10 Days Essence of Bhutan
Day 1 (Paro, Thimphu)
During the flight on a clear day, you will get to enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjungha, and other famous Himalayan peaks including sacred Mount Jumolhari and Jichu Drake Peaks in Bhutan. Upon arrival at Paro Airport, you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. The drive to Thimphu is about an hour. On route, enjoy the view of the valley of Thimphu and river through a rather arid and Rocky landscape. After lunch we will take you to visit the The King’s Memorial Chorten (built-in memory of The Third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), Visit the Archery ground to watch the national game of Bhutan. Drive to the BBs tower (for a great view of Thimphu Valley and The Thimphu Dzong) and continue your drive to Buddha point to enjoy the view of Thimphu. Evening visit Thimphu Tashichhodzong(fortress) the summer residence of the chief abbot of Bhutan. Overnight Hotel in Thimphu.
Day 2 (Thimphu)
After breakfast, we will hike to Chagri Monastery; it will take about an hour walk to reach the monastery. Chagri was built high on the slope in 1619 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal as his first monastery in Bhutan. It takes you through the temperate forest of oak, rhododendrons and other species of hard wood trees. The view from monastery below is spectacular. Descend down to the valley and drive back to Thimphu. After lunch you will visit The School of Traditional Arts, visit Changangkha Monastery, weaving centre and the nunnery which was built by Drupthop in 14thcentury. Evening visit the traditional medicine hospital and meet with the doctor and later will be at leisure and you can stroll in the town, visit local handicraft shops, do shopping as you like. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3 (Punakha)
After breakfast drive to Punakha, the road climbs for an hour till you reach Dochula Pass at an altitude of 3150m dotted with colorful prayer flags and 108 Stupa. Weather permits, this pass offers the most spectacular view over the high peaks of the Eastern Himalayans. Hike in the nature for an hour on the mountain side and on the way back you can enjoy a hot cup of tea/coffee at the Dochula resort. Continue to descend en route to Punakha & Wangdue through the temperate forest of rhododendron & magnolia bloom in spring, then a semi-tropical zone where orange trees, banana trees and cactuses are found in abundance. Upon reaching Punakha visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong that was built in 17th century. Have lunch in the town. After lunch, you will take a walk to the temple standing on a round hill rock through a paddy field to Chimi Lhakhang or the temple of fertility. It is about 25 minutes’ walk through rice terraces and the village of Yoakha. The temple is situated on the spur above the village. It is believed that barren couple will have children if they get blessing for this temple. Evening drive to northern part of Punakha and hike to Khamsum Yulley Temple and on the way back stop at Pho Chhu suspension bridge. Overnight at hotel in Punakha. D
Day 4 (Punakha, Trongsa)
After breakfast, drive to Trongsa crossing Pele la pass at an altitude of 3,400 meters, a wonderful opportunity for photographs. On the way make a stop Chendepji Chorten, patterned on Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu. It was built in 18th century by Lama Shida, from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. Upon reaching Trongsa 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. Protected from invaders by an impenetrable valley, Trongsa Dzong is an impregnable fortress. The Dzong itself is a labyrinth of temples, corridors and offices holding court over the local community. It is built on many levels into the side of the hill and can be seen from every approach to Trongsa heralding its strength as a defensive stronghold. Ta Dzong: The 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. There are 224 items on display including a sacred image of Sung Joenma Dorji Chang (self-spoken Vajradharna), a bronze statue of Pema Lingpa, made by himself, and a number of centuries-old treasures like dance and ritual costumes and objects, ancient prayer books, paintings and scrolls, and textiles. The Ta Dzong is a living museum and the main lhakhang in the Utse is dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha (Gyaltsab Jampa), also known as the Future Buddha). A Khesar Lhakhang is dedicated to Khesar of Ling. The tower has always been a place of retreat and there are hermits in practice, including two yogis, who are in life long meditation. The Ta Dzong is the only structure that has been restored specifically to tribute the Wangchuck dynasty as Bhutan celebrates the centenary of the Monarchy. Overnight at hotel in Trongsa..
Day 5 (Trongsa, Bumthang)
After breakfast, travel to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation, with lush valleys and hilly forests. Bumthang consists of four valleys–Chumey, Choekhar, Tang, and Ura–with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000 meters. Upon reaching Bumthang visit the places as follows: Jakar Dzong: “castle of the white bird”. According to legend, when the lamas assembled in about 1549 to select a site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for Jakar Dzong. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of the valley and summer residence of Trongsa monks. In the evening have a leisure walk in the town.
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 in the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century. Kurje Lhakhang: Situated before Jambay Lhakhang, Kurje Lhakhang consists 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. Overnight at farm house (learn how to cook the Bhutanese cuisine) in Bumthang. Overnight at hotel in Bumthang.
Day 6 (Ura Valley, Bumthang)
After breakfast, drive through forests of spruce, pine, larch, fir, juniper, bamboo and rhododendrons to reach Ura Valley. Upon reaching Ura Visit three small village, each had cobblestone paths and a river that ran through them. The locals in this remote area stock firewood for the cold winters and dry radish greens, slices of pumpkins, turnips and turnip greens, as well as hay for the animals, in preparation for the long and cold winters, visit most impressive local temple (Lhakhang) in the Ura village and have your picnic lunch in the valley and drive back to Bumthang.
On the way back, make a stop at Membartsho (The Flaming Lake) in Tang valley is a wide spot on the Tang Chhu (chhu – water / river) and is considered to be one of the greatest pilgrimage sites of Bhutan. Pema Linga found several of Guru Rinpoche’s hidden treasures here. The importance of this site is indicated by the extensive array of prayer flags and the small clay offerings called ‘Tse Tsa’ in rock niches. Overnight stay in Hotel in Bumthang.
Day 7 (Bumthang, Gangtey)
The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, and extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed. A few kilometers beyond the Gangtey Monastery, on the valley floor lays the village of Phobjikha. This place is the winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. Phobjikha, at an altitude of 2900 m, falls under the district of Wangduephodrang and lies on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu (Chhu Naap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water). Afternoon take a walk through Gangtey Nature trail about an hour and enjoy the view of the valley and also walk in to Black Necked Crane information Centre. Overnight at hotel in Gangtey.
Day 8 (Gangtey, Paro)
After breakfast, take a drive to Paro following the road crossing Dochula pass. The drive to Paro takes around five to six hours. Make a stop at Dochu la Pass, the pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass known as the Druk Wangyal Chortens- the construction of these108 chortens was commissioned by the eldest Queen Mother, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. After reaching Paro Visit Paro Rimpong Dzong which was built in 17th Century and also talk a walk to Zuri Dzong from where you can enjoy the view of the valley. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 9 (Taktshang, Hike)
After breakfast, drive about 30 minutes and hike to Taktsang Goempa (Tiger’s Nest Monastery). The hike upto the viewpoint will take about 1 1/2 hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. You will stop here for refreshments and then hike further upto the monastery which should take another 1 1/2 hours. It was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three months in the 8th century. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) flew to this location from Khenpajong, Tibet on the back of a tigress and subdued a demon. He then performed meditation in one of the caves here and emerged in eight incarnated forms (manifestations) and blessed the place. Subsequently, the place came to be known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. Guru Padmasambhava is known for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen caves in which he meditated. After visiting the monastery, walk back downhill to the road with lunch at the viewpoint cafeteria. On the way drive to Drugyal Dzong to see the ruin dzong.
Then drive back to your hotel after visiting Kichu Lhakhang on the way. Kichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon 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 demon. In the evening relax and overnight stay at Hotel in Paro.