Duration: 5 Days
Group Size: Min. 2
Best Season: Sept – Dec, March – May
Bhutan is a culturally rich country that has been the home to many scholars, artists and noted craftsmen. Residing in the lap of the Eastern Himalayan range, Bhutan is a small country with Himalayan Mountains in the north and Himalayan foothills in the south. The country is world famous for its breathtaking views of the gigantic peaks of Mt. Jitchu Drake and Chomolhari range. Being called the Dragon Kingdom, Bhutan is a peaceful and picturesque territory vying to be explored by the tourists.With its picturesque and untouched natural beauty, Himalayan terrain, rich flora and fauna and vivacious Buddhist culture, Bhutan is increasingly emerging as a tourist destination, especially for people who prefer to spend their holidays in the lap of pure natural settings.Bhutan for centuries has placed a special emphasis on environmental preservation and this is the reason that even after so many years, 65% of the country is still under forest cover. Lush valleys, perennially flowing rivers, verdant hillsides, artistic hamlets and colorful monasteries make traveling to Bhutan a surreal experience.Although Buddhism is the prime religion in Bhutan, the people of Bhutan embrace every religion as their own and are more than happy to treat their guests with their unmatched hospitality.Visiting Bhutan is like revisiting an ancient book and its timeless beauty and serenity is sure to intoxicate its visitors. The grand Dzong, primeval temples, stupas and monasteries dotting the countryside, along with a rich wildlife, bubbly waterfalls, serenading rivers and treacherous paths will transform you to some another universe.
This Bhutan tour possesses some of country’s most important historical, cultural and religious sites. Our shortest glimpse of Bhutan tour is designed to introduce you to the timeless wonders of the Dragon Kingdom.By taking this tour you will also have an opportunity to see and learn the daily life of the Bhutanese people. If weather permits you can have wonderful view of Mt. Jomolhari (7,316 m) revered by Bhutanese people as a powerful goddess.Experience Bhutanese hospitality, admire the ever-changing landscapes, and immerse yourself in Bhutan’s rich Buddhist culture. You encounter the ancient Dzong (fortresses) and monasteries, relish the idyllic Bhutanese countryside, and visit Thimphu, the quaint capital city. Highlights include Ta Dzong Museum, Rim pong 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.The watch tower of Ta Dzong now houses the National Museum, highlighting aspects of Bhutanese history and culture. The Rinpung Dzong is the administrative center and a school for monks.This is a fascinating introduction to this magical Himalayan kingdom.
Day 01: Arrival at Paro(2,250m / 7,382ft)and drive to Thimphu(2,320m/7,610ft) – 2 hrs. drive.
Day 02: Drive Thimphu to Punakha(1,250m/4,100ft) – approx. 3 hrs. drive.
Day 03: Drive Punakha to Wangdue Phodrang and after sightseeing further drive to Thimphu.
Day 04: Full day Thimphu sightseeing.
Day 05: Drive Thimphu to Paro: Hike to Taktsang monastery(3180 m).
Day 01: Arrival at Paro (2,250m / 7,382ft) and drive to Thimphu (2,320m/7,610ft) – 2 hrs. drive.
Embarking our tour, we fly over to the dragon kingdom Paro. We fly over passing by Mountains of 5500 meters to Paro, first valley to receive the imprint of Buddhism. The first thing you will notice as you disembark is the transparent purity of air and the absence of noise.Paro is a beautiful valley and is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and temples, and the country’s only international airport. Fields, brown or green depending on the season, cover most of the valley floor, while hamlets and isolated farms dot the countryside. The houses of Paro valley are considered to be among the most beautiful in the country. The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth including Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake peak. Paro Airport has been described as “the most difficult commercial airport in the world”. 1980meter runway length presents a double challenge, due to the extremely low density altitude at the site. So, only a handful of well experienced pilots are certified to operate commercial airplanes here thus, making least number of flights in a day.
After immigration and custom formalities, check out from the departure lounge. There you will meet one of the representatives of Nature Trail Travels & Tours, Trekking & Expeditionwho will greet you and then escort you to Thimphu. En route you can visit the Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’ to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. The Dzong is now used as an administration center and school for monks. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centers, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards, we’ll go to Takin Sanctuary and Zilukha Nunnery. The Takin (a goat-antelope) was declared the national animal of Bhutan because it is strongly associated with the country’s religious history and mythology. Today’s last destination is Thimphu Dzong (Tashichho Dzong), a Buddhist monastery and fortress. It also houses Bhutan’s central government. Then drive to Thimphu following the Pachu River. Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Stay overnight at Thimphu.
Day 02: Drive Thimphu to Punakha (1,250m/4,100ft) – approx. 3 hrs. drive.
