Bhutan, welcome to the land of Thunder Dragon

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Bhutan, welcome to the land of Thunder Dragon


Highlights of tour

✔ Visit the most exotic sites of Thimpu

✔ Royal Botanical Park, Gangtey

✔ Exotic sites of Bumthang – Punakha & Wangdue

✔ The top-class hotels

✔ A perfect tour and can be clubbed with your favorite India tour package

✔ Best prices guaranteed

Introduction: Tourism in Bhutan is unique as it is referred as the “Switzerland of Asia.” From quant farming villages to magical forests to mountains where Yeti’s supposedly live, Bhutan is a place which has escaped the civilized touch of the rest of the world. It is The Land of “Gross National Happiness” whose philosophy is being practiced worldwide.

With its beautiful and largely unspoiled Himalayan setting, its rich flora and fauna, the mesmeric rolling hills and towering crags magnificent mountains, dense forests, pure air, delightful people and its vibrant Buddhist culture, Bhutan the “Land of the Thunder Dragon” or ‘Druk Yul’ has become an increasingly popular destination for international tourists. Bhutan often revered as, is still regarded as one of the last “Shangri-La’s” in the Himalayan region because of its remoteness, its spectacular mountain terrain, varied flora and fauna and its unique ancient Buddhist monasteries besides timeless images of its history.

The tiny kingdom of Bhutan shares with Nepal the world’s greatest concentration of mountains and living heritage of Buddhism. Flight to Paro can truly be described as a flight into fantasy. During the flight, a firsthand close up view of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and other famous peaks of the Himalaya range become a reality.

Day 01: Arrive Paro (Bhutan) by Flight & transfer to Thimphu (55 km, approx. 1 ½ hour drive)

  • The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in entire Himalayas. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkatta, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representative, and afterwards drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan with en-route stop at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. Three different style of stupas ; Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese adorn this confluence.
  • The capital town of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Although not what one expects from a capital city, Thimphu is still a fitting and lively place. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style.
  • On arrival in Thimphu, check into the hotel.
  • Later drive to visit Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang). Located at a short drive from Thimphu city centre, visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang). You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.
  • Afterwards an exploratory walk around Thimphu main street and market area.
  • Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2320m)

Day 02: Thimphu

  • After breakfast, take a short drive (15 km) to Pangri Zampa, the 16th century monastery, located just north of Thimphu. It has a monastic school where Buddhist students monks learn Lamaism and astrology based on Buddhist philosophy. Guests can also interact with monks.
  • Then proceed for a guided tour of the city’s main highlights:
  • Textile Museum: is worth a visit to experience the living national art of weaving. Exhibitions introduce the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and textiles made by women and men.
  • National Library: The history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts, which are preserved at the National Library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and ancient texts, the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.
  • Institute for Zorig Chusum: Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.
  • Folk Heritage Museum: The Museum is dedicated to connecting people with the rich Bhutanese Folk heritage and rural history through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programs and documentation of Bhutanese rural life.
  • Lunch is followed by a city tour that includes:
  • Memorial Chorten: The stupa built in the memory of Bhutan’s third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.
  • Changangkha Lhakhang: It is a fortress like temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above Thimphu, south of Motithang. The temple was established in 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who came from Tibet. The central statue here is Chenrezig in a manifestation with 11 heads. From temple courtyard, there is fascinating view of Thimphu valley.
  • Conclude the tour of the day with a visit of Trashichhoe Dzong, “fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the center of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.
  • Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2320m)

Day 03: Thimphu – Gangtey (150 km, approx. 6 hours’ drive)

  • After breakfast drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m/ 10,130 ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7, 060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana – finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
  • At Dochula Pass, 108 chortens or stupas known as Druk Wangyal Chortens have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. These chortens are built in three layers, the first lowest level layer has forty-five chortens, the second has thirty six and the top layer has twenty seven, built around the main chorten.
  • Then explore some part of Royal Botanical Park: It is the first botanical park in Bhutan and forms the backdrop of the Dochula Pass.
  • Afterwards drive onto Wangdue, taking a short lunch stop in this town.
  • Then drive onto Gangtey, passing through dense forests of oak and rhododendron tress.
  • The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, and is an extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed. A few kilometers beyond the Gangtey Monastery, on the valley floor lies the village of Phobjikha.
  • On arrival, check into the hotel.
  • Evening take a stroll in fascinating Phobjikha valley.
  • Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey. (Altitude 3000m)

