This tour explores the highlights of Bhutan’s western valleys. Enjoy the many cultural sites of Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital including the National Memorial Chorten, the National Library, the arts and crafts school and Tashichhoedzong before crossing the 3050m Dochula Pass into the sub-tropical Punakha Valley featuring the incredible the Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lhakang, temple of the ‘Divine Madman’.
On arrival by Druk Air Flight to Paro International Airport. You will be received by our Bhutanese friends from Bhutan Himalayan Holidays with “Tashi Khada” (Traditional way of receiving our guest). From Airport drive to Hotel to check in hotel with coffee or tea.
Visit oldest temple (Kyichu Lhakhang) The temple is undoubtedly one of the oldest temples to have been built in Bhutan. It is one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century AD. The King is said to have built 108 temples in a day throughout the Himalayan regions. Of which Kichu Lhakhang in Paro and Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang are two of them. Of the remaining temples most can be seen in Tibet. Kichu Lhakhang was originally a small structure at the time of its establishment. Because of Jowo (Buddha) as the main statue the temple was also known as Jowo Lhakhang the temple has many relics which date from the 7th century. The oldest of them are the statues of Lord Buddha Sakyamuni, and two of his disciples Maugalbu (Maudgalyana), Sharibu (Sariputra), other relics that has been added over time in the Jokhang are the four statues of Chagtong Chentong (The eleven headed one or Thousand arm-thousand eye one) installed by Dawa Penjor and Tshering Penjor during their tenure as the Penlop Rinpung Dzong.
Visit Paro Dzong(Fortress). Paro DzongThe construction of the Paro Dzong was started in 1644 by the order of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of modern day Bhutan. Unlike most of the other Dzongs in Bhutan, it survived the massive 1897 earthquake mostly intact, though it was damaged by fire in 1907.Paro Dzong’s full name is Ringpung Dzong, which means ‘the fortress of the heap of jewels’. In the 15th century, two brothers (descendants of Phajo Drugom Zippo, the founder of the Drukpa Kagyupa School in Bhutan) named Gyelchok and Gyelzom lived in the Paro valley.
Stroll in Paro Town.
Overnight in Paro -Khangkhu resort (3 star)
After breakfast drive to Thimphu(65KM), 1 1/2 car hour drive.
Thimphu Sightseeing which includes, Thimphu memorial Chorten. The Memorial Chorten, also known as the Thimphu Chorten, is a chorten in Thimphu, located on Doeboom Lam in the southern-central part of the city near the main roundabout and Indian military hospital. The chorten, built in 1974 to honour the 3rd King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–1972), is a prominent landmark in the city with its golden spires and bells. In 2008, it underwent extensive renovation. It is popularly known as “the most visible religious landmark in Bhutan”. It was consecrated by His Holiness; the Late Dudjom Rimpoche.This chorten is unlike other chortens as it does not enshrine the mortal remains of the late King. Only the King’s photo in a ceremonial dress adorns a hall in the ground floor. The King when he was alive wanted to build “a chorten to represent the mind of the Buddha”.
Visit Sunday Market(only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday)-There is a large indoor weekend market in the capital, Thimphu, where locals buy grains, cheese, and vegetables. There are also stalls selling inexpensive ritual objects and souvenirs for tourists. Visit Archery field nearby to see how Bhutanese play Archery.
Visit Changkhangkha Lhakhang, This monastery was built in 15th century by the lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo) where the new born child of Thimphu valley are taken to receive 1st blessing from a High Lama.
Visit 169 ft Buddha Dordenma is a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue under construction in the mountains of Bhutan. The statue will house over one lakh (one hundred thousand) smaller Buddha statues, each of which, like the Buddha Dordenma itself, will be made of bronze and gilded in gold. The Buddha Dordenma is sited amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuck, the thirteenth Desi Druk, overlooking the southern approach to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Upon completion by the end of 2008, it will be one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world, at a height of 169 feet (51.5 meters).
