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Call Of The Peaceful Thunder Dragon
Places Covered: Bumthang, Punakha, Thimphu, Trongsa, Wangdiphodrang
Duration of Tour: 11 days
If you crave solitary retreat away from the noise and rush of your busy lives, Bhutan is easily the destination that will cater all these and more to leave you relaxed, rejuvenated and renewed to go back and take on the toils of everyday life.
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 – A Tea Session at Chubjokha Monastic School
Chubjokha monastic school is about 20 minutes drive from Paro town and has beautiful view overlooking Paro valley. The monastery was founded by a master known as Lam Rinchen whose coming to the place was foretold in the distant past. The land where the monastery stands now was donated to the master by a devoted couple. Lam Rinchen built the monastery in bits with contribution offered to him by his devotees. The Master passed away about 10 years ago and his son Khenpo Jamyang continues the legacy. The monastery has 30 monks.
It is in keeping with traditions that we conduct tea session for the monks. Our simple belief is that we gain merit out of such acts. And so, with absolute pure mind we offer tea during the session to the monks.
In the afternoon we drive to Thimphu. On the way we will walk on a 14th century bridge built by a enlightened master known as Thangthong Gyalpo who also built the monastery standing little above the bridge.
Once in Thimphu after checking in the hotel, you will attend a talk on Buddhist fundamentals by a renowned Buddhist Master in Bhutan.
Third Day – To Tango and Chari Monasteries
Tango monastery holds the highest level of Buddhist studies in Bhutan. All the monks in this monastery have reached the highest level of Buddhist studies and are capable enough to enter into the prolonged three years of meditation practice. Once the monks graduate from this institute they have the option to go further into more spiritual practice or even take up responsibilities of serving the central monastic body of Bhutan and become a monthly salary benefactor. The graduates who are deep into serious spiritual practice can continue their journey to Chari Goenpa for deeper and profound studies and meditation.
The reincarnation of the 17th century Buddhist Master Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay lives here and continues the legacy of spiritual journey. We can arrange an appointment to meet the master.
After picnic and lunch in Dodena we can continue our journey to Chari Monastery the first monastic school instituted in Bhutan in 1627 by Zhabdrung. If you wish we can arrange a night halt at the monastery for meditation and prayer.
Fourth Day – Thimphu to Punakha
The day’s program is scheduled for after lunch, which is travelling to Punakha. In the morning, there’s time enough to make a visit to the Folk Heritage Museum, National Library, Painting School and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine in Thimphu.
The drive to Punakha, which is the old capital of Bhutan begins after lunch.
The Dochula pass (altitude – 3,050m above sea level) falls on the way, so make sure to take time and enjoy the view of the mountains from the pass. Dochula also has 108 chortens built on it that adds to the scenic grandeur of greenery and mountain peaks.
The journey to Punakha is about two and half hours. In Punakha, you will visit Chimi Lhakhang, a temple built by Lama Drukpa Kuenlay most popularly known as the Divine Madman due to his odd and at times grossly weird mannerisms through which he propagated his teachings or subdued demons and demoness.
The temple is most visited and worshipped for it is believed to bless sterile men and women with the boon of fertility. Many foreign couples have also visited Bhutan specifically to receive blessings from Drukpa Kuenlay and have their children named after the Buddhist saint or his temple, as has been the custom so far to add the name ‘Kuenlay’ to their names or ‘Chimi.’ In the evening, you can visit the Pungthang Dewa Chenpoi Phodrang (Palace of Great Bliss) or simply Punakha Dzong.
Punakha Dzong houses the sacred Machen Lhakhang, which is the holy sanctum where Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal’s relics are preserved. The Kings of Bhutan receive blessings and ceremonial scarves for their coronations which are blessed by the lhakhang.
The dzong was built in 1636-37 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is a fine specimen of Bhutanese architecture. It is said that not a single nail was used in the construction of the dzong. It served as the ancient capital of Bhutan for centuries before it was shifted to Thimphu in the 1950s.
Your overnight stay will be at the Hotel in Punakha
Fifth Day – Punakha to Trongsa via Gangtey (Phobjikha)
Today you leave Wangdi and cross Pelela pass (3,300meter), you will enter central Bhutan, the belt of black mountain ranges. Trongsa was a powerful province in the past, that of Trongsa penlop. Trongsa Penlop was the last regent who eventually became the first king in 17th December 1907. Therefore even today the king to be of Bhutan has to become the Trongsa Penlop.
