This programe includes rafting on Grade I / II / III rivers including culturally interesting places of western Bhutan. The best season for this tour is October to May. The tour is advisable even for beginners and can be taken as a floating trip, offering opportunity to view bird life and nearby villages) along with cultural tour of Thimphu, Paro and Punakha valleys.
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. Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will see on your left Tschogang Lhakhang,
Rafting Trip in Bhutan
“the temple of the excellent horse”. It is a private temple, built in 15th century, as the result of
visitation from Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig, the compassionate
Buddha. Arrive Thimphu and check-into the hotel. Thimphu earlier a small settlement was
developed in to a town and became the new capital of Bhutan. The city sprawls across the
western slopes of the Wang Chuu river valley, with several government offices located around
Trashichoe dzong, the 17th Century fortress monastry is today the seat of Bhutanese
government. The main thoroughfare is lined with shops, restaurants, retail arcades and public
buildings. Afternoon proceed for a city tour :
Visit King's Memorial Chorten continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who has wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.
Also visit to Trashichhoe dzong, “fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the centre 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.
This morning after a breakfast at the hotel, depart for a visit of Tango Goemba (30 minutes drive
& 01 hour walk) .
Tango Goemba or monastery was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa in the 12th century and the present building was built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’, Lama Drukpa Kunley. In 1616 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal visited Tango and meditated in a cave near the monastery. His meditation helped ensure the defeat of an invading Tibetan army. The head Lama, a descendent of Lama Drukpa Kunley presented the goemba to Shabdrung, who carved a sandalwood statue of Chenrezig which he installed in the monastery. The picturesque threestorey tower and several surrounding buildings were built in the 18th century by the eighth Desi, Druk Rabgye and Shabdrung Jigme Chhogyel added the golden roof in the 19th century. Situated north of Thimphu, one way it takes about 30 minutes drive and one hour walk through shaded rhododendron forests to reach the monastery. Later return to the hotel.
Afternoon visit the National Library, the library houses an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts.
Later in the afternoon visit Textile and Folk Heritage Museum, a fascinating testimony of the Bhutanese material culture and living traditions. Also visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through example of Bhutan's fine traditional arts constituting hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, interesting items made from local materials.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
After an early breakfast drive to Punakha via Dochu La.
Dochu-la pass located at a height of 3,088m/ 10,130 ft is a scenic location with chortens chorten,
mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, it
may be possible to see the following peaks from this pass in the order 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, after this uplifting
experience proceed further to Punakha.
Later visit to Punakha Dzong, Built strategically at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region, Punakha Dzong has played an important role in Bhutan’s history. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the fourth King.
Afternoon is also scheduled for an excursion to Chimi Lhakhang. Situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, this temple is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humour, songs and outrageous behaviour to dramatise his teachings and due to this also known as ‘Divine Madman’. This temple is 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. It is about 30 minute walk across field from the road to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. It then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha
Rafting from : Punakha Dzong to : Wangduephodrang
Distance : 11 kilometers
River days : 1 day ( 4 to 5 hours on the water )
Closest point : Punakha Dzong
Season : Throughout the year
This section of the Puna Sang Chhu has little in the way of white water but offers some potential as a float trip to link Punakha Dzong with Wangdue rather than going by road. The river flows through a wide valley and gives an opportunity to leisurely view a wide variety of bird life and the surrounding villages.
Evening explore newly developed Wangduephodrang town.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Rafting from : Rimchhu Chhu to : Punakha Dzong
Distance : 8 kilometers
River days : 1 day ( four to five hours river time )
Closest point : From Punakha Dzong, 45 minutes by dirt road
Best season : Oct to May
For the intermediate / advanced kayaker or for rafters , the lower Mo Chhu is a wonderful river in a splendid setting. Small farms with terraced rice and wheat crops are scattered amongst lush forest. Paddling down to Punakha Dzong is a trip straight out of a fairy tale, passing along the spectacular Yebesa Nunnery.
Evening visit to Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang (nunnery). Perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang, gleams the magnificent structures of Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang(Temple). The temple houses a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong). Other statues include those of Guru Padmasambawa, Gautama Buddha, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Tsela Namsum, the 21 Taras and Tsepamay (Buddha of longevity). The Avalokiteshvara statue, one of the biggest in the country, was the handiwork of entirely local Bhutanese artisans. The temple complex also houses a permanent higher learning and meditation centre for nuns where, apart from religious trainings, it provides life skill training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making and thangka painting.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
After breakfast we continue our fascinating journey towards Paro, en route visit Simtokha
Simtokha Dzong was built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it stands on a low ridge 8 km down the valley from Thimphu. The Institute for Language and Cultural Studies is located within the premises. The most noteworthy artistic feature of this dzong is the series of over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard. Later continue the drive towards Paro.
Arrive in Paro and check in at your hotel.
This afternoon is dedicated to explore Paro and its surrounding.
Afternoon 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. After the visit walk down the trail to visit Rinpung 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 other cosmic Mandala.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
After breakfast the morning is reserved to visit Taktsang Monastry (approx 5 hours walking
excursion), one of the fabulous locations in the known world. The Taktsang Monastery 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 recognized 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. En route 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. Later return to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Paro (Altitude 2200m).
After breakfast transfer to the airport for flight to onward destination.
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