Day 04: Gangtey

  • Early morning visit Monastic School to witness elaborately arranged prayer ceremony with full religious musical set.
  • Later after breakfast visit Gangtey Goempa (monastery), perched on a ridge overlooking the valley. It is directed by Gangtey Tulku, the ninth reincarnation (a “Tulku” is a reincarnate) of Pema Lingpa—a famous Buddhist saint and teacher.
  • Then a walking excursion to Gangtey Nature Trail. This pleasurable walk will give you a nice feel of Phobjikha valley. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, you head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from here through beautiful forests and into the open valley. The trail ends at local community school after passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang. (approx. 5.5km, 2 hours walk).
  • Post lunch explore fascinating Phobjikha valley. This place is the winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu (Chhu Naap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water).
  • Also visit Black Neck Crane Information Centre. Situated on the edge of the forest and wetland along the main road of Phobjikha valley, the black-necked crane information Centre has an observation room equipped with high power telescope and spotting scopes for catching the best view of the cranes. The centre also offers display information that outline the natural and cultural history of the area. There is a small gift shop, which sells handicrafts produced by the local people.
  • Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey (Altitude 3000m).

Day 05: Gangtey – Bumthang (153 km, approx. 7 hours’ drive)

  • Morning after breakfast drive to Bumthang via Trongsa.
  • The drive to Trongsa crosses Pelela pass (3,300 m), the traditional boundary between east and west. The pass is marked by a large prayer flag and the ground is covered with high altitude dwarf bamboo. Stop en-route at Chendbji Chorten, the stupa built in 18th century by a Lama named Shida. It is Nepalese in style with eyes painted at four cardinal points.
  • Trongsa town, perched on steep slopes above a river gorge, forms the central hub of the nation and is the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched. The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular.
  • After lunch in Trongsa, proceed to visit Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648 it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second Kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat.
  • Then continue drive to Bumthang across Yutong-la pass (3,400m/ 11,155 ft). The road winds steeply up to the pass from Trongsa, then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley.
  • Take a short stop at Chumey, a wide fertile valley where wheat, barley, potatoes and buckwheat are cultivated. Chumey is particularly known for its famous wool weaving called ‘Bumthang Yathra’. Visit Yathra weaving centre, enjoying tea / coffee with weaving family.
  • On arrival in Bumthang, check in to the hotel.
  • Dinner & overnight at the hotel in Bumthang. (Altitude 2600m)

Day 06: Bumthang

  • Bumthang is the general name given to combination of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. It is home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries.
  • After breakfast, visit Jambey Lhakhang. This monastery was built in the 7th century by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.
  • Then visit to Kurje Lhakhang, consisting of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 on the rack face where Guru meditated in the 8th century. Second temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of Guru’s body and is therefore considered the most holy. The third temple was built in 1990s by Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108 chorten wall.
  • Afterwards visit to Jakar Dzong. Founded by great grand-father of the first Shabdrung, the Dzong was initially built as a monastery in 1549. It was upgraded after the Shabdrung had firmly established his power in 1646. The Dzong is now used as administrative centre for Bumthang valley, and houses the regional monk body.
  • Post lunch, visit Tamshing Lhakhang, the temple founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, the re-incarnation of Guru Padsambhava. The monastery has very ancient religious paintings like 1,000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female form of Buddhistava). The temple was restored at the end of the 19th century.
  • Then take a short hike to Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery. Located above the main town, the monastery was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 1984 who was recognized at a very young age by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H. 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama. The monastery has become part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalize Tibetan culture. The monks regular curriculum include reading, memorizing the daily prayers, learning dharma dances, drawing mandalas, learning the melodies of sacred rituals, learning the use of ceremonial instruments and the art of making sacrificial objects, grammer, poerty, karika along with the basics of contemplation and instruction on the different stages of tantra.
  • Evening stroll in the village, exploring local shops and market.
  •  Overnight at hotel in Bumthang. (Altitude 2600m).

