Paro - Punakha - Thimphu
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.Paro is a valley town in Bhutan, west of the capital, Thimphu. It is the site of the country’s only international airport and is also known for the many sacred sites in the area. North of town, the Taktsang Palphug (Tiger’s Nest) monastery clings to cliffs above the forested Paro Valley. Northwest of here are the remains of a defensive fortress, Drukgyel Dzong, dating from the 17th century.Punakha is a town in the Himalayas of Bhutan. It's known for the Punakha Dzong, a 17th-century fortress at the juncture of the Pho and Mo Chhu rivers. The fortress hosts the Punakha Tshechu, a religious festival featuring masked dances and music. In the surrounding Punakha Valley, temples include the fertility-focused Chimi Lhakhang and the hilltop Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which has river and mountain views.
Day 1: Arrive Paro – Thimphu
Arrive by Druk Air flight to Paro. On a clear day the flight to Paro is breathtaking with views of the Himalayan peaks such as Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu, and on the final approach see Bhutan's own snowy peaks, the sacred Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. On arrival at Paro airport, after completing the formalities, you will be met by a local representative / guide and transferred by a private vehicle for a leisurely drive for 1 hour, 54 kms. towards the modern capital of Bhutan – Thimphu. Thimphu is situated in a large valley traversed by the Wangchuk River and over shadowed by high peaks. Arrive at Thimphu and check in at your hotel. Afternoon, proceed to visit Thangthong Dewachen Nunnery: the only nunnery in the capital also popularly known as Zilukha Anim Dratshang. It was built in 1976 by the 16th emanation of Thangtong Gyalpo, Drubthob Rikey Jadrel. Currently, the nunnery is home to about 60 nuns who have devoted their life to spirituality and Buddhism. Evening proceed to the Mini Zoo where you can see the national animal of Bhutan – Takin. This particular animal is found only in the Himalayan region and the head of the animal looks like a goat and body of a cow/yak. Before sunset, drive to Sangay gang view point (2685 m high), get wonderful views of the Thimphu valley, walk through hundreds of colourful prayer flags that dot the hill. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 2: Thimphu
After breakfast, proceed for a full day tour of Thimphu Valley Exploration. Thimphu the most unusual capital in the world, is also the seat of the government. This bustling town is home to Bhutan's royal family, the civil service and foreign missions with representations in Bhutan. It is also the headquarters for a number of internationally funded development projects. Full day sightseeing includes visits to: National Memorial Chorten - the building of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan's third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who had wanted to erect 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 peace. Then visit the Folk Heritage & Textile Museum - These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life. Closed on Sat / Sun / Govt. Holidays. Visit the Handicrafts Emporium - This governmentrun enterprise displays a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products. It also carries a small collection of books on Bhutan, Buddhism and Himalayan culture. Proceed to the National Library - which holds a vast collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion. Visit the Institute of Zorig Chusum - Commonly known as the Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school. Last visit the Tashichho Dzong - The fortress of the glorious religion which was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. Tashichho Dzong houses some ministries, His Majesty‟s secretariat, and the central monk body. It is open to visitors during the Thimphu Tsechu (held in autumn) and while the monk body is resident in its winter quarters at Punakha Dzong. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast, check out and transfer by a private vehicle to Punakha (approx 3 hrs / 74 kms. Enroute visit Semtokha Dzong. This Dzong was built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is home to the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies. The most noteworthy artistic feature of Semtokha Dzong is the series of ove 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard. Then drive upto Dochula Pass (3088 m) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chortens, Mani walls and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If the skies are clear, the high Himalayan peaks towards the northeast will be revealed in all its glory. Then continue the drive to Punakha Valley. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and is still the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and central monk body. Hike to the nearby Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to the “Divine Madman”, an eccentric monk from the 16th century famous for many of his amusing, folklore stories. Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Day 4: Punakha
