I don't remember how many times I have been to Paro. But I just realised that my visits, until now, were always confined to the left bank. I mean along the Kyichu Lhakhang - Drugyel Dzong side. So it was a very pleasant experience to be "on the other side of the Paro Valley" over the weekend. Courtesy of a wild picnic outing by the Bhutan Times people.
Unlike the left bank, much of the other side of the Paro Valley is still pristine and beautiful with traditional mud houses and structures. Thanks to the un-tarred road that runs parallel to the river and to the highway of the left bank, much of the original charm and romance of Paro are therefore retained.
The left bank, on the other hand, has become clusters of ugly high-rise and cemented jungle that have, sort of, destroyed the beauty and sacredness of Paro. They come with all sorts of names - schools, hospitals, hotels, resorts, general shop cum bar, etc. The other side has instead small stone and wooden structures adorned with beautiful gardens that greet you as you drive along the 5-km graveled stretch. At the end of this road, where the BT people had camped for their annual picnic, is a place I would recommend for anyone looking for a spot to pitch a tent for a weekend outing.
There is also a feeder road that takes off from Tshendona village for Sangachokor - 7Km reads the milestone. In fact it is a nice 7-km drive up to the peak taking you to Sangachokor monastery from where, apart from the sacred temples, you have the most amazing and breath-taking view of the Paro Valley. Don't miss this experience and do it while you are still strong, alive and kicking. You don't need a 4WD to get there. The road is not tarred but good. I was in a Maruti.
It is also a good spot to survey (and possibly ponder over) the two sides of the Paro Valley - and over the so-called urbanisation of our country.
(Below is a photograph of the alpine town in Italy. As a student I often went there because it attracted me. Will our towns have the same appeal in future? Maybe our town planners should take a cue from these places.)