Day 07: Bumthang – Punakha & Wangdue (215km, approx. 8-9 hours’ drive)

  • After breakfast, depart for the lengthy drive to Punakha.
  • En route visit Ta Dzong, recently opened fort in Trongsa. The Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five stories, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa. After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity.
  • Lunch on the way at a local restaurant.
  • Afterwards visit to Jakar Dzong. Founded by great grand-father of the first Shabdrung, the Dzong was initially built as a monastery in 1549. It was upgraded after the Shabdrung had firmly established his power in 1646. The Dzong is now used as administrative centre for Bumthang valley, and houses the regional monk body.
  • On arrival in town, check into the hotel.
  • Evening at leisure in Punakha / Wangduephodrang towns.
  • Overnight at Hotel in Punakha & Wangdue. (Altitude 1300m)

Day 08: Punakha & Wangdue

  • After breakfast, visit Punakha Dzong or (Palace of Great Happiness), built at the junction of the Phochu and Mochu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This majesticdzong served as both the religious and the administrative center of Bhutan in the past. It measures some 600 by 240 feet and has a six-story, gold-domed tower. Inside are courtyards and religious statuary that hint at the depth of history and spiritual tradition embodied here. Your guide will illuminate your understanding of this intricate culture that is exotic to us, though long established here.
  • Then a short excursion to Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will give you rare glimpses into the daily life and lifestyle of the villagers.
  • Post lunch, excursion to Talo village, which is scattered along the hill slopes and known for its cleanliness and hygiene among Punakha villages. Talo is the seat of the mind incarnations of the Zhabdrung. Talo Sangnacholing Dzong is built on a plateau and has majestic view of surrounding villages. The beautiful farm houses of the village have its own flower gardens and on the hill slope corns and sweet peas are grown in abundance. Spend time at Nobgang and Talo villages visiting farm houses and meeting families, experiencing Bhutanese rural life.
  • Also visit Nalanda Buddhist Institute. Locals call this place ‘Dalayna’ and the monks call it Nalanda Buddhist College. The Nalanda Buddhist Institute is a monastic school near the village of Talo, above the Punatsangchu river. Here you’ve opportunity to interact with monks, for knowledge on Buddhism, process of meditation.
  • Overnight at the hotel in Punakha / Wangdue. (Altitude 1,300m).

Day 09: Punakha & Wangdue – Paro (125 km, approx. 4 hours’ drive)

  • After breakfast, drive to Paro along scenic highway. En route visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the country built in 1627 which now houses the School for Buddhist studies.
  • Then a short excursion to Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will give you rare glimpses into the daily life and lifestyle of the villagers.
  • On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel.
  • After lunch, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
  • Ta Dzong visit immediately followed by a short walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong), meaning (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and another cosmic Mandala.
  • Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m).

Day 10: Paro

  • After breakfast, embark on an excursion to Taktshang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest (approx. 5 hours round trip walk): It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognised as a most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour.
  • Afternoon drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, “mountain of goddess” can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong.
  • Evening, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.
  • Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m).

Day 11: Depart Paro

  • After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flight to onward destination.

End of Tour

CLOSING DAYS OF SOME OF MONUMENTS MENTIONED IN ITINERARY:

  • Ta Dzong – Paro (national museum): closed on Government Holidays
  • National Library – Thimphu: closed on Sat, Sun & on Government Holidays
  • Textile Musuem – Thimphu: Closed on Government Holidays & on Sun. On Sat open from 9.00 a.m to 4 p.m
  • Institute of Zorig Chusum (Arts & Crafts School) – Thimphu: Closed on Sun & Government Holidays. On Sat open from 10 a.m to 12 o’clock. Also closed in winter (Dec-early March).
  • Folk Heritage Museum – Thimphu: Closed on Sun & on Government Holidays
  • Ta Dzong – Trongsa: closed on Sat, Sun & Government Holidays