I want to go to ...
The Hidden Kingdom of Bhutan

Package Name : The Hidden Kingdom of Bhutan

Duration :

Tel: 91-11-2332 1822

E-mail: enquiries@tradewingstours.com

The Hidden Kingdom of Bhutan

As recently as 1961 all entry into Bhutan was still on horse back. Druk–yul, the land of the thunder dragon is only just emerging from the mists of its self–imposed isolation. The last Shangri–La is an exotic land of high mountains and lush valleys, snow clad peaks with clear running springs, a pristine ecology and an incredible wealth of wildlife.

A most striking feature of Bhutan is its architecture. The style and color which characterize every building and house in the kingdom is a distinct source of aesthetic pleasure. The Dzongs themselves – imposing 17th century structures built on a grand scale without drawing and without a single nail, are outstanding examples of the best in Bhutanese architecture. Patterns of rich colors adorn every wall, beam, pillar and door in traditional splendor.

Nestled deep in the eastern Himalayas between India and Tibet, the simple pleasure that this country offers gives a sense of kinship with the people and their love for the land. Essentially a rural country with 90 per cent of the people engaged in agriculture or raising livestock, Bhutan is predominantly Buddhist, practicing the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism.

Brief Itinerary:
Day 01: Arrival – Thimphu
Day 2: Thimphu – local sightseeing
Day 3 – Thimphu –Punakha Valley (77 Kms, 03 hours)
Day 4: Punakha– Local Sightseeing
Day 5: Punakha – Paro: ( 135 Kms, 04 hours)
Day 6: Paro: Day excursion to Tiger's Nest
Day 7: Depart from Paro (by Druk Air)

Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1 – Paro – Thimphu ( 65 Kms , 01 hour):

Landing in Paro valley is a perfect entry into this other world, with its transparent purity of the air and its absorbing serenity. Paro retains its bucolic nature in spite of the existence of development projects. Fields of brown or green depending on the season cover most of the valley floor while hamlets and isolated farms dot the landscape.

On arrival, your visa is processed and we then pass through customs. Your Bhutanese guide will meet you outside the customs enclosure for a one hour journey to the capital Thimphu, which is situated in a large valley traversed by the Wangchu River and overshadowed by high peaks.

After lunch we will visit the Memorial Chorten, with its golden spires shining in the sun, its tinkling bells and an endless procession of elderly people circling around it. Erected by the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phutsho Choedren in memory of her son the third King Jigme Dorje Wangchuck, it contains a fine collection of Buddhist statues and is a center of tantric Buddhism in all its complexity.

TIMING for Visits to Tashicho Dzong: After office hours on weekdays & in the morning until noon during the weekends.

In the evening, we will visit Trashichhodzong, the beautiful medieval fortress /monastery is Bhutan's administrative and religious centre which houses most of the Government's offices and the King's Throne Room. It is also the summer residence of Je – Khenpo, the Chief Abbot. The National Assembly hall is located in a new building across the river.

Dinner & Overnight at the hotel, Thimphu.

Day 2: Thimphu – local sightseeing

After breakfast, we will visit the Changangkha Lhakhang– It is a fortress like temple perched on a ridge above Thimphu, south of Motithang. The temple was established in 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, who came from Tibet and is dedicated to Avalokiteshvara, the Buddhist emanation of compassion. The central statue here is Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) in a manifestation with 11 heads. From the courtyard of the temple, there is fascinating view of the Thimphu valley.

We will then visit the National Institute of Zorig Chusum. It is an institute where children learn traditional techniques of drawing, painting, calligraphy, embroidery, wood carving and sculpture quite different from any practiced in the west. Art and painting are important aspects of Bhutanese culture intertwined with Buddhism. Vegetable dyes are incorporated on murals and the renowned thangkas. Rules of iconography are firmly established and must be scrupulously respected. Each deity has a color and special attributes that cannot change without altering the meaning and religious function.

After lunch, we will visit the market where the locals come to do their shopping. This will be one of the highlights of your trip as you observe the Bhutanese people's culture and life styles. Later we will make a stop at the Centenary Park where the walking Buddha resides; the entire statue was built by Thai workers who specifically came to Bhutan to build the statue. It stands 45 feet tall.

Next we will visit Kuensel Phodrang, where the Buddha Dordena resides, it is said to be one of the largest Buddhas in the world, standing at 169 feet / 51.5 meters. You will see Thimphu city from a bird's eye view.

Dinner & Overnight at the hotel, Thimphu.

