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Combine all your interests and leave nothing uncovered.
Your entry to and/or exit out of Bhutan will be by flight and/or road. We recommend using flights through the Paro international airport, but some travelers prefer taking road for entry or exit – through India.
This trip will immerse you with the experiences of an unending surprises and wonders covering the most exotic attractions and sights, and sacred places and historical monuments that will stretch from the western bit of Bhutan to the central part. The complete travel will uncover cultural, traditional, historical and contemporary exploration of Bhutan from Haa valleys (in western Bhutan) to Paro,Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Phobjikha, Trongsa and Bumthang (in central Bhutan). Some light excursions and hikes absorbing the fresh clean air will make part of your trip — to reinvigorate you. And if the trip is timed to witness one of the local festivals, you would have experienced and explored most of what Bhutan has to offer to enliven and live memoirs of your lifetime.
Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan is located at an altitude of 2,300 meters. and in its on way distinguishes itself by being the most unusual capital city in the world, by keeping a strong national character in its architecture. Thimphu is a bustling town and home of the Kingdom’s royal family, monk body, civil servants and expatriates.
Tashichhodzong: Means “fortress of glorious religion”. The Dzong was initially erected in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and later the third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuk rebuilt its present form in 1965. It was built in traditional fashion, without using nails and architectural plans. It is also the home of the throne room of His Majesty the king of Bhutan, the summer residence of central monastic body and ministries and various government organizations.
Memorial Chorten: Built in 1974 in memory of the Third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is popularly considered as the Father of Modern Bhutan. The religious paintings and complex tantric statues inside the monument reflect both peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist deities. It is one of the most visible religious stupas in Thimphu and for many Thimphu residents it is the place where they come to circumambulate the stupa andpay their daily worship.
Heritage Museum: Living farmhouse of the 19th century depicting the harmonious living style of the Bhutanese family with the domestic animals in the premises.
National Library: Houses a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and texts including the imprinted and archaic text of Bhutanese history. The library also has research documents and printing blocks for prayer flags.
Traditional Painting School: Centre where children learn traditional drawing and painting, wood carving, sculpture and other forms of traditional arts. On a visit, one can view the students at work.
Traditional Medicine Institute: The rich herbal medicine found abundant in Bhutan are prepared and dispensed from here. The institute also researches the use of medicinal herbs and plants and operates a trial experiment on the premises.
Textile Museum: This museum has a wide collection of colorful and intricately hand woven ancient and new textiles, depicting the unique and traditional art of Bhutan.
Weekend Market: Worth visiting the weekend market in Thimphu held on Friday afternoon and remains until Sunday evening. The weekend market certainly offers the best opportunity to see agriculture and dairy products and handicrafts, and to mix around with the local people.
Tango Temple (Monastery): Initially built by Gyalwa Lhanampa in 12th century and later built into its present form by “Divine Madman” Lama Drukpa Kuenley in 15th century. In the 18th century, the eighth Desi Tenzin Rabgye built a three storey tower and several other surrounding buildings. Presently, it serves as a monastic school for Buddhist studies. It is about 12 km drive from Thimphu and takes about an hour’s hike to reach the temple from the road end.
Cheri Temple (Monastery): This temple lies next to Tango Temple. Once dropped off, the trail starts by crossing the traidtional wooden bridge. It will take about an hour or so of steep climb. Cheri Temple was founded by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1620. The ashes of Zhabdrung’s father are preserved in a silver stupa inside the temple.
Phajoding Temple (Monastery): Located at 3,700 meters, the temple provides commanding height overlooking Thimphu valley. It has several little retreat houses and temples spread around the temple. From Thimphu city, it is about three and half hours of steep climb through mixed conefer forest. Return takes about two hours.
Located at around 2 hours drive from Thimphu and at an altitude of 1,350 meters, Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955. It is still the winter residence of Jekhenpo (Chief Abbot) and the monks of Thimphu. The low altitude and temperate climate makes the valley one of the most fertile in Bhutan and allows two rice crops a year. On a clear day, there are splendid views of the distant Himalayas at Dochula Pass ( 3100m) on the way to Punakha from Thimphu.
