BHUTAN - A Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, is known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. In the High Himalayas, peaks such as 7,326m Jomolhari are popular trekking destinations. Paro Taktsang monastery (also known as Tiger’s Nest) clings to cliffs above the forested Paro Valley.
In time transfer to board your onward flight for Paro. On a clear day the panoramic views of the Himalaya are sensational, including Everest, but particularly exciting is the approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro. In Paro you will be received by your Bhutanese guide and transferred to Thimphu that takes an hour.
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.
Thimphu: (at 2300m) is Bhutan''s capital city and center of government, religion and commerce. About two hours’ drive east from Paro is this a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style. It was a wooded farming valley until 1961, when it became Bhutan''s official national capital. The massive Tashicho Dzong, about 700 years old, was carefully revamped in the 1960s by the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk to house the royal and main government offices. Even today, it still only has a few streets and no traffic lights with estimated population of 70,000 people. Thimphu has many places and sights to visit, in addition to several day excursion possibilities. It has relatively more choice in terms of the accommodations.
After check-in at your hotel, visit:
Zilukha Nunnery: is housed in Drubthob Goemba (monastery). There are about 70 nuns who live and pray every day in the monastery. There are good views of Tashicho Dzong, Golf course and upper Thimphu.
Takin Sanctuary: Takin (Budorcas taxicolor) has been chosen as the national animal of Bhutan is based both on its uniqueness and its association with country''s history and mythology. It is said that Devine Madman, a popular saint is said to have created it with his magical power at a large congregation of devotees. It resembles a cow from back, a goat in from the front, and it continues to befuddle taxonomists, who cannot quite relate to other animal.
Sangaygang View Point (Telecom Tower): There''s a wonderful view of Thimphu valley from the hillside below the telecommunications tower (elevation 2685m), high above the town at the end of a road that branches off from the approach to the youth centre. The complex also houses the broadcasting studios of Bhutan television. Don''t photograph the telecommunications installation, but the valley is worth a few snaps. The area is known as Sangaygang and it becomes a lover''s lane late at night.
Weekend Market: Later drive to the site of Colorful Weekend Market where people from all walks of life come to sell and buy their stuffs. It’s place to get an experience with Bhutanese lifestyle, tradition and culture. (Note: Saturdays and Sundays are the days of weekend Market but most people rush on Friday to buy fresh vegetable/fruits and other goods which arrives earlier in the day from nearby districts and places. Overnight at Hotel, Thimphu.
After breakfast, visit Tashichho Dzong: This fortress serves as the office of the King, ministers and various government organizations. It also is the headquarters for central monastic body of Bhutan. Bhutan''s spiritual leader Je-Khenpo and the monks of both Thimphu and Punakha reside here during summer. It is also the venue for Thimphu Festival in the fall season.
Memorial Chorten: This white and tall landmark of Thimphu was built in 1974 in the memory of third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of Modern Bhutan. It is a four-storey tall white building, containing statues and iconography of deities from complex tantric teachings and serves as an important place of worship for Thimphu residents, as well as from other parts of the country.
Paper Factory: Traditional papers were made from the daphne plant, using simple methods. Like rice papers, these papers are said to last longer.
Textile and Folk Heritage Museum: a fascinating testimony of the Bhutanese material culture and living traditions.
Institute of Traditional Medicine: The Institute of Traditional Medicine Services is situated in Thimphu, located on a hilltop above the Traditional Arts Center and the National Library. The Institute supplies traditional medicines and medical services, trains doctors, and conducts research on traditional medicinal plants to identify the ingredients and develop new products. The Institute has a library dating back to around 1616, when Tibetan Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan. The books and recipes were collected from monasteries where scholars had preserved the medical lore. Overnight in Thimpu.
After breakfast, continue driving to Paro for another 1 hour and visit below monuments / monasteries:
Kichu Lhakhang: Kyichu is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan built in the 7th century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. The story goes that a giant demoness lay across Tibet and the Himalayas, which was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples in a single day to pin the ogress to the earth forever in 659AD. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans at key points. The temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demoness and Kichu is said to have been built on the left foot.
Dungtshe Lhakhang: Dungtse Lhakhang was constructed by the great bridge-builder Thangtong Gyelpo in 1433. It is said to have been built on the head of demoness, who was causing illness to the inhabitants. The building was restored in 1841 and is a unique repository of Kagyu lineage arts. You may or may not be permitted inside but can walk around this three-storey Chorten-type building.
