From a distance, Bhutan's most iconic building seems to float, weightless, halfway up a sheer cliff-face, 900 meters (3,000 feet) above the floor of the Paro Valley.
Many of Bhutan’s inhabitants enjoy the blissful waters of natural hot springs for healing and relaxation.
Standing proudly astride the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu (the Female and Male Rivers), Punakha Dzong is one of Bhutan's most beautiful buildings.
Hidden in a fold of the forest-draped hills high above Thimphu, a herd of takin make their home in the Mothithang Takin Preserve.
High up in the hills overlooking Thimphu, dawn light glints off the Buddha Dordenma's golden face as he gazes into the rising sun.
Intricately patterned wild silk kiras from Lhuentse hang alongside rough nettle fiber cloth from Zhemgang in Bhutan's excellent Royal Textile Academy.
Chelela Pass, the highest point on Bhutan’s Dantak roads, crests at 3988 meters (roughly 13,000 feet) above sea level.
The Amo Chhu, a river flowing through Phuentsholing, originates from the north in China and continues into West Bengal, India.
Established in 2015 to commemorate the 60Th birth anniversary of the fourth Druk Gyalpo, the Bhutan postal museum offers to take us through Bhutan’s development and progress over the ages with the help of audio-visual aids, anecdotes and artifacts.
Black mountains is a huge massive mountain range in central Bhutan with most of its area covered under the protection of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.
On the eastern bank of the Chamkhar Chhu is Bumthang's uniquely picturesque "industrial zone."
On the banks of the Wang Chhu, near the picture-perfect Kundeyling Bazaam footbridge, stallholders weigh out shiny purple onions and bags of vivid green beans.
Thimphu's main traffic circle, where Norzin Lam intersects Chhoten Lam near Clock Tower Square, offers a fun, only-in-Bhutan peculiarity that takes only a moment to see.
Perched atop a promontory with sweeping views of Thimphu Valley is Changangkha Lhakhang, a neighborhood temple that has served locals daily since its construction some 800 years ago.
The astroturf of Thimphu's Changlimithang Stadium has been the scene of many of modern Bhutan's triumphs — from the huge National Day celebrations held each December to the country's 2015 World Cup qualifying matches against Sri Lanka, China, Hong Kong, Maldives and Qatar.
Situated between Trongsa and Bumthang, the uniquely beautiful Chendebji Chorten is a welcome sight as you near the heart of central Bhutan.
At the northern end of Wang Chhu Valley the hills close in, getting steeper and higher as you drive north.
After the monsoon rains, the terraced fields around Chimi Lhakhang turn a vivid shade of green as rice grows and ripens in the warmth of the Punakha Valley.
Chuuzom literally meaning “where the rivers meet” is an important junction in western Bhutan as it connects to all the western districts by road.
Toward the southern end of Norzin Lam, Thimphu's clocktower is one of the city center's best-known landmarks.
On a pretty green campus in Phuentsholing, with tree-lined drives and a scenic valley view below, the College of Science and Technology offers undergraduate degree programs in the field of engineering.
Dechen Phodrang — Palace of Great Bliss — is a state lobra (monastic school) for about 450 monks situated on a rise several hundred meters above the capital city Thimphu.
Dewathang is the site where Jigme Namgyal, the father of the 1st King, led Bhutanese troops in a final battle against the British in 1884 and the same cantonment from where His Majesty the Fourth King launched ‘Operation Flush Out’ (of Indian rebel groups) in December 2003.
Dobji Dzong, thought to be the oldest dzong in Bhutan, looms majestically on a hill top en route to the district of Haa in the west.
In 2004, Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck commissioned 108 chortens in Dochula, the pass between Thimphu and Punakha.
The smoke-smudged walls of Drukgyel Dzong's four-story utse (central tower) still stand intact among the surrounding ruins.
The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang, a temple in Dochula, offers an interesting example of traditional Buddhist culture meeting the 21st century.
A visit to Dungkar Naktsang, 40 kms from Lhuentse, is a visit that will connect you momentarily to the magically exciting and vibrant past of Bhutan.
Perched on the hillside of a great peak above the valley of Gedu, in the district of Chukha, the Gaeddu College of Business Studies houses roughly 1400 students.
At the southern end of Thimphu's town center, Bhutan's finest fabrics are produced in a simple one-story workshop with unfinished cement floors.
At 7,570 meters (24,836 feet), Gangkhar Puensum is the highest mountain in Bhutan and the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.
Gangtey Goemba sits on the crest of a hill, overlooking majestic views of the Phobjikha Valley.