You will also take a detour to Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha will be a most beautiful greeting for you as the valley greets you with all its beauty. You should know that Phobjikha valley is also the winter resting grounds for the highly-endangered and very rare Black-necked Cranes. Around mid or late October the elusive cranes start flying into Bhutan and it is a most wonderful sight. The other place in Bhutan where these cranes migrate in for the winters is Bomdeling in Trashiyangtse dzongkhag in eastern Bhutan. The cranes migrate from Central Asiatic plateau to escape its harsh winters.
Sixth Day – Trongsa to Bumthang
In the morning we shall visit the Trongsa Dzong. This dzong is supposed to be the longest dzong in Bhutan amongst the ones built across the nation by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. However its length is hardly the reason for which it is significant in the country’s history. Trongsa was the seat of power for the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyel who played a huge role in defeating and bringing together different warring factions under a stable system of governance.
This noble objective was continued by his son Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuk who succeeded in unifying the whole nation under one king’s common rule when he was enthroned and crowned as The First King of Bhutan, unanimously by the people of Bhutan on December 17, 1907. The day has ever since been celebrated as the National Day of Bhutan.
After taking into detail the architecture of the Trongsa dzong which is a specimen of fine Bhutanese craftsmanship, head for the dzong’s watch tower or Trongsa Ta Dzong. Initially and primarily built to serve as a lookout point for defence and security reasons, the tower now serves as a museum which boasts a collection of antiquities like historic paintings done by great Buddhist saints, teachers and personalities of those times. The museum also has a few items that are demonstration of the art and crafts skills displayed by Jigme Namgyel. After visiting the Dzong you will continue to Bumthang over Youtong la (3,400meter).
Bumthang the cultural heart land of the country or the ‘spiritual capital of Bhutan’ as some like to call it is indeed a sacred place. You will gradually observe and feel this the moment you enter Bumthang valley, as you witness the beauty of the land and the presence of many age old sacred monasteries and temples dotting the valley. It was here in Bumthang the great tantric master popularly known as Guru Rinpoche visited in 8th century. It is said having been in Bumthang itself is enough to cause good karma in your life. Therefore, be privileged to have set foot on this blessed land.
Seventh Day – Sightseeing Bumthang
Begin the day with your visit to Jambay Lhakang a 7th century Buddhist monuments. The place is such that you can feel the positive energy surrounding you. Next you will proceed to visit a private temple at Chamkhar where once upon a time a king known as Chakhar Gyalpo ruled the land, you will be visiting the place where Chakar Gyalpo’s palace was located. From here you will learn why Guru Rinpoche came to Bumthang and how the Kurje Lhakang was founded. After visiting Kurje Lhakang and the holy water created by Guru you will take a 20 minutes hike crossing Chamkhar chu on a suspension bridge to Tamshing Monastery a 15th century monuments.
After lunch you will drive another 20 minutes on the high way to eastern Bhutan and visit Mebartsho (the burning lake) founded by treasure revealer Pema Lingpa.
Spend your evening in Bumtang town meeting people and doing souvenir shopping
Eighth Day – Bumthang to Wangdi
Today as you drive back to Wangduephodrang. Enjoy the ride as you go breezing across the beautiful scenery and farm land settlements along the mountain sides. Indeed the drive, despite the long distance is actually a beautiful drive. You will visit Chendebji chorten on the way.
Ninth Day – Wangdi to Paro
Start early so that you can do some sightseeing in Thimphu before you go to Paro. Once in Thimphu you will visit Memorial Chorten, 69 foot tall Buddha statue, Changangkha Monastery, textile academy, folk heritage museum etc.
In the evening drive to paro and spend your time leisurely in the town
Tenth Day – A Hike to Taktsang ‘The Tiger’s Nest’
The day’s experience will come across as most extraordinary. Taktsang is one of the most sacred for all Himalayan Buddhist countries. It is also the main icon of Bhutan for the outside world and you wouldn’t believe as you take the picture with your own hand. ‘Every step you take is worth’ is the expression made by all the people who make to Tiger Nest. For many spiritual people, it is a mind’s journey. So come and find out what it really is all about. The experience will leave you contemplating and rejuvenated.
Eleventh Day – Departure
Representative (s) of A Way To Bhutan and your guide and driver will accompany you to Paro airport for your departure.