Bhutan Cultural Tours and Textile Tours
In Bhutan, textiles are considered to be one of the highest form of art and spiritual expression. The knowledge and skills required to create these textiles have been passed down through generations. By utilizing primarily the simple back strap loom, the Thunder Dragon People have crafted one of the most advanced and sophisticated weaving cultures in the history of civilization. This tour provides opportunity to explore and experience various kind of textile weaving and dying. You will also have chance to see magnificent Dzongs, temples, monasteries and stupas, real Buddhist culture and philosophy, villages to experience rural life, and know more about Bhutan’s friendly and ever smiling people, their traditions and way of life and explore the scenic beauty of the country by walking between the rolling hills and virgin forest filled with wild flowers and fragrance. You can also plan your Bhutan journey to coincide with one of the vibrant religious festivals of eastern Bhutan, the region which is also famous for its textile weaving.
Day 01 : Arrive Paro
Later visit Kyichu temple to receive blessing for the tour ahead. Built in 7th century, it is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan (the other being Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang).
The beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. Evening take an exploratory walk around town’s main street.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro (Altitude 2280m).
Day 02 : Paro
Afternoon drive to ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, with a picturesque village nestling below its ramparts. On a clear day, there is splendid view of Mt. Chomolhari (7314m) from the approach road to the Dzong. Visit nearby farm house which gives an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of farming family.
Also visit a Carpet Weaving factory. Interact with the weavers, appreciate their creativity and skill.
Day 03 : Paro - Thimphu (55km, approx 1.1/2 hour drive)
Then walk down the trail to Rinpung Dzong or Paro Dzong built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal , the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. It is also the venue of Paro Tshechu (festival) held once a year in spring.
Afterwards drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan with en-route at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. Three different style of stupas ; Tibetan, Nepalese
En route stop for visit of Simtokha Dzong (oldest dzong) built in 1627. The Institute for Language and Cultural Studies is located here. The most noteworthy artistic feature of this dzong is the series of over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard.
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.
Day 04 : Thimphu
Afternoon a special visit to Textile Museum. The textile museum has opened its exhibition on six major themes - warp pattern weaves, weft pattern weaves, role of textiles in religion, achievements in textile arts, textiles from indigenous fibers and the royal collection. The crowns of Bhutan’s Kings, namzas (dresses), the first version of Royal Crown and other accessories used by members of Royal family can be found in the museum. A brief and simple talk on Bhutanese textiles weaving.
Later drive to National Memorial Chorten built in honor of His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Known as ‘Fortress of Glorious Relgion’, visit of Trashichhoedzong is other interesting visit of the day. Trashichhoedzong is the center of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2320m)
Day 05 : Thimphu – Punakha (75 km, approx 3 hours drive)
Afterwards enjoy an hour’s downhill walk through magnolia, hydrangea, vibernam and evergreen oaks, and then through blankets of wild orchids before once again reaching the road, to board the transport and drive into the Punakha Valley.
En route take an easy walk though paddy fields to visit Chimi Lhakhang the fertility temple of Lama Drukpa Kuenley popularly known as Divine Madman. Walk into a traditional village house to see the women weaving.
In the afternoon, drive a sort distance to Punakha Dzong, the winter seat of Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the ancient capital of Bhutan (until 1955). Located between the rivers of Pho (male) Chhu (river) and Mo (female) Chhu, Dzong is surrounded by myths and legends.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha (Altitude 1300m).
Day 06 : Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Gangtey (Phobjikha) (85km, approx 3 hours drive)
Then drive to glacial valley of Gangtey and the home of the rare endangered Black-Necked crane. The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees is augmented by an impression of vast space, and extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed. Afternoon visit Gangtey Goempa (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 a walking excursion to Gangtey Nature Trail. This pleasurable walk will give you a nice feel of Phobjikha valley. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, you head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from here through beautiful forests and into the open valley. The trail ends at local community school after passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang. (approx. 5.5km, 2 hours walk).
