Paro District (Dzongkha: སྤ་རོ་རྫོང་ཁག་; Wylie: Spa-ro rdzong-khag) is the name of a district (dzongkhag), valley, river and town (population 20,000) in Bhutan. It is one of the most historic valleys in Bhutan. Both trade goods and invading Tibetans came over the pass at the head of the valley, giving Paro the closest cultural connection with Tibet of any Bhutanese district. The dominant language in Paro is Dzongkha, the national language.
Paro contains the only active international airport in Bhutan, the Paro Airport, a beautiful small green-roofed facility in a valley, served only by Drukair (Bhutan's National Airline) from India and other countries in Southeast Asia.
Important cultural sites of Paro include:
- Taktshang, or Tiger's Nest, the most famous monastery and ancient highlights for the people of Bhutan. It was founded as a meditating cave by the famous saint Guru Padmasambhava in the early 8th century upon subjugating a demon and forcing him to take an oath to be the local protector of the region towards the very end.
- Kyichu Lhakhang, which along with Jambay Lhakhang in central Bhutan is the oldest temple in Bhutan, dating to the 7th century.
- Drukgyel Dzong, at the upper end of the valley, built to protect against invading Tibetans, but in ruins since a fire in the 1950s.
- Paro Town, the single market town in the dzonghag which is booming (by Bhutanese standards) due to an influx of tourist dollars.
- Rinpung Dzong, also known as Paro Dzong, the massive fortress/monastery which is also the administrative center of the dzonkhag. Scenes from the movie Little Buddha were filmed in and around this dzong.
- The National Museum of Bhutan, where visitors can learn about the culture of Bhutan.
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