A Bhutan Cultural Jaunt

A Bhutan Cultural Jaunt

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Explore the historical and cultural highlights of central Bhutan by taking this insightful tour…its an opening into a pleasant world that not many know about…this short tour is a long memory down the years…

If you reckon on entering Bhutan via road from India, then this cultural tour is ideal for those who’d like to enter Bhutan from the Indian state of Western Bengal through the southern overland border gateway of Phuentsholing. As an option, a flight from Nepal can also be the start of an amazing by air as much as it would be a journey on roads surrounded by lush green tea plantations with stunning views of the Himalayan foothills, this whirlwind vacation gives you deep insights of Bhutan’s western valleys. We wonder in amazement of the many cultural sites of Thimphu, Bhutan’s sleepy capital including the National Memorial Chorten, the National Library, the arts and crafts school and Tashichhoedzong before crossing the 3050m Dochula Pass into the sub-tropical Punakha Valley that displays the unbelievable Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lhakang, temple of the ‘Divine Madman’, or so they say. We hike further into the ‘full of life’’ market town of Wangdue before retracing our steps back to the quaint Paro Valley to discover the Ta Dzong Museum, Rimpong Dzong with its wooden cantilevered bridge and the hard to believe Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), hovering on the edge of a cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor; its frightening to look straightaway, but as you enter its environs, you mind begins to wonder as to how it was constructed in such a location. We advise blending this journey with a trip to the ‘Annapurna Base Camp’ in this lovely region of the Annapurnas, said to be one of the most beautiful in the world… this would be a holiday of a lifetime…and Tashi Delek Nepal Treks escorts you on this journey like nobody else…

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Paro by Druk Air, transfer to Thimphu (55 Km, 1:30 Hours)

Our Paro flight on a clear blue sky day is one of those fantastic mountain flights of a natural kind. One can see Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and other peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsering Ghang. The first most welcome thing about Bhutan will be cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the aircraft. On arrival at Paro airport, you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan, the road leads through the Paro valley to the confluence of Paro and Thimphu rivers at Chuzom (confluence). Later in the day take an exploratory walk getting acquainted with the local environment. Also visit National Memorial Chorten: a monument for world peace and prosperity. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu – B. L. D

Day 2: Cultural seeing in Thimphu

Thimphu is geographically placed ideally in a wooded valley, which is an extension of a hillside on the West Bank of the Thimphu Chhu [Chhu means River]. Thimphu is pretty different to other world capitals. This is a Small and secluded the city which is pleasantly quiet and you won’t find traffic jams here like in other asian cities; It is often said that Thimphu is the only world capital without traffic lights. Thimphu’s primary shopping centres are wonderfully placed with its unique architecture and the bright colorful national costumes that most of the local folks wear on the streets.

Our tour begins with a visit to the National Library (closed Saturday, Sunday due to government holidays), which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion.

 

Our next tour is the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum (Sat afternoon, Sun & Govt holidays closed). Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or 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. We then drive towards city centre to visit Textile (Sat afternoon, Sun & Govt holiday closed) and Folk Heritage Museum: These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide absorbing insights into Bhutanese material culture and everyday lifestyles.

The curtain falls on our sightseeing with a visit of Trashichhodzong: This remarkable fortress/monastery houses Secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty, the King, and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot and the central monk body. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu – B. L. D

Day 3: Drive Thimphu to Punakha (75 km, 3 hrs approx)/ Explore Punakha

After our first meal of the day with a king size breakfast, we drive to Punakha across the Dochula pass (3080m). Dochula pass offers breathtaking views of the eastern Himalayas on a clear day. After checking into our hotel, we proceed to visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. It was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and still serves as the winter residence of the monk body. Our adventurous Afternoon walk goes up through fields of chilies {Bhutan’s favorite dish}, cabbages and rice along the banks of the Mo Chhu to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, an amazing monument recently built by the Queen and consecrated in 1999. at eventide, we can use our time for exploring the lively Punakha village located on the banks of the river. B. L. D

Day 4: Sightseeing – Punakha & Wangdue – After breakfast we visit Wangdue Dzong which is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers.

After breakfast, we set out for Wangdue Dzong which is hovering on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The position of the Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands a notable view over both the north-south and east-west. Wangdue district is also famous for its bamboo work, slate & stone carving. After this, we drive back to Paro descending back down from Dochu La; we follow the way up the staged Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys, before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley. En route we visit Simtokha Dzong, a place of thoughtful tantric teaching. This dzong houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language.
After checking into our hotel, we carry on to visit Ta Dzong (closed on Saturday and Sundays due to government holidays), originally built as Watch Towers, it now houses National Museum of the Kingdom and boasts antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. We walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’ which has a long and interesting history. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. Before we enter the dzong we cross a picturesque traditional cantilever bridge, locally known as Nemi Zam. Overnight at our hotel – B. L. D

Day 5: Drive Punakha to Paro (125 km, 4hr drive) via Dochula Pass

Today we drive back to Paro, descending back down from Dochula pass, follow the way back up the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys, before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley. En route we visit Simtokha Dzong, a place of profound tantric teaching, this dzong now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language. After checking into hotel, we proceed to Ta Dzong (Sun, Mon & Govt holiday closed). Originally built as Watch Tower, it now houses the National Museum of the Kingdom where antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts are showcased. We walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’ which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. Before we enter the dzong we cross a picturesque traditional cantilever bridge, locally known as Nemi Zam.

Day 6: In Paro – In the morning, we take an excursion to Taktsang Monastery (5 hrs walk), the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries.

In the Morning after b/fast, we do an excursion to Taktsang Monastery (5 hrs walk), the most well known of Bhutanese monasteries. The myth goes that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery hence called “Tiger’s Nest”. The excursion to monastery takes about 5 hours for round trip. While returning to Paro, we haul up at Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress from where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago.
The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, “Mountain of Goddess” looms directly over the Dzong. On the way back to hotel, visit 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gembo. One of the most sacred shrines in the country, it reflects the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. Overnight at hotel our hotel in Paro – B. L. D

Day 7: Depart Paro for our next destination or visit Nepal

Tashi Delek Nepal Treks is sure that you enjoyed this amazing cultural and historical tour which has given you many deep insights into this fantastic little Himalayan kingdom, you can now return back to Nepal for some other great holidays or proceed further to your destination of choice. Sayonara friends! We do hope to meet you some day again. Doing a trip to Bhutan is ideally started in kathmandu, or ends in Kathmandu…Nepal has so many programs to give you holidays that only dreams are made off…get in touch with us at Tashi Delek Nepal…we’ll give you holiday options that are not only thrilling, but also pocket friendly with our no-frills costs.

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