Bhutan, a land of Happiness in the Himalayas’ eastern edge, is known for its monasteries, fortresses (dzongs) and dramatic landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. More than this, Bhutan is also known as the last remaining Shangri-La in the world. Bhutan has also been recognised worldwide for its concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), a philosophy that guides the government of Bhutan. It includes an index which is used to measure the collective happiness and well-being of population. In the High Himalayas, peaks such as 7,326m Jomolhari are popular trekking destinations. Paro Taktsang monastery (also known as Tiger’s Nest) clings to cliffs above the forested Paro Valley, which is always included in our Bhutan tour. Bhutan offers an opportunity to witness stunning views of unclimbed snow-capped mountains, experience rich Bhutanese arts and culture, and nature. Whether you are looking for a glimpse of the Himalayas or long treks or leisurely cultural tour, we have all for you.
The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. Our representative will greet you on arrival, and then drive you to the hotel. After Lunch, drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 16 km up the valley. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314m). On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 AD by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. Dinner and over night in Hotel.
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. On the way, visit Tamchog Monastery built by Thangthong Gyalpo (Popularly known as Lama Chazampa, which literally means, the Iron Bridge builder) in the 15th century. Thang Thong Gyalpo (1385 – 1464) was a wonder working saint from Tibet who came to Bhutan in 1433 looking for Iron Ore. He built 108 bridges across Tibet and Bhutan, out of which 8 were built in Bhutan. His only surviving bridge is in Duksum (Tashi Yangtse in Eastern Bhutan). Visit Memorial Chorten,a monument dedicated to the Third King of Bhutan, late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The paintings and statues provide a very rare insight into Buddhist Philosophy. Visit Sangaygang view point, the largest and tallest statue of Buddha in the world. After lunch visit Changangkha Monastery, Takin Preserve centre and Tashichho Dzong. Dinner and overnight Thimphu.
After breakfast at hotel, we take a scenic route to drive through Punakha via Dochula pass. If weather is clear, we stop for a while at the Dochula pass to view the Himalayas. While in Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, which is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Royal Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There is a smaller building called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping; the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and The third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the First National Assembly here in 1952.After Lunch, excursion to Khamsung Yulley Namgyal Choling Monastery. Dinner and over night in Punatsangchhu Cottages or similar
After breakfast, drive to the beautiful valley of Gangtey. Enroute sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang includes: visit to Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong, four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Drive further to Gangtey. Visit Gangtey Gompa Monastery, from outside. Gyaltse PemaT hinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. Explore Phobjikha valley, famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter. Dinner and overnight at Gakiling Guest House.
After breakfast, we take a scenic mountain road to Trongsa. Visit Trongsa Dzong, one of the most impressive dzongs in Bhutan, built in its present form in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan and enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. Then visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower. The chapel inside the Ta Dzong is said to be dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. After lunch, we drive to Bumthang. Dinner and overnight in Swiss Guest House.
After breakfast, visit Jakar Dzong, which literally means “The Castle of White Bird”. The current structure was built in 1667. Visit Jambay Lhakhang, built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659 on the same day as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang and was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life force. Under the temple is said to be a lake in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. Every year in October, one of the most spectacular festivals, “JambayLhakhangDrup” is staged here. After lunch, we visit Kurjey Lhakhang that is named after body print of Guru Rimpoche, built in 1652 by Minjur Tempa. Visit Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of the good message), established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom. In the evening, visit Membarstho which literally means, “The burning Lake”. Dinner and overnight in Swiss Guest House.
After breakfast, we drive back to Thimphu. Lunch will be served on the way. In the evening (if you have time and not so tired from long drive), visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Dinner and overnight in Thimphu.
Early morning, drive to the Dzong for Throngdroel ceremony (The ceremony will be over at 11:00am). After lunch, excursion to Cheri Monastery. Later take a hike to Cheri Monastery (Includes Dodina and Jigme Dorji Wild life Sanctuary), hike about 1hr (to and fro) leads to Cheri Goemba (Cheri Dorji Dhen). Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built this monastery in 1620 and established the first monk body here. A chance to spot birds such as Mrs Gould's Sunbird, Yellow-browed Tit, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Long-billed Thrush, Ultramarine Flycatcher. In the late afternoon, we drive to Paro and overnight stay.
After breakfast, we drive to Satsam Chorten, the trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. The Primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, DorjiDrolo, said to be his favourite consort.
After lunch, drive to Cheli La. The 35-km drive is an interesting road excursion.The pass is at 3,810m, there we can have stunning views of Jhomolhari as well as down to the Haa valley. In the evening free to stroll in the town and shopping for souvenirs in Paro. Dinner and overnight in Paro.
After breakfast, our representative will bid farewell and drive you to the airport for your return journey back home.
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