Historic Bhutan Tour ..10 Days.

HISTORIC CENTRAL BHUTAN TOUR (9 NIGHTS 10 DAYS)

AN OVERVIEW

Bhutan is full of tourist hotspots. We will tour you around Bhutan’s best places to visit. Most of these places are of great importance to Bhutan’s culture.

The Drukgyal Dzong, already in ruins, is still a must see. It is an evocative reminder of the victories of the Great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan. It was destroyed by an accidental fire. Here, we can also experience an enchanting view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m). We will also drop by Kichu Lhakhang. This was built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan King, Srongsen Gampo.

We will take you to the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) monastery where we can also drop by the Satsam Chorten. The trail to the monastery climbs through the beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below.

The Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong (literally means “Heap of Jewels”). This is the center of civil and religious authority in this valley.

The National Memorial Chorten was built in honor of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. In the National Library, you will see ancient Buddhist manuscripts, in the Painting School, you will feel the traditional art of the country through the instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls) and in the Traditional Medicine Institute, and you will witness the ancient medical practices.

Other highlights of our journey will be a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government, Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan) and Handicrafts Emporium. You can also shop for souvenirs in the famous stalls in Thimphu.

We will also go to Punakha via Dochula pass where we can view the higher Himalayas. We will see the Chime Lhakhang, known as “the Temple of Fertility”. For many years, from the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the government. There is a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are also preserved here. Punakha, which is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, convened the new national assembly here in 1952.

We will visit the valley of Wangdiphodrang. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong; four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered an auspicious sign, representing the spread of Buddhist religion to the four points of the compass. A short drive from Trongsa is the Gangtey where we will visit the Gangtey Gompa. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second reincarnation, built the temple.

We will explore Phobjikha valley, famous for its Black Necked Cranes during winter. Then we will go to Trongsa, the most impressive dzong in Bhutan and the ancestral home of the present royal family and of the first two hereditary kings that ruled Bhutan from this Dzong.

Another famous spots are Jakar Dzong  (which literally means “The Castle of White Bird”) and Jambay Lhakhang (a temple with a lake) One of the most spectacular festivals, the Jambay Lhakhang Drup, is staged in the temple. There is also the Kurjey Lhakhang and the Tamshing Lhakhang (temple of the good message). The latter is said to be the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom. For more fun experiences we will also visit Membartsho (literally means “Burning Lake”), Mathra Factory and Cheese Factory, Wangdiphodrang and Tango Monastery.

These were all tourists’ favorite destination. You will be guided by our nice staff as you travel around the place.

ITINERARY

Day 01: Arrive at Paro. (2280 m) (By Druk Air flight):

Your guide will pick you up at the airport and will drive a short distance to the hotel. After lunch, we will bring you to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong which is 16 km up the valley. This was built in 1647 by the Great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan. The dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left it in ruins. This was an evocative reminder of their great victories. It was built to commemorate it. We will explore the ramparts and if the sky is clear, we will experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m). On our way back, we will drop by Kichu Lhakhang. This was built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan King, Srongsen Gampo. We will have our dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 02: Paro – Thimphu (Altitude 2320 m. 54 kms), Excursion to Taktsang Monastery

This will be a very special day as we will have a daytrip to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) monastery. After breakfast, a short drive will take us to Satsam Chorten. From there, we will have a 2-hour walk until we view the monastery. The trail climbs through the beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We will stop for a short rest and drink our refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria), then; we will walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the Taktsang monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684 by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo. It was said to be his favourite consort.

After Lunch, we will visit Ta Dzong (built in 1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong (literally means “Heap of Jewels”) which was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This was the center of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk will take us to the base of the dzong and across a traditional cantilevered; you will see a covered bridge. In the evening, we will drive to Thimphu. We will have our dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 03: Thimphu Sightseeing: (Altitude 2320 m)

The day will begin with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974). This was built in honor of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. The Dupthop Lhakhang is one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We will then visit the National Library, which is stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the painting school where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). After lunch, we will drive to the Traditional Medicine Institute where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices.

Other highlights include a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, a seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). Finally, we will visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu. We will have our overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 04: Thimphu - Punakha ((Altitude 1310 m) (76 Kms, 3 hours drive)

After breakfast, we will drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. If the weather is good, we will stop for a while at Dochula pass to view the higher Himalayas. On the way, we will pass by Chime Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. This temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”. We will be having our lunch at Punakha.

After we take our lunch, we will visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years, from the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping; then Shabdrung took him from his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which was kept within the tradition; however it was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha, which is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, convened the new national assembly here in 1952. We will have our overnight stay in the hotel. 

Day 05: Punakha – Gangtey – Trongsa (Altitude 2800 m, 157 kms):

We need to start the day early.  After breakfast, we will drive to Trongsa via Gangtey. We can see the valley of Wangdiphodrang. It also includes a visit to Wangdiphodrang Dzong (from outside) which was built in 1638. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong; four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered an auspicious sign, representing the spread of Buddhist religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. As we drive further to Gangtey, we will visit Gangtey Gompa. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second reincarnation, built the temple. At the present state of Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth reincarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. We will explore Phobjikha valley, which is famous for its Black Necked Cranes during winter. Packed lunch will be served at Gangtey. After Lunch, we will go to Trongsa. This is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. This was built in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan and enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present royal family and of the first two hereditary kings that ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. Then we will visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower. The chapel inside the Ta Dzong is said to be dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. We will have an overnight stay in the hotel.

Day 06: Trongsa – Bumthang. (Altitude 2800 m, 68 kms):

After breakfast, we will drive to Bumthang and have our lunch there as well. After lunch, we will visit Jakar Dzong, which literally means “The Castle of White Bird”. The current structure was built in 1667. After that, we will visit Jambay Lhakhang. This is said to have been built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659 on the same day as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro.  The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang and was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life force. Under the temple, it is said that there is a lake in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here. We will have our overnight stay in the hotel.

Day 07: Bumthang Sightseeing: (Altitude 2800 m)

After breakfast, we will visit Kurjey Lhakhang which was named after the body print of Guru Rimpoche. This was built in 1652 by Minjur Tempa. We will also go to Tamshing Lhakhang (temple of the good message), established in 1501 by Pema Lingp. This is said to be the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom. After lunch, we will visit Membartsho (Literally means “Burning Lake”) a short distance up the road leading to Tang valley. There was a discovery of several of Guru Rimpoche’s hidden Terma / relics here in Terton Pema Lingpa. In the evening, we will visit Mathra factory & Cheese Factory. We will have our overnight stay in the hotel.

Day 08: Bumthang – Wangdi Phodrang. (Altitude 1325 m. (197 kms):

We will be having an early breakfast then we will take you to Wangdiphodrang. Packed lunch will be served on the way. Then we will have our overnight stay in the hotel.

Day 09: Wangdiphodrang – Thimphu (Altitude 2320 m, 77 kms.):

After breakfast, we will drive our way to Thimphu. After lunch, we will have an excursion to Tango Monastery. Lastly we will have our dinner and overnight stay in the hotel.

Day 10: Thimphu – Paro Airport: (Altitude 2280 m)

 

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