Cultural Wonders Tour

Cultural Wonders Tour

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This tour unfurls the secret mysteries of Bhutan that have for years mystified and lured the entire world to the last Shangri-La

Tashi Delek Nepal Treks exclusive introduction to Bhutan is an all year affair that concentrates on the Kingdom’s western valleys of Paro and Thimphu, and the medieval capital at Punakha. Our 9-day sublime tour can also take you up to the alpine valley of Phobjika, where you could view Gangtey Gompa and the farmhouses of the valley which becomes the autumn residence of the rare black-necked crane. These are great birds.

We also get an upfront idea of the Dragon Kingdom’s crafts and textiles that are worth watching, as we visit world-class weavers and thangka painters, we get to know an incredible amount about the inside culture of this profession. Our tour also extends to the countryside, as we bunk out in local guesthouses, and make forays into isolated villages and veiled valleys, as we learn of a culture that’s so different from what we normally see in other countries.

And getting into Bhumtang Valley is a bonus for this tour; we visit Kurje Lhakhang, where the Buddhist saint Padmasambhava is said to have captured a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock, the Jambey Lhakhang (7th century temple), Tamshing Lhakhang (housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan) and Jakar Dzong (administrative center of the region). We wrap up our holiday with a gentle walk up the famous Taktsang Monastery, the most important pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese, and is a highly revered site in Bhutan; the Bhutanese believe that Padmasambhava is said to have meditated at this monastery that seems suspended precariously on the edge of a cliffside. You will return home remembering this vacation for a real long time to come…

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: Sightseeing tour in Thimpu

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)

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: Drive Punakha to Trongsa to Bumthang (218 km, 6-7 hrs)

After a hearty breakfast we drive up to lovely Bumthang crossing Pele-la pass (3300m/10830 ft) via Trongsa. The Pela La (pass) is marked by a large white chorten and prayer flags. There is an unexpected change in vegetation at this point, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo. We stop en route at Chendbji Chorten, that’s styled on the same wavelengths of Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes painted at four cardinal points. We have lunch at Trongsa.
After lunch we visit Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648, it was the seat of power for central and eastern Bhutan. We also visit Ta Dzong, recently opened fort in Trongsa. The Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five stories, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa. After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a stylish museum that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity. Further 68 km drive across the Yutong-la pass (3,400m/ 11,155 ft) finally brings us to Bumthang valley. Overnight at hotel in Bumthang – B. L. D

Day 5: Sightseeing tour in Bumthang

After breakfast we proceed to explore Bumthang valley. Bumthang is a wonderful mix of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. It is home to many of important Buddhist temples and monasteries.
We visit Kurje Lhakhang, where the saint Padmasambhava subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock, the Jambey Lhakhang (7th century temple), Tamshing Lhakhang (housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan) and Jakar Dzong (administrative center of the region). We then wander around in the village, visit the little handicrafts shop at the entrance to the town, and perhaps go in for some refreshments at a local eatery. Overnight at our Hotel in Bumthang – B. L. D

Day 6: Drive Bumthang to Wangdue (200 km / 7 hrs drive)

After a short stroll around the town we take a lengthy drive to Wangdue following a scenic mountain highway. Wangdue Dzong hovers 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. Overnight at our hotel in Wangdue – B. L. D

Day 7: Drive Wangdue to Paro (125 km, 4hr drive)

After b/fast, head back to Paro descending down from Dochu La; 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, the place of profound tantric teaching; this dzong now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language. After checking into our hotel, we visit Ta Dzong (Sun, Mon & Government holidays closed), originally built as a Watch Tower, it now houses the National Museum of the Kingdom displaying thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
We then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’ which has a long and absorbing history. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. Overnight at our hotel – B. L. D

Day 8: Day 8: Sightseeing tour in Paro

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 our hotel in Paro – B. L. D

Day 9: Depart Paro for our next destination or come home to 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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