Club News
  • No News reported.

Bhutan Internation Picnic and Fellowship by Pune Central

Bhutan Internation Picnic and Fellowship
17 Apr, 2019

Beneficiaries : 29

Cost : 5000000

President : Jinendra Munot

Rotarian Team : NA

Non Rotary Partner : NA

Description :
Report on Visit to Bhutan 17th Apr’2019 • A group of 29 Rotarians and R’Anns from RC Pune Central met at Kolkata Airport to take the early morning flight to Paro, Bhutan – the country that tops the global index of GNP or Gross National Happiness. • With a land area of about 38,000 sq kms and a population of about 8 lacs, Bhutan’s per capita GDP is around USD 2,000. The local currency is Ngultrum, with 1 Nu equal to 1 INR. The Indian Rupee is freely accepted as legal tender all over the country. • Paro has Bhutan’s only international airport. Located in a narrow valley at an elevation of 2600 mtrs above MSL, the airstrip can be a challenge to most pilots. The terminal building presents visitors a first glimpse of the rich and unique cultural and artistic heritage of Bhutan. • After sailing smoothly through immigration and customs, we pick up a few bottles of wine and spirits from the duty-free shop and head for the mini-buses awaiting our arrival. • We depart Paro airport and head for Thimpu, the capital city located about 40 kms away. • Our temporary home at Thimpu for 2 nights is the Terma Linca Resort, a palatial property along the banks of the river Pachu. We settle down, spend some time exploring the resort and head out to a restaurant in the main city for a sumptuous lunch. • The group then visits the local market and the Tashichoedzong Fortress complex to witness the ceremonial lowering of the national flag at sun-down. • After returning to the hotel, the group rests and meets again in the evening at the bar overlooking the river for a traditional rotary fellowship over cocktails and snacks. There is much bonhomie and merry-making amongst the members. Dinner is an elaborate spread to suit all palates. • Being tired after a long day’s travel, we retire early to recoup. 18th Apr’19 • The day is dedicated to Thimpu sight-seeing. • We first visit the National Memorial Centre – an ornate temple structure, built in memory of the 3rd King of Bhutan. • We then proceed to pay our respects to Sakyamuni Buddha – the very graceful and massive (51 mtrs) statue of Buddha seated in lotus posture atop an exquisitely carved and large platform/pedestal which houses a temple complex on the top of a hill. Inside the temple are carvings, paintings and a multitude of idols depicting Buddha’s journey to Nirvana. This hill top offers a grand view of the Thimpu valley. • We next visit the Takin Zoo. Takin is an endangered animal now found only in Bhutan. Its face resembles that of a goat and the body resembles a cow. • We move to Zorig Chusum, the local school of painting and other art forms. This is a residential school where young boys and girls are trained in making the world-famous Thangka paintings. The typical cost of these paintings ranges from Rs.1500 to Rs.1,00,000. • We then visit the Architectural Museum and handicraft shops. Adventurous members purchase a set of the traditional Bhutanese dress (Gho and Kira). • After a brief lunch we head back to the hotel for rest. • Highlight of the evening snacks are bhelpuri followed by a meeting with the Rtn Yeshey Dorji, Hon. Secretary of RC Thimpu, the only RC in Bhutan. Chartered six years ago, this club has 22 members and has done mega projects exceeding Rs.18 crores in aggregate value in the focus areas of Education, Water, Solar Energy and Health. • This is followed by a cultural entertainment performance by a local troupe which presents various traditional dances and songs. 19th Apr’19 • We leave for Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan which is about 70 kms north -east of Thimpu. • Along the way, we travel through Dorchula, a mountain pass at an elevation of about 2500 mtrs. Here we get beautiful and breath-taking views of the snow-capped mountains of the eastern Himalaya. • We visit the fortress located at the confluence of rivers Pochu and Machu. Built in the 16th century, the building now houses the local government and administration offices. In the same complex is a historic temple dedicated to Buddha and a Tibetan monk who is credited with the formation of the kingdom of Bhutan in the 16th century by bringing together a group of warring local tribes. • By evening we check into our hotel which will be our home for the next 2 nights. After a couple of hours rest, the group assembles for fellowship drinks, snacks and dinner. 20th Apr’19 • After breakfast, we leave for a riverside resort. About 15 members venture out to enjoy white water river rafting in 3 boats under the guidance and supervision of local experts. A distance of 11 kms is covered in about 90 minutes while passing though a few level-2 rapids. • The group enjoyed a riverside picnic lunch with cocktails thrown in. • Next on the agenda was a visit to the Fertility Temple located on a hill top. Curiosity got the better of fatigue and most members happily trekked uphill to the destination. • We celebrated Rtn Bal and R’Ann Lata Agarwal’s wedding anniversary at the hotel with singing and cake cutting followed by dinner. • A few stragglers gathered on the terrace for late night session of popular old Hindi movie songs. 21st Apr’19 • After breakfast, the group left for Paro. On the way, we visited the botanical garden, hoping to see a display of different varieties of Rhododendrons which are native to Bhutan. Unfortunately, the exhibition had ended. Instead, we got to see a competitive cultural fest where various groups of youngsters were singing and dancing to traditional music. • After 4 hours of travel, we arrive at Paro and have a sumptuous lunch at the restaurant of a palatial resort called Nak Sel which means Forest Edge in the local language. The lunch is partly sponsored by Rtn Bal as part of his birthday celebration. • We finally reach our hotel – the Khangkhu Resort – a lovely property built on a hill side overlooking the runway of Paro airport. • The evening is spent enjoying the usual fellowship over cocktails and song recitals followed by dinner. 22nd Apr’19 • After breakfast, the first item on the agenda is a visit to the local Museum which has a wonderful display of birds, plants, wildlife, artefacts, paintings, costumes and masks showcasing the cultural heritage and history of Bhutan. The close linkage with India is also evident. • Next is a visit to the base camp of Tiger’s Nest – a temple complex located at a height of 3000 mtrs along the face of mountain cliffs. The legend has it that the Tibetan monk who brought Buddhism to Bhutan rode on a tiger’s back while fighting and destroying a demoness. He found a cave where he meditated for several months before coming down. This cave was later made into a temple. Few in our group had the stamina to undertake a 7-hour round trip on foot to the temple and back. We were happy to pay our obeisance from the base camp and headed back to town. • On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by at a farm house for lunch which was a combination of Indian and traditional Bhutanese fare. • A short detour was made to spend a couple of hours shopping at the local market. • After a brief rest, we spent the last evening of the tour in a grand fellowship, egging on each other to finish all the wine and spirits. Group and solo songs added to the fun factor with Narayanbhau giving a small performance followed by a lavani dance by R’Anns Bharti and Manjiri. • The group had an early dinner as they had to catch the 7.00am flight back to Kolkata where some members spent the day going around the city before taking the night flight back to Pune. • The tour was a grand success and ever one promised to join the one next year. • Three Cheers for Sukhi, Neeraj, the tour operator and the hotels for the wonderful arrangements and hospitality. Special thanks to the R’Anns who thoughtfully carried sufficient snacks and eats to keep our appetites satiated.

Images :
Bhutan Internation Picnic and Fellowship Bhutan Internation Picnic and Fellowship Bhutan Internation Picnic and Fellowship