On one side of Gasa Dzong, snow covered peaks rise high above, making visitors feel tiny in comparison.
A distinct calmness pervades the area around the small, yellow-roofed temple called Gom Kora.
Towards the end of the remote Kuri Chhu Valley in Lhuentse, a giant statue of Guru Rinpoche gazes fiercely from a red-and-gold lotus seat stacked on top of a lion throne.
While most dzongs in Bhutan were built on hillsides or ridgetops as defense against foreign encroachment and invasion, Haa Wangchuk Lo Dzong is different.
Indo-Bhutan Big Bore Shooting Competition Held in the Royal Body Guards Firing Range at Dechencholing outside Thimphu, the inaugural Indo-Bhutan Big Bore Shooting Competition in October 2014 was judged to be a great success. Thirty-two participants from the National Rifle Association of India and the Bhutan Shooting Federation competed in a variety of disciplines over the course of the five-day event. The event will be held jointly with India, returning to Dechencholing in alternate years.
Coal-black ravens wheel in the skies above Jakar Dzong's blazing white walls, while dzongkhag employees labor up the flagged staircase that switchbacks from the road below.
In the atmospheric darkness of Jampa Lhakhang's inner kora, the golden outlines of a thousand finely painted Buddhas glimmer in the light of yak butter lamps.
With its golden umbrella-shaped peak gleaming against a backdrop of brown hills, Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang is one of the region's most unusual lhakhangs.
In a simple one-story building in Thimphu's southern suburbs, rough natural fibers are extracted from the bark of two species of highland shrubs and slowly transformed into beautiful translucent sheets of paper.
At Karbandi Monastery in Phuentsholing, Bhutan, long lines of prayer flags dance overhead in the mountain breeze, and bells clang as enormous prayer wheels turn, spinning mantras engraved in special monastic Lanza script.
Situated just above the quaint, quiet village of Barshong (between Kanglung and Khaling in eastern Bhutan) rests the Karma Thegsum Dhechenling Monastery.
Approaching Karpo Lhakhang, whose name means “White Temple” in Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan, a large and ornate gate greets visitors immediately.
Just to the south of low-lying Tamshing Lhakhang, newly rebuilt Kenchosum Lhakhang stands tall upon the ashes of its predecessors.
The Khaling Blind School, Bhutan’s only school for the blind, has been responsible for the education of over 160 visually impaired students since its creation by Norwegian missionaries in 1973.
Follow the Mo Chhu upstream from Punakha Dzong, and the gleaming apex of the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten will soon appear on the opposite bank, a gold-topped beacon guiding you upstream.
Located opposite Tabiting and situated on the east side of Phobjikha, the spectacular Khewang Lhakhang sits like an intricately carved decoration piece in the middle of the dreamlike glacial valley of Phobjikha, the winter roost for the endangered Black Necked Cranes.
Kila Goemba in Paro stands true to its Sanskrit translation, ‘the spiritual dagger that subdues all negativity’ as it stands very calmly on a sheer dizzy cliff face waiting to eliminate any negative elements coming its way. Located below the Chelela Pass and standing at an altitude of about 3,500m, Kila Goemba is one of the oldest nunneries in Bhutan dating back to the 9th century. The seven small temples are surrounded by several retreat huts that provide the perfect sanctuary to profound Buddhist practitioners who have chosen to live in self imposed isolation. The monastery houses many sacred statues including the ancient statue of Chenresig (Avalokiteshwara). The shy and ever smiling nuns skittering around minding their day to day dharma activities on their journey of renouncement adds to the sanctity of this serene monastery, situated one and a half hours drive from Paro and less than an hour from Haa.
A stiff hour-long climb through moss-draped forest from the bottom of the Tang Valley, Kunzangdra Monastery's stone-built chapels cling tightly to a sheer rockface with open views of the forested valley far below.
It also remains one of the country's most important religious sites - thanks to its intimate connection with the revered tantric saint, Guru Rinpoche.
Located centrally in the town of Kuruthang, this temple sees spiritually-inclined locals circumambulating its perimeter throughout the day.
Legend tells that beneath the dramatic landscape of the Tibetan Plateau there lies the body of a demoness.
Every year, when the season for rhododendron flowering comes around, Lamperi Park erupts with blossoms of all imaginable colors.
As one drives up the narrow valley leading to Lhuentse, Lhuentse Dzong appears perching on a steep cliff, long before the small town itself becomes visible.