Day 3 – Thimphu –Punakha Valley (77 Kms, 03 hours):

After an early breakfast, we will drive towards Punakha. En route we will visit the Simthokha Dzong, the oldest fortress built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (the man who unified Bhutan). The fortress serves as an administrative center and the center for the monk's religious activities. The fortress now houses a language school where scholars study both Dzongkha (the national language) and English.

Leaving Simthokha/ Thimphu, we continue into the countryside towards the Punakha valley, the winter capital of Bhutan. The drive ascends gradually to the Dochu la pass over 10300 ft, with magnificent vistas of the Himalayan range.

The Dochu la Monastery also known as the Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens, is a tribute to the service and leadership of His Majesty the king. The design inspired by the Queen is a unique cluster of 108 Chortens seen from all directions. The descent to Punakha is vibrant and colorful, with the fluttering prayer flags adding to a rich topography dotted by terrace farming and rivers flowing through. Stop at the Dochu la Cafeteria for a bathroom break.

After lunch, we will visit the historic Punakha Dzong sprawled at the confluence of the Phochu (male) and Mochu (female) rivers. It was built by Shabdrung Nawang in 1637 and serves as the winter residence of the head abbot, Je Khenpo and headquarters of the district administration.

Early evening we will drive to our hotel for the night.

Dinner & Overnight at the hotel, Punakha.

Day 4: Punakha– Local Sightseeing:

After breakfast, we will visit the vibrant Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery and learn about their daily life.

After lunch, we traverse the Punakha countryside walking through paddy fields to the Pana Village to see the `Chimi Lhakhang' built by the great Lama Drukpa Kinley in 1400 to subdue local demons. The temple is a popular pilgrimage point for all Bhutanese and is specially revered by women for its fertility powers.

In the afternoon, we will visit the village of Talo (alt. 2,800m) which is scattered along the hill slopes, known for its cleanliness and hygiene among Punakha villages. Talo Sangnacholing is built on a plateau and has majestic view of surrounding villages. The beautiful farm houses of the village have thier own flower gardens and on the hill slope, corn and sweet peas are grown in abundance. The women of Talo are particularly known for their beauty.

Next, drive back to the hotel for the night.

Dinner & Overnight at the hotel, Punakha.

Day 5: Punakha – Paro: ( 135 Kms, 04 hours)

After breakfast, we will begin our sightseeing, with the Rinpung Dzong, the Fortress of a Heap of Jewels. Constructed in the early 15th century as a diminutive fort, it was presented to the religious and political authority of Shabdrung Ngarvang, who developed it into a much more commanding fortress in 1646. This is without doubt one of the kingdom's finest examples of traditional Bhutanese architecture. Once, great catapults here flung stones at invading Tibetans. Today the dzong houses a monastic school. Two hundred resident monks take meals in a communal room. Several interesting paintings here include an unusual Bhutanese interpretation of a mandala, a diagram of the cosmos.

Return to our transport crossing the traditional wooden covered bridge called NYAMAI–ZAM which spans the Paro River. Earlier, in times of war, the bridge was removed each time to protect the Dzong!

The rest of the day is at leisure, we can take a walk down Paro's main street, straight and windswept, its occasional idlers leaning against the store–fronts. It's another opportunity to interact with the local people and visit the interesting small shops occupying the ground levels that provide the basic necessities.

Dinner & Overnight at the hotel, Paro.

Day 6: Paro: Day excursion to Tiger's Nest:

Our Day begins after an early breakfast for the hike to view one of  Bhutan's most sacred pilgrimage sites of the Buddhist world, the Taktshang Lhakhang popularly known as the 'Tiger's Nest' Monastery.The trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched precariously on a sheer rock face 3000ft above the valley floor. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche, father of Bhutan's stream of Mahayana Buddhism arrived in the Paro valley more than a millennium ago on the back of a tigress.

We begin with a pony ride to the cafeteria which serves as a midway point and has wonderful views of the Tiger's Nest. From here it's about an hour's trek through some stunning landscape to reach the monastery. On our return, we stop by once more at the Cafeteria where a hot lunch is served.

On our way back to town, we will visit the nearby Kyichu Lakhang: it is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakhang in Bumthang). The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in same original pattern.

Dinner and Overnight at the hotel, Paro.

Day 7: Depart from Paro (by Druk Air):

In the morning our representative will escort you to Paro International Airport and bid Good–bye and pleasant flight back home / onward destination.