Punakha Dzong (the Fortress): Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region. It is located strategically between the confluence of Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). The Dzong was damaged by an earthquake, fire and flood a number of times and destroyed many historic documents. However, the Dzong has been fully restored to its original splendor by the present king.
Chimi Lhakhang: A revered temple popularly recognized as a pilgrimage site for childless couples to receive blessings. Situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, it is about 20 minute’s pleasant walk across the rice fields from the road to the temple. The temple was built in the 15th century by Ngawang Chogyel after the “Divine Madman” Lam Drukpa Kuenley built a small stupa on the site.
Located close to and at the same altitude as Punakha, it is the last western town before entering the central part of Bhutan. The district is known for fine bamboo work and its slate stone carvings.
Wangdue Dzong: Perched on the spur at the confluence of two rivers, the Dzong was built in 1638 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. It is the administrative seat of Wangdue district and also the venue of the Wangdue festival held in autumn.
Hiking to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten built by the third Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck in dedication to 5th King of Bhutan. It will take one-hour walk crosses over a suspended footbridge over Mo-Chhu (Female River).
Phobjikha Valley: It’s one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. The pristine green valley is the winter residence of rare and endangered black-necked cranes that migrate from Tibet to Bhutan in late autumn in a group of 200 to 300. There is also Gangtey Geonpa (Temple) built on the ridge overlooking the beautiful wide valley of Phobjikha.
Overnight: Phobjikha Valley
Bumthang is one of the most fascinating valleys in Bhutan encompassing four major valleys: Chumey, Choekor, Tang and Ura with altitudes rangi from 2,600 to 4,000 meters. It is the religious heartland of Bhutan and home to many of the oldest and most sacred monasteries. The body imprint marks of Guru Rinpoche can still be seen on the rock in some of the monasteries. It is also home to one of the Guru Rinpoche’s re-incarnates, a treasure discoverer, Terton Pedma Lingpa to whom the present Royal family traces their lineage.
Enroute to Bumthang visit Trongsa valley situated slightly more than 2,300 meters of altitude is in the centre of Bhutan, separated from both the east and west by high mountain passes. It is about 3 hour 30 minute drive from Pbobjikha Valley.
Trongsa Dzong: Built in 1648 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel at the place where his great-grandfather Lama Ngagi Wangchuk had erected the temple in 1543. It is one of the most aesthetic and splendid works of traditional Bhutanese architecture. It is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s Royal family and the first two hereditary kings ruled the country from this Dzong.
Ta Dzong: Watch tower built on top of the hill to the east of Trongsa Dzong was known for safeguarding the Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion in the past. A visit to this watch tower will provide you an insight into the historical significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history.
Jakar Dzong: Initially built as a monastery by Zhabrung’s great grandfather Lama Ngagi Wangchuk in 1549 and later in 1646 Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel built it into Dzong. It is the largest Dzong in Bhutan with a circumference of more than 1.5 km. Now the Dzong houses the administrative seat to the Bumthang district.
Jambey Lhakhang: Like Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro valley, Jambey Lhakhang was also built at the same time by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century to subdue the giant demoness who was preventing the spread of Buddhism in Tibet and the Himalayan region. To overcome her, Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples in one day which would be placed all over her body to pin the ogress to the earth forever and at the same time, to convert Tibetan people to Buddhism. Jambay Lhakhang holds the left knee and Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro valley pins the left foot.
Kurje Lhakhang: This Lhakhang is one of the most sacred Lhakhangs in Bhutan as Guru Rinpoche meditated and left the imprint of his body in a cave inside the oldest of the three temples in the eighth century. The oldest temple was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652 while he was Trongsa Penlop. Ugyen Wangchuck, the first king of Bhutan built the second Lhakhang in 1900 while he was still the Trongsa Penlop and the third new Lhakhang was built by the present Queen Mother, Ashi Kesang Wangchuck in 1990.
Tamshing Lhakhang: This Lhakhang was built by Terton Pedma Lingpa, one of the re-incarnates of Guru Rinpoche in 1501. The structure and some of the statues inside the lhakhang are believed to be made with the help of Khandromas (female celestial deities, similar to angels). Some of the inner wall paintings carried out by Pedma Lingpa are still intact and are of enormous interest for the history of both art and religion.
