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A Sojourn of The Himalayan Kind

A Sojourn of The Himalayan Kind

Places covered: Paro, Phuentsholing, Punakha, Thimphu, Wangduephodrang

Duration for Journey: 7 days (7 Days / 6 Nights)

This tour itinerary is ideal for visitors who wish to browse through Bhutan’s attractions, but do not wish to miss out on the mystical aura, the essence of liveliness, and the elements that make this country ‘The Last Shangri-La,’ – a popular moniker that it has been awarded by the outside world.

Expect a short trek as part of visits made to the places mentioned, as the landscape of the country is such, being of mountainous terrain and hilly nature. Under this tour you will visit Lhakhangs (temples) that are, as ancient as they are sacredly renowned, as enigmatic as they are authentically de-mystified for you with your own eyes. You will be get to feel up-close and personally rejuvenated by nature through this tour planned for you. Also get a taste of Bhutanese History, its cuisine and the lifestyles of people, all of which make up the sum total that is, Bhutan.

First Day – Arrival at Paro

Druk Air is the national airline of Bhutan. You can board a flight on it, bound for Paro from Bangkok, Kolkata, New Delhi or Kathmandu.

The preview to what Bhutan has to offer starts immediately once aboard the flight, as you feast your eyes on the majestic peaks of the eastern Himalayas. From above you can see some of the untamed or unclimbed peaks of Bhutan as part of the mountain range. Before that, you will already have had enjoyed a bird eye’s view of the highest mountain range of the world, the Mt. Everest and also Mt. Kanchenjunga.

A representative from A Way To Bhutan, your guide will receive you upon arrival and drive you to your hotel. Feel free to take a walk through Paro’s old-fashioned two-street town toward evening (a guide can accompany you if you wish), browse through the shops, or just take in the scenery which you will find appealingly different.

Second Day – Sightseeing in Paro

The day’s plans are not nearly tiring as the climbs and drops of the landscape may suggest. After breakfast visit the Ta Dzong. The name Ta Dzong translates to ‘watch tower’ and it served the function of watch tower for the Paro Rinpung Dzong.

Back in the day, similar look-out points were built for other dzongs (fortresses) to counter any approaching hostilities, for those were the days of frequent strife. These towers were specifically built high atop hills and other vantage points during the old days.

Presently serving as the national museum, it houses an array of antiquities such as ancient thangka (exquisite scroll painting), mural paintings and other forms of art done by great personalities of those days, original textiles of the kingdom which represent the culture that still flourishes, weapons & armour used back in the day, household objects typical to the Bhutanese people’s way of life back then and even now, and other natural and historical artifacts.

After a brief walk down from the museum you will have reached Rinpung Dzong (‘fortress of a heap of jewels’). It serves as seat of the Paro district administration and residence for the monastic school. Rinpung dzong like all other dzongs in Bhutan is adorned with wall murals that symbolize the lives of the Bodhisattvas and other prominent saints, drawings from Buddhist parables within which the country’s culture and traditional life is intricately represented and holy symbols that signify their own individual religious meanings.

Drukgyel Dzong or the fortress of the victorious Drukpas will be the next stop. History recalls the dzong as being built to celebrate the victories over several Tibetan invasions which were successfully countered from this defence point. The fort was gutted by a fire disaster in the 1950s but has been left in the form of historical ruins to this day to pay homage to what it stands for. You can also see the white dome of Mount Jomolhari (mountain of goddess) from the location.

 Third Day – Excursion to the Tiger’s Nest and Trip To Thimphu

The catch of the day as far as attractions go, may just be the site you will visit next – Taktsang monastery. Taktsang literally means Tiger’s Nest.

Taktsang Monastery is a most spectacular site, perched high and precariously on a steep 800m rock face. Prepare for a two hour walk uphill after you have been reached at the foot of the Taktsang cliff by the company vehicle. There is also the option to take riding-ponies which can be arranged by the company prior to your arrival, as it is a four hour trip in total back-and-forth.

