Encircled with the country's best scenic beauty and with the ancient Dzongs, Paro is the most popular tourist destination in Bhutan. Historically Paro is the center of 2 most important trade routes to Tibet.
The glacial water from Paro Chu (Paro river) originating from Mt Chomolhari (7300m) in the north flows through the valley making it the most fertile land in entire Bhutan. On the rocky outcrop of the steep hillside stands the Paro Dzong. This fort historically has been one of the strongest and most strategic in Bhutan.
The road to Paro from Phuentsholing runs through high dense forested hills and then suddenly opens into the beautiful open river valley carpeted with green paddy fields, apple orchards and dotted with small quiet settlements. Integrating the culture and heritage of the country, Paro is full of monasteries and temples including the oldest one. Bhutan's only Airport is situated here and the National Museum also.
What to see in Paro
Rinpung Dzong : The monastery here was first build by Guru Padmasambhava during the tenth century. As the legend goes, a lama went to the forests to build planks for this monastery, he uttered the mantra and the planks shifted to the site on their own. The Gumpa (monastery) was built by the villagers during the day and spirits during the night. The hoofmarks left by their horses are still visible at the site.
Shabdrung Ngwang Namgayal built the present Dzong on the older foundation in the year 1646. The five-storey building was built with stones instead of clay and the Dzong was named Rinpung, meaning `heaps of jewels`. Sadly enough most of its treasures were destroyed in an fire in 1907. The Dzong was revuild by the Penlop Dawa Penjor after the fire. Above the Dzong stands and ancient watchtower (Ta Dzong) which is the National Museum of Bhutan.
To go to this Dzong one has to go through a covered traditional bridge named Nemi Zam. This is the place where the annual springtime festival (Paro Tsechu) takes place.
Ta Dzong : This Dzong was made with an intention to be used as a watchtower. In Bhutanese language "Ta" means "to see", so the Dzong was called "Ta Dzong". From 1968 it was set up as the National Museum. The fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, Bhutan's exquisite postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, together with a small natural history collection are the main exhibits of this museum.
Drukgyel Dzong : This Dzong was built by Ngawang Namgyal as a monument of his victory over the Tibetan trespassers. Drukgyal means `The Victorious Druk`. The Drukgyel Dzong of Paro was largely damaged by fire in 1951. It is largely in ruins today. The Dzong can be entered from only one side and is protected by three tall towers. A turreted passageway connects the Dzong with the riverbank far way. This was designed to ensure water supply to the Dzong during war. The view of the Mt. Chomolhari is excellent from the approach road to the Drukgyel Dzong on a clear day.
Kyichu Lhakhang: Kyichu Lhakhang is a composition of two temples. It was the second most holy place of the country. The first temple was made by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in 7th century while the second one was made by the Queen Mother of Bhutan H.M. Ashi Keshang beside the first one in 1968.
Farm Houses : The Bhutanese firm houses are generally two or three storied houses with colorful appearance in the outer walls and lintels. These are made without using any single nail. These firm houses are the catalysts of the natural beauty of Paro.
Kila Gompa : This Gompa was made for the nuns who devote their lives to spiritual accomplishments like religious studies, prayer and meditation. This Gompa is in a distance of one hour from the Chele-la pass down the pine forests.