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Textile tour - Introduction of traditional art of Bhutan

Special Interest tours in Bhutan

Bhutan Cultural 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 bhutanese textilethe simple backstrap 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 Bhutan 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
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 to you 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 drive to the hotel.

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 2200m).

Day 02 : Paro
Morning excursion to Taktsang Lhakhang also known as Tiger’s Nest (approx 5 hours walk). It 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 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.

Afternoon drive to 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.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro (Altitude 2200m).

Day 03 : Paro - Thimphu (55km, approx 1.1/2 hour drive)
After breakfast visit Ta Dzong, built to defend Rinpung Dozng during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. Since 1967 Ta Dzong is serving as the National Museum of the country and holds fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps.

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 held once a year in spring.

weaver in BhutanAfterwards 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 and Bhutanese adorn the confluence. Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will see on your left Tschogang Lhakhang, “the temple of the excellent horse”. It is a private temple, built in 15th century, as the result of visitation from Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig, the compassionate Buddha.

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 90,000 it is perhaps still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light.

Evening an exploratory walk. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2400m)

Day 04 : Thimphu
Morning visit Institute of Zoring Chusum or Arts & Crafts School, where 13 traditional crafts are taught including weaving, embroidery, painting, carpentry, carving, sculpture, casting, blacksmithing, bamboo work, gold & silversmithing, masonry, leather work and paper work. This institute not only helps preserving beautiful heritage but also equips future generations with skill and knowledge to keep heritage alive. Also visit Handmade paper factory, National Library which holds vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts ; Folk Heritage Museum and the Institute of Traditional Medicine where ancient healing arts such as acupuncture and herbalism are practiced.

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.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2400m)

Day 05 : Thimphu – Punakha (72km, approx 3 hours drive)
Early morning  drive to Punakha across Dochula pass (3080m) with breakfast at Dochula cafeteria, enjoying fascinating mountain views, chorten, mani wall and prayer flags. 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.
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)
Morning drive to Wangduephodrang Dzong, sitting on top of the hill at the confluence of Punakha Chhu and Tang Chhu rivers, it is town’s most visible features. Visit Wangduephodrang bazaar and meet a traditional weaver, see the spinning of nettle fibre and weaving of cloth on a backstrap loom.

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 valley’s are tightly enclosed. Afternoon visit Gangtey Monastery and enjoy the nature trail walk from the Monastery to cranes roosting place. In the evening make a visit to small carpets weaving centre.

Overnight at Gangtey (Altitude 3000m).

Day 07 : Gangtey – Trongsa ( 84 km, approx 3.1/2 hours drive)
In the morning explore Phobjikha valley, hopefully sighting some black necked cranes, if you are there at the right time of year. Later, drive to Trongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830 ft). This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between western and central Bhutan. Further down the road, stop to visit Chendbji Chorten erected in the 18th century by a Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued  at this spot. It is built in the Nepalese style, with painted eyes at the four cardinal points.

The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and its impressive dzong, stretched along a ridge above a ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the winding road suddenly leads you into the town.

Overnight at Trongsa (Altitude 2300m).

Day 08 : Trongsa – Bumthang (68km, approx 3 hours drive)
Morning visit to Trongsa Dzong. Built in 1647 by the Shabdrung, it is one the most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. Then visit Ta Dzong on the hillside above the town, built as a watchtower to guard Trongsa. It has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity.

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
Bumthang is the general name given to group of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m / 8,520 to 13,125 ft.

Yatha traditional bhutanese textileIn 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 we will visit Jakar Dzong, “the dzong of the white bird”.

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 (187km, approx 7hours drive)
The journey continues eastwards, winding through more rugged terrain. The drive to Mongar takes about 7 hours with spectacular views en route. We will drive up into the hills above the valley and visit en route Membartsho a wide spot on the Tang Chhu (chhu - water / river) and considered to be one of the greatest pilgrimage sites of Bhutan. Proceed further passing Ura village, before climbing sharpely to the highest point on Bhutan’s motorable road network, Thrumshing-la pass (4,000m/13,125 ft).

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 centres in the region, there is so much of activity.

Overnight at the hotel in Mongar (Altitude 1600m).

Day 10 : Mongar – Lhuntse (74 km, approx 3 hours drive)
Morning drive to Lhuntse which  is one of the most rural and isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges, beautiful conifer and pine forests, and remote villages with rice, millet and corn fields. Lhuntse Dzong built in 1654 on a rocky outcrop is one of the most picturesque in Bhutan.

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.
                                                      
Overnight tented accommodation.

Day 11 : Lhuntse – Khoma – Lhuntse
Enjoy a walk from Khurbazam to Khoma Village (around 2 hours each way over clear flat paths), where some of the most famous and expensive textiles are woven in silk and cotton. Khoma village is famous for distinctive ‘Kishuthara’ weaving and it is the main income source of the villagers. Kishuthara is a silk on silk weaving technique with intricate hand laced patterns. It is the most expensive textile in Bhutan and highly sought after by collectors. It is a full day excursion where you can see the technique of weaving from local villagers and as well as a good opportunity to interview and try your hand at weaving. The other famous weaving area is Gonpa Karpo (four hours walk from the bridge), a remote village clustered around a sacred monastery. The weavers of this village feel that their weaving is superior because of the special blessing from the deities of this sacred site.

Overnight tented accommodation.

Day 12 : Lhuntse – Ranjung (215km, approx 7 / 8 hours drive)
After breakfast drive to Rangjung. Check into Rangjung guesthouse. After lunch visit Radhi village. Radhi is famous for raw silk, which is known as “bura”. You can also witness women weaving raw silk. Overnight at the guesthouse in Rangjung.

Day 13 : Ranjung – Khaling – Trashigang (126km, approx 5 hours drive)
After breakfast drive to Khaling. Visit National Institute for the Disabled (NID), which caters educational needs to the disabled people in the country. Afternoon visit the Weaving Center which is operated by the National Women’s Association of Bhutan.  Here you can see the girls weaving different types of textiles out of back strap loom. If possible, we can also visit to the house a private weaver to see the techniques of Bhutanese dye.

Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang.        

Day 14 : Trashigang (Excursion to Tashiyangtse)
Today you will visit Tashiyangtse, which is a small, pretty, quiet town. The people are known for making wooden bowls and containers, which are said to be the best in Bhutan. Visit the Arts School and the Chorten Kora. Along the way to Trashiyangtse you will stop at the Gom Kora temple, behind which is a large black rock. It is said that Guru Rimpoche meditated in a cave in the rock and that you can see the impression of his thumb, his hat, and his body on the rock. You will also visit the abandoned iron chain-link bridge behind the village of Duksum. It is said that this is the last remaining bridge of those built by a Tibetan bridge builder by the name of Thangthong Gyalpo in the 15th century.
Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang.

Day 15 : Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar (175km, approx 6 hours drive)
Morning visit Trashigang Dzong, standing at the extreme end of a rocky outcrop far above the river gorge. It serves as the administrative  seat for the district and part of the dzong is occupied by the local Drukpa monastic community.

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 only 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.        

Day 16 : Depart Samdrup Jongkhar
After breakfast picked up by Indian representative from Samdrup Jongkhar border and drive to Guwahati (100km, approx 2.1/2 hours drive).

 

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