The local farmer’s market in Punakha is the lifeline of a section of countless Bhutanese farmers who toil tirelessly through wind, sun and rain to uphold the Bhutanese dream of self sufficiency and provide organic vegetables, grains and dairy products for the ever increasing population of Bhutan.
An exotic forest of pine, juniper and rhododendron colors the mossy path crafted through a peaceful valley with spectacular views of snow-capped mountains.
Towards the lower end of the Tang Valley, the tumbling waters of the Tang Chhu slow and widen at the photogenic Mebar Tsho, or "Burning Lake."
Meri Puensum is the name given to the three small mountains that rise up sharply to the west from the floor of Haa valley.
Mithun, the domesticated Gaur (Indian Bison), is a breed native to the northeastern regions of India.
Built in the 1930s to replace the region's ruined Zhongar Dzong, Mongar Dzong is one of Bhutan's newest dzongs.
The towering peak of Jomolhari stands alone in sacred stillness, silently peering through crystal blue skies over all of western Bhutan.
With the objective to improve the quality of life in the communities, especially the urban centers, and to help promote sports at the grassroots, the Multi-Sport Facilities are a boon to the ever increasing sports enthusiasts in the country.
Over 1300 years old, Nagpo Lhakhang Nagpo stands heavily with thick, ancient stone walls and a simple square shape.
The name Nalanda means “endless gift of knowledge”; it comes from the ancient Indian university and monastery called Nalanda.
The Folk Heritage Museum, located on the outskirts of Thimphu, recreates a traditional Bhutanese family home inside a beautiful 19th century rammed earth and timber building.
The National Institute of Traditional Medicine is a training, research, and practice center located in the Kawang Jangsa district of Thimphu, a five minute drive from downtown.
The National Library was founded by the third Druk gyalpo and is the largest library in the country.
On the western side of Thimphu's Memorial Chorten, a row of wooden platforms sits in the long grass.
On a hillside overlooking the upper reaches of the Chamkhar Chhu, a bumpy 18km (11 miles) drive north of Jakar, stands Ngang Lhakhang or "Swan Temple."
Below the sheer walls of Paro's Rinpung Dzong, a traditional cantilever bridge known either as Nyemi Zampa or Nyamai Zam spans the cold, clear-running Paro Chhu.
Ogyen Choling Monastery in the beautiful valley of Tang, Bumthang is a family owned monastery that has been transformed into a museum.
A picturesque mountain pass connecting the beautiful valleys of Ura in Bumthang and Sengor in Mongar.
Worshippers breathe heavily in the thin air as they leave snowy footprints in clockwise circles around each chorten.
For the last six years, Yangden and her mother Phuntsho have been creating extraordinary handmade paper in their small factory below the road in Phateng, Bumdeling.
In Phuentsholing, where Bhutan meets the northern Indian border, the main gate towers overhead, allowing for a steady stream of traffic between the two countries.
Behind Punakha Dzong stretches the Punakha Suspension Bridge, the longest of its kind in Bhutan.
One of the oldest lhakhangs in Bhutan, this monastery houses over 70 monks and contains a monastic school next door.
Torma - ritual offerings sculpted from barley flour and butter - litter the altar inside Rangjung's Woesel Choeling Monastery.
The rays of the dying sun throw the southwestern corner of Paro's Rinpung Dzong into sharp relief, bathing the dzong's stark white walls in golden light.
On the outskirts of Thimphu, a cluster of traditional stone buildings rings with song and laughter; groups of students at the Royal Academy of Performing Arts dance in neat rows with outspread arms, practicing for the Thimphu Tsechu.
On a verdant hillside south of central Thimphu, families picnic among rhododendrons as couples stroll paths winding up pine-covered hills at Bhutan's Royal Botanical Garden.
Located just a minute drive from the Tashichoedzong in Thimphu, Royal Court of Justice houses the supreme court of the Bhutan.
Just below Semtokha Dzong at the southern end of the Thimphu Valley, the Royal Institute of Management has been educating Bhutanese executives since the mid-1980s.
In some respects, Bhutan's Royal Thimphu College looks like any other college campus: students whisper in the modern, light-filled library and swap notes on the stairs; classrooms and corridors echo with discussion and debate.
SABAH Bhutan was established in 2010 and is a business association which promotes the welfare of the home based producers.
Just to the north of Samdrup Jongkhar town, the ripples of the Himalayan foothills finally fade into a wide, open plain as you approach the Indian border.
High above the north bank of the Paro Chhu, the Sangchen Choekhor Buddhist Institute commands outstanding views of the valley below.
