DAY 1: PARO – THIMPHU
Fly to Paro and drive to Thimphu. After arrival and visa formalities and collection of baggage, our team (guide & driver) will welcome you at the airport. Post arrival, we will drive to Thimphu.
TamchogangSuspension Bridge: Drubthob Thangthong Gyelpo built many bridges in Bhutan and Tibet, and one of them actually spanned the Pa-Chhu River below the Tachogang temple he built, but it was destroyed by floods in 1969.
The Developing Capital of Bhutan: Thimphu is a small, charming capital city, sandwiched in the heart of the Himalayas. It sits in its own valley, fanning out from the Wangchu River. The skyline hardly changes as new buildings are all constructed under zoning regulations of the Royal Government of Bhutan
From Namseling roadside settlement, if you have overcome the jet lag, you have the option to get off the road to visit the 13th century old Namseling Heritage House in the middle of the village on the other side of the Wang Chhu River.
Namseling Heritage House: This is a 13th-century-old house. In this house there once lived a village girl called Khandro (Dakini) Sonam Peldon. From her early born days, she was expecting her man born with the inexplicable past karmic link.
Continue back on the road. Just before the start of 7 kilometers Thimphu express way, the entrance to the capital city is marked by the Bhutanese style Gate, the giant poster of the King of Bhutan, and the
statue of the four animal friends. We will look inside Thimphu if we have time before the government
offices are closed for the day.
Buddha Dordenma Statue: The serene silhouette is taking shape on the hill, high above the capital.
Memorial Stupa-chapel: Constructed in 1974 by Dungse Rinpochhe Trinle Norbu, to commemorate the late third king, Jigme DorjiWangchuck, at the behest of late Royal Grandmother Ashi Phuntshok Chodron.
Trashichhodzong: Trashichhodzong and the surrounding complex of buildings are the seats of the Bhutanese central government, located on the banks of the Wang Chhu. Originally, a fort known as the lower Dzong was founded on this site by the 13th regent of Bhutan, Chogyel
Overnight stay in Thimphu.
DAY 2: THIMPHU
Thimphu: Take a short drive out of the capital and walk one-and-half hour approximately (one-way) to the far-off Cheri Dorjeden hermitage. It‟s 12 kilometers drive from the town and takes about 45 minutes to
drive you to the jump-off point at the Cheri bridge.
Cheri Monastery: As the number of affiliated monks increased, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel resolved to build a new monastery, where his Lhomon tradition of the Drukpa Kagyu would flourish and where his father’s mortal remains could be interred in a reliquary stupa.
After lunch, we will take you on a fascinating tour of developing capital of Bhutan by car. We will stay close to the valley floor.
Bhutan Takin preserve: A short distance on the road to the Bhutan Broadcasting Service tower is a trail leading to a large fenced area that was originally established as a mini-zoo to keep the national animal of Bhutan. Today, it served as a sanctuary for other rescued animals from the wild.
Changangkha Lhakhang: According to the instructions of Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, the Changangkha Lhakhang was built on a promontory overlooking the entire Thimphu valley in the 13th century, by Phajo‟s son Nima, whose descendants inherited the custodianship of the temple. Nima‟s grandson lama Sonam Gyeltshen invited Jamyang Kunga
Sangye, the seventh hierarch of Ralung monastery in Tibet, who gave empowerment there and expanded the building. Some of the old murals at Changangkha lhakhang date from that period.
Jungzhi Paper-Making Factory: It‟s a place where Bhutanese still makes paper by hand, and it‟s the art practiced from the past and the skill inherited and practiced today by the present generation.
Centenary Farmer’s Market: Thimphu weekend market is one of the largest domestic markets in Bhutan. It is a weekend market crammed into a set of stalls on both banks of Wang Chhu, just north of Changlingmethang Stadium.
Overnight stay in Thimphu.
