The Valley of Pine-scented Breezes

The view of Punakha Dzong from Dhumra Farm Resort.

The view of Punakha Dzong from Dhumra Farm Resort.

A longish pit-stop at Do-Chula Pass (3,300m) and its stupendous views of the Himalayan ranges ensured it was almost evening when we reached Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. Punakha Dzong (fort), the administrative and religious HQ ensconced between two glacier-fed rivers, Mo (female) Chhu (river) and Po (male) Chhu and the second biggest fort in Bhutan is the main attraction followed closely by the Punakha suspension bridge. Punakha is also the base for many treks in the nearby mountains. We made ourselves comfortable at the thoughtfully designed sit-out at Dhumra Farm Resort and drank in the stillness that can be felt only in the mountains. And yes, soaked in a breeze that could only be described using a travel cliche - invigorating. I called it an early night, because I knew it’d be an early morning. I had read enough of the sight of clouds slowly dispersing to reveal the valley in all its glory, so I definitely didn’t want to miss that. As they say, the early bird gets the worm. And in my case, I got the shot. Well, sort of. It was an unusually thick cloud cover. But as the saying goes, something is better than nothing.

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Rinpung Dzong

I was slaving over some work for a soon-to-be-launched product that somehow fell in love with its soon-to-be-launched status. With each extension of the launch date, new feedback/work became par for the course. Utterly frustrating would be a mild understatement. More so because I was presumably on holiday mode.
The first couple of days, I ended up staring more at my laptop screen rather than the lofty mountains. Shocking, I know. On Day 3, things came to a head. It was late evening when I managed to extricate myself from a web of mail chains and found myself pounding the road that led to Paro town.
When you’re at a height of 2,500 m above sea level and haven’t eaten all day, the energy levels dip lower than the Dead Sea. Thankfully, I got hold of a cab halfway. A quick sandwich-tea combo did the job of a quick pick-me-up. As I walked out of the cafe, I noticed that the sky had become a glorious shade of blue. And the lit up Rinpung Dzong, an ancient fort and the religious and administrative HQ of Paro, was resplendent in the evening light. I took out my camera. But the light was falling fast. I got a couple of clicks, but it was too dark a sky. A day when no satisfactory photos can be taken ranks way up there in sad moments in life.
Next day, I was prepared. I woke up at the crack of dawn. Finished my work well before lunch. And then set out for lunch. After which I made myself comfortable on the wooden bridge leading to Rinpung Dzong for the entire afternoon, watching red-robed monks, selfie-addicted tourists, serious-faced officials, and light-hearted students. The gurgle of the Paro Chu (River) below, and a breeze everywhere were constant companions. As the afternoon segued into evening, the sky became the shade of blue that I was waiting for. I had already set up the camera. The only thing left to do was start clicking. So I started clicking.