel can only become inclusive when we get a chance to experience the local culture. It starts with prayers at the shrine which is in front of Thangsel. Making of Suja, the local traditional tea with dollops of butter in it and some salt too is an interesting watch. You can see the Suja making process here . The final event of the evening is a local song and dance, where one can experience Joenpa Legso, Dru Dag Cham and some others. The resident guests are given an option to wear the local dress called GHO. I put it on and was quite comfortable in it. I spent that entire evening wearing GHO and for once, I did not feel out of place.
In case you are interested in Suja then you can learn here how to make it – https://www.facebook.com/pikturenama/videos/1917998544927165/
Jiva Spa, temperature controlled swimming pool and leisure at Taj Tashi Thimpu Bhutan
I always feel inspired to work out while on a vacation or at least avail 1 body massage or a swim but with these inspiring thoughts, there is also a thought of laziness which over rules them. Jiva Spa focuses on the ancient Indian and Royal tradition of healing and the famous hot stone bath. Hot stone bath is a popular way of healing in Bhutan. A small pool of water in warmed with hot river bed stones and one can sit in that pool and completely relax and rejuvenate. One can also avail the morning Yoga session and the surroundings reminded me of the Snow facing yoga which I did at Raithal. I have never seen a mountain facing indoor swimming pool and that’s is hands down, the most attractive part of the leisure activities here. Price – the hot stone bath comes at Nu 3300 for 30 mins
Buddha Point, Punakha Dzong and the picnic.
The property is so good that you will not like to move out. Having said that, Bhutan has so much to offer that you will have no choice but to go out. Attractions like Jhungi hand made paper factory for witnessing the paper being made, a walk around clock tower square at any point of time, visiting Chagakha Lakhang monastery, have a face off with the national animal Takin at Motithang Takin preserve, Dochula pass for a birds eye view of Bhutan are great options. Some of the trips that you can organize from Taj Tashi Thimpu Bhutan is a day tour to Buddha Point or the Buddha Dordemna Statue at the top of Kunselphordang nature park, where the magnanimous statue will awe you. About two hours drive from Taj Tashi Thimpu, is Punakha Dzong and a nice day outing can be planned. Amidst exotic natural beauty at every turn, the Dzong in itself will mesmerize you. One of the unique experiences that Taj Tashi Thimpu offers is the customized picnic for guests. Within 30 mins of the journey from the Hotel, one can have a picnic on the river bed of Thimpu chu. We had an exotic spread of food which included various sandwiches, kathi roll, chicken wrap, delectable spread of desserts to name a few. With Thimpu chu gushing beside at a fierce speed, one can sit under the umbrella or inside the tent and do nothing. You can also choose to play games of dart or bow and arrow. Cost for this set up will be around INR 40000 plus taxes with food around 3500 per head and alcohols on actuals. This was one of the most important and happiest memory of my entire tour of Bhutan.
Things to remember while travelling to Bhutan
- It’s a photographers’ paradise and can click as many pictures of people as you want. Locals are receptive towards phtography in general.
- As the weather is slightly unpredictable, it’s always better to carry a rain protection as you go for the one day trips
- The local currency is NU which is equivalent to INR and INR 100 rupees note is accepted. If you are lucky, then 500 and 2000 will also get accepted
- Most of the places of tourist interest will have an entry fee like for Punakha Dzong, one has to pay around 300 per head.
- English and Hindi is understood by most and more often, you can converse in Hindi too.
I need to find out what’s the unit and method of measuring happiness. I can definitely say that these 4 days that I have spent in Thimpu on invitation from Taj Tashi was extremely high on my happiness quotient.
Note – I was invited by Taj Tashu Thimpu Bhutan for exploring Bhutan and experiencing the unique experiences this hotel property offers.
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