DAY 3: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
Drive to Punakha. Today, post breakfast,we will drive to the old capital of Bhutan, Punakha, via Dochula mountain pass at 3100 meters, for approximately three hours.
Dochu la pass: Dochula is a beautiful mountain pass. It‟s at 3100 meters above sea level. It‟s the traditional boundary between old and the new capital of Bhutan. This is going to be the third highest point on this tour.
Druk Wangyel Chorten & Lhakhang: 109 stupas and the temple were built in 2004 on the mountain pass to commemorate the undisputed victory of Bhutanese army over the Indian insurgents in December 2003 after the anti-insurgency military operation by the Bhutanese armed forces, and they were successfully flushed them out of the southern jungles of Bhutan. They were illegally hiding themselves inside the southern jungles of Bhutan and fighting for Assam independence from India.
Tropical valley of Punakha: Punakha district lies to the east of Dochu la pass and is approached on the central highway from Thimphu to Bumthang. Punakha is the old capital of Bhutan for the past 300 years and is still the winter residence of State Monastic Body.
Chhime Lhakhang: Also known as the Fertility temple to the locals. The Chime Lhakhang or the Chimel Lhakhang is a Bhuddhist monastery located in the Punakha District of Bhutan. The monastery stands on a small hill close to the village of Lobesa and was constructed in 1499 by Ngawang Choggyel, the fourteenth Drukpa hierarch.
Punakha Dzong: Punakha Dzong or the Pungthang DewaiChhenpoi Phodrang is located at the confluence of the Mo Chhu and the Po Chhu River, combined to form the Puna Tsang Chhu River, which in turn is a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra River. The Dzong was constructed by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. The exact spot as prophesized by the Guru Rimpoche some 800 years ago.
Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism; it is also home to the sacred mortal remains of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Terton Pema Lingpa the great treasure discoverer of Bhutan. The Punakha Dzong has also served as the old capital of Bhutan from seventeenth century until 1955 before the capital was moved to Thimphu. The Dzong is still the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (the chief abbot or the religious head of the central monastic body of Bhutan).
Overnight stay in Punakha.
DAY 4: PUNAKHA
Post early breakfast, we will drive to the footbridge at Yebisa Village. It’s about 45-minute walk uphill from the footbridge to Khamsum Yuelle Namgyel Chorten high on the hill across the other side of the valley.
Khamsum Yuelle Namgyel Chorten: This chhoeten (stupa) was built in 2004 by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck on the Nyizergang mountain.
Bartsham Lama Kunzang Wangdi: popularly known as Lama Nyingkula, a closed disciple of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, was in charge of the construction of this Chhoeten.
Drive back to visit Taleda monastery in Talo. Located just below Talo Monastery and about 15 km away from Punakha town, the monastery is situated on a sunny slope overlooking the Punakha valley and the highway leading down from Dochula.
Nalanda Buddhist University (Taleda Geomba): In 1757, the 9th Je Khenpo (chief abbot/the Drukpa Kagyue head of Bhutan) Shakya Rinchen, considered to be a reincarnation of Rechungpa (one of the two extraordinary disciples of Milarepa in Kagye Buddhist lineage) founded the Nalanda Monastery in Punkaha.
Overnight stay in Punakha.
DAY 5: PANUKHA – GANGTEY
Drive to Gangtey. Today, post early breakfast, we drive to Gangtey. Rich and beautiful green meadows, with plenty of marshlands, about 60 kilometers away from Wangdue Phodrang lies the valley of Phobjikha.
Glacial valley of Phobjikha: Phobjikhais in the black mountain region in the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. It is one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan and the valley floor is marshy, ideal for cranes
Gangtey Monastery: Gangteng Sangak Choling, which overlooks the valley, is the largest Nyingma monastery to the west of the Black Mountains. The complex was founded in 1613 by Pema Trinle, a grandson and reincarnation of the influential treasure-finder Pema Lingpa.
The Crane Information Center: The center is managed by RSPN. It’s a place with gold of information on cranes and its protected habitats. The staff there keeps the record of cranes flying into Phobjikha valley each winter.
