The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in entire Himalayas. Flying along the
Himalayan range from Kathmandu, 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 enroute
stop at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. Three different style of
stupas ; Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese adorn this confluence.
Just before arriving Thimphu, visit Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang). Located at a short drive before Thimphu city centre, visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang) and pay obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley. 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 Trashichhoedzong, the 17th Century fortress monastery is today the seat of Bhutanese government.
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 Trashichhoedzong, “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.
Later take an exploratory walk around town main street and also visit Craft Bazaar. Organized in Centenary Farmer’s market, under patronage of Department of cottage & small industry and in collaboration with the department of culture, tourism council and the department of agriculture marketing and cooperatives, this market offers genuine Bhutanese arts & crafts thus contributing in promotion, protection and preservation of traditional arts.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2400m).
After breakfast walking excursion to Tango Goemba. Situated north of Thimphu, one way it
takes about 30 minutes drive and one hour walk through shaded rhododendron forests to reach
the monastery. Perched on the hillside, looking out over the forested mountains, this 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 Kuenley. 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 three-storey 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. A visit to Tango Monastery provides you a wonderful opportunity, to participate in local temple life.
Afternoon visit the National Library, which 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 visit Textile and Folk Heritage Museum, a fascinating testimony of the Bhutanese material culture and living traditions.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2400m).
After early breakfast proceed to Punakha via Dochu La.
Dochu-la pass located at a height of 3,088m/ 10,130 ft is a scenic location with 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, walking excursion to Lungchuzekha Goemba.
It is an interesting three to four hours round trip walk around Dochula pass, offering fascinating view of Bhutan Himalayas. From 108 chortens and mani wall at Dochula pass, the road ascends gradually into white, red and pink rhododendron forests for about one and a half hour with some steep sections before branching left to Lungchuzekha Goemba. The highlight of this excursion is beautiful forest, spectacular mountain views and monastery.
On return from Lungchuzekha Geomba excursion, lunch at Dochula Resort and then drive onward to Punakha en route visiting 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.
Evening arrive Punakha and check into the hotel.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha (Altitude 1300m).
After breakfast 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.
Later a beautiful hike (total about 2 hours walk, including both ways) takes one to the regal Khamsum Yuelley Namgel Chorten, which was built to remove negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the changing world. The Chorten dominates the upper Punakha Valley with commanding views across the Mo Chhu river and up towards the mountainous peaks of Gasa and beyond.
Picnic lunch.Later explore Ritisha village. Bhutan’s Punakha valley is famous for rice farming where both red and white rice are grown along the river valleys of Pho and Mo Chhu, two of the most prominent rivers in Bhutan. ‘Ritsha’ meaning ‘at the base of a hill’ is a typical village in Punakha. The village houses are made of pounded mud with stone foundations. Each house is only two storey high surrounded with gardens and the rice fields. The gardens also usually have fruit bearing plants like oranges and papaya among the organic vegetables. This is a model rice growing village in western Bhutan.
Evening return to hotel.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha (Altitude 1300m)
After breakfast, drive to Wangdue Phodrang Wangdue Phodrang district of western Bhutan, is
also the name of the dzong (built in 1638) which dominates the district, and the name of the
small market town outside the gates of the dzong. The name is said to have been given by the
Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who was searching for the best location for a dzong to prevent
incursions from the south. At the chosen spot the Shabdrung encountered a boy named Wangdi
playing beside the river and hence named the dzong "Wangdi's Palace".
After visit majestic Wangduephodrang Dzong, drive towards Paro en route visit Simtokha Dzong.
Simtokha Dzong was built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. 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 (10 min walk) 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 (Altitude 2200m).
After breakfast the morning is reserved for hike to Taktsang Monastry (5/6 hours walk
including both ways). 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. The hike to the monastery can be broken down into various stages. The first stage is the
trek to the cafeteria (where lunch will be served later today) which is situated on a rocky
outcrop across a ravine from the monastery. This leg of the trek takes approximately 45 to 60
minutes. The 2nd stage of the walk is from the cafeteria to the lookout opposite the monastery.
This leg takes close to one hour. The 3rd stage is the trek/climb down the 475 steps in the cliff face to the bottom of the ravine which crosses over a stream and waterfall before the path again ascends another 300 odd steps to the entrance of the monastery. Once here you should be able to enter into the monastery and view the cave where Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal meditated (cameras are not allowed inside the monastery). The visit and climb to the entrance and back to the lookout will take approximately one hour.
Late 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. 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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