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Adventure Travel in Bhutan - 11 days

'An adventure travel in Bhutanese heartland - Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Gangtey, Trongsa & Bumthang'


Day 01: Arrive Paro by Flight
The flight to Bhutan is one of the most spectacular in entire Himalayas. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkatta, it is a fascinating journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift, as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be greeted by our representative, and afterwards transfer to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan with en-route stop at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. Three different style of stupas; Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese adorn this confluence. Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will visit on your left Tschogang Lhakhang, built in the 13th century by Thangthong Gyalpo, also known as the Iron bridge builder. Situated on a hill top, we have to cross an ancient style bridge to reach the temple which is now owned by the descendants of Thangthong Gyalpo.
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 unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. With the population of about 1,00,000 it is perhaps still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light.

Bhutan tour imagesLate afternoon visit Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang); A place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha on the top of the Kuensel Phodrang. The area also gives a very good view of the Thimphu valley from the west.

Then an exploratory walk around Thimphu city centre. Also visit the Local Crafts Bazaar, to browse through example of Bhutan's fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewellery, interesting items made from local materials.

Evening drive around Thimphu valley after the dusk once the lights are on, capturing the nights view of some of Thimphu’s prominent monuments.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2320m)

Day 02: Thimphu
After breakfast, sightseeing in Thimphu valley with visit to: the National Library, a major scripture repository, with a number of important functions dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the rich cultural and religious heritage in the country; 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 like painting, calligraphy, embroidery, wood carving, sculpture etc. Later visit Textile Museum for a deep insight into Bhutan’s one of the most distinctive art form. This museum has opened its exhibition on six major themes; warp pattern weaves, weft pattern weaves, roles of textiles in religion, achievements in textile arts, textiles from indigenous fibres and the Royal collection. Also visit Folk Heritage Museum, dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibits, demonstration, education programmes and documentation of rural life.

After lunch, drive to Sangaygang view point (2685 meters) to have view of whole Thimphu valley and walk through hundreds of colourful prayer flags that dot the hill overlooking the valley.

Then pay a visit to Pangri Zampa, two 16th century buildings that now house a monastic training school for astrologers.

Afterwards visit King's Memorial Chorten, continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. 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 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.

Conclude the day with visit of Trashichhoedzong. This impressive fortress/monastery houses Secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty, the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot and central monk body.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2320m)

Day 03 : Thimphu - Trongsa (200 km, approx 6 hours drive)
After early breakfast, drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m/ 10,130 ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), 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 Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
At Dochula Pass, 108 chortens or stupas known as Druk Wangyal Chortens have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. These chortens are built in three layers, the first lowest level layer has forty five chortens, the second has thirty six and the top layer has twenty seven, built around the main chorten.

Then continue onwards, reaching Wangduephodrang. From Dochu-la pass, it is a long, winding descent into the Wangduephodrang valley, which is about 1,700m below the pass. After a short exploration of Wangduephodrang town, continue on to Trongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830 feet), the traditional boundary between east & west and then entering the beautiful Mangde valley. The Pelela pass is marked by a large white chorten and prayer flags. On your way to Trongsa from Pelela, you will also come across Rukhubji village which has the shape of a giant snake. It is believed that a saint subdued the snake and that the village takes the shape from the subdued snake.
Stop en route at Chendbji Chorten, which according to belief was built in 18th century by Lama Shida from Tibet to cover the remains of a demon spirit. It is patterned on Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes painted at four cardinal points.
Arrive at Trongsa late afternoon and check into the lodge for the night. Sacred and temporal heart of the Kingdom, the Trongsa district has a significant place in Bhutanese history connected with lineage of Bhutan Kings.
Evening at leisure, exploring Trongsa town.
Overnight at the hotel in Trongsa. (Altitude 2310m)

Day 04 : Trongsa - Bumthang (68 km, approx 2 hours & 30 minutes drive)
After breakfast, visit Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home to Bhutan’s monarch. Like almost all towns in the Kingdom, this Dzong architecture dominates the entire Trongsa horizon dwarfing the surrounding buildings. Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan.
Then visit Ta Dzong. Ta means ‘to watch’ in Dzongkha and this dzong was built in 1652 to watch over the massive Trongsa Dzong. After more than 350 years, Ta Dzong has been resurrected into a classy museum that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity.
Then drive to Bumthang, over the picturesque Yutong-la pass (3,400m/ 11,155 feet). The road winds steeply up to the pass, 28 km from Trongsa, then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley.
Take a short stop at Chumey, a wide fertile valley where wheat, barley, potatoes and buckwheat are cultivated. Chumey is particularly known for its famous wool weaving called ‘Bumthang Yathra’. Visit Yathra weaving centre, enjoying tea / coffee with weaving family.
Bhutan tour images On arrival in Bumthang, check into the hotel.