Overnight stay in Gangtey.
DAY 6: GANGTEY – PARO
Today, we drive back to Paro viaThimphu. The return drive is 6 hours approximately. On the way, stop at Lumperi Royal Botanical Garden.
Lumperi Royal Botanical Park: Manned by the Department of Forest and Park officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, the Royal Botanical Garden springs back to live when Rhododendron Festival is held in the Park in spring every year. Some 48 or more species of Rhododendron flowers bloom, with magnolias in the backdrop.
Simtokha Dzong: At 2250 meters above sea level, the Simtokha Dzong is strategically located at the junction of the Paro, Punakha, and Thimphu roads. Built in 1629 for geomantic reasons on a site where an ogress had possessed the rocks, this fort was the first to be constructed in Bhutan by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.
Valley of Paro: Named after Paro Chhu, a tributary of Wang Chhu (Raidak), which rises below the snow peak of Mount Jomolhari on the Tibetan frontier, Paro district is one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. Tranquil and unpopulated, its upper reaches are carpeted by thick blue pine forest and its elegant farmhouses, with their shingled roofs, exude a quiet and understated air of prosperity.
Kyichhu Lhakhang: Kyichhu is revered as one of the four furthertaming geomantic temples built by the Tibetan emperor Songtsen Gampo during the seventh century on the body of the supine ogress.
Kyentse Memorial House: You can also stop at the Khentse Rimpoche‟s Memorial House outside of the temple to understand the Tibetan Buddhism and his life as Tibetan Yogi.
DAY 6: PARO
Today, post early breakfast, we will take you on a pilgrimage walk to Tiger‟s Nest monastery. Ramthangkha village is the jump-off point. Two-ways at a normal pace takes you five-hours. It‟s good to have light walking stick to support you on the way up and down. we can arrange the walking stick for Ngultrum 60 each at the jump-off point.
Taktshang Pelphug Monastery: Taktshang hermitage (Tiger‟s lair) is located on the face of a sheer 1000-m cliff above the Paro valley, and it is an impressive sight to behold. During the eight century, Guru Padmakara, the great Buddhist master of Oddiyana, travelled the length and breadth of the Himalayan regions, establishing Buddhism from Zahor in the northwest through central Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan, as far as Kham and Amdo in Eastern Tibet.
JangtsaDumtseg Lhakhang: The Dungtse Lhakhang in Paro was constructed by the great iron bridge builder Thangtong Gyelpo in 1421, it is believed to have been built on the head of the demoness who was causing illness to the inhabitants, to subdue her.
Tadzong (National Museum): Paro National Museum is located inside Ta Dzong, which is the largest of the original watchtowers, constructed around 1656 by Tendzin Drukdra, the governor of Paro, who later served as the second regent of the new Bhutanese state.
Paro Rinpung Dzong: A five-storey castle, know as Humrel Dzong, was constructed on thisi site by Drungdrung Gyelchok during the 13th century, above the large rock where he had subdued the local deities and bound them under oath of allegiance to the Drukpa school.
Restorative Traditional Herbal Stone Bath: If you‟re interested in a restorative hot stone bath, we can arrange it for you; however, you will have to give us the advance notice of it. The hot stone bath is especially helpful after a hard day trek like walk to Tiger Nest monastery.
Overnight stay in Paro.
DAY 8: PARO – DEPARTURE
Exit/Paro International Airport. Today, after breakfast, we will see you off at the airport. Of note, you will have to drive to the airport at least two/three hours before your actual flight departure time depending
on your flight sector to complete the check-in formalities, and the checkin counter is closed between 45 minutes and 1 hour before the flight departure time.
Good Luck and TrashiDelek
Note: The itinerary has been designed assuming apt weather and road conditions as per historical data. In case of unexpected change in weather conditions, changes in the itinerary may be required keeping in
account the safety of you.