Paro is known for its scenic beauty, for the vertiginous, magnificent Taktshang Monastery, and for having the only international airport in the country. Less known, but equally worthy of attention is the bucolic Paro Wochu village in Lungnyi, luxuriant in summer with green paddy fields, where birds and singing voices fill the tranquil air, and traditional cottages present a picture from a fairytale.
The village came alive during a recent visit by His Majesty The King, which enhanced the storybook beauty of the village.
The idyllic Wochu village in Paro’s Lungnyi gewog is clothed in lush green paddy fields and dotted with picturesque traditional houses.
In front of Wochu Lhakhang, the people of Paro Wochu have placed offerings of tea and fruits to welcome His Majesty to their village.
Jomjha: A speciality of the Parops, the delicacy is made from rice flour, starch, butter, and Zhimtsi (perilla seed). During special occasions, such as Lomba (New Year), families spend an evening making it together, with each person making one.
Matriarchs: The women of Paro Wochu, outside the house of the oldest resident of Wochu (pictured here on the extreme right)
Two logs make this picturesque bridge over a stream in Paro Wochu
Ap Phajo is one the last of Wochu’s blacksmiths, famous for their excellent workmanship in making swords and daggers. Traditional swordsmithing is one of Bhutan’s 13 traditional crafts, and years of training and apprenticeship is required before one can become a master. The art of crafting fine Bhutanese swords has been on the decline, but upon the Command of His Majesty The King, the valuable heritage is to be revived, with the last 3 surviving smiths training students at the nearby Wochu Naktshang.
The cowshed adjacent to Ap Phajo’s forge also serves as his workspace. Seen here is Ap Phajo’s son Jamtsho and his daughter-in-law.
Decidious ivy covers the Wochu Naktshang. The Wochu Naktshang was built for the Wochu Drum, (the village representative), and was used as a state guest house.
The Naktshang was a historic building, built for the Wochu Drum (Wochu representative). The chipdrel ceremony during the Paro Tshechu would include the Naktshang, as it went to the dzong. After renovation, the building could house a museum and working area for Wochu’s Blacksmiths.
Greenhouses: A simple plastic sheet-covered structure is the difference between waiting for the right season to grow vegetables and enjoying them all year round. The greenhouses, in which the villagers grow tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, and a variety of other vegetables, are a success in Paro Wochu.
Colourful flags hint at the celebratory occasion- flags lining paths are the traditional decoration to welcome an important visitor.
The high voices of the women carry across fields as they sing while working in their fields.
Rice is integral to Bhutanese cuisine, but growing it involves backbreaking work. Paddy fields are terraces carved out of slopes to hold water, and the fields are flooded to provide irrigation, and keep out weeds and vermin. The saplings are set (transplanted) in May, and weeding (jayu) is done three times before harvest in October.
Paddy fields lend an idyllic charm to the villages in Bhutan. Lush green in summer, they are even more gorgeous in the fall in shimmering shades of gold. But the ripe ears of paddy have to be harvested, threshed, dried, and milled before they become rice.
A cow makes its way down the village path in Wochu, Paro. Rice cultivation is the main occupation of the farmers here, but they also own small apple orchards, a kitchen garden, and some cattle, for milk, butter, and cheese.
Besides rice and apples, the farmers in Wochu also grow vegetables, such as lettuce.
Paddy fields and traditional houses in Wochu, Paro.
A village path, maize field, and a traditional home in Wochu, Paro.
Traditional homes, kitchen gardens, and electric wires.
Officials from the dzongkhag wait to receive His Majesty along a village path in Wochu, Paro.
A little boy from Paro’s Wochu village is fascinated with the camera.
Traditional offerings of fruits, flowers, cheese, eggs, tea and rice wine.
The people of the gewog are in a festive mood, gathered at the community ground to meet their King.
The people of Lungnyi gewog receive His Majesty The King with traditional offerings. A tokha (lunch) granted by His Majesty is enjoyed by the entire village at the community ground.
Women of Paro Wochu sing a traditional folk song before His Majesty at a Tokha granted to the people of Lungnyi gewog during His Majesty’s visit to the villages in the gewog.
Students of Wochu Lower Secondary School, in Paro, perform a dance for His Majesty, during His Majesty’s visit to Lungnyi gewog.
The men of Wochu Village perform the famous Wochupai Zhey- an elaborately choreographed vocal performance originating in Paro Wochu. This famous and iconic dance is performed annually at the Paro Tshechu, and is believed to have been first performed by a lam in a procession to receive Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.
Apple trees bowed with fruit sweeten the air with their scent, in the orchards of Paro Wochu. Lungnyi gewog produces the most apples in the Dzongkhag.
A young student of Paro Wochu School.
Students of Paro Wochu School at a Public Tokha granted by His Majesty The King- an occasion for celebration, as His Majesty visits their village.