PARO – THIMPU – PUNAKHA – GANGTEY – TRONGSA – BUMTHANG – URA – LIMITHANG – MONGAR – TRASHIGANG – SAMDRUP JONGKHAR – GUWAHATI
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in entire Himalayas. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkatta, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representative, and afterwards drive to the hotel.
Evening take an exploratory walk around Paro main street.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 02 : Paro / Thimphu
After breakfast drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, “mountain of goddess” can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong. En route visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. Later return to the hotel.
Later visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. After the visit walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala.
After lunch, start biking to Thimphu (54 km, approx. 3.1/2 hours) passing through the confluence of Paro and Thimphu rivers. The route follows the valley of Thimphu river through an arid landscape.
Evening in Thimphu, visit to Trashichhoe dzong, “fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the centre of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03 : Thimphu / Punakha
Morning visit King’s Memorial Chorten continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who has wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.
Later visit to Changangkha Lhakhang. It is a fortress like temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above Thimphu, south of Motithang. The temple was established in 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who came from Tibet. The central statue here is Chenrezig in a manifestation with 11 heads. From temple courtyard, there is fascinating view of Thimphu valley.
Then visit Buddha Point. You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.
After early lunch biking to Punakha (75 km, approx. 4.1/2 hours) ascending en route at Dochula pass (3,088m) and later continue descent to Metshina. Punakha is about 12 km from this place at the altitude of 1,250 m so in about 3.1/2 hours biking the total descent from Dochula to Punakha is about 1,800 m.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 04 : Punakha / Gangtey
Morning visit to 17th century Punakha Dzong. Built strategically at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region, Punakha Dzong has played an important role in Bhutan’s history. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully
restored by the fourth King.Overnight at the hotel in Wangduephodrang. Then continue biking to Gangtey (68 km, approx. 4.1/2 hours) gaining altitude of about 1,800 m. Evening excursion to Phobjikha valley which is a designated conservation area and famous for black-necked cranes.
Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey.
Day 05 : Gangtey / Trongsa
After breakfast visit Gangtey Gompa. Perched on a small hill that rises from the valley floor, the Gangtey Monastery is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountain’s Gangtey valley, Bhutan and also the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens who take care of the Monastery.
Then embark on a biking excursion to central Bhutanese town of Trongsa (125 km, approx. 6 hours) crossing 3,300 m high Pelela pass en route. From Pele la pass proceed to Chendbji
Chhorten at altitude of 2,400 m (27 km, 1.1/2 hour), the stupa patterned on Swayambhunath in Kathmandu. Chendbji to Trongsa is about 41 km, approximate two hours of biking on almost flat land.
Overnight at the hotel in Trongsa.
Day 06 : Trongsa / Bumthang
After breakfast visit Trongsa Dzong. Like almost all towns in the Kingdom, this Dzong architecture dominates the entire Trongsa horizon dwarfing the surrounding buildings. Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second King ruled the country from this ancient seat.
Then visit Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five storeys, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, a task entrusted to him by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity.
Then biking to Bumthang (68 km, approx.4.1/2 hours) crossing Yotongla pass (3,400 m) and then descend to Gyetsa valley (2,700 m). Later cross 2,900 m Kiki la pass while reaching to Jakar.
Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 07 : Bumthang
Day for relaxation and sightseeing in one of the most beautiful valleys and also the religious heartland of the nation.
After breakfast visit Kyichu Lhakhang, consisting of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 on the rack face where Guru meditated in the 8th century. Second temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of Guru’s body and is therefore considered the most holy. The third temple was built in 1990s by Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108 chorten wall.
Then proceed to Jambay Lhakhang. This monastery was built in the 7th century by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits n the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.
Jakar Dzong, founded by great grand-father of the first Shabdrung is next in sightseeing schedule. This Dzong was initially built as a monastery in 1549. It was upgraded after the Shabdrung had firmly established his power in 1646. The Dzong is now used as administrative centre for Bumthang valley, and houses the regional monk body.
Afternoon drive across the River to Tamshing Lhakhang. Located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang, this temple was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, the re-incarnation of Guru Padsambhava. The monastery has very ancient religious paintings like 1,000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female form of Buddhistava). The temple was restored at the end of the 19th century.
Evening visit to Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery. Located above the main town, about 3 km from Chamkhar town, the monastery was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 1984 who was recognized at a very young age by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H. 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama whose spiritual lineage dates back to the nearest disciples of the great 9th century master. Since then the monastery has developed considerably with increase in number of monks to almost four hundred. The monastey has become part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalize Tibetan culture.
Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 08 : Bumthang / Ura
From Bumthang Ura camping site is about 60 km and time taken is approximate 4 hours while biking. En route cross 3,300 m high Shertang la pass and then descend to Ura village situated at the altitude of 3,000 m. Later explore pleasant Ura village.
Overnight lodge / tented accommodation.
Day 09 : Ura / Limithang
After breakfast proceed to Limithang (80 km, approx. 6 hours) crossing 3,750 m high Thrumshingla pass, the highest point during this trip. From Thrunshingla it is all the way downhill (about 700 m) descent till the camp at Limithang.
Overnight tented accommodation.
Day 10 : Limithang / Mongar
It is one of the shortest trip on this itinerary (27 km, 1.1/2 hours) with a total descent of about 1,400 m.
Evening visit to Mongar Dzong. It is site of one of Bhutan’s newest Dzong built in 1930s. Yet the Dzong is built in the same method and traditions of all the other Dzongs; no drawings and nails have been used. A visit gives visitors an impression of how traditional Bhutanese architecture has continued to thrive through the centuries.
Later explore local market.
Overnight at the hotel in Mongar.
Day 11 : Mongar / Trashigang
After breakfast biking to Trashigang (96 km, approx. 5 hours). The trail is gradual up and down till 55 km and later about 10 km upwards the Trashigang. Evening explore the town area, which is the biggest urban center in Bhutan after Thimphu.
Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang
Day 12 : Trashigang / Samdrup Jongkhar (180km, approx 6 hours drive)
After breakfast visit Trashigang Dzong. Built in 1659, the Dzong serves as the administrative seat for the district as well as the home of the monk body. The Dzong commands a remarkable view over the surrounding countryside.
Later drive to Samdrup Jongkhar. Trashigang — Samdrup Jongkhar road completed in 1965 and the journey takes about 6 hours. Along the way, pass by Sherubtse College, the only college in country founded in 1978. Also visit the Zangtho Pelri temple built in 1978 by the late Minister of Home Affairs. It represents Guru Rinpoche’s paradise. Driving ahead, reach to Khaling to visit the Blind School and Weaving Centre. Deothang, 80 kms from Khaling is the centre of Technical training college and road maintenance head quarters for the east. From here the road descends fairly rapidly to the plain through a dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak, bamboo and ferns.
Overnight at the lodge in Samdrup Jongkhar.
Day 13 : Samdrup Jongkhar / Guwahati (110km, approx 3 hour drive)
After breakfast transfer to Bhutan border where you will be picked up by Indian agent for onward drive to Guwahati.
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