Visit TashichoeDzong and many more depending upon time. Tashichhoedzong is a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city of Thimpu in Bhutan, on the western bank of the Wang Chu. It has traditionally been the seat of the Druk Desi (or “Dharma Raja”), the head of Bhutan’s civil government, an office which has been combined with the kingship since the creation of the monarchy in 1907, and summer capital of the country.
O/N in Thimphu. Hotel Phuntsho Perli (3 star)
After early breakfast drive or bike to Tango Monastery. The Tango Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located 14 km to the north of the capital city of Thimphu in Bhutan, near Cheri Mountain. It was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in the 13th century and built in its present form by Tenzin Rabgye, the 4th Temporal Ruler in 1688. In 1616, the Tibetan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, meditated in its cave. The self-emanated form of the wrathful Hayagriva is deified in the monastery. It belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism in Bhutan. Following the trail, the walk uphill takes about 40 minutes to reach the monastery. The word Tango literally means ‘horse head’ and is derived from the deity Tandin (Hayagriva) that features the head of a horse.
After Lunch visit Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls).
Visit Mini Zoo (our national animal Takin) and Sangaygang to view Thimphu Vallaey.
Visit Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal silver smiths and Bhutanese paper factory at work.
Visit Folk Heritage Museum. A three storied traditional building houses the Folk Heritage Museum. The earthen and timber building was renovated and restored few years ago to appear as it was century ago.
This museum provides glimpse into the traditional Bhutanese life. The artifacts which are kept inside the house remind the visitors about how the rural Bhutanese live today.
Evening drive to Punakha (3 hours drive). On the way you have pass by Dochula pass (3050m). There you will see 108 stupas which were built by our grand queens. Visit Druk Wangyel Lhakhang , which now stands on the crest of Dochu-la. Overlooking the unique spiral of 108 Khangzang Wangyal Chhortens, the serene lhakhang, dedicated to “Glorious Victory”, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck has achieved a fine blend of history and mythology in the construction of The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang to honour His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The past and future appear to merge in the details of the lhakhang that tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distant future. sits like the core of a living mandala formed by the great snow-clad northern mountain range that shimmers in the distance.is near to 108 stupas. If the weather is clear, we will stop for a while at Dochula pass (3050m) to view Higher Himalayas.
Over night in Punakha- Damchen resort -3 star.
After breakfast visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping; the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him thepalace ofGuru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace ofGreat Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new national Assembly here in 1952.
Visit Chime Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. TheTemple is also known as “theTemple ofFertility”.
Drive to Wangdue -visit Wangdue Phodrang Dzong is 21km from Punakha. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel met a young boy named Wangdi playing in the sand by the Punak Chhu and named the new dzong Wangdi Phodrang (Wangdi’s Palace) which was later changed to Wangdue. The dzong is a dramatic example of Bhutanese architecture. The structure follows the contours of a ridge high over the river. The cacti on the slope were planted to prevent invaders from climbing to the dzong. The dzong was founded in 1638 by the Shabdrung and was Bhutan’s second capital until Trongsa was founded in1644. The Penlop of Wangdue Phodrang was the third most powerful ruler in the country.
Drive to Paro, which will take 3-4 hours
Overnight Hotel in Paro(Khangkhu Resort-3 star)
A very special day, with an excursion to view the spectacularTaktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery for Acclimatization.
After breakfast a short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten, from there a 2 ½ hour hike till the viewpoint point of the monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.
We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684 by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters.
Visit Drugyel Dzong ruined Fortress. The Fortress is located in the upper part of the Paro valley. The Dzong was built by Tenzin Drukdra in 1649 at the behest of Shabdrung into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism toBhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favourite consort.
After Lunch, visit Ta Dzong (built in1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the Dzong and across a traditional cantilevered Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate victory over an invasion from Tibet. In the early 1950s Drukgyal Dzong was almost completely destroyed by fire.
O/N hotel in Paro.(Khangkhu Resort – 3 star)
After breakfast drive to Paro international airport with our representatives from Bhutan Himalayan Holidays to bid farewell as you embark on your outbound journey from Paro. Tashi Delek.