An expedition to the Land of GNH.

08 DAYS CULTURAL TOUR

Explore Bhutan and India

 

DAY 01    ARRIVE PARO     (L/D)

The Flight to Paro; Bhutan is one of the world’s most spectacular landing which gives you the views of highest mountain ranges in the World. After safely landing in breathe taking tiny Paro International Airport, you will be warmly welcomed into Bhutan by the Representative of Pemaling Bhutan Tours and Treks at exit doors after you finish your custom formalities.

  • After getting refreshed visit the National Museum: rated as one of the finest natural history museums in South Asia which is a repository of not only precious work of art but also costumes, armor and other hand crafted objects of daily life that provide a good snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. Of special interest is the gallery of thangkhas which exhibits exquisite pieces of different vintages – those depicting Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first Je Khempo and first Druk desi are of particular significance.
  • Then visit Rinpung Dzong built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders and is now used as an administration center and school for monks. Exhibits exquisite pieces of different vintages – those depicting Zhabdung Ngawang Namgyal, the first Je Khempo and first Druk desi
  • Visit Kyichu temple one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demoness lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demoness. 

Overnight at hotel: Paro

 

DAY 02          PARO           (B/L/D)

After an early breakfast take a short drive to road point from where the hike begins to the famous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) which clings precariously to a cliff 800 m / 2,600 ft above the Paro valley. The climb up to the view point will take around three hours (depending on one’s fitness). In the second half of the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, alighted here upon the back of a tigress, and upon meditating for three months in a cave, assumed the form of Dorje Droloe, the Terrifying Thunderbolt and subjugated the Eight Evil Spirits who hindered the propagation of Buddhism. Thereafter, the Buddhist Dharma was introduced to Paro valley and soon spread to the rest of Bhutan. Taktsang is one of the holiest sites in the country and one of the most venerated Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas.

flags and cowsLunch will be served during the return hike back to the road point. The afternoon will comprise of a visit to Drugyal Dzong and a local farm house as detailed below:

  • Drugyal Dzong, now in ruins, was built in 1646 by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, led by Mongolian Warlord, Gushri Khan. Strategically built over the only passage into Paro valley, the Dzong helped to repel numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. It so impressed the early English visitors in 1914 that the Dzong was featured on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine. In fine weather, the towering peak of Mount Jumolhari 7314 m high appears as a backdrop. This mountain which marks the frontier with Tibet is sacred and the dwelling place of goddess Jomo.
  • In the evening visit a local Farmhouse to see firsthand how rural Bhutanese live. The Farmhouses are very decorative, built and painted in a classical style. The houses are normally three stories; the ground floor is used for cattle, the top floor for drying hay, while the family live in the middle floor. 

Overnight at hotel: Paro.

 

DAY 03:        PARO – PUNAKHA           (142KM, ABOUT 4 HOURS)

 

After breakfast drive to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred temples of the Kingdom, reflecting the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.

Travel to Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), where there are 108 Chorten (small stupa) and one main Temple with exclusive modern traditional paintings. On a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan ranges. Such as  ; Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m ), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7, 060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana – finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
.In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.
Visit Druk Wangyel Chhorten, built by the Queen Mother for the peace and stability of the country. The 108 Khangzang Namgyal Chhortens are a new landmark for travellers as they cross Dochula, the first mountain pass into the interior of the country.

On the way visit Chimi Lhakhang, located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. There is a short 20 minute walk through the village of Sopsokha en-route to the temple wherein you will cross paddy fields and get a feel for rural Bhutan. The temple was built by Ngawang Chogyel in the 15th century after the ‘divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. The temple is believed to bless couples unable to have children and many people from around the world visit this holly site to seek its blessings.

Drive to see the impressive Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful dzongs of Bhutan. For many years until the time of the second King, it served as the seat of the government. It is the winter residence of the monastic body, and was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Inside the Dzong is the set of the 108 volumes of Kanjur – holy book of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, written in gold. The Dzong also safe guards Bhutan’s most treasured possession:  the Rangjung Kharsapani, a self created image of Chenrigzig which is described by Shabdrung as a treasure as vast as the sky.        