After breakfast, proceed for full day tour of Punakha Valley – visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and has played a prominent role in civil and religious life of the kingdom. Damaged by fire, flood and earthquake over the centuries, it has now been fully restored in its original splendor. Then hike up through fields of rice along the banks of the Mo Chhu to the upper end of the valley to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning monument recently built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck. It took 9 years to build and holy scriptures rather than engineering manuals were consulted to construct this 4-storey temple. It is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions. This temple has been dedicated for the well being of the kingdom, its people and all sentient beings. It is a 15-20 mins hike from the suspension bridge.Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Day 5: Punakha – Paro
After breakfast, check out and proceed to Paro. On arrival, visit the Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower and now the National Museum. The museum collection includes ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts, weapons, coins, stamps and religious Thangkha paintings. Then visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) situated at a commanding height overlooking Paro Valley. Built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646, this Dzong now houses Paro's monk body and the offices of the civil administration and is symbolic as the religious and secular center of all affairs of the valley. In the evening visit Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought off Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari “mountain goddess” can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong. Then check in at Paro hotel. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 6: Paro
After breakfast, today proceed for full day excursion to Haa Valley via Chele-la Pass. Enroute on a clear day you can get superb views of Mt. Chomolhari and Jichu Drake and if the weather is favourable, we will stop here at Chele-la to stroll around and enjoy the lovely mountain scenery. Then continue onto Haa Valley (2670 m), descending all the way for another 22 kms, finally reaching Haa after about an hours drive. After lunch visit the two famous monasteries, Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple). The central shrine in Lhakhang Nagpo is said to be almost identical to that of the Jowo temple in Lhasa. Legend has it that local deities assisted in the construction of Lhakhang Karpo. As a result, the place came to be locally known as Hay which later became Haa due to varying interpretations and pronunciations over time. The three giant hills looming over the fringes of Haa valley were called "Me Rig Puen Sum" especially after the event of the Lhakhang Karpo construction. Today the three hills are popularly known as "RigSumGoenpa" signifying three deities, Jambayang, Chana Dorji and Chenrezig (known in Sanskrit as Manjushri, Varjapani and Avalokiteshvara, respectively). These are the three principal bodhisattvas (Buddhas to be) among the thousand future Buddhas to come, and representations of them are to be found in every lhakhang (temple) and household shrine room. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 7: Paro
After breakfast, take a full day excursion to Taktsang Monastery also known as the Tiger's Nest. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche, founding father of the Bhutanese form of Mahayana Buddhism, arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. The main structure was severly damaged ny a fire in 1998, but after many years of painstaking restoration work, the complex has now been fully restored to its former glory. You will also visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. This is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines and the building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 8: Depart Paro
Early breakfast in the hotel, check out and you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight.
Inclusions / Exclusions
1. Passengers under 12 years sharing room without an extra bed are considered children.
2. Rates are per person in INR, based on Minimum 02 full paying passengers traveling together.
3. Check for peak season surcharge as applicable.
Tour price includes:
1. Accommodation at hotel.
2. Daily breakfast.
3. Airport–Hotel return transfers as mentioned in the itinerary on private basis
4. Sightseeing as mentioned in the itinerary with English speaking tour guide on seat-in-coach basis.
5. All admission fees to museums.
Tour price does not include:
1. International Airfares, taxes on the airline tickets, any domestic airfares, travel insurance.
2. Early check in and late check out.
3. Any personal expenses, tips, porterage, mineral water.
4. Any increase in the rate of exchange, surface transportation and land arrangements, which may come into, effect, prior to departure.
5. Entrances to certain monuments / sightseeings will have to be paid on arrival.
Indian nationals do not require a VISA to Bhutan. Agent will apply a special permit when the Indian guests arrive in Bhutan. Currencies Indian Rupees (INR) denominations of 500 and 1,000 are not acceptable in Bhutan.
To undertake the tour you must be in possession of a Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of travel.