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Explore the history and origin of Bhutan with this Bhutan Historical Tour.

Historical Tour of Bhutan - 12 days

'Discover the origin and history of Bhutan'


Day 01: Arrive Paro
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in entire Himalayas. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkatta, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent 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 met by our representative, and afterwards transfer to the hotel.

Situated in north-western part of the country, the enchanting valley of Paro is rich in culture, scenic beauty and abounds in myths & legends. The valley is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, the country’s international airport and the national museum.

Afternoon visit to 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 another cosmic Mandala. Part of Bernardo Bertolucci's movie, ‘Little Buddha,’ was filmed inside this dzong.

Bhutan tourThen drive to 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.

Evening an exploratory walk around main street and market area.

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

Day 02: Paro
After breakfast, embark on a walking excursion to Taktshang Monastery (approx. 5 hours, round trip walk).  Taktshang is one of the most famous 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 also called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognised 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, visit Ta Dzong, originally built as a watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armor, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Then visit to Dungtse Lhakhang, built in 1433 by iron bridge builder, Thangtong Gyalpo. This chorten like temple has three floors representing hell, earth, heaven and paintings inside the temple are said to be some of the best in Bhutan.
Then drive end of the Valley to the base of Drukgyel Dzong, a 17th century fortress burned down in the early 1950s. Here we will also see the beautiful typical farm house. Bhutanese farmhouses are very colorful, decorative and traditionally built without the use of single nail. The majority of the population of Bhutan continues to live as it has for centuries – in small isolated farms and hamlets, surrounded by terraced fields of rice, maize and buckwheat.

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

Day 03: Paro - Haa valley (70km, approx 3 hours drive)
After breakfast, drive to Haa valley, en route taking a short stop at Chelela pass. Located at an elevation of 3,988 meters, Chelela is considered to be one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan. About an hour's drive along a thickly-forested road, this Pass is a botanical paradise, providing stunning views of the sacred mountain Jumolhari and Jichu Drake. It is also marked by hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind.
From Chelela, embark on a fascianting walking excursion to Kila Gompa, a nunnery perched on a steep cliff face at 3500m. This staggering site manages to house 7 small temples and about 70 nuns. From Chelela pass, the Gompa is about an hour walk amidst magnificent wooded area.
After picnic lunch, drive onwards to Haa valley. The Haa valley was opened to the first time to foreign tourists in 2002. Also known as the ‘Hidden-Land Rice Valley’, Haa is culturally rich valley lying on the western most edge of Bhutan Its northern boundaries with the Chumbi Valley of Tibet, dividing it from the Indian province of Sikkim. Haa is one of the 20 districts of Bhutan and one of the least populated. Its most of its landmass is covered by dense forest and the remainder under fields of wheat and barley, with a little rice towards its lower reaches and the accessible side valleys. Meadows support the raising of yak, cattle, chicken, pigs and horses.
Evening explore exotic Haa valley and the town.
Overnight at the hotel in Haa valley. (Altitude 2,670m)

Day 04: Haa valley-Thimphu (115km, approx 4 hours drive)
After breakfast visit, Lhakhang Karpo (White temple), established in the 7th century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gempo. According to legends, a black and white pigeon were released to select the site for temples and the white pigeon landed on the foothills of the three towering mountains worshipped as ‘Rigsum gonpo’ and is where this temple stands today.
Then visit, Lhakhang Nagpo (Black temple), also built in 7th century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gempo and situated towards the north of Lhakhang Karpo. Lhakhang Nagpo serves as the seat for the guardian deity ‘Da Do Chen’. The principal relic of the monastery is the Choe-Lung-Truel Sum. Both these temples stand as the guardian sentinels keeping watch at the south entrance of Haa valley.
There after hike the lower road along first the Haa Chhu and after the confluence with the Wang Chhu, along the latter towards the capital at Thimphu. En route stop at Dogar Dobji Dzong, a 16th century structure, built by the brother of the Divine Madman, Drukpa Kinley. This dzong became Bhutan’s first jail in 1976 but has since returned to its monastic origins.
On arrival in Thimphu, check into the hotel. Since 1955, Thimphu has been the capital of Bhutan. Besides its position as the seat of government, religion and commerce, its many glittering monuments, temples, monasteries and dzong as well as premier museums, the National Library, Arts & Crafts School and various other key attractions make an important centre for tourists.
Afternoon visit of Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang). You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.

Then 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 05: Thimphu
After breakfast at hotel, drive to BBS tower (Sangaygang view point). From here commences approx two hours walk to Sangayang - Wangditse loop. Also visit Wangditse Goemba, founded in 1750 and later totally rebuilt in 2016. The inner chapel houses a two-storey statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. There are excellent views north towards the Samteling Palace, home to the fourth King. The walking tail ends back at Sangaygang view point.
Then drive to Pangri Zampa, 16th century one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan located just north of Thimphu. Here is a monastic school where Buddhist students monks learn Lamaism and astrology based on Buddhist philosophy. An interaction with student monks here at the monastery can be a gratifying experience.

Afternoon, further sightseeing in Thimphu valley including visit to the following : the National Library, housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; 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, Textile Museum; established in 2001 and showcases range of beautiful Bhutanese textiles, Simply Bhutan; a living museum and studio encapsulating rich cultural heritage of Bhutanese people.
Later, Bhutan tour visit to Changangkha Lhakhang. It is a fortress like temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above Thimphu, south of Motithang. The temple was established in 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who came from Tibet. The central statue here is Chenrezig in a manifestation with 11 heads. From temple courtyard, there is fascinating view of Thimphu valley.
Evening explore 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.

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

Day 06: Thimphu - Punakha & Wangdue (75km, approx 2.1/2 hours drive)
After 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.

After exploration of Dochula pass and nearby Royal Botanical Park, drive onwards to Punakha.

Punakha at an altitude of 1300m/4265ft, is blessed with a temperate climate and owing to its natural drainage from Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female) rivers, the Punakha valley produces abundant crops and fruits. Until 1955 Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan, and still today serves as the winter residence of the monk body.
Later in the afternoon visit the Punakha Dzong. Built strategically at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region, Punakha Dzong has played an important role in Bhutan’s history. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the Fourth King.
Afterwards embark on a short interesting walking excursion to Chimi Lhakhang. Situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, this temple is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humour, songs and outrageous behaviour to dramatise his teachings and due to this also known as ‘Divine Madman’. This temple is 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.
Evening take a stroll around newly developed Wangdue town and its local market.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha / Wangdue. (Altitude 1300m)

Day 07: Punakha & Wangdue - Trongsa (135km, approx 5 hours drive)
After breakfast, 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 Trongsa 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.
Post lunch 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 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.
Later enjoy an evening stroll around Trongsa main street.
Overnight at the hotel in Trongsa. (Altitude 2310m)

Day 08: Trongsa - Bumthang (68 km, approx 3 hours drive)
After breakfast, 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 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 09: 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 10: 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)

Bhutan tour

Day 11: Gangtey (Phobjikha) - Paro (190 km, approx 6 hours drive)
Early morning visitMonastic Schoolto witness elaborately arranged prayer ceremony with full religious musical set.
Then drive to Paro with lunch en route at Wangdue town. Prior to lunch, explore Rinchengang Village, a small clustered village opposite to where Wangduephodrang Dzong was built before. It is about 20 minutes hike uphill from the nearest road.
Later drive further descending back down from Dochu La, following 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 place of profound tantric teaching. This oldest dzong of the country built in 1627, now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language.

Evening at leisure in Paro city centre.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2280m)

Day 12: 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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