In the evening make a visit to small carpet weaving centre.
Overnight at Gangtey (Altitude 3000m).
Day 07 : Gangtey – Trongsa ( 84 km, approx 4 hours drive)
Overnight at Trongsa (Altitude 2310m).
Day 08 : Trongsa – Bumthang (68km, approx 3 hours drive)
After lunch, proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy heartland of Buddhism. The 68 km, journey takes about 3 hours. The road winds steeply up to Yutong-la pass (3,400m/11,155 ft), then runs down through dense coniferous forest to enter a wide, open, cultivated valley, known as Chumey valley.
In Chumey valley, visit Yathra Weaving Centre. 'Yathra' is a hand-woven fabric made from wool of yak and sheep. It is made in vibrant colours giving it a special and attractive look. Bumthang being a cold place is famous for its Yathra weaving and produces woolen clothes, bags, scarfs etc. in unique pattern.
Proceed onward, a most pleasant run in the soft, late afternoon light.
Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang (Altitude 2600m).
Day 09 : Bumthang
In the morning, we will visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan’s ‘patron saint’, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. Then a walk of half an hour north of Kurje Lhahang leads to Tangbi monastery, founded in 1470 by Shamar Rinpoche of the Kagyupa religious school. The temple has two sanctuaries and a temple of terrifying deities. Later from Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, is one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro).
Afternoon visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later on visit to Jakar Dzong. 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.
In the evening visit local handloom weaving house and meet a Weavers family .
Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang (Altitude 2600m).
Day 09 : Bumthang – Mongar (196 km, approx 7 hours drive)
From here, the road gradually descends to the alpine valley of Sengor, with wonderful views of cascading waterfalls and the hills of eastern Bhutan along the way. Vegetation changes from alpine to subtropical with the loss of height, and bamboos and luxuriant ferns overhanging the road as we drop down to the valley floor. The descent stops at 700m/2,300ft, where we cross the Kurichu river. We ascend again through pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets to reach Mongar town, high on a gentle slope above the valley.
Picnic lunch at a scenic spot en route to Mongar.
Afternoon, we visit Mongar Dzong, built in the 1930s and one of Bhutan’s newest dzongs, but constructed in the same way as all previous dzongs, without either plans or the use of nails.
Evening exploratory walk around Mongar. On the main street of Mongar town there are many interesting local shops and a vegetable market. Being one of the sizeable trading centre in the region, there is so much of activity.
Overnight at the hotel in Mongar (Altitude 1620m).
Day 10 : Mongar – Lhuntse (74 km, approx 3 hours drive)
Kurtoe region of Lhuntse is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s Royal family. You can wander around Lhuntse town in the evening and sit down to a relaxing dinner.
Day 11 : Lhuntse – Khoma – Lhuntse
Overnight tented accommodation (Altitude 1700m).
Day 12 : Lhuntse – Ranjung (215 km, approx 7 / 8 hours drive)
Overnight at the guesthouse in Ranjung (Altitude 1150m).
Day 13 : Ranjung – Khaling – Trashigang (126km, approx 5 hours drive)
Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang (Altitude 1150m).
Day 14 : Trashigang (Excursion to Tashiyangtse)
Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang (Altitude 1150m).
Day 15 : Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar (180 km, approx 6 hours drive)
Later proceed to Bhutanese border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. Trashigang — Samdrup Jongkhar road completed in 1965 and the journey takes about 6 hours. Along the way, pass by Sherubtse College, the first college in country founded in 1978. Also visit the Zangtho Pelri temple built in 1978 by the late Minister of Home Affairs. Further ahead, Deothang town en route is the centre of Technical training college and road maintenance head quarters for the east. From here the road descends fairly rapidly to the plain through a dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak, bamboo and ferns.
Overnight at the lodge in Samdrup Jongkhar (Altitude 250m).
Day 16 : Depart Samdrup Jongkhar