Thangbi Lhakhang: It is a short walk from the end of the road through the forest to the wide fertile plateau overlooking the river. The Thangbi Lhakhang is located in the middle of the valley. It was built by the fourth Shamar Rinpoche of the Karmapa religious school in 1470. The temple houses the terrifying deities, old clay statues which date from 15th century and the remarkable paintings of Guru Rinpoche’s abode.
Ura Village: It is about 1 ½ hours drive from Bumthang towards the east of Bhutan. Situated at an elevation of 10,170 feet, Ura is quite a large village with closely packed houses along the cobblestone paths that give the village a medieval atmosphere. Overlooking the village, there is a newly built temple dedicated to Guru Rinpoche which contains his gigantic statue and the remarkable paintings of his teachings. The village breeds yak and sheep, and potatoes are now an important cash crop. A visit to this village will give you close contact with people and their village life.
Drive back to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan is located at an altitude of 2,300 meters. and in its own way distinguishes itself by being the most unusual capital city in the world, by keeping a strong national character in its architecture. It is about 7 hours drive from Bumathang Valley.
In the morning drive back to Paro Valley. It is one of the most fascinating valleys in Bhutan. As you disembark at Bhutan’s International Airport at Paro, you will be enthralled by the pleasant atmosphere, the absence of noise and scenic beauty of the valley. A unique tourist destination of its own, Paro valley is home to many venerated monasteries, oldest temples, National Museum and Bhutan’s most impressive and well known Dzongs in the country. Paro is also known for producing the bulk of our famous red rice from its fertile terraced fields.
Stands the ruins of Drugyel Dzong, which was built in 1649 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to commemorate the victory of Bhutan over Tibetan invaders, led by the Mongolian warlord, Gushri Khan in 1644. Drukgyel Dzong captured the eyes of western visitors when it was featured on the cover of the National Geographic magazine in 1914. Above the ruined fortress, appears the towering peak of Mount Jomolhari, “mountain of goddess” which is about 7,315m high.
The fortress served as an administrative centre until 1951, when a fire caused by a butter lamp destroyed it. The ruins still attract lot of tourists for its rich history and glorious past.
Ta Dzong: On top of the hill above the Rinpung Dzong is the Ta Dzong, originally built as a watch tower of Paro Dzong in1951. Unlike the rectangular shape of the Dzongs, Ta Dzong is round and is said to be in the shape of a conch shell or more like the parts of a European castle. It was converted to the National Museum in 1968. It has a unique and varied collection of ancient paintings, textiles, weapons and armour, bronze statues, old household objects, exquisite postage stamps, jewellery and many other decorative arts.
Paro Dzong: Also known as Rinpung Dzong, which means ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’. It was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and is one of Bhutan’s most impressive Dzongs in the country which depicts the finest examples of Bhutanese unusual architecture. It serves as the administrative centre of the Paro district and also houses the state monastic community. The courtyard of the Dzong serves as a venue of Paro Tshechu (festival), held annually in spring.
Kyichu Lhakhang: It is one of the two oldest monasteries built in the seventh century by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in Bhutan. The other one is Jambay Lhakanhg in Bumthang. It is believed that a giant demoness lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples in one day which would be placed all over her bodies to pin the ogress to the earth forever and at the same time, to convert Tibetan people to Buddhism. Kyichu Lhakhangs holds the left foot and Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang pins the left knee.
Taktsang Monastery: Literally meaning ‘Tiger’s Nest’ because Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site of the monastery on the back of a tigress and then meditated in a cave for three months in the eighth century. It is precariously perched on the right side of a cliff, at 2950 metres above sea level and is considered one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for the Buddhist world today. In April, 1998, a fire destroyed the main structure of the monastery. The present king commanded the government that Taktsang be constructed to its original structure and architectural splendor. Accordingly the reconstruction was commenced in March, 2000 and finally completed and restored to its original splendor in early 2005. A visit to this monastery is challenging and amply rewarding. It is about 5 hours round trip including a lunch stop at the view point where there is a cafeteria.
Morning transfer to the airport for flight to onward destination
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