Arrive Paro; travel to Thimphu and sightseeing in Thimphu 55 km / approx one hour During the journey to Paro, you will experience breathtaking views of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake in Bhutan. Upon arrival at Paro International Airport, and completion of immigration formalities and collection of your baggage, you will be welcomed by our tour representative who will be your tour guide during your entire trip to Bhutan. The drive from Thimphu takes you along the Paro Chu Chu means water or river downstream to the confluence with the Wang Chu, then turn upstream and travel along the Wang Chu to Thimphu. In the afternoon, visit the Memorial Chorten a huge stupa built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned the Kingdom from 1952-1972 as well as for world peace. Chorten represents the mind of Buddha. Late afternoon, visit Tashichhodzong, the seat of the Royal Government of Bhutan since 1952 and presently housing the throne room of His Majesty and the secretariat and witness the national flag hoisting down ceremony.
Sightseeing in Thimphu After breakfast, we will start exploring Thimphu City with a visit to its cultural sites: Visit the Institute of Zorig Chusum Painting School where traditional arts and crafts are still kept alive. The school show cases the 13 arts and crafts of Bhutan. Students at the school receive training for six years on thangka painting, slate curving, tailoring, stone carving, embroidery, etc. Upon completion of the training, they either find employment in the government or the private sector and some even start their own arts and crafts enterprises. If you are interested to avail some students made products, they are available for sale. Textile Museum serves as the living art of Bhutanese weaving culture. It is located at the heart of Thimphu town. We can see the intricately designed local fabrics used for making dresses worn by men and women and used for making souvenirs. There is a small group of weavers working on looms to demonstrate this artistic works who come from Lhuentse district, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family in eastern Bhutan. Weaving a complete set of Gho or Kira, the national dress of Bhutan, would take a weaver five to six months or a year and their price would y from US$ 1, 000 to 2, 000. Then visit National Library, which has a stock of holy scriptures especially on Buddhism. Mini Zoo, houses the national animal-Takin will be a place of interest to visit. The 4th King at one point wanted the animals to be released to the forest but they kept moving around Thimphu town and had to be re-confined at the enclosure. Afterward, take a ride to Sanjaygang to have a bird’s eye view of Thimphu valley as well as to have some snap shots of the big apple of Bhutan. Next, if you are interests, Bhutan Post, as they have a good collection of stamps which the Bhutan is known for. They can also print stamps with your photo at a nominal charge, which you can take as souvenirs back home. Then, visit the handmade paper factory, where traditional paper is made out of inner pulp of daphne and edgeworthia plants. Before it is being processed into paper, the pulp is soaked, boiled, and grinded to a fine pulp and only then laid into a layer of sheets. The process is quite labour intensive, but worth it. In Bhutan
sightseeing in Punakha. Today, cross over the Dochu La Pass, located above 10, 000 ft on our way to Punakha, a journey towards east. Dochu La pass offers visitors with a first glimpse of the Himalayas. The pass houses the 108 Druk Wangyal Chortens Stupas and Druk Wangyal Lhakhang. Both of these were built to commemorate the victory of Bhutanese soldiers over the Indian militants in December 2003 as well as in memory of 8 soldiers that were killed during the war. The His Majesty, the 4th King led the war himself. The road from Dochula descends via Lamperi Botanical Park through pine forests, blooming rhododendrons, and beautiful terraced rice fields and the vegetation can y from sub alpine to sub-tropical when we reach Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan. The road to Punakha branches off left and curls its way down the valley before reaching Punakha. Next, visit the Punakha Dzong in the afternoon. Punakha remained the old capital of Bhutan for almost 300 years. The third king of Bhutan shifted the capital to Thimphu in 1953. The dzong was built by Zhabdrung in 1637 and is located between two rivers – the Phochhu male river and the Mochhu female river. It terms of architecture it is widely believed to be a master piece. People believe that deities of the area helped Zhabdrung in the construction of the fortress during nights. It houses the district administration and serves as the winter residence for the Thimphu central monastic body. In October, the monk body led by the Chief Abbot, Je Khenpo, move to Punakha following the age old tradition of spending a night half way, although the road distance between Punakha and Thimphu by car is just two and half hours.
Explore Punakha In the morning, drive for 15 minutes to the road point and thereafter take a mini hike/walk uphill 30-40 min to Khamsum Yuellay Namgyal Chorten stupa built by the Queen Mother of the Fifth Kingto bring peace and harmony for Bhutan and the world. In the afternoon, take a hike to Chimi Lhakhang “Temple of Fertility”. The temple was built by a cousin of Lama Drukpa Kuenlay, the Divine Madman who was generally known for his eccentric behavior. Bhutanese generally will have a story to tell about him- how he tried to spread Buddhism in Bhutan in an unconventional way in the 16th century. The monastery stands for power of fertility and people in and around Bhutan
Travel to Paro; Sightseeing in Paro 126 km, 3 ½ hours After an early breakfast, drive to Paro. The beautiful Paro valley provides a visitor with all the essential elements of Bhutan, in general ancient temples, massive forts, monasteries, picturesque villages, scenic hikes, and drives. Upon arriving in Paro, we will visit the Ta Dzong Watch Tower, located above the Dzong is used as the national museum of Bhutan since 1967. However, it is under renovation as of this writing,
Hike to Tiger’s Nest Have an early breakfast and travel to Paro for Taktsang hike Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Drive to Tiger’s Nest base camp would take one and half years and climb to the Taktsang Monastery will take around 5-6 hours, both ways. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop for a rest and light refreshments at the only cafeteria mid-way and then further walk a short distance until we see Taktsang monastery. The monastery was built in this holy place in 1684 A. D. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here in the form of Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming tigress in 747 A. D. and meditated for 3 months. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 msl into the valley below. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria. After lunch we will return to the hotel. Next, visit Dungtse Lhakhang, built in 1421 by the famous Tibetan Lama, Thangton Gyalpo 1385-1464 in the form of chorten to subdue a demoness in Paro valley. It is the only Lhakhang, except the Memorial Chorten in Thimphu, that was built in the form of chorten and has one of the most extraordinary collections of paintings in Bhutan. Overnight stay in a hotel Tashi Namgay or similar
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