|Trip Name||Bhutan Cultural Tour|
|Trip Duration||09 Days|
|Price starts from||US$|
Your journey on Druk Air, the national airline, is special. On the way to your destination, the aircraft will cross over magnificent and towering great Himalayan mountains capped with snow. You will see some of the highest speaks in the world at their best. The grandeur of the peaks, valleys and hills are breathtaking. As you enter the Paro valley, the views of rising fortress, temples and lush environment are spectacular.
At the airport, your guide from Dorji Phalam Travels will receive you and take you to hotel.
After lunch, visit one of Bhutan’s important fortresses that is in ruins – Drukgyel Dzong. The name suggests “the fortress of victory.” It lies about 15km away (northward) from Paro town. The fortress was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, in 1647. It was built to celebrate Bhutan’s victory over Tibetan invasions.
From the fortress site, if the weather is good, you can enjoy the view of one of the highest peaks in Bhutan – Jhomolhari. It measures about 7,314m above sea level.
While returning from Drugyel Dzong, you could visit a temple called Kichu Lhakhang. The temple bears deep religious and spiritual significance. The Tibetan King Songtsen Gempo built the temple in 659 A.D. The temple, history says, is one of the 108 temples the Tibetan king built across the Himalayan region to subdue the demons.
In the evening, you can stroll in town seeing places and meeting people.
Night stay in hotel, Paro.
Today is a special day. We hike to Taktsang Monastery, popularly known as Tiger’s Nest to foreigners. The hike to the monastery from the road point leads through a lush forest with well managed trail. The hike uphill takes about four hours. As you climb the ridge adorned with fluttering prayer flags, it gives you a different feeling altogether. You can see the Paro valley at its best as you ascend.
On the way, refreshments will be served at the Taktsang cafeteria.
The Taktsang Monastery was built by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgye, one of the rulers of medieval Bhutan, in 1684. The monastery stands on the face of a huge rock, almost clinging. The rock on which the monastery lies plunges more than 900m into the gorge below. It is amazing.
Thus, Paro Taktsang has been described as one of the wonders of the world.
It is also believed that Guru Padmasambhava, a great master who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan, came to the place riding on a tigress (said to be his consort).
Records and beliefs of great Buddhist masters discovering treasures, including mind treasures, at Taktsang are also there.
In the afternoon, visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower. Today it is the national museum. And it is the repository of the country’s history. You will see artifacts as old as more than 12 centuries.
Then walk downhill to visit Rinpung Dzong. It serves as the administrative center of Paro District. The fortress was built by Zhabdrung Namgyel in 1646.
In the evening drive to Thimphu.
Night stay at hotel, Thimphu.
It is the day to explore Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan.
Visit the National Memorial Choeten (stupa). It was built in 1974 to honor His Majesty the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and for the world peace and prosperity. It stands rising into the sky at the heart of Thimphu valley. Thousands of people throng the stupa on special religious days to offer butter lamps and to get blessings. The sight of old men and women going round the stupa everyday reflects Bhutanese faith in the practice of Mahayana tantric Buddhism.
A visit to the National Institute of Zorig Chusum (13 arts and crafts) will show you how Bhutanese traditional handicrafts are made. Hundreds of students train here to keep the tradition of Bhutan’s arts and crafts alive. Then visit the Folk Heritage Museum. The museum showcases a typical Bhutanese farm house. It also has the physical evidences on Bhutan’s ancient life and ways of living. Here Bhutan’s past is alive.
After lunch, visit Tashichho Dzong. It is one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan. Any tour in Bhutan cannot miss this monument. The dzong houses the office of His Majesty the king. And it serves as the summer residence of Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) of Bhutan’s monk body.
You might like to visit Changangkha Lhakhang. It sits atop of a ridge. It is the seat of a powerful deity. It was built by Lama Phajo Drugom Zhigpo in the 13th century. The temple is considered the spiritual home of children born in the vicinity.
Later afternoon, you could go to a hilltop called Sangaygang. From there you can see the whole Thimphu valley sprawling with structures built in line with traditional architecture and Thimphu river meandering at the center of the valley. And the zoo housing the national animal Takin is nearby.
Night stay at hotel, Thimphu.
Night stay at hotel, Thimphu.
Exploration of western Bhutan begins. As you drive to Panakha, you will pass Dochula Pass. There are108 stupas and a temple. Her Royal Highness Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck built the stupas and the temple to honor His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. On a clear day, you can see some of the highest snow-capped Himalayan mountains rising into the sky.
