15th April was a special day in our trip because it was my mother’s birthday. One of the reasons for the trip to Bhutan being during this particular week was because we wanted to celebrate her birthday in a different place, like how most of my birthdays were spent (if you have read my earlier blog posts)
We were geared up for a day of walking, trekking and learning. We first visited the Textile Museum where we learnt about the traditional garb of the Bhutanese. There was a welcome video shown to us that explained clearly the different techniques of weaving and making different types of textiles to sell. We were fascinated by the intricate weaving techniques used by Bhutanese women, mostly, to make textiles.
Next was the Chagangkha Lhakahng temple which required a slight ten minute trek to reach it. It was our first taste in Buddhist temples and also observing the behavior of Buddhist monks. We were then taken to see the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin, which was a larger and stockier type of goat antelope. There were also deer and reindeer to be seen there. The Takin, to be truthful, looked absolutely adorable. They could best be described as calm and quiet animals, minding their own business and chewing their leaves. There was also a lady selling hand-woven shawls in the reserve. She also had a very cute dog (do not know the breed), more a puppy actually, who was ambling around and acting as a great advertising tactic for her.
We then had lunch at the Bhutanese Orchid restaurant which again served authentic Bhutanese food like minced beef, red rice, pumpkin and the famous chilli and cheese.
We then deviated from our original itinerary because my sister and brother in law did not want to go visit more museums. Our guide then suggested a very famous monastery that is revered by all Bhutanese including the king, but it was 12 kms away from Thimphu. On the drive to the monastery, we recognized the stream that we saw while driving from Paro to Thimphu. An urge to dip our feet in the clear water overcame us and we pleaded to the guide to take us to do exactly that. The monastery was one of the most regal looking and calm places I have ever been to. When we entered the sanctum, we were able to see a stone encased in a glass compartment. Our guide told us that this was a sacred stone that sank a little every year. The legend is that once the stone sinks fully into the ground, the world will end and a new world will begin under the guidance of the next avatar, Maitreya Buddha.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at a slight cliff overlooking the stream. But we all were so tired and exhausted that we decided we would catch the stream in Punakha, our next town.
We ended the day with a celebratory dinner at the Taj Tashi, which retained the artistic Bhutanese charm. For the food, we decided to take a break from the local cuisine and treat our palates to Continental and other Asian dishes.
All in all, it was a great end to a great birthday celebration for my mommy dearest!