|Trip Name||Bhutan Cultural Tour|
|Trip Duration||09 Days|
|Price starts from||US$|
You arrive at the Paro International Airport. Paro is a beautiful valley with expansive paddy fields, towering mountains and temples surrounded by verdant forests.
After completing immigration and customs formalities, your guide from Dorji Phalam Travels is there to greet and welcome you to Bhutan.
Once out of the airport, looking around gives you the first impression of the country and get the feel of your tour ahead.
Approximate driving time: 01 hour. Altitude at Thimphu: 2400m
Overnight in hotel, Thimphu
Institute of Traditional Medicine: This is an indigenous hospital. Bhutan is known for its herbal medicines. That is why one of the previous names the country was known by was “Land of medicinal plants”. Here you will see traditional medicines and things that are testimonial to the ancient name of the country.
School of Traditional Arts and Crafts: The school is known as the Institute of Zorig Chusum (meaning thirteen arts and crafts). The institute was established in 1971 to preserve and promote Bhutan’s rich arts and crafts traditions and heritage.
Here at the institute, the students learn painting, calligraphy, embroidery, wood carving, sculpture and lot more. The thirteen arts and crafts comprise: painting, carpentry, carving, sculpture, casting, blacksmithing, bamboo work, gold & silversmith, weaving, embroidery, masonry, leather work, and paper making.
Folk Heritage Museum: Established in 2001, this is an interesting museum housed in a very traditional house. The museum is known as Phelchey Toenkhyim and attempts to connect people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibits, demonstration, educational programs, and documentation of rural life.
The traditional building housing the museum is a restored three-storey structure rammed with mud and timber. It dates back to the mid 19th century. There are things that depict the flavor of a typical Bhutanese rural setting: paddy, wheat and millets fields, a traditional watermill (with mill stones more than 150 years old), traditional kitchen gardens, and the famous traditional hot stone bath. The museum is a walk through the fast disappearing rural tradition and that of the past.
The National Memorial Choeten: This is a huge magnificent stupa. It was built to honor and remember Bhutan’s third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The late His Majesty is lovingly known as the father of modern Bhutan. The Choeten boasts of magnificent Vajrayana Buddhist art in the form of statues and wall paintings. It is believed that circumambulating a stupa gains merits.
Tashichhodzong: Known as the “fortress of glorious religion”, Tashichhodzong showcases the Bhutanese architecture at its best. It also shows how the values of civil administration and religion coexist in harmony for peace and wellbeing.
The dzong houses His Majesty’s Secretariat, the Home and Cultural Affairs Ministry, and the Central Monk Body.
Tashichhodzong was built in 1641. The dzong was later restored by His Majesty the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, in the 1960s. A grand festival (Tshechu) is held at the dzong every fall.
Night stay in hotel, Thimphu
The journey takes two hours. En-route Punakha, you will pass Dochula Pass (about 3,050 m above sea level). If the sky is clear you will see towering mountains of the Himalayas.
At Dochula, you can see 108 Choetens (stupas) built on a sprouting hill. The Choetens were built by one of the queen mothers, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, to dedicate to the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
The Choetens also signify and reflect the teachings of the Buddha. From here, it’s about a little more than an hour’s drive down to Punakha Valley.
In Punakha, our guide will take you to one of the oldest dzongs in the country – Punakha Dzong. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyael in 1637. The dzong is located at the confluence of the rivers Phochhu (male) and Mochhu (female) rivers.
The dzong played a hallowed role in the history of Bhutan. It served as the seat of Zhabdrung’s government. The election and coronation of the first king was observed in 1907, and the third king convened the first National Assembly sitting of the country in Punakha Dzong. The Central Monastic Body continues to reside here in winter. The embalmed body of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal is preserved in the dzong.
Approximate driving time: 03 hours. Altitude at Punakha: 1300m
Night stay in hotel, Punakha.
After breakfast drive to Lobesa. Then hike to Chimi Lhakhang. Chimi Lhakhang is dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, popularly known as the ‘Devine Madman’ who roamed throughout Bhutan subduing evil spirits and preaching religion in an unorthodox but vulgar manner. The temple is known for granting children to infertile women.
On the way to Thimphu visit Wangduephodrang Dzong. The dzong is perched on a hill at the confluence of two rivers. The shape of the dzong is said to resemble a sleeping elephant. It commands impressive views both toward south and north of it. The dzong was built in 1638.
Overnight in hotel, Thimphu.
Approximate driving time: 01 hour. Altitude at Paro 2300m
Visit Paro Rinpung Dzong. The dzong is one of the most impressive fortresses of Bhutan. It sits atop a scenic knoll. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1649 and it helped the Bhutanese immensely in defending their country’s sovereignty. And just above it is the country’s National Museum called the Taa Dzong. The central tower (utse) of the dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the nation. Like any dzong in Bhutan, Paro Rinpung Dzong also houses the civil administration of the district and its monastic school.
Overnight in a farm house, Paro.
Today, we hike to Taktshang. The Taktshang Monastery, or “Tiger’s Nest Monastery”, sits on a vertiginous rock cliff, some 3,000 feet above the valley floor. Legends say that Guru Padmasambhava flew to the cliff on the back of a tigress where he meditated for three months. However, it was only in 1684 that the monastery was built and the named ‘Taktshang’ given by the fourth Deb Raja Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye.
We leave most things for you to see. Tourists, even Bhutanese, say the monastery is more than fascinating.
While coming back, we will follow a different path that takes us through the pristine thick forest of oaks and rhododendrons adorned with Spanish mosses.
Overnight in hotel, Paro.
Visit Ta Dzong: Taa Dzong is located above Paro Rinpung Dzong. The dzong was built as a watch tower to protect Rinpung Dong. In 1968, Paro Ta Dzong was made the National Museum of Bhutan. Today the museum houses a fascinating collection of art and paintings, Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps, coins, and handicrafts. The museum is a history by itself.
Drugyal dzong: The ruins of Drukgyal Dzong or the ‘Victory Fortress’ is another fascinating site. Among the oldest and the grandest, the Drukgyal Dzong was built between 1647 and 1649 during the time of Zhabdrung to commemorate the victory of the Bhutanese over the Tibetan forces.
Exactly three hundred and two years later, the victory fortress was swallowed by flames zeroing most of it right to the ground it once stood proudly on.
From here, on a clear day, you can see Mount. Jumolhari.
Kyichu Lhakhang: Kyichu Lhakhamg is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan. It was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo
Visit to Farm House
Overnight: Hotel at Paro.
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to Paro Airport. Your guide from Dorji Phalam Travels will escort and wish you safe journey home.