On the following day, we will be driving to Punakhavia Dochu La Pass (3,100m). Dochu la pass is situated 10,000 feet above sea level. You can have magnificent view of eastern Himalayas from this pass which includes Bhutan’s highest mountain Mount GangkharPuensum (7550 m). From the pass, we drive downhill through the rhododendron, fir and hemlock forests. We then pass through rice fields along river banks and reach Punakha. In Punakha, we visit Punakha Dzong which was built between 1637/1638 and is the second oldest and the second largest Dzong in Bhutan. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 03: Drive Punakha to Wangdue Phodrang and after sightseeing further drive to Thimphu – approx. 3 hrs. drive.
Today, we drive for about half an hour in order to reach Wangdue. Wangdue Phodrang Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. Wangdue Phodrangrepresents an important gateway to Eastern Bhutan.High on a promontory overlooking the river, this Dzong, founded in 1639, controlled the routes to Trongsa, Punakha, Dagana, and Thimphu.The position of the Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view over both the north-south and east-west roads.Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang are administrative centers of their respective Dzongkhang or districts. Compared to Thimphu or Paro, the valley is at much lower elevation at about 1250meter above sea level. Therefore it enjoys subtropical climate with warm summers and pleasant winters. The valley boasts at least two crops a year and subtropical plants like Cactuses, Manadrin, and Bananas grow here. The town of Punakha was relocated recently to Khuruthang from its location near Punakha Dzong. Punakha was former winter capital of Bhutan, the tradition that is still kept by the monastic body, who moves their capital to Thimphu in the summer and return to Punakha Dzong in the winter. It is around half hour drive between Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang. The small township of Wangdue with clusters of small shops tightly packed together, surrounding a truck stop is quite interesting to visit. Across the river, on the opposite ridge is the village of Richen gang, known for cluster of houses connected to one another. After sightseeing tour, we drive to Thimphu for our overnight stay.
Day 04: Full day Thimphu sightseeing.
Today, we will be visiting some sightseeing spot of Thimphu. Thimphu is unlike any otherworld capital. Small and secluded the city is quiet and there are never the traffic jams familiar in other Asian Capitals. It is often said that Thimphu is the only world capital without traffic lights.After appetizing breakfast, we visit National Memorial Chorten. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernization, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial Stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Then we will continue our visit to 12th century Changangkha Temple and Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery. If you want to see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan then you can proceed onto mini-zoo. The Takin (a goat-antelope) was declared the national animal of Bhutan because it is strongly associated with the country’s religious history and mythology. After sightseeing of these sites, if you still have some time left then you can visit to National Library, the priceless collection of Buddhist manuscripts and few English version books; Folk and Heritage Museum, which displays day to day livelihood of typical Bhutanese farmers in medieval period and their accessories; Late King’s Memorial Stupa, built for the world peace and Traditional Handmade Paper Factory; Painting School, which preserves our traditional paintings, sculpturing and wood curving and National Handicraft Emporium, the best place to look for souvenir from Bhutan. You can also visit the Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’ to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. The Dzong is now used as an administration center and school for monks. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centers, which were once strategic forts. Some of the landmarks are closed on the weekend (Saturdays and Sundays). Therefore, if your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chilies, cheese and a variety of greens. (This market is open only from Friday-Sunday).
Day 05: Drive Thimphu to Paro: Hike to Taktsang monastery (3180 m).
On this day, you will drive to Paro and have a short hike up to Taktsang monastery. Taktsang is a prominent sacred Buddhist site and temple complex perched on the edge of upper Paro Valley. It is also known as the Tiger’s Nest. This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 300 meter above the valley.Legend has it that the great Guru Padmasambhava flew to this spot on back of a tigress and meditated in a cave during the 8th century. When the Guru finished his meditation, he instructed that the monastery to be built. The temple was built around the cave and is a hallowed shrine for Bhutanese pilgrims.The spectacular view along the way and the historical sites draw many tourists to this imposing monastery. There are also a number of temples scattered along the route. Later we’ll turn to the Paro Dzong, a large Buddhist monastery and fortress, which is considered the best example of Bhutanese architecture. Now it also houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices. On the hill above the Dzong stands an ancient watchtower called Ta Dzong, which is the National Museum of Bhutan. Visit Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past.This Dzong was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum boasts antique thangkas, textiles, weapons and armor, household objects and rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.Here you can also learn about Bhutan’s history. After this hike and a short sightseeing tour, we will be transferred to the hotel for our overnight stay.
A landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan borders China to the north and India to the south, east and west. Bhutan’s capital and largest city is Thimphu.Along with Mongolia, Bhutan is one of two countries where the Vajrayana sect of Buddhism is dominant. The King of Bhutan is known as the Druk Gyalpo, meaning the “Thunder Dragon King”. The country’s landscape ranges from lush subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan Mountains in the north, where there are peaks in excess of 7,000 meters (23,000 ft.). The highest mountain in Bhutan is the Gangkhar Puensum. Stone tools, weapons, elephants, and remnants of large stone structures provide evidence that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 BC, although there are no existing records from that time. Bhutan has a rich primate life, with rare species such as the golden langur. A variant Assamese macaque has also been recorded, which is regarded by some authorities as a new species, Macaca munzala.Bhutan is a country of the high mountain landscape in the north and forested green hills in the south. The cultural aspect of Bhutan is very much rich and distinct in the world. Bhutanese worship Padmasambhava guru (8th century), who was the founder of Himalayan Buddhism and a Tantric guru.
Ta Dzong Museum
Perched above Paro Dzong is Ta Dzong (watchtower), built in 1649 to protect the undefended Dzong and renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum. The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell, with 2.5m-thick walls. The Ta Dzong suffered damage in the 2011 earthquake but is due to reopen in 2016 as the nation’s premier museum. Until then a sample of the exhibits are currently on display in an adjacent annex.Displays include an impressive collection of thangkas, both ancient and modern; depicting Bhutan’s important saints and teachers, as well as fearsome festival masks grouped according to their Tshechu dances. There’s a natural-history gallery with a 3D map of Bhutan, while the Heritage Gallery contains such oddities as an egg laid by a mule and a horse horn attributed to Guru Rinpoche, plus a few original iron links from the iron bridge at Tamchog. An underground tunnel is said to lead from the watchtower to the water supply below.Cameras are not allowed inside the museum, but you can photograph the Ta Dzong and surrounding grounds. The museum closes an hour earlier in winter (November to February).
Rinpung Dzong is a large Dzong – Buddhist monastery and fortress of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu School in Paro District, Bhutan. It houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. It is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion. In the 15th century local people offered the crag of Hungrel at Paro to Lama DrungDrungGyal, a descendant of PajoDrugom Zhigpo. DrungDrungGyal built a small temple there and later a five storied Dzong or fortress which was known as Hungrel Dzong.In the 17th century, his descendants, the lords of Hungrel, offered this fortress to the Drukpa hierarch, Ngawang Namgyal, theZhabdrung Rinpoche, in recognition of his religious and temporal authority. In 1644 the Zhabdrung dismantled the existing Dzong and laid the foundations of a new Dzong. In 1646 the Dzong was reconsecrated and established as the administrative and monastic center of the western region and it became known as “Rinpung Dzong”.
A great annual festival or Tshechu is held at Rinpung Dzong from the eleventh to the fifteenth day of the second month of the traditional Bhutanese lunar calendar (usually in March or April of the Gregorian calendar). On this occasion, holy images are taken in a procession. This is followed by a series of traditional mask dances conveying religious stories which are performed by monks for several days.
Than thong Dewachen Nunnery is a Buddhist monastery in the small Himalayan country of Bhutan. The nunnery is located in Zilukha, Thimphu overlooking TashichhoDzong and is a few minutes’ drive from the town. It is popularly known as the Zilukha AnimDratshang. It was built in 1976 by the 16th emanation of Than tong Gyalpo, Drubthob RikeyJadrel. Currently, the nunnery is home to about 60 nuns.
Taktsang Monastery or Paro Taktsang is situated on a nearly vertical cliff at 3,000m altitude north of Paro in Bhutan. It is one of thirteen Tigress’ Lairs —the places where Padmasambhava manifested in the wrathful form of Dorje Drolö. There, Guru Rinpoche meditated on the Kagyé cycle. After him, many great masters practiced there, including Milarepa, Padampa Sangye, Machik Lapdrön and Then tong Gyalpo. Paro Taktsang is the popular name of Taktsang Palphug Monastery (also known as Tiger’s Nest), a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex, located in the Cliffside of the upper Paro valley, in Bhutan. A temple complex was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang SengeSamdup (stag tshangsenggebsam grub) cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century. Padmasambhava is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and is the tutelary deity of the country. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen Taktsang or “tiger lair” caves in which he meditated.The Taktsang Palphug Monastery is one of the most famous touristic destinations of the country and the cultural icon of Bhutan.
The highlight of the day was the Dzong of the neighboring town, Punakha. I asked about the armed police guarding the entrance and Namgay explained that recently a monk stole a priceless relic to resell, so now they guard the Dzong very carefully.Built in 1637-1638, Punakha Dzong serves the same purpose as the Paro Dzong. It was also the seat of the government until the capital was moved to Thimphu. We explored the open spaces inside and the monastery.At one point a young monk held his hand up as I was trying to take his picture. He then stepped a few paces back, leaned on the temple wall with one hand and struck a pose! He was content with the outcome of the photo-shoot.
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