High in the mysterious and majestic eastern Himalayas, nestled between the Tibetan autonomous region of China and India, lies the small Kingdom of Bhutan, increasingly renowned for one of the Earth’s most precious unspoiled spots. This tour explores ancient monasteries and shrines of historical and archaeological interests in the heartland of three major towns of the Dragon Kingdom. The guests will discover a magical place that speaks of a Buddhist culture in the daily lives of its people. They will see the spectacular mountain scenery that provides a backdrop to pristine forests and picturesque valleys. This breathtaking landscape is dotted with fluttering prayer flags, colourful farmhouses amidst terraced fields and impressive monasteries clinging to impossible cliffs. Guests will have the chance to see Taktsang Lakhang, one of the most famous and sacred of Bhutan’s monasteries as well as the National Library of Bhutan in Thimphu, the capital. Visits of Punakha Valley and Punakha Dzong, known as The Palace of Happiness, are all organized. This memorable trip will be kept in the hearts of the adventurer for a lifetime.
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. After immigration formalities and baggage collection a representative will meet and transfer the guests to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. En-route to Thimphu there will be a scheduled stop at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. On arrival to Thimphu the guests will check-in to the hotel before an evening of an exploratory walk around Thimphu main streets and market area.
After breakfast there will be sightseeing in Thimphu valley including a visit to the National Library of Bhutan, 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, and a visit to the Textile Museum which is a fascinating testimony of the Bhutanese living traditions. The tour will then pause for lunch, after-which there will be a visit to the King’s Memorial Chorten. The memorial is continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning prayer wheels. The 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 a 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. Then continuing on to ‘Simply Bhutan’, a museum created to observe the conservation of Bhutanese culture and tradition. The museum portrays ancient Bhutanese architecture. The structure is built from old timber, window, door frames and other items from old, traditional demolished houses. The portrayal of the age-old life styles of the Bhutanese people is not to be missed. Later, after the tour of the museum has finished the guests will be driven to Trashichhoedzong, “the fortress of the glorious religion”. Trashichhoedzong was built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The building was reconstructed in the 1960s in a traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans and is the centre for government, religion and the site of the monarch’s throne, Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. The tour will then take a drive to Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang), located at a short drive from Thimphu city centre. Here visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu Valley and an opportunity to pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country. The evening will be spent strolling through the Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts bazaar. The bazaars have fine examples of Bhutan’s traditional arts, such as hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings and jewellery.
After breakfast at hotel the tour will begin with a drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass some 3,O8O metres above sea level. The passes are marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flag. Dochula Pass offers the most spectacular view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas on a clear day. Once the tour has arrived in Punakha there will be the hotel check-in before proceeding to visit Punakha Dzong. In the afternoon there will be a hike along the banks of the Mo Chhu to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning monument recently built by the Queens and consecrated in 1999. The hike takes the guests through fields of chillies, cabbages and rice. In the evening the guests can spend time exploring Punakha village located right on the bank of river.
After breakfast at the hotel is a visit to Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Temple. This intriguing nunnery gleams magnificently on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking the valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang. The temple houses a 14 foot bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara. Other statues that can be found in the temple include those of Guru Padmasambawa, Gautama Buddha, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Tsela Namsum and the 21 Taras and Tsepamay (Buddha of longevity). The Avalokiteshvara statue, one of the biggest in the country, was the handiwork of a 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. Later in the day will be a walk to Chimi Lhakhang where it is widely believed that couples who can not have children, if they pray at this temple, they will be blessed with a child very soon after. The walk takes the
tour through rice fields and the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’, where the tour will see a rare glimpse into the daily life of the villagers of Pana.
After breakfast will be a 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 will be a visit to Simtokha Dzong, the place of profound tantric teaching, this dzong now houses a Dzongkha language school. Once at Paro the guests will check-in into the hotel and then proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as watchtower but now houses the National Museum. The extensive collections in the National Museum includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons, armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artefacts. After the Ta Dzong visit will be a short walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”. Rinpung Dzong has a long and fascinating history, the wooden galleries that line the inner courtyard display fine wall paintings of teachings.
After breakfast will be a 5 hour walk to Taktsang Monastery. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived to the monastery on the back of a tigress and meditated. This site is recognised as sacred place that was visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646. On the return back to Paro there will be several stops. The first will be at Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. Then, the Dome of Chomolhari, “mountain of goddess”. After-which the tour will 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. On the return to Paro there will be an opportunity to explore the streets and market place of Paro in the evening.
After an early breakfast at the hotel there will be a transfer to the airport where our representative will help you with exit formalities and then bid you farewell.