Bumthang is the general name given to combination of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m.

Afternoon visit Jambey Lhakhang. This monastery was built in the 7th century by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century. Jambay Lhakhang is also home to early winter festival that draw thousands of Bhutanese for their annual blessings.

Then visit to Kurje Lhakhang, considered one of Bhutan’s most auspicious monuments that was once the resting place of Guru Rimpoche. It consists of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 on the rack face where Guru meditated in the 8th century. Second temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of Guru’s body and is therefore considered the most holy. The third temple was built in 1990s by Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108 chorten wall.

Afterwards drive to Tamshing Lhakhang, the temple founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, the re-incarnation of Guru Padsambhava. The monastery has very ancient religious paintings like 1,000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female form of Buddhistava). The temple was restored at the end of the 19th century.

Overnight at hotel in Bumthang. (Altitude 2600m)

Day 05: Bumthang
Bumthang is often described as the spiritual heartland of the Kingdom. There are numerous monasteries and spiritual sites in this charming valley where history and mythology help to bring alive much of Bhutan’s culture and traditions.

After breakfast, excursion to stunningly beautiful Tang Valley. En route visit to Membartsho (‘burning lake’).This gorge is the holy site and pilgrimage place where Guru Rimpoche had hidden religious treasures later discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa.

The seldom visited Tang valley offers a treat in revealing some off the beaten track lhakhangs and monasteries, and interesting museum at Ugen Chholing Palace. A short hike takes you up to this well maintained Palace and its cultural treasures inside. Restored in 19th century, Ugyen Chholing Palace is now houses the Family Museum, a place that will transport its visitors to another world and time. You can view the permanent exhibits recreated to capture the ambience of the lifestyle of the Trongsa Penlop (Governor) Tshokey Dorji and his household. It also serves as retreat for those engaged in religious history.

Also visit Tang Rimochen Lhakhang, a sacred place of Guru Rimpoche. A rock in front of temple bears a body print of the Guru and two celestial beings. The site is named after the tiger stripe marking on the cliff. Footprint of the Guru and his consorts Mandarava and Yeshey Chhogyal are found below the lhakhang.

Overnight at hotel in Bumthang. (Altitude 2600m)

Day 06: Bumthang - Gangtey (Phobjikha) (153km, approx 6 hours drive)
Morning, after breakfast, visit to Jakar Dzong (‘Castle of the white bird’). Founded by great grand-father of the first Shabdrung, the Dzong was initially built as a monastery in 1549. It was upgraded after the Shabdrung had firmly established his power in 1646. The Dzong is now used as administrative centre for Bumthang valley, and houses the regional monk body.

Then drive to Gangtey through dramatic landscapes of terraced farmland, deep river valleys and precariously perched farmhouses. The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, and is an extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed. A few kilometers beyond the Gangtey Monastery, on the valley floor lies the village of Phobjikha.

Afternoon visit, Gangtey Gompa (monastery), perched on a ridge overlooking the valley. It is directed by Gangtey Tulku, the ninth reincarnation (a “Tulku” is a reincarnate) of Pema Lingpa—a famous Buddhist saint and teacher.
Then explore Phobjikha Valley, one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the Himalayas and the winter place for the endangered Black Necked Cranes. Travelling November through February shall give you the rare opportunity to see the black necked cranes.
Overnight at hotel in Bumthang. (Altitude 2600m)

Day 07: Gangtey (Phobjikha)- Punakha & Wangduephodrang (85 km, approx 3 hours drive)
Early morning visitMonastic Schoolto witness elaborately arranged prayer ceremony with full religious musical set.
Then drive to Punakha and as you enter the town, you will have a fascinating view of the Punatshangchhu River and the Wangdue valley. Until 1955, Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan and even today, it continues to be the winter residence of the central monk body. Blessed with a temperate climate and fed by Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, Punakha is fertile valley with abundant crops from terraced rice fields, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Adjoining to Punakha, Wangduephodrang known as Sha or ‘east’ to the Bhutanese is an important gateway to the far-flung corners of Bhutan. Wangduephodrang played a crucial role in unifying the western, central and southern districts.