Overnight at hotel: Punakha.

 

DAY 04                 PUNAKHA – – GANGTAY                (B/L/D) 

Drive to Gangtay one of the most beautiful open valleys and home to the endangered black necked cranes (Grus nigricollis) which migrate from the Tibetan plateau to avoiding the extremely cold winters from end of October to the end of March. The Black necked Cranes, Grus nigricollis, is the least known of the 15 species of cranes in the world. It was first discovered in 1876 by a Russian naturalist, Prjezhwalsky in Lake Koko-nor in the northeast corner of the Tibetan Plateau. Endemic to the Himalayan region, it has been listed in the Red Data Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature as globally threatened with a total count of 5000-6000 individuals worldwide.

gangteyThere are also muntjak (barking deer), wild boar, sambar, Himalayan black bear, leopard and red fox. The valley is a designated conservation area and borders Black Mountain National Park.

On route visit Chimi Lhakhang, this temple is believed to bless couples unable to have children and many people from around the world visit this holly site to seek its blessings.

Meal included:    Breakfast at hotel

Lunch at local restaurant

Dinner at local restaurant

Overnight at hotel: Gangtey

 

DAY 05                                     GANGTAY – THIMPHU                                         (B/L/D)

After early breakfast drive to Thimphu, there will be plenty of stops en-route to take photos and for tea, coffee and snacks.

On the way visit The Royal Botanical Park, also known as the Rhododendron Garden at Lamperi. Rhododendron Botanical Garden is a nature reserve rich in flora and fauna and beautiful in itself.  A Rhododendron garden with 46 species of the plant is the theme of the botanical garden. More than hundreds of species of fauna in this rich eco diversity park will let you a nice experience. You can walk around through the green lushes and maroon pregnant strawberries, wild and rare flowers in bloom and catch glimpses of runaway mountain birds.

After that continue your drive to Thimph. On arrival check into hotel.

Overnight at hotel: Thimphu

 

DAY 06                                                  THIMPHU                                                 (B/L/D)

Early morning after breakfast hike to Tango Monastery, about 7 miles from Thimphu, the Tango Monastery is a lovely place for an excursion. The drive or walk to reach it offers beautiful views of the countryside and the Thimphu valley. The monastery dates back to the 13th century and was rebuilt in the 15th century by the “Divine Madman”, Lama Drukpa Kuenley.

After that hike towards the Cheri Monastery, The monastery, which is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, is located at the northern end of the Thimphu Valley about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the capital. It sits on a hill above the end of the road at Dodeyna and it takes about an hour to walk up the steep hill to reach the monastery from there.

According to Bhutanese religious histories, the place was first visited by Padmasambhava in the 8th century. In the 13th century it was visited by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo the Tibetan Lama who first established the Drukpa Kagyu tradition in Bhutan. Johnsingh (2005) describes the beauty of the place and the occurrence of goral there.

kado (19)Evening visit Centenary Market one of the biggest structures in Bhutan, Centenarary Farmers market was built in 2008 to mark the coronation of fifth King of Bhutan and 100 years of monarchy. The two storied building has 458 stalls for sale of the vegetables, fruits, meats and other farm products. It also houses cafeteria and separate stalls for non wood forest products. Vendors throughout the country come here to sell their farm produces. The market is open six days in a week except Wednesday.

Overnight at Hotel – Thimphu.

 

DAY 07                                      EXIT FROM INDIA                                             (B/L/D  )
After breakfast, drive to Phuentsholing en route visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom built in 1627, which now houses the School for Buddhist studies. Thimphu / Phuentsholing road was built in
1962 by Dantak, the Indian Border road organization. The drive on this route is very pleasant with numerous scenic spots en route.

Just before, arriving Phuentsholing, visit Kharbandi Goemba, the monastery built in 1967. It houses the large and attractive statues of Sakyamuni, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche.

Overnight at the hotel in Phuentsholing.. 

 

DAY 08                                     DEPARTURE                                                            (B/)

Departure from Phuentsholing to India to Sikkim or Darjeeling

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