Taktsang is a most holy pilgrimage site blessed by Guru Padmasambhava who is believed to have flown to this spot on the back of a tigress in his wrathful form called Guru Dorji Drolo and it is believed that his consort Yeshey Tshogyal had transformed into the tigress which he rode. Guru Padmasambhava had meditated at the site for three months giving the temple a highly sacred status and thereby making it a popular pilgrimage destination for Buddhists not just in the country but everywhere around the world. In 1684, the Fourth Desi (temporal ruler) of Bhutan, Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye, built a monastery on the site and named it Taktshang drawing from the origins in the Padmasambhava legends.

After an evening tea, drive to Thimphu along a winding road for about 2 hrs.

Your overnight stay will be at a hotel in Thimphu

 Day-04 Thimphu Sightseeing

Thimphu, the capital city has many sites of interest to visit, but A Way To Bhutan has selected a prominent few among them as part of your itinerary.

The Memorial Chorten, will be the first stop for you today. The chorten (stupa) is a chief landmark in the capital city and is also a most sacred place of worship for people. The idea of the chorten was conceptualized by the Third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck to ward-off negative energies. After His Majesty’s demise, the chorten was built in his memory by the present King and the Queen Mother.

Next visit the Folk Heritage Museum, where you will get a clear picture of the medieval lifestyle of the Bhutanese, how it continued to be woven into the culture of the country as it progressed to shape the culture and traditions unique only to Bhutan. At the National Library you can view collections of literature and scriptures and at the Textile Museum you can witness the display of ancient Bhutanese textile collections. Next on the route is a Nunnery that you can take a look at after which you will visit the Changgangkha Lhakhang, a 12th century temple. A drive to the top of the Sangaygang will gove you a bird’s eye view of the Thimphu city. You can visit the national animal (Takin) research center on the way up or way down.

Finally for the day, a visit is planned to Tashichhodzong, the center of government administration and the monastic order. The Tashichhodzong (fortress of glorious heritage) also houses the office of the King, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. After that you can spend your time to tour the town on your own (a giuide can accomoany you, if you so wish).

Your overnight stay will be at a hotel in Thimphu

Fifth Day – Punakha sightseeing (77Km. 3hrs)

A drive to Punakha and Wangduephodrang is planned for you today after breakfast. On the way, you can make a stop at the Dochula pass (Altitude 3050m) for a tea or coffee break while you enjoy a spectacular view of the eastern Himalayan range. You will be served lunch at a hotel.

Later in Punakha, visit Chimi Lhakhang, a temple built by Lam Drukpa Kuenlay the Divine Madman and renowned for blessing sterile men or women women with fertility. Foreign couples have also been known to especially visit this temple and have their children named after the temple, that is ‘Chimi’ or after the saint himself, which is ‘Kuenlay.’

After that, visit Punakha Dzong, a fortress engirdled by two rivers on its left and right. The rivers are designated as male and female rivers and called Phochu and Mochu.

Your overnight stay will be at a hotel in Punakha

 Sixth Day – Khamsum Yueley Namgyel Chorten and then back to Thimphu

After breakfast, you will visit the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, a temple that stands majestically on a strategic ridge above Punakha valley. The temple was built by the Queen Mothers to ward off negative energies, promote peace, stability and harmony in a changing world after it was prophesied in the scriptures by Thragthung Dudjom Lingpa.. It is said all its unique architectural designs have been drawn from the scriptures.

A three hour journey awaits you so Lunch accordingly. The drive will however be very pleasant as you surf through the sights and scenery of mountains, green forests, check out birds and animals that you may sight on the way.

Your overnight stay will be at a hotel in Thimphu

Seventh Day – Thimphu – Phuentsholing

Have a good breakfast as the drive to Phuentsholing (close to the Indo-Bhutan border) will be for about six hours. The journey will be long but not as tiring, because you r attention will be captured by the various sights and changing vegetation covers along the way. Lunch will be at Phuentsholing and later, representative (s) form A Way To Bhutan will bid you farewell.

Note: For visitors wishing to enter by land and exit by Druk Air, the program can be reversed