TOUR in BRIEF
Duration: 9 Nights / 10 Days
Season: Autumn (7th – 9th October 2019)
Altitude: Western Bhutan (1300 m – 2200 m)
Arrive – Paro International Airport and then transfer to Thimphu. (1.5 hrs drive)
Our pilgrimage begins with a journey towards east into the booming metropolis of Thimphu. Situated at an altitude of 2,300 m it is the biggest and most diverse urban setting in the country although small by international standards.
As the capital of Bhutan, it offers a unique glimpse and hybrid of Bhutanese culture, lifestyle and traditions in depth. We invite you to cherish the heralded and unheralded treasures of the Kingdom’s capital with us. Below we have listed some of the experiences that you will enjoy the most!
We begin the day early to ensure adequate time to experience the entire range of activities. Held in the festival courtyard of Tashichhodzong, one can witness a mosaic of sacred dances that were composed centuries ago. You also have the choice of attending the event in traditional Bhutanese attire. In between we make a brief visit inside the fortress of Tashichhodzong. Built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel it houses the sacred throne room, the central monk body and other administrative headquarters.
On the second day of the Thimphu Tshechu, you can witness the Shana Chham (the black hat dance), Shanga Ngachham (dance of the 21 black hats with drums), Pholey Moley (dance of the nobleman and ladies) and Shawa Shachi (dance of the stag and hounds).
Thimphu provides a rare glimpse of a large mix of culture, customs and traditions around which Bhutan has built its identity as a nation. So after a brief sojourn at the festival we drive up to Kuensel Phodrang to pay respect to the Biggest sitting Buddha statue in the world. Next, we visit the Memorial Stupa built in the memory of the Third King, the 12th century Changangkha monastery which blesses every Bhutanese child born in Thimphu valley
Thimphu to Punakha
We start the morning with a visit to the Centenary Farmers’ Market located at the bank of Thimphu river. Here you get a glimpse of the organic and diverse attributes of Bhutan’s agriculture. After lunch we make the drive to Punakha where the verdant sub-tropical valleys and enveloping hills stand in stark contrast to the coniferous vegetation of Thimphu and Paro. The first stop along the way is the mystical and revealing Dochula Pass (3050 meters) where 108 stupas to commemorate Bhutan’s victory sit on a small mound. If weather permits, one can get a picturesque and breathtaking view of the extended eastern Himalayas towering above the landscape and piercing through cloud blankets
Today, we visit the famed Temple of Fertility in Lobesa, renowned for its ability to bless infertile couples with children. Read the miraculous testimonials of couples from all over the world who have been beneficiaries of the Divine Mad monk’s blessings. We then drive parallel to the calm turquoise blue river of Wangdue and make the ascent to the 17th century fortress called Wangduephodrang Dzong that is being rebuilt after it was tragically razed to the ground a few years ago. We then return to the heart of Punakha to embrace the imposing view of the mighty Punakha Dzong, a huge 17th century fortress that once served as the ancient capital where historic events culminated. The monument is masterfully built at the confluence of two rivers known as the ‘female’ and ‘male’ rivers. In the evening we take a relaxing stroll through Punakha town as you feel the gentle subtropical breeze soothe your skin.
Punakha to Bumthang Valley
We make our journey to Bumthang heading into the hinterlands and cradle of Bhutan’s spiritual and historical events. A relaxing drive through sub-tropical forests followed by an ascent to the temperate and alpine belts, takes us the highest point at Pelela pass (3,140m) where one can see the jagged silhouette of the Black Mountain range. We then descend to the Chendebji Stupa for lunch before making the drive to Trongsa where we come face to face with the vista of the mightiest Trongsa Fort that spans the entire length of the town. Built without a single nail, this fort contains some 30 temples and was the stronghold of medieval warlords. We then make the final drive into Bumthang through the highland plains of Chumey Valley.
Bumthang valley is a fusion of the ancient and modern; and it sits at the confluence of the diverse cultural and spiritual landscape of Bhutan. Today we spend our morning hiking in the valley while visiting a few important monasteries of Chamkhar valley. We begin our day with a visit to the “Castle of White Bird” or Jakar Dzong, and from there to Jampa Lhakhang (Temple of Future Buddha, built in 7th century AD), Kurjey Temple which contains body imprints on a rock of “Second Buddha” Padmasambhava. After lunch, we drive to the secluded and harrowing Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) which is about 30 minutes drive from the hotel
Bumthang to Thimphu
On the way back we take you to the Yathra weaving factory in Chumey. Yathra is a hand-woven fabric made from wool of yak and sheep using centuries old techniques and tools. It employs a diverse range of vibrant but subdued colours giving it a special and attractive look. We then make an uninterrupted drive to Thimphu to ensure adequate time for you to unwind in the evening.
Thimphu to Paro Valley
After an early breakfast, we drive back to Paro, making a detour at the Wangsisina Heritage Home, an impressive traditional mansion that belonged to the 19th Druk Desi (Deb Raja) Druk Tenzin and was built before the 17th century. In Paro, we hike up to sacred Taktshang Monastery that is precariously built on a precipitous wall of granite cliff some 1,000 meters above the valley floor. The walk is not very demanding and takes you through the coniferous woods while offering breathtaking views of the idyllic Paro valley below
Paro Valley – International Departure