In this tour we will able to cover two, out of four circuits, the western circuit and central circuit. The western circuit comprises of the six western Districts in the country that includes Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Wangdue Phodrang, Punakha and Gasa and the centre circuit comprises of the two central Districts of Trongsa and Bumthang.
DAY 01; Arrive in Paro
Paro is a broad and beautiful valley with a very good network of road and is home to the ParoInternationalAirport, the only port of arrival as well as departure by air for international tourists.
The Paro valley is very fertile with paddy, wheat, millet, potatoes, apple and seasonal vegetables grown as the main crops.
All the houses in Paro are archetypal with brightly painted traditional motifs on the walls and now, corrugated sheet metal roofs. The ground floor normally serves as a cattle barn and the upper floor as the living quarters. Large red phalluses painted on walls and doors are a common sight in Paro. Some decorate their houses with carved wooden phalluses crossed by a sword, and hanging them on the four corners of the house. It is in the Bhutanese belief that this mold will ward off evil from coming into the house.
During the flight you will experience breathtaking views of Mts Everest, Mts Jomolhari, and Mts Jichu Drake. On arrival at Paro international airport, I will be waiting outside and escort you to Hotel in Paro for check-in and lunch.
After checked-in at hotel, we will start sightseeing, visiting following places,
- Paro Dzong; it was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the dzong stands on a hill above ParoTownship. It is linked by the traditional cantilever bridge (called the Nemi Zam) over the Pa chu where one may pose a photograph. We will experience a walk up a paved stone path running alongside the imposing outer walls to get into the Dzong.
- Paro Museum; On a ridge immediately above Rinpung Dzong is the Ta Dzong(watch tower) , built in 1641 AD, by Desi Tenzin Drukda, the then Governor of Paro as a watchtower to protect the Dzong from intruders and warring factions. In 1968 Paro’s Ta Dzong was inaugurated as the NationalMuseum, and now holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, together with a small natural history collection.
- Dumtseg lhakhang; The unusual and circular lhakhang, reminiscent of the Shanag, or the black hat worn by the Bhutanese Black Hat dancers was, built by the great “Builder of iron chain bridges,” Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo.
- 4. Kichu lhakhang; The temple is undoubtedly one of the oldest temples to have been built in Bhutan. It is one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century AD. The King is said to have built 108 temples in a day throughout the Himalayan regions
DAY 02; Paro to Thimphu
After early breakfast, we will drive to the capital city Thimphu. Thimphu, situated at an altitude of 2400m, is the centre of government, religion and commerce. The capital has an interesting combination of tradition and modernity, and includes some of the most advanced and remotest parts of the kingdom. It is home to the Kings and the Royal family members, civil servants, expatriates, politicians, business persons and monks. Enjoy this cultural mix based on livelihood of culture. Here we have lots of interesting places to be visit. Today we will visit following places;
- Memorial Stupa; built in 1974 in the memory of Bhutan ‘s third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. Meet the elderly generation in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten. Chorten literally means ‘Seat of Faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments, the ‘Mind of Buddha’.
- Painting School; Commonly known as the Painting School, the Institute offers you a glimpse of novices learning 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. It is a hands-on trip for you. Enjoy few moments with the future artists of the country.
- Folk heritage Museum; The earthen and timber building was renovated and restored few years ago to appear as it was century ago. This museum provides glimpse into the traditional Bhutanese life. The artifacts which are kept inside the house remind the visitors about how the rural Bhutanese live today.
- National Liabery; The National Library was established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. It now houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature mostly in block-printed format, with some works several hundred years old. There is also a small collection of foreign books, stock of which mainly comprises works written in English
- Changangkha Lhakhang; This temple situated atop a small hound overlooking the Thimphu valley was built in the 13th century by the illustrious Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo. The temple is considered the spiritual home of children born in the Chang valley.
- Sangay Gang; The best place for photographers is perhaps a visit to the Sangaygang hill. A short drive from the town, the hill provides visitors with an opportunity to pause and reflect in the hustle-bustle of a busy city-life. You can also have a panoramic view of the valley. On the way back we will visit the small zoo dedicated to the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.
- Trashichhodzong; The “fortress of the glorious religion” was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
- Paper Factory
- Weaving Center
DAY 03; Thimphu Sightseeing
Today after breakfast we will visit those two important monasteries, Tango and Cheri. It is located at the farthest region north of Thimphu. It is roughly 14 kilometers away from Thimphu town.
- Tango; The word Tango literally means ‘horse head’ and is derived from the deity Tandin (Hayagriva) that features the head of a horse. The present day monastery was built in 1689 by Gyalsay Tenzin Rabgyal. Following the trail, the walk uphill takes about 40 minutes to reach the monastery
- Cheri; was established in 1620, by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of the Bhutanese state. The monastery, which is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu order. Following the trail, the walk uphill takes about 30 minutes to reach the monastery.
- Weekend market; Most of the Thimphu’s population and many valley dwellers converge on the bustling weekend market, held by the side of WangchuRiver. A wide range of foodstuffs and local arts and crafts are sold at the market, which runs from Friday afternoon till Sunday evening. A visit to the market provides great photo opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with local people and perhaps buy souvenirs.
- Handicrafts Shops; A wide assortment of colourful, hand woven textiles and other craft products is available for purchase at the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and many smaller handicrafts shops around the town. One can pick up small items as souvenirs
DAY 04; Thimphu to Punakha /wangdu
Today after breakfast we will drive to Punakha. Punakha has been inextricably linked to some of the most momentous events in the Bhutanese history and deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful and significant regions at the heart of Bhutanese culture. This district, levelling from 1300m at the valley floor rises to almost 3000m, it was served as the capital of Bhutan from 1637 till 1907 and the 1st National Assembly was held here.
On the way after 45 minutes drive from Thimphu will reach at highest pass between Thimphu and Punakha the place called Dochula pass (3140m) where you can have a superb view of the Eastern Himalayas on clear day and 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo to for the security and well being of whole living beings. From here it takes 2 hours to reach Punakha. In Punakha we will visit following places;
- Punakha Dzong; Placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, the dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century and in 1907, enthroned the first King Gongsr Ugyen Wangchuck. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in the recent years by the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the dzong enrich your trip with the opportunity to see the highest standards in woodwork.
- Chheme Lhakhang; The Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, 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. It is about 30 minute walk across field from the road to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. It then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang.
- Wangdu Dzong
After early breakfast we will drive back to Paro via Thimphu. Today we will visit one of the famous place called Tagtshang (Tiger Nest)
1. Tiger Nest; Taktshang monastery is located atop an 800 meter cliff in Paro. It takes slightly more than an hour and a half to reach the monastery on foot from the nearest road point.
Taktshang or the Tigers lair as the monastery is widely regarded is one of the most important in Bhutan. Its history is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava, the Indian saint who came to Bhutan in the 8th century AD. The cave was named Taktshang after Guru Rinpoche flew into the cave from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan riding on a tigress. Later in 1692 the fourth Druck Desi Tenzin Rabgye started to construct monastery and finally completed after three years in 1694.
“Trip to Bhutan is never complete without climbing to Taktsang”, says one tourist. Indeed it’s true as the journey there fills you with spiritual bliss.
DAY 6; Depart