At Punakha, visit one of the most historical and beautiful dzongs in Bhutan. It was built in 1637 by Zhadrung Ngawang Namgyel. His embalmed body is believed to be there even today. The fortress stands right at the confluence of two rivers popularly refereed to as male and female rivers. Punakha was once the capital of Bhutan. And the first National Assembly of Bhutan was convened here in 1952.
The beautiful architectural design of the fortress is believed to have had beeen recollected from a vision the architect who designed it saw. It is also believed that Guru Rinpoche foretold the construction of the dzong. The fortress is widely believed to be the replica of Guru Rinpoche’s paradise (Zangtopelri). The dzong serves as the summer residence of Chief Abbot of Bhutan’s monk body. Punakha’s annual festival (Tshechu) is one of the most fascinating festivals in the country.
After lunch, visit Wangduephodrang Dzong. The fortress was built in 1638. It is said that when people were looking for a site to build the dzong, they saw four ravens flying in four different directions. It was considered an auspicious sign that represents the spread of Dharma. Therefore, they chose the present site. The fortress also has the shape of a sleeping elephant.
However, in June 2012 the Dzong was razed to the ground by fire. It was a national tragedy. It is under reconstruction.
In the evening, meet people and stroll around.
Night stay in hotel, Punakha.
After lunch, visit the Trongsa Dzong. The fortress is was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa in 1644. Before the formal establishment of Bhutan’s monarchy in 1907, Trongsa was Bhutan’s political power center. It was from here the father of the first king Jigme Namgyel unified and consolidated Bhutan. The first two hereditary kings of Bhutan ruled Bhutan from this fortress.
Trongsa District has a significant place in Bhutanese history connected with the lineage of Bhutan’s kings. The future king of Bhutan must be instituted as the Trongsa Penlop before assuming the Golden Throne.
Overlooking the Dzong lies Trongsa Ta Dzong (ancient watch tower). The watch tower was made into the Monarchy Museum a few years ago. The chapel inside the Ta Dzong is dedicated to Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyel.
Overnight in Hotel, Trongsa.
You can take enough rest and drive to Bumthang to reach there at lunch time. On the way, you can stop for sightseeing. You will pass through Yotongla Pass.
Bumthang is the cultural heartland of Bhutan. The district is home to some of Kingdom’s most sacred and ancient Buddhist sites. And it was once the capital of the country.
After lunch, visit Jakar Dzong. The name of the Dzong means “The Castle of White Bird.” It was built in 1667.
Visit Jampa Lhakhang. It is said to have been built by King Srongtsen Gempo of Tibet in 659 A.D on the same day of Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang. Underneath the temple, it is believed there is a lake in which Guru Rinpoche hid several terma (religious treasure or relic).
One of the most special and spectacular festivals called called Jampa Lhakhang Drup is held in every October. It is here where naked dance is performed to ward off evil spirits.
Night stay in hotel or farm house, Bumthang.
Visit Kurjey Lhakhang. Kurjey means the “body imprint.” The temple is built around a rock on which Guru Rinpoche had left his body imprint while meditating. The temple is considered one of the most sacred of temples in Bhutan.
Short walk from Kurjey to Tamshing temple.
Visit Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of good message). It was established in 1501 by Terton (treasure discoverer) Pema Lingpa and is one of the most important Nyingmapa temples in the country.
After lunch, visit Mebartsho. The name means “Burning Lake.” The lake is located on the way to Tang valley in Bumthang. It is said that Terton Pema Lingpa displayed his supernatural power at the lake. He dived into the lake with a butter lamp and came out with a treasure and the lamp still lit. Moreover, it is believed that Terton Pema Lingpa discovered several treasures from the lake hidden by Guru Rinpoche.
Visit Bhutanese breweries, wineries and popular Swiss Dairy Farm.
Overnight stay in hotel or in a farm house, Bumthang.
Drive to Gangtey. After lunch, visit Gangtey Monastery. The monastery was founded by the grandson and mind reincarnation of Terton Pemalingpa in 1613. And Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, built the temple. It is a Nyingmapa monastery. It is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang.
Then explore Phobjikha valley. It is one of the most beautiful valleys in the country. It shows an example in nature conservation. The valley is the winter roosting place for Black-necked cranes, an endangered bird species.
Night stay in Gangtey
You will have enough time to do sightseeing on the way. The trip from Gangtey to Paro will ensure that you cover up sightseeing of places you missed while traveling to Bumthang because of time constraint. You can also arrange some ad-hoc visits to nearby places in consultation with your guide.
Drive to Paro Airport. Your guide will accompany you and ensure you leave Bhutan safely. Farewell!