Paro Rinpung Dzong: Rinphung Dzong was consecrated in 1645 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal on the site of smaller fort. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries it served as a bastion against invasion from the north. It is regarded as one of the finest Bhutanese architecture - with intricate wood work, large beams slotted into each other and held together without nails. In it houses the giant 30m X 45m Thangka (Thongdrol), commissioned in mid 18th century, displayed on the last day of Paro Tsechu festival. Rinphung Dzong is the district headquarter of Paro and residence of state monks under Paro rabdey. Overnight at hotel, Paro.
After early breakfast, proceed for Tiger’s Nest Hike.
Taktshang - Tiger''s Nest: Tiger''s Lair or Tiger''s Nest as it 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 sheer 900m cliff above the floor of Paro valley. It is an impressive and un-miss-able sight but accessible only by walk or to ride mules/pony. If you need the riding horse, you must ask your local guide to arrange it on the previous day. From the trail head (2600m), the walk till the Cafeteria is a steep one hour uphill (about 350m ascent). From the Cafeteria (2940m) and areas around it, one can get a good close-up view of Taktsang. Savor views of the monastery over a well-deserved cup of tea and biscuits at the cafeteria.
For those who wish to proceed further from here, one must be able to walk. Usually Ponies/horses will not take people beyond this point and neither will they take you downhill. From the cafeteria, trail continues uphill for another 45 minutes to a high observation point (3140m) where there is a Chorten (stupa). From this vantage point, the lookout to the monastery is a very spectacular and seems almost close enough to touch. It is now on the other side of a deep chasm, only around 150m away as bird flies, but takes half hour or even more to reach. Continue down the flight of cliff-hanging steps on the narrow trail to a beautiful waterfall that plunges down the deep chasm and alongside is a retreat hermitage, jammed dramatically into a rock crevice. Then climb up the flight of steep steps to the monastery. At any point on this walk, you can always return if you find it too difficult. Once inside the monastery, there are several shrines or temples to see with few monks in residence. After visiting Taktshang monastery’s many shrines, most tours schedule lunch at the Cafeteria upon return. After lunch, retrace back to the road-head where you started in the morning. The retrace back is all downhill and always on foot as it is not suitable for riding pony/horse. Please note that proper walking boots is recommended for this hike. Further, if you have more time and ready for more challenging day, there are several monasteries, temples, retreat houses in the surrounding area of Taktshang. The most notable among them are Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tsemo as described seperately.
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. 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, it was rebuilt by entire population of Tsento village. Again in April of 1998, a major fire destroyed the main structure of the building and it''s contents. Reconstruction began in 2000 and was completed and consecrated after extensive efforts and financial support of Governments as well as donors.
Drukgyel Dzong: Drukgyal Dzong ruins is located 14kms north of Paro town, near the end of the paved road. Drukgyal Dzong (victories fortress) was built around 1644-49 to commemorate the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetan-Mongol forces. It was later burnt in fire accident in 1951. On a clear day, Mt. Jumolhari, Bhutan''s holy peak is seen against its backdrop.
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. This museum was destroyed in 2011 earthquake and is now operational with only 02 rooms with limited collection. Overnight in Hotel, Paro.
After early breakfast at the hotel drive to Paro airport for your sensational take-off and scenic Himalayan flight past Chomolhari, Bhutan’s second highest peak.
Base category room accommodation for 2 nights each in Thimpu and Paro in respective hotels/resorts as per the availability.All applicable meals while in Bhutan - Daily Breakfast, lunch and Dinner, some lunches can be provided at tourist class restaurants.Present applicable hotel taxes & service charges calculated @ 20%, subject to change. All inland travel permits. RGOB Royalties and taxes. Inland transfers by group appropriate Non A/c vehicle (Hyundai Santa Fe / Tuscon: 1-2 Pax; Toyota Hiace: 3-6 Pax; Toyota Hi-Roof - 7-8 Pax and Toyota Coaster: 9 pax and above). Local sightseeing with entrance fees where ever applicable. Services of an English speaking local guide from arrival till departure.
Tour Does Not Include
Druk air flights.Visa Fee of US$ 40/- per pax.Travel & Medical insurance coverage. Table Drink/beverage. Drinks/ beverages during sightseeing / drives. Communication charges, laundry, tips. Other expenses of personal nature. Anything not specifically mentioned in the clause, -package rate inclusions.
Category Paro Thimpu Standard Olathang / Dewachen / Metta Resort / Similar Phuentshopelri / Gakyil / Migmar / Amodhara / Pedling / Similar Superior Udumwara Resort / Raven’s Nest Resort Ariya Hotel / Osel Hotel / Tara Phyndeyling / Namgay Heritage / similar Deluxe Zhiwaling Resort – Junior Suite Termalinca Resort – Deluxe Room
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