To a great extent to set eyes on and experience in Bhutan, how does an individual opt how long to stay and what to catch a glimpse of? We have intended this trip to give you an incredible experience of way of life in Bhutan, from the urban to rural life, natural world and the stunning topography and, obviously, the ascetic life of this Buddhist Kingdom where Gross National Happiness is a privileged priority than Gross National Product.
Your Guide from Bhutan Corinthian at the airport and drive to Thimphu. On the way to Thimphu, we can view Tamchog Monastery-a private monastery built by Thangthong Gyalpo (Popularly known as Lama Chazampa, which 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, 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 Tallest Statue of Buddha, Takin Preserve center, Sangaygang view point, Changangkha Lhakhang, and the Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan.
Then after lunch, 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.
Other places of interest include a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan).
Finally, visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu. Dinner and overnight in Hotel Migmar or similar.
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 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, excursion to Khamsung Yulley Namgyal Choling Monastery. Dinner and overnight in Punasangchu Cottages or similar. www.punatshangchhucottages.bt
After early breakfast, drive to Trongsa via. Gangtey. On the way, the sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang includes: visit to Wangdiphodrang Dzong (reconstructed) originally built in 1638. The significance of the Dzong is it depicts the flourish of Buddhism in four directions. The Dzong is situated at the union of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Drive further to Gangtey.
Visit Gangtey monastery also known as Gangtey Goempa, “The epitome of architectural heritage. It is located in the beautiful destination, Phobjikha valley of Bhutan. You can explore the globally endangered black necked cranes that make home in this valley.Gangtey Goempa is the largest Nyingma monastery in western Bhutan founded by Gyalse Pema Thinley, the grandson and reincarnation of Terton Pema Lingpa in 1613. Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation built the temple. At present the Gangtey Trulku Kunzang Pema Namgyal, the ninth reincarnation looks after the monastery. The packed lunch will be served at Gangtey.
Dinner and overnight in Theckchen Phodrang Guest house or similar.
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. Lunch, will be served on the way. In the evening, free for shopping and photography in the town. Dinner and overnight in Hotel Migmar or similar.
After breakfast, drive to Paro followed by the hike to Taktsang Monastery.
Taktsang(Tiger’s Nest) is the most sacred monastery of Bhutan and a place you must visit when you visit Bhutan. A 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.
Dinner and overnight in Tashi Namgay Resort or similar. www.tashinamgayresort.com
After breakfast, visit Ta Dzong (built in 1656 and renovated in 1968) by Tenzin Drugda, first Penlop of Paro. Ta dzong is an ancient watchtower which protected the Ringpung dzong from all the invasions. The dzong is now the National Museum which promotes and preserves Bhutanese culture.
Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge.
After lunch, drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 16 km up the valley built in 1647 by the great Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in 1644. The Dzong was used as an important base for defense until 1951 when a fire destroyed it. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m).
On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the built by a Tibetan emperor called Songtsen Gampo in 659.
- Songtsen Gampo: He was a 33rd Tibetan king who married a Chinese princess, Wencheng in 641 as a part of her dowry was a statue called “Jowo” which was an Indian image of Buddha, Sakyamuni as a small boy. In 659, He decided to build 108 Temples in a single day to pin the Ogress to the earth forever and, at the same time, convert the Tibetan people to Buddhism. Kyichu Lhakhang was one of that which was built on the different points of the giant ogress body that troubled Tibet and Himalayas by lying across the land. 6 of these Temples lie in Bhutan, most prominent of them are Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang and Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. Kichu Lhakhang is said to hold the left foot of the Ogress and Jambay Lhakhang pins the left knee.
Dinner and overnight in Tashi Namgay Resort or similar.
Early morning, drive to Airport and Farewell.