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Places covered: Bhutan
Duration: 4Nights/ 5Days
Category: Family Vacation
(55km, approx. 1.1/2 hour drive)
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in the entire Himalayas. Whether flying along with the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkatta, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutans first gift, 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 styles of stupas; Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese adorn this confluence. 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 an unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Situated in western Bhutan, with a population of about 1,00,000, it is perhaps still the worlds only capital city without a traffic light.
Evening an exploratory walk around Thimphu city centre.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2,320m)
After breakfast, drive to visit Memorial Chorten. Also known as Thimphu Chorten, this stupa is located at the heart of the Thimphu city and was built in 1974 to honour the third King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928-1972) popularly known as Father of modern Bhutan.
Afterwards, visit Buddha Point (KuenselPhodrang). It holds one of the largest Buddhas statue in the country of 169 feet (51.5m), made of bronze and gilded in gold. Visitors can also get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from this point.
Then visit Changangkha Lhakhang. This temple is located above central Thimphu, built-in 12th century by Lama PhajoDrukgomShigpo on a ridge overlooking the town. Local parents traditionally come here to get auspicious names for their newborns or blessing from the protector deity Tamdrin.
Later drive to upper Motithang in Thimphu to visit Takin Preserve. The Takin is the national animal of Bhutan and looks like a cross between a cow and a goat. Legend has it that the animal was created by the great Buddhist yogi, Drukpa Kuenley, and it can be found only in Bhutan and nearby areas. Taxonomists place the animal in a category of its own as it is not similar enough to any other animal to fit established categories.
Post lunch, sightseeing in Thimphu valley including visit to the following : the National Library, housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for ZorigChusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutans 13 traditional arts and crafts, Textile Museum, which provides deep insight into Bhutans one of the most distinct art form, Folk Heritage Museum, dedicated to connect people with the rich Bhutanese Folk heritage and rural history through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programs and documentation of Bhutanese rural life.
Conclude the days sightseeing with the visit of Trashichhoedzong or the fortress of the glorious religion. This is one of the most impressive buildings situated along the right flank of the Thimphu river built-in 1641 by ZhabdrungNgawangNamgyel who unified Bhutan and was later reconstructed in 1962 by the third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This impressive fortress/monastery houses Secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty, the King and various government offices.
Evening at leisure in Thimphu city centre. Also, explore the Local Crafts Bazaar, to browse through example of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2,320m)
(95 km, approx 3.1/2 hours drive)
After breakfast, drive to Dochu-La pass (3,088m/ 10,130 ft) to view Druk WangyalChortens with colourful prayer flags surrounding the area. With Her Majesty AshiDorjiWangmoWangchucks initiative, these chortens were built to honour His Majesty the 4th Druk Gyalpo and his people for their victory in the war fought in the southern region of Bhutan in 2003 and for the benefit of all sentient beings. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m) Tsendagang (6,960 m), 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 Gangkarpuensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
Then drive back to Paro, 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 oldest fortress of the country constructed by ZhabdrungNgawangNamgyel in 1629. The name Simtokha means Atop a Demon and the legend associated with the dzongs construction tells us that it was built to subdue an evil spirit that was harassing travellers in the region. Later in the day after checking into the 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 artefacts.
Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning (“fortress of the heap of jewels), which has a long and fascinating history. Along with 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.
The evening takes a stroll around an interesting city centre of Paro.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m).
After breakfast excursion to Taktshang Monastery (approx. 5 hours round trip walk): It is one of the most famous of Bhutans 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 Tigers Nest. This site has been recognised as a most sacred place and visited by ZhabdrungNgawangNamgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. The hike to the monastery makes a splendid half-day excursion. OR After breakfast embark on a driving excursion to Chelela pass. At an elevation of 3,988 meters, it is considered to be one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan. About an hours drive along a thickly-forested road, this pass is a botanical paradise. The pass provides stunning views of the sacred mountain Jumolhari and Jichu Drake. It is also marked by hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind.
En-route also visit Dzongdrakha temple. Often called as mini Taktsang, Dzongdrakha is a cliff-side temple complex on the western side of Paro valley. Four shrines make up the complex, dedicated to Drolma (Tara), Tsheringma (Goddess of Longevity), Guru Rinpoche and the Buddha of the Future, Maitreya. Local oral tradition states that when Guru Rinpoche first came to Bhutan, he came from Nepal, first landing at Drakarpo, and then Dzongdrakha before arriving at Taktsang (Tigers Nest) farther north up the valley Later in the afternoon drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. In early 1954, the Drukgyel Dzong was destroyed by fire and today only the ruins remain. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, “mountain of goddess” can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong.
While returning to the hotel, along the way, visit the 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, SongtsenGampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)
After early breakfast at the hotel, Check out and drive to the airport for flight to your return Journey.