This cultural tour through the mystical Western valleys of Bhutan is an ideal introduction to the Dragon Kingdom. Experience Bhutanese hospitality, admire the ever-changing landscapes, and immerse yourself in Bhutan’s rich buddhist culture. Highlights include Ta Dzong Museum, Rimpong Dzong with its wooden cantilevered bridge and the infamous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) in the beautiful Paro Valley, The National Memorial Chorten, 12th century Changangkha Temple and the National Library exhibiting ancient scriptures in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, and after crossing the 3050m Dochula Pass with spectacular Himalayan views, a journey into the sub-tropical Punakha Valley featuring the incredible the Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lhakang, temple of the ‘Divine Madman’.
You will be received by the Representative from Bhutan Corinthian at the airport and drive to the Hotel.
After lunch, visit the Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which is now the National Museum of Bhutan since 1967. Then visit Rimpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. All the administrative offices are inside the Dzong now. The dinner and the overnight will be in Tashi Namgay Resort or similar.
Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: Taktsang(Tiger’s Nest) is the most sacred monastery of Bhutan and a place you must visit when you visit Bhutan. After early breakfast, short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten. We can reach the Tiger’s Nest either by walking or by horseback. The path climbs through beautiful pine forest and many of the trees are ornamented with Spanish moss, and fluttering prayer flags. About half way up the climb, we stop for a rest and refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria). We can get a tea and food there. Then after the short distance from cafeteria, we will reach to the viewpoint that overlooks Taktsang. We can take the best photos of Taktsang from the viewpoint. The main Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. Located at an elevation of over 900 meters into the valley below, Taktsang is the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan. Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo- said to be his favourite consort.
After Lunch, visit Kyichu Lhakhang –The sacred jewel of Bhutan that marked the introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century. It is believed to be built by a Tibetan emperor called Songtsan Gampo in 659. It was built on the different points of the giant ogress body that troubled Tibet and Himalayas by lying across the land. We can see pilgrims constantly walking around the lhakhang, spinning prayer wheels and chanting prayers. We can also see the painting of a king Gesar of Ling-the popular Tibetan warrior king.
In the evening drive to Thimphu. On the way, we can view Tamchog Monastery-a private monastery built by Thangthong Gyalpo (Popularly known as Lama Chazampa, which literally means, the Iron Bridge builder) in the 15th century. It is situated along the Paro Chhu river.
- Thang Thong Gyalpo (1385 – 1464) was a Tibetan lama who 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).
Dinner and overnight in Hotel Migmar or similar. www.hotelmigmar.com
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. The 108 Chortens at Dochula pass gives the passer the beauty of the fresh and high altitude vegetation.
Drive further to Punakha. On the way, stop a while to view/visit Chimi Lhakhang also called the “Temple of Fertility” built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley who is popularly known as “The Divine Mad Man” in 15th century. The Lhakhang is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and some beautiful slate carvings. In addition to, there is a Bodhi tree which is believed to be brought from Bodhgaya. The childless women pray to a fertility goddess here.
- 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) leading a lewd lifestyle to dramatize his teachings of Salvation.
After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River), Punakha dzong is one of the Bhutan’s most beautiful dzongs. For many years it served as the center of Government until the 1950s when it was relocated to Thimphu. The dzong was built when the Zhabdrung took the architect, Zowe Palep in his dreams to Zangtopelri (Paradise) and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design. The Dzong was originally named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang which means the Palace of Great Bliss. The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo. The best time to visit is on May when Jacaranda flowers will be blooming in the courtyard of the palace.
In the evening, drive to Thimphu. Dinner and overnight in Hotel Migmar or similar. www.hotelmigmar.com
After breakfast, visit the National Memorial Chorten, a monument dedicated to the Third King of Bhutan His Late Majesty King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The Memorial chorten is located at a walking distance from the main town of Thimphu. It is a Tibetian style stupa and also known as Jangchub Chorten. Thousands of people circumambulate this stupa everyday. Mornings and evenings are the best time to visit this chorten.
Then visit the National Library, which is located at Changgangkha area of Thimphu. The library gives the permanent home for sacred religious books and collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts. Then the visit is followed by visit to Painting School, National Institute of Zorig Chusum. It is famous for Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts that include carving and free hand art. Then visit Folk Heritage Museum which dedicates itself to connecting people with the rich Bhutanese Folk Heritage and rural history. 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 Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and reconstructed in 1961 by the Late King, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
In the evening drive to Paro. Dinner and overnight in Tashi Namgay Resort or similar. www.tashinamgayresort.com
Early morning, drive to the Airport and Farewell.