Taste of Bhutan – II

Taste of Bhutan – II

Mountain Journeys

This tour package provides our guests with the unique privilege of traveling almost the entire populated latitude of Bhutan, from under 300 m to over 3000m within a travelling distance of about 120 miles. Within this latitude range you will notice the sub-tropical to alpine vegetations – the abundance, variety, variability and diversity of both flora and fauna. Even if our guests wished, you couldn’t miss noticing the different farming methods, the cultural diversity, and the crops and cropping systems. As the altitude varies, you will see how everything finds itself a niche for harmony and stability.

This short and compact “value for your money”  tour program is designed for a week in Bhutan.  In this package of “Taste of Bhutan – II”, we try to present Bhutan – its culture & tradition, art, craft & architecture and its history of the people. The feather on the cap for this trip is the visit to a rural household to interact with farmers and learn their lifestyle in rural places, as the real Bhutan is in the rural places.  It’s an ideal and quick way to experience and know the Bhutan of the past and present and learn it visions for future. This trip can also be your post or pre-trip extension for those who are traveling in India, Nepal, and South East Asia. This brief visit is designed to capture your heart and mind so that you will not miss out on Bhutan as your next destination while you plan for your next holiday.

Day 01: Bagdogra/Siliguri – Phuentsholing

A representative from Bhutan Travel designers will meet you on arrival at either Siliguri or Bagdogra airport in the Indian state of West Bengal. After a drive of about three hours along a road lined with lush green tea gardens you will reach Phuentsholing, the border town of Bhutan, which lies directly at the base of the Himalayan foothills. This rapidly growing town is Bhutan’s commercial center, with most commercial organizations headquartered here. With the growing Indian town of Jaigoan on the other side, you will see a mixed Bhutanese and Indian population.

  • Overnight – hotel in Phuentsholing.

Day 02: Phuentsholing – Thimphu

Today, we will proceed to Thimphu along the National Highway, taking about 8 hours with some stops en route. Our first stop will be after a short drive on the road to visit Kharbandi Gonpa. This beautiful monastery, situated in a garden of tropical plants and flowers at an altitude of 400m above the town, was founded in 1967 by the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choden. The monastery has paintings depicting scenes from the life of Buddha, and the statues of Guru Rinpoche and Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. From here, there is a superb view of the Indian plains with their tea gardens beyond. En route we will stop to see the water falls and other sceneries.

Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan and the center of government, religion and commerce, is a lively place, an interesting combination of tradition and modernity. Home to civil servants, expatriates and the monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style.

  • Overnight – hotel in Thimphu.

Day 03: Thimphu

Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital. Today’s full day of sightseeing in Thimphu includes visits to:
* Tashichhodzong, “the fortress of the glorious religion”: Initially erected in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was rebuilt in the 1960s during the reign of Bhutan’s third king in the traditional style, without plans or nails. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body;
* National Memorial Chorten: The building of this landmark was envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the father of modern Bhutan”) and a monument to world peace;
* Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan;
* National Library, which holds an extensive collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books, mainly on Himalayan culture and religion.

Other places of interest which may be visited if time permits include: the National Institute of Traditional Medicine where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medical practitioners trained; the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide assortment of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products, and also a small collection of books on Bhutan, Buddhism and Himalayan culture; the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums.

In the evening take a stroll through Thimphu’s market area, visiting local shops and mingling with the people. Overnight – hotel in Thimphu.

Day 04: Thimphu – Punakha – Wangduephodrang

After breakfast, we proceed to Punakha, stopping briefly about 45 minutes’ drive from Thimphu at Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft), which offers visitors their first glimpse of the eastern Himalayan ranges. On the top of the pass you will be able to see the 108 Druk wangyel Chortens and a Lhakhang; built in commemoration of His Majesty the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s sacrifices and selfless deed to the nation and its people.
A low-lying subtropical valley, Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and is still the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and central monk body. Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, has played a prominent role in civil and religious life of the kingdom. Damaged by fire, flood and earthquake over the centuries, it has now been fully restored in its original splendor. This Dzong signifies the unity of the Spiritual and Temporal aspects our human nature, being the winter residence of the Je Khenpo and Central Monk body and the place where Kings (past, present and future) receive their sacred enthronement. This place exudes with such sacred energy that one could feel the warmth and homing effect – it is a must visit Dzong. Homing?
Also visit the valley of Wangduephodrang situated at the junction of the Punakha Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Overnight – hotel in Punakha

Day 05: Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Paro

Morning – sightseeing in Wangduephodrang, a typical small Bhutanese town, with bustling market and well-stocked shops. This area is also known for its fine bamboo work, stone carvings, locally mined slate, and a yak dairy research station. Wangduephodrang Dzong is the town’s most visible feature, situated majestically on a spur above the junction of the Punakha Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Like Punakha Dzong it is built at the confluence of two rivers, but unlike the Punakha Dzong it is sitting atop of a small hillock.
After lunch, we drive to Paro, visiting a village house en route to get an idea of the lifestyle of the local people.

Overnight – hotel in Paro.

Day 06: Paro

This beautiful valley is home to some of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, the National Museum and the country’s only airport. Situated strategically and commanding a spectacular view of the valley, Rinpung Dzong (“the fortress of the heap of jewels”) was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646, and now houses Paro’s monk body and the offices of the civil administration. It is also the venue for the annual spring time Paro Tsechu (festival). Above Rinpung Dzong (commonly referred to as Paro Dzong) is Ta Dzong, housing the National Museum, which holds unique and varied collections ranging from ancient armor, to textiles, thangkha paintings, stamps, coins and natural history.

A short drive north and overlooking the Paro river is Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan, dating back to the 7th century, when Buddhism was first introduced into Bhutan. Further ahead, at the end of valley lies Drukgyel Dzong, or “the Fort of Drukpa Victory”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders.  The evening is at leisure as we take our guests on an exploratory walk around Paro downtown.

Overnight – hotel in Paro.

Day 07: Depart Paro

After early breakfast in the hotel, we drive to the airport for your flight to your next destination.