Zhiwa Ling Heritage: About the Destination

Located in Paro, Bhutan

Zhiwa Ling is perched on ten acres of gardens and woodland in the hills above Paro in western Bhutan. The town of Paro, home to the country’s only international airport, is a ten-minute drive from the property. Taktsang Lhakhang, or Tiger’s Nest monastery, is within hiking distance, and other historic dzongs and temples are a short drive away.

Places of Interest

Taktsang Lhakhang (2.5-hour hike one-way; 4 hours round-trip)

Perched on the edge of a cliff, this monastery, known as Tiger's Nest, originally dates from the eighth century; the present buildings date from the late 1600s. The name invokes the myth of an Indian saint who rode on the back of a tigress and subdued demons.

Tsu-tho Monastery

Zhiwa Ling’s architect, Peter Kampf, hiked to this monastery every morning during the construction of the lodge. The monastery is atop a ridge, offering breathtaking views of the valley below.

Dzongdrakha (30-minute drive or 1-hour hike)

This unusual village stretched across a rock face has many temples and stunning vistas. Most men in the community are monks, and most women are their family’s breadwinners.

Kili Gompa Nunnery (30-minute drive plus 2-hour hike)

After a hike through pine forests and vibrant rhododendron, this peaceful nunnery offers panoramic mountain views.

Heidi Gompa Monastery (full-day hike)

The journey to the revered Heidi Gompa Monastery parallels the Paro River and passes through several charming villages.

Dra Karpo Temple (20-minute drive plus 2-hour hike)

Dra Karpo Temple sits atop a network of underground tunnels that pilgrims traverse to seek the blessing of the guru. The temple is built into a rock face above the Paro valley.

Ta Dzong National Museum

Developed within a seventh-century fort, the museum showcases Bhutanese art and culture.

Paro Dzong (20-minute drive)

This 350-year-old site is the governing center for the Paro District. Every spring, it hosts one of Bhutan’s largest religious festivals.

Kyichu Temple (5-minute drive)

One of the oldest temples in the country, Kyichu dates back to the seventh century. According to legend, a Tibetan king originally built it to subdue an angry ogress.

Drukgyel Dzong (15-minute drive)

This fort, which once stood against Tibetan invasions, alludes to a fascinating architectural history and offers phenomenal views.

Chele La Pass (2-hour drive)

Marked by hundreds of prayer flags, Chele La pass is one of the highest motor-friendly passes in Bhutan. From an elevation of 13,084 feet (3,988 meters) above sea level, you can get an unparalleled look at the sacred mountains Jomolhari and Jichu Drake.

Paro Town (15-minute drive)

Find local food, handicrafts, and prayer flags in this charming little town with two main streets. 

Wildlife and Natural History

Bhutan is considered one of the world’s last remaining biodiversity hotspots with forest cover across 72% of its area. The region is a birdwatcher’s paradise, home to many elusive and endangered species like the white-bellied heron, Himalayan monal, and yellow-rumped honeyguide.

At high altitudes, you can find unique mammals like red pandas and the Himalayan black bear as well as wild pigs and musk deer. And down south, tropical forests shelter clouded leopards, elephants, rhinoceroses, and others.

People and Culture

Bhutanese culture is intimately bound with the nation’s Buddhist identity. The influences of the religion can be seen in architecture, art, attire, and even government as Buddhist spiritual leaders have considerable power.

Most Bhutanese families live in small remote villages and make their living on family farms, but modernization is slowly coming to the region. In accordance with tradition, the Bhutanese take regular pilgrimages on holy days and participate in many rituals such as lighting butter lamps for the gods.

Guests can learn more about the culture by visiting the Ta Dzong National Museum or speaking with any member of Zhiwa Ling’s all-Bhutanese staff. 

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