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Day 01 – Arrive Paro & Drive to Thimphu
Arrive at Paro airport, the flight into paro takes you over the great Himalayas, offering the scintillating scenery of the world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will see the silvery Pa Chu (Paro River) meandering down the valley, the Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watch tower).
On arrival in Paro you will be received by our representative and drive directly to Thimphu (approx. 55Kms/ 01 hour). En route visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom which now houses the School for religious and cultural studies.
There are a good many things to see in the capital which has a very relaxed, laid-back feel about it. Thimphu is relatively small having a population of approximately 90,000 people and the streets are wide and tree lined.
Evening is at your leisure. Walking along the street you will see many interesting places. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 02 – Thimphu
In the morning you will visit the Late King’s Memorial Chorten, The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the Father of modern Bhutan”) and a monument to world peace. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy. Later visit the National Library, the indigenous hospital specializing in herbal medicine, handmade paper factory, and the nunnery at Zilukha.
In the afternoon, tour of the school of fine arts where young students learn the traditional arts and crafts (Zo Rig Chusum – the thirteen crafts); Zangtopelri Lhakhang, the Handicraft Emporium and the local handicraft centers to see the varieties of textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, jewellery etc. on display. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 03 – Thimphu – Punakha
After an early breakfast drive to Punakha (approx. 70Kms/ 03 hours). On the way, halt at the Dochula pass– 26kms away from Thimphu (3120m) for tea and snacks. From this pass, if the weather is clear, you will get the most spectacular view of the Entire Eastern Himalayan Mountain ranges. You will also find 108 beautiful Stupas known as the “Druk Wangyel Chortens’ in the middle of the pass which reflects Bhutan’s spiritual as well as artistic traditions.
Upon arrival at Punakha, check into the hotel followed by lunch at the hotel.
Later visit Lhawang Tshering’s small incense making factory, the most successful and leading incense exporter in Bhutan. Incense, (poi) is one of the most essential elements in religious offerings. Its aroma, it is said, can help to soothe and calm a restless mind. After visiting the incense factory we will visit the small town of Wangduephodrang. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 04 – Punakha
Morning visit the Punakha Dzong which is strategically built between two rivers known as Phochu and Mochu which means “Male River and Female River”, then visit the beautiful Khamsum Yule Namgyel temple (30 minutes round trip from the road).
Later explore around Punakha valley and look for semi-nomadic tribal people known in Bhutan as “Layaps” (Interaction with Layap people is possible only from Dec –end of March). They can be seen in and around Punakha valley during the winter months when they migrate southward from Laya to escape the extreme cold. After a picnic lunch nearby the Pho Chu River, we will drive back to Lobesa and to visit a farm house. Here we will see a Traditional Bhutanese cooking and farming demonstration. Afterwards, participate in some unique Bhutanese recreational activities including Khuru, a Bhutanese dart game, Archery, The National Game of Bhutan and Degor, a throwing competition. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 05 – Punakha – Gangtey
After breakfast, private road transfer to Gangtey (approx. 80Kms/ 03 hours). It is a beautiful valley of rolling hills and green meadows surrounded by snowcapped mountains. It is situated at an altitude of 3000m. It is also the winter home for the famous Black Necked Cranes who migrate here during the winter months.
Visit the impressive Gangtey Goemba is an old 16th Century private monastery that belongs to are incarnate (Gangtey Trulku). This imposing building of ancient Tantric Buddhist history (although now being renovated) dominates and overlooks the Phobjikha valley. Inside the monastery are ancient artifacts of Tantric Buddhism (like the mummified body – not wrapped like the Egyptians- 7th Century by the Indian saint Guru Padma Sambhava (known famously as Guru Rimpoche).
Upon arrival at Gangtey, check into the hotel followed with Lunch
Later visit the Black Necked Crane centre and do some hiking in the National park. Also explore the valley of Phobjikha by walking along some of the most interesting nature trails and see the most fascinating cultural and natural sites. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 06 – Gangtey – Paro
After breakfast drive back to Paro (approx. 95Kms/ 04 hour). Upon arrival check-in at the hotel and relax amidst the comforts of your room.
Rest of the day is at your leisure. Walking along the street you will see many interesting places. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 07 – Paro
Morning after breakfast visit Ta Dzong (Sunday, Monday and Government holiday closed): once a watchtower, built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century, Ta Dzong was inaugurated as Bhutan’s National Museum in 1968. It holds fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps. The museum circular shape augments its varied collection displayed over several floors.
Afterwards, walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, which has a long and fascinating history. Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called Nemi Zam. A walk through the bridge, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it. It is also the venue of Paro Tshechu, held once a year in the spring.
Return back to the hotel for Dinner and overnight stay.
Day 08 – Paro
Morning after breakfast, a day excursion to Tiger’s Nest
Taktshang or ‘Tiger’s Nest’ as it is often referred to for Taktshang Pelphung monastery, is one of the most venerated and famous of Bhutan’s monasteries. It is located on the face of a 900m sheer cliff. It is an impressive and unmissable site, but accessible only by walk or to ride mules/pony.
According to the legend, Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche, who spread the Buddhism across the entire Himalayas is said to have flown here in the 8th century on the back of a Tigress, in order to subdue negative spiritual forces that were hostile to spread of Buddhism. In 853, one of his students, Pelgyi Senge mediated here in the main cave. The stupa inside one of the temples contains his mortal remains and therefore the cave is known as ‘Pelphung or Pelgi’s cave’. Subsequently many great spiritual masters such as Milarepa, Thangthong Gyalpo, Phajo Dugom Zhigpo, Shadrung and many others, passed periods here in profound meditation. In 1692, Tenzin Rabgye built a two storey temple around what little may have existed previously. This was expanded and refurbished many times over the period of time. Taktshang and several temples in the area were burnt down in 1951 by fire accident but much of them remained intact and most of the relics were saved. Soon after, the, Taktshang was rebuilt by population of Tsento village. Again in April of 1998, a major fire destroyed the main structure of the building and its contents (some believe it to be arson). Reconstruction began in 2000 and was completed and consecrated after extensive efforts and financial support of Governments as well as donors.
Return back to the hotel for relaxation & Dinner and overnight stay.
Day 09 – Depart Paro
Today after breakfast you will be transfer to Paro airport to connect your flight for onward destination.