Bhutan tour images Afternoon visit Punakha Dzong or (‘Palace of Great Happiness’), built at the junction of the Phochu and Mochu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This majestic dzong served as both the religious and the administrative centre of Bhutan in the past. It measures some 600 by 240 feet and has a six-story, gold-domed tower. Inside are courtyards and religious statuary that hint at the depth of history and spiritual tradition embodied here. Your guide will illuminate your understanding of this intricate culture that is exotic to us, though long established here.

Then a short excursion to Chimi Lhakhang.
The Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will give you rare glimpses into the daily life and lifestyle of the villagers.

In the evening, leisure time for exploring Punakha & Wangduephodrang towns.

Overnight at the hotel in Punakha / Wangduephodrang. (Altitude 1300m)

Day 08: Punakha & Wangduephodrang
After breakfast, visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang nunnery. Perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang, gleams this impressive structures of Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang (temple). The temple houses a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong). Other statues include those of Guru Padmasambawa, Gautama Buddha, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Tsela Namsum, the 21 Taras and Tsepamay (Buddha of longevity). The Avalokiteshvara statue, one of the biggest in the country, was the handiwork of entirely 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 thangkha painting.

Then a beautiful hike through fields of chillies, cabbages and rice along the banks of the Mo Chhu takes you to the regal Khamsum Yuelley Namgel Chorten, a stunning monument recently built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan and consecrated in 1999, with purpose to remove negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the changing world. The Chorten dominates the upper Punakha valley with commanding views across the Mo Chhu river and up towards the mountainous peaks of Gasa and beyond. 
Post lunch, excursion to Talo village, which is scattered along the hill slopes and known for its cleanliness and hygiene among Punakha villages. Talo is the seat of the mind incarnations of the Zhabdrung. Talo Sangnacholing Dzong is built on a plateau and has majestic view of surrounding villages. The beautiful farm houses of the village have its own flower gardens and on the hill slope corns and sweet peas are grown in abundance. Spend time at Nobgang and Talo villages visiting farm houses and meeting families, experiencing Bhutanese rural life.
Also visit Nalanda Buddhist Institute. Locals call this place ‘Dalayna’ and the monks call it Nalanda Buddhist College. The Nalanda Buddhist Institute is a monastic school near the village of Talo, above the Punatsangchu river. Here you’ve opportunity to interact with monks, for knowledge on Buddhism, process of meditation.

Overnight at the hotel in Punakha. (Altitude 1,300m)

Day 09: Punakha & Wangduephodrang - Paro (125km, approx 4.1/2 hours drive)
Morning after breakfast, 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.

Sight on the way include Hongtsho Goemba known for its ancient wall paintings and Simtokha Dzong, one of Bhutan’s first fortress-monasteries built in 17th century.

Later in the day after checking into hotel, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as watch tower, which now houses National Museum. Here, an intriguing collection of artifacts provide a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom.

Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning (‘fortress of the heap of jewels’), which has a long and fascinating history. Along 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.

From the Dzong, the tour crosses Nyamai Zampa, a traditional bridge and then you’re driven to Paro town take a stroll around Paro its street, exploring local shops and market area.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2280m)

Day 10: Paro
After breakfast excursion to Taktshang Monastery (approx. 5 hours round trip walk). Taktsang (also known as Tiger’s Nest) is one of the most revered of Bhutan’s 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 ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime.

Later in the afternoon, drive to the base of Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, "mountain of goddess'' can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong. Nearby visit a traditional farm house for an evening tea with the family. It offers opportunity to understand local culture, traditions and way of life.
Bhutan tour imagesvisit to Dungtse Lhakhang, a small three storied chorten-shaped temple, built in 1421 by Thangtong Gyelpo. The temple restored in 1841 by the 25th Head Abbot of Bhutan, Sherab Gyeltshen. This temple is unique in Bhutan and shows the progressive stages of tantric Buddhism.
Before returning to the hotel, 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.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2280m)

Day 11: Depart Paro
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Our representative will help you with exit formalities and then bid you farewell.





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