Highlights of Bhutan

HIGHLIGHTS OF BHUTAN

Destinations :Paro – Thimphu (2) – Gangtey (Phobjikha) (2) – Punakha (2) – Paro (3) 
Duration : 09 Nights /  10Days

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Day 01: Arrive Paro by Druk Air & transfer to Thimphu

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

On arrival, in Thimphu check-into the hotel. 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. With the population of about 90,000 it is perhaps still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light.

Evening an exploratory walk around Thimphu main street and market area..

Day 02: Thimphu

After breakfast, proceed for the guided tour of city’s main attractions that includes:

Textile Museum: is worth a visit to get to know 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.

Simply Bhutan Museum: The newly commissioned museum depicts the ancient Bhutanese architecture which is being lost to modernization.  The uniqueness of the structure is in its composition of the materials used. The structure is built reusing old timber, window and door frames and other items from traditional and old demolished houses.  The best part is the portrayal of the age-old life styles of the Bhutanese people.

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.

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.

Conclude the tour of the day with a visit of Trashichhoedzong, “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.

Evening time can be spent strolling through the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts bazaar, to browse through example of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, interesting items made from local materials.

Day 03: Thimphu – Gangtey (150 kms, approx 5-6 hrs drive)

After breakfast enjoy a dramatic drive over the high mountain pass of Dochu La (3,O8Om)   and on to the Phobjikha Valley passing through dense forests and oak, rhododendron tress.

The journey continues over the 3,050m mountain pass where on a clear day, the towering Himalayan peaks are clearly visible. The highway follows the scenic Dang Chhu before climbing through forests of bamboo and oak.

After checking into hotel, explore Gangtey village and Phobjikha valley on foot.

Day 04: Gangtey

The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful spots 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 extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valley’s are tightly enclosed. A few kilometers beyond the Gangtey Monastery, on the valley floor lies the village of Phobjikha. 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. Phobjikha, at an altitude of 2900 m, falls under the district of Wangduephodrang and lies on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park. Explore Phobjikha valley for Black Necked Cranes. (in winter only, Oct to mid March)

Later visit Gangtey Gompa. Perched on a small hill that rises from the valley floor, the Gangtey Monastery is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountain’s and also the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens who take care of the Monastery.

Day 05: Gangtey – Punakha (70 km, approx 3-4 hrs )

After breakfast explore Gangtey valley. Visit Black Necked 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.

Later in the afternoon drive back to Punakha.

Day 06: Punakha

After breakfast at hotel, proceed to visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. It was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and still serves as the winter residence of the monk body.

Late afternoon option Chimi Lakhang (from hotel it is about 15 minutes drive till motorable road and then walk starts through paddy fields and villages. This is total about 1.1/2 hour walk, including both way)

The 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

Day 07: Punakha – Paro (125 kms, 4-5 Hrs)

After breakfast drive back to Paro descending back down from Dochu La, follow the way back up the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys, before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley.

En route visit Simtokha Dzong, the place of profound tantric teaching, this dzong now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language.

Later in the day after checking into hotel, 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.

Then 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.

Day 08: Paro

After breakfast excursion to Taktshang Monastery (5hrs hike):  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.

On the way back to town stop at 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.

Along the way, 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.

Evening an exploratory walk around main street and market area..

Day 09: Paro – Haa valley excursion (70 km 3-4 hrs each way)

After early breakfast at hotel, embark on a day tour to Haa via Chele-la (pass) driving through blue pine & rhododendron forest. Stop at Chele-la pass (4200 meters), the top of the pass offers magnificent view of 7314 meter Chomolhari peaks & Jichu Drakey. It is about one and half hour drive from Paro city to the pass. A short walk around the view point can be taken to savor the grand view of eastern Himalayan range.

After a short stroll around the pass, continue drive on to Haa, descending all the way for another 22 km.

On arrival at Haa, and after picnic lunch proceed to explore the valley. Visit the famous Monastery of Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) followed by visit to Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple).

Later in the afternoon drive to Paro same way back once again enjoying grand view of eastern Himalayan range and lush green valley beyond.

Late afternoon or evening in Paro free for independent activities, so shopping etc.

Day 10: Depart Paro

After early breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Our representative will help you with exit formalities and then bid you farewell.

CLOSING DAYS OF SOME MONUMENTS MENTIONED IN ITINERARY:

  • Ta Dzong – Paro (national museum) : closed on Govt holidays
  • National Library – Thimphu : closed on Sat, Sun & Government Holidays
  • Folk Heritage Museum – Thimphu : closed on Government Holidays and on Sat open from 10.30 a.m to 1.00 p.m and on Sun open from 11.30 a.m to 3.00 p.m
  • Textile Musuem – Thimphu : Closed on Government Holidays and on Sun and 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 and on Sat open from 10 a.m to 12 o’clock.
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