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The small modern town of Phuentsholing in the south is the gateway to Bhutan. Headquarters of the Bank of Bhutan and the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan on top of a low hill with a small Gumpha or public temple at nearby Kharbandi, reconstructed by Queen Phuentsholing Chhoden, grandmother of the present king, looks out over the town and the surrounding plains.

The Amo Chuu, commonly known as the Torsha River, is a favourite spot for fishermen and picnickers. The jungles that lie close by teeming with wild animals and birds, for here the traveller is in the heart of Bhutan's subtropical southern zone.

From Phuentsholing the road winds north, over the southern foothills, through lush forested valleys and around the rigged north-south ridges of the inner of Thimphu and Paro. Hairpin corners on this breathtaking six-hour drive are, to reassure the traveller, marked with tall, colourful sculptures of the Tashi Tagye, the eight auspicious signs of Buddhism.

East Himalaya

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