With so much to see and experience in Bhutan, how does one choose how long to stay and what to see? We have designed this trip to give you an extra-ordinary experience of life in Bhutan, from the cities and towns, to rural life, nature and the stunning landscape and, of course, the monastic life of this Buddhist Kingdom where Gross National Happiness is a higher priority than Gross National Product.
|Day 1||Arrive at Paro (2280 meters): You will be received by the Representative at the airport and drive to the Hotel. After lunch, visit the Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which has been, since 1967, the National Museum of Bhutan then visit Rimpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Dzong presently houses administrative offices. O/N in Paro|
|Day 2||Paro Sightseeing - Thimphu: (58 km. Altitude 2320 m) After early breakfast, Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: Taktsang is the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries. A short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten, the trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay; this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favourite consort. After Lunch, visit the Drukgyel Dzong, now in ruins was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in1644; the dzong name’s means indeed “ victorious Druk “. The Dzong was used as an administrative center until 1951 when a fire caused by butter lamp destroyed it. Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest and most sacred monasteries dating from the introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century. This temple is said to have been built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. It holds down the left foot of an ogress whose body is so large that it covers Bhutan and most of eastern Tibet. In the evening drive to Thimphu. On the way, view Tamchog Monastery built by Thangthong Gyalpo (Popularly known as Lama Chazampa, which literally means, the Iron Bridge builder) in the 15th century. - Thang Thong Gyalpo (1385 – 1464) was a wonder working saint from Tibet who came to Bhutan in 1433 looking for Iron Ore. He built 108 bridges across Tibet and Bhutan, out of which 8 were built in Bhutan. His only surviving bridge is in Duksum (Tashi Yangtse in Eastern Bhutan). O/N in Thimpu|
|Day 3||Thimphu – Punakha – Thimphu (1310 meters): (76 Km one way, 3 hours drive). After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula pass (3140m). If the weather is clear, we stop for a while at Dochula pass to view Higher Himalayas. Drive further down and visit the Royal Botanical Garden at Lamperi. - The Royal Botanical park, also known as the Rhododendron Garden at Lamperi is about half and hour drive towards Punakha/Wangdue. With your spirits still high from the visit to the awesome sites of Dochula Pass with its 108 stupas and the beautifully arranged Himalayan mountain ranges, you will descend down to Rhododendron Botanical Garden, a nature reserve rich in flora and fauna and beautiful in itself. The recorded species are the monal pheasants, blood pheasants, musk deer, tiger, leopard, red panda and the leopard cat. A Rhododendron garden with 46 species of the plant is the theme of the botanical garden. Located 30 KMS from capital, the park has numerous view points, a lake and a canteen. At this park, you can indulge yourself amongst these rich biodiversity. Drive further to Punakha. Enroute stop a while to view Chimi Lhakhang also called the “Temple of Fertility” built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley who is popularly known as “The Devine Mad Man” in 15th century. - Lama Drukpa Kuenley (1455 – 1529) was one of the Bhutan’s Favourite Saints who was born in Tibet, trained at Ralung Monastery and was a contemporary and a disciple of Pema Lingpa. He Travelled throughout Bhutan and Tibet as a “Neljorpa” (Yogi) using songs, humour and outrageous behavior to dramatise his teachings of Salvation through sex. After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted that, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping; the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri (Paradise) and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the First National Assembly here in 1952. In the evening, drive to Thimphu. O/N in Thimpu|
|Day 4||Thimphu sightseeing – Paro (58 km): After breakfast, visit the National Memorial Chorten, a monument dedicated to the Third King of Bhutan. His Late Majesty King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The inside paintings and statues provide a very rare insight into Buddhist Philosophy. Then visit the National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts followed by visit to Painting School, famous for carving and free hand art and Folk Heritage Museum. Then visit Sangay gang view point, Takin Preserve centre, Changangkha Monastery and Nunnery. After lunch, visit to the tallest statue of Buddha (In the world), weekend market and witness archery match. Visit Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion), built in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and reconstructed in 1961 by the Late King, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is regarded as Father of Modern Bhutan. In the evening drive to Paro. O/N in Paro|
|Day 5||Departure: Early morning, drive to the Airport and Farewell.|