Second largest town in Bhutan

Paro is a prosperous, bustling community of farmers, traders, civil servants and students. Bhutan’s famous red rice only grows in the Paro Valley while the government farm near the airport produces root and seed stock for distribution throughout Bhutan and Asia. The western end of the valley is only 20kms from the Tibetan border and for centuries it has been the first point of entry for Tibetans, either invading armies or traders. The shops in Paro market are crammed with a variety of trade goods from both China and India. Prices are cheap for some goods - a bottle of gin for £2.  Paro is home to many government officers and their families, as it is the district headquarters, administered by the Dzongdha (Regional Governor) from the famous medieval Rimpu Dzong. Rimpu Dzong - dominates the valley. The first monastery was built here in the tenth century, and was subsequently rebuilt several times over the centuries. Destroyed by fire in 1905, it was rebuilt exactly as the original design, without nails or cement. Now the main Paro monastery and the headquarters of all government offices which administer the western region of Bhutan. It is guarded on the river side by a 15th century covered bridge (also built without nails) and on the high side by Ta Dzong (The Watch Tower). Ta Dzong - The Watch Tower above Rimpu Dzong, since 1967, has housed the National Museum of Bhutan. Through the arrow-slit windows there are views over the Dzong bridge, the Queen Mother’s Palace and the paddy fields lining the river. Taktsang - a steep, 1½-hour hike to a teahouse, where we enjoyed a great view of Takstang Monastery (its name means “tiger’s nest”), perched on a cliff 900 metres above the valley floor. The ‘Tiger’s Nest’ was home to Guru Rimoche when he first came to Bhutan. The monastery seems to hang suspended from the sheer cliff face. All Bhutanese try to make a pilgrimage to Takstang at least once in their lifetime. In 1998 the buildings of Takstang were destroyed by fire but they have since been completely rebuilt. Drukyel Dzong - situated on the western extremity of the valley, until its destruction in 1950, it was for centuries the first line of defense against Tibetan invaders. Great views of Chomalhari, Bhutan’s 2nd highest peak. Kyichu Lhakong - a 7th century temple, from where Buddhism was spread throughout Bhutan by disciples of Guru Rimpoche. We were only allowed to enter the forecourt but could sense the atmosphere of antiquity and sanctity. Hillside Villages We trekked to our guide, Dorgi Tshering's, family village and house perched on the mountain side. There was no road into the village.