The collection of brass-roofed buildings and brilliant white chorten that compose Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery gleam high up a pine-covered ridge above Punakha Valley.
Just before the turn-off to Taktshang Lhakhang, the main road along Paro Valley passes the inconspicuous Satsam Chorten.
Sherubtse College resides about 45 minutes’ drive up the hill from Trashigang town.
A “living” museum, Simply Bhutan is an initiative of the Bhutan Youth Development Fund that aims to increase young Bhutanese people's engagement with their traditional culture.
Formidable-looking Simtokha Dzong stands on a hillside at the southern end of Thimphu Valley, astride the old road to the Dochula Pass and eastern Bhutan beyond.
Bhutan's first large scale statue, the 45 foot Standing Buddha, peacefully overlooks the capital city from the valley center.
High up in the snowy peaks overlooking the valley of Punakha, Talo Goenpa monastery sits majestically on a mountain ridge.
The iron links of a suspension bridge creak and sway underfoot; above, prayer flags flap lazily in the breeze.
Outside Tamshing Lhakhang, groups of monks run through time-honored steps in the sunshine as they prepare for the annual Tamshing Phala Choepa, an early autumn festival.
As you approach the end of the road up the Wang Chhu valley, a handful of buildings appear high above on the precipitous slopes.
Tang Rimochen Lhakhang stands surrounded by prayer wheels, tucked underneath a cliff on the western bank of the Tang Chhu.
Standing proudly on the western bank of the Wang Chhu a few kilometers north of central Thimphu, Tashichho Dzong looks every inch the seat of government.
On a hillside above Thimphu's Tashichho Dzong, just off Gaden Lam, stands Thangtong Dewachen Dupthop Nunnery.
Situated a few meters away from Paro town and next to the Royal Palace, Paro Archery Ground is ideally located and a perfect stopover to witness how a way of life is celebrated and how culture and heritage is expressed through the love for Archery.
As you drive east from Bumthang towards Mongar the road enters the Thrumshing La National Park, threading beneath overhanging cliffs and past ranks of cedar trees wreathed in mist.
Home to the monastic body of Trashigang, which comprises roughly 200 monks, this dzong sees constant, lively activity.
The 12th Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot), Lam Kunga Jamtsho, is credited with the birth of one of the most holy and solicited meditation centres in Bhutan, Trashigang Goemba.
This dzong, or fortress, houses the district administration of Trashiyangtse Dzongkha.
In the 15th century the terton (treasure revealer) named Pema Lingpa rebuilt this dzong from ancient ruins.
While sunlight disappears early from the deep valleys around Trongsa, the last rays linger on the dzong's sheer white walls, illuminating the small town beyond.
Some 12 to 13 km from Pantang town on the way to Pangbang, there is a twin waterfall just above the main highway.
On the walk down from the Ura La pass, the footpath winds through pine forests and across lush pastures dotted with chortens and stands of prayer flags.
In a paint-splattered studio tucked away under the Tarayana Center, a group of young artists paint with intense concentration as the Wang Chhu rushes by outside.
Wangsa Lhakhang of tiny Wangsa in upper Haa Valley may look like just another village temple from the outside, but its history is the stuff of legend — and includes a modern day miracle.
Despite the busy traffic on the main highway below, The botherless bees live in the uncountable massive hives hanging just above the road between Gelephu district and Tingtibi.
Launched on February 5, 2017 to commemorate the Birth Anniversary of HRH the Gyalsey, the Southern Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (WRRC) under the aegis of the Department of Forest and Park Services is located at Jigmeling, Sarpang District.
Guru Rinpoche prophesied in the 8th century that a temple would be built in the hills above the area that is today called Mongar.
Outside Zungney’s Yathra Weaving Center at the eastern end of Bumthang's beautiful Chumey Valley, strips of traditional woolen yathra hang on racks in the sunshine.
As legend has it, when a lama from Tibet visited the village of Kanglung long ago, the villagers treated him poorly.
Zangdopelhri Lhakhang, in the center of Phuentsholing, sits inside a quiet, sunlit park in town.
Four pillars support Zangdopelri Lhakhang's ornate tiered roof, which shelters noisy flocks of ravens as well as the detailed carvings of the monastery beneath it.
Zhemgang Dzong sits on a ridge that drops steeply down to the Mangdechu river and faces Zhemgang town and the village of Trong (honorific for the word ‘kill’) where Lama Zhang, the founder of Zhemgang Dzong, was believed to have been assassinated by men sent by the King of Khaling.