Friday, January 03, 2014

Bhutan: Stunning place to take people photographs

Bhutan is one of those countries that is perfect for taking people photographs. Their sharp facial features, their colorful attire, their beautiful religion and their lovely smiles make for some stunning pictures. They are a deeply spiritual race and are known to be the happiest race in the world. Both these traits make for great great face shots.

As a thumb rule, I try and limit the weight of my backpack when I am traveling and that includes my camera gear too, but this time around, on the recommendation of friend and fellow travel blogger, Arun Bhat, I took my 70-200 f2.8 IS II lens and all the photos in this article are the output of that lens. Arun has been to Bhutan many a time and has good knowledge of this Himalayan kingdom. Thank you Arun for coaxing me to take this tight portrait lens. It helped me capture their spirituality, their beautiful faces and smiles, the deep creases in the faces of the old people, the serene monks with their maroon robes, the national attire of Bhutan, their interesting mannerisms, practices and much more. And all this from a totally different perspective that gives these tight and close shots.

I hope you all enjoy these photographs as much as I did while taking them.

I spotted these 2 Bhutanese boys while crossing the suspension bridge of Punakha and loved their colorful sunglasses and hence requested them for a close up shot and was happy that they obliged.

2 Bhutanese boys and their colourful sunglasses 
Bumthang means beautiful girl and that words fit this young girl very aptly. She is simple and beautiful and her kid brother on her back is also very adorable.
A young Bumthang girl and her kid brother

I was walking into the Trongsa town after visiting the Trongsa Dzong when I spotted this elderly lady walking down the slopes towards the dzong. I loved the creases on her face and the fact that the sun was shining on her.

An Elderly Bhutanese Woman walks in Trongsa, Bhutan
This farmer from Trongsa was soaking in the winter sun next to the grass beside the road when I walked up to him and started chatting with him. After the chat, he was kind enough to let me take a few pictures of him.

Traditional Trongsa Farmer soaking in the winter sun
This Bhutanese man was my taxi driver (his name is Thinley) from Thimphu to Paro. We stopped enroute at Chuzom, the confluence of 2 rivers between Paro and Thimphu for a cup of milky tea.

Bhutan Taxi Driver poses at Chuzom

I met this Buddhist monk while exploring the Paro Dzong and what attracted me to him was his reading technique. Apparently, he was reading one of his religious scripts, but his voice had a strong-ness in it that I really liked and felt it was powerful.

Buddhist Monk in front of temple inside Paro Dzong 
I really like it when people who devote their life to service actually indulge in that service. In this case, this young Buddhist student is studying ancient literature in the winter sun at Simtokha Dzong, Western Bhutan.

Buddhist Monk studies at Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan 
Spirituality is very much a part of the Buddhist religion in Bhutan. It is extremely rare to find someone in this country who doesn’t embrace their religion. This woman is one such person and she prays while spinning the prayer wheels at Trongsa Dzong, Central Bhutan.

Buddhist Woman prays at a temple in Trongsa Dzong, Bhutan 
I came across these naughty, yet smart kids while searching for some food on a hike through the countryside of Bumthang. These kids kept smiling at me, chattering amongst themselves in Bumthankha and asking me questions in Bumthangkha even though they knew that I didn’t know their local language. Loved their facial expressions though.

Cheerful Bumthang Kids in front of Jampey Lakhang, Bumthang, Bhutan 
I met this man while I was walking from Punakha to Wangdi Phodrang. This man was curious to know where I was from, what I did for a living and why I was walking with a big backpack in the sun. He was also very helpful with directions and other interesting tidbits of information that I was keen on knowing and understanding.

Local Man from Punakha, Bhutan 
This Trongsa man stopped me to ask a question about his camera. I was carrying my big lens and he assumed that I knew how to fix his Sony point and shoot camera. I looked at it, found that his flash component was not working and gave him the update. While I was looking at his camera, his colourful prayer wheel caught my attention and I asked for a photograph of him spinning his colourful prayer wheel. He obliged and this is the end result. It was late in the evening though.

Local Trongsa Man with a colorful prayer wheel 
This Bumthang man was walking opposite me while I was walking along the super tiny Bumthang airport. He was going into town for his daily work.

Local man walking past the tiny Bumthang airport of Bhutan 
There is something about Buddhist monks, the Buddhist religion and the mountains of Himalayas that makes me want to go there again and again. May be, it is for moments like this?

Monk prays at Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan 
While exploring Bhutan, you will come across countless number of local people who keep counting their beads and saying the hym ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’. This gentleman was one such person and I met him on the streets of Trongsa in Central Bhutan.

Old Bhutanese man in prayer at Trongsa, Bhutan

I was walking down the slopes of the Trongsa highway to catch a good view of the massive Trongsa Dzong. I spotted this old man carrying his heavy wooden load the traditional way while I was on that walk. A lot of people in Bhutan are still very poor and have to do physical labor to keep their houses and bellies warm.

I had just run all the way from the top of Taktsang monastery’s lodge to the ground below. At that parking lot and tiny curio shopping center, I spotted this smart looking Bhutanese guy and I felt that he was missing something and offered my sunglasses to him to see if that completed the look. And voila, it did complete the look and the end result is this stylish photograph.

Stylish Bhutanese Man at the start of Taktsang Monastery Trek 
Seeing traditional attire and tools is a great way of understanding the local culture. This was one such moment at Bumthang when I spotted this farmer walking home after his day in the fields.

Traditional Bhutanese man walking the streets of Bumthang, Bhutan

I was walking from Wangdi Phodrang to Bajo town when this kid saw my camera lens and requested me to take his photograph. I obliged and this is the end result of this school kid in the evening hours at Wangdi-Bajo.

Wangdi Bajo School Kid wanted me to take his picture 
These were a naughty and smart bunch of school kids from Wangdi Bajo. They spoke good English and Hindi and asked me questions for as long as 30 minutes. They were also keen on me taking their photograph.

Wangdi Bajo School Kids 
Another set of local kids. This time while walking from Kuruthang to Punakha. It was a weekend and these kids were merrily walking in the winter sun and having a jolly good time.

It was pretty cold in the mornings at Trongsa in Central Bhutan and everyone, including this monk soaked in the warmth of the winter sun. This was inside the Trongsa Dzong.

Buddhist monk soaking in the morning sun at Trongsa Dzong, Bhutan 
Even this Buddhist monk was soaking in the winter sun, but from the beautifully located Punakha Dzong. The colourful pillars of this Dzong contrasted the maroon robes of this monk.

Buddhist Monk from the balcony of a temple in Punakha Dzong, Bhutan 
There is a small chorten near Kuje Lakhang in Central Bhutan’s Bumthang. And that is where I spotted him doing the rounds of the chorten and chanting the hymns.

Welcome to BE ON THE ROAD Travel Blog! I am Sankara, its founder, a 30 something male from Bangalore who is living his dream of exploring the world and simultaneously trying to inspire others to live their dream.
Wanna live your dream? Find Some inspiration here!
Wanna know more about me?
Track blog updates from facebook and/or twitter!

Logo Credits : Jobi T Chacko. UI/UX Credits : Murugan S Thirumalai
Copyright © 2009-2016 Sankara Subramanian C (
Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. All Rights Reserved

Join the Travel Club for FREE!!
and every fortnight get in your inbox...interesting experiential and off-beat travel stories , destination guides, handy tips (travel, photography and visa) based on personal experience, global vegetarian delights with helpful survival guides and gorgeous world travel images and videos as I (the Indian traveler) trot the globe! And a lot of other travel invites and soon to be launched goodies !

* indicates required