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Journey to the Kingdom of Bhutan
to the Kingdom of Bhutan
Nights / 11 Days)
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Day 01 : Arrive Phuentsholing
On arrival in Phuentsholing, met by our representative at the hotel followed by check-in and installation. The gateway to the south, Phuentsholing is a thriving commercial centre on the northern edge of the Indian plains. Situated directly at the base of the Himalayan foothills, it is a fascinating mixture of Indian and Bhutanese, a perfect example of mingling of people and their culture.
As the time permits, visit Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang, this small temple built in the centre of Phuentsholing town represents the heaven of Guru Rimpoche. Later take a stroll around town’s market area.
Overnight at the hotel in Phuentsholing.
Day 02 : Phuentsholing – Paro (175 km, 6 hours)
After breakfast, drive to Paro. 4 km ahead of Phuentsholing, visit Kharbandi Gompa, the beautiful monastery situated in garden of tropical plants and flowers. The monastery contains paintings depicting scenes from the life of Buddha and statues of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rimpoche. From the monastery garden there is a splendid view of Phuentsholing and plains of West Bangal and their tea gardens beyond.
Proceed further to Paro. This entire drive is very pleasant with numerous scenic spots en route. Lunch would be served at Bunakha cafetria, managed by Bhutan Tourism Corporation Ltd.
Evening free. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 03 : Paro – Thimphu (55 km, 2 hours)
In the morning, visit to Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower but now housing the National Museum. Ta
Dzong holds unique and varied collections, ranging from ancient armor to textiles, thangkha paintings, stamps, coins, and natural history. Then walk down a hillside trail to visit Paro
Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) built in 1646 during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses Paro’s monk body and the offices of the civil administration.
After lunch, drive up valley to Drukgyel Dzong or “the Fort of Drukpa Victory”. In former times, the Bhutanese repelled invasions by Tibetan from this fortress. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the ruins still present an imposing sight. On a clear day, there is a splendid view of Bhutan’s sacred mountain, Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel
Then drive to Thimphu. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 04 : Thimphu – Punakha (75 km, 2.1/2 hours)
Morning sightseeing in Thimphu valley, visiting:
TrashichhoDzong, the seat of the government: the National Memorial Chorten, within which there are finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues which provide deep insight into Buddhist philosophy: and the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide range of the traditional handicrafts for which Bhutan is renowned. You may also be able to catch a game of archery in progress at the Changlimethang sports ground, just below the town.
After lunch, proceed to Punakha across Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130 ft). The highest point on the road is marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flags
fluttering on the hill. On a clear day, there is a breathtaking view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas from this spot.
Check into the hotel on reaching Punakha. Until 1955, Punakha served as the capital town of Bhutan and it is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). Visit Punakha
Dzong, built by Shabdrng Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century and situated at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 05 : Punakha – Trongsa (135 km, 4.1/2 hours)
After breakfast, drive to Wangduephodrang and visit the Dzong
which is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The position of
Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view both up and down the valley. Wangdue district is famous for its bamboo work, stone carvings, and slate which is mined up a valley, a few kilometers from the town.
Then drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a 3,300m Pelela pass to Trongsa. This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between western and central Bhutan. Further down the road, stop to visit Chendbji Chorten erected in the 18th century by a Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. It is built in the Nepalese style, with painted eyes at the four cardinal points.
The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and its impressive
Dzong, stretched along a ridge above a ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the winding road suddenly leads you into the town. On arrival, check into the lodge. Overnight at the lodge in Trongsa.
Day 06 : Trongsa – Bumthang (Jakar) (68 km, 3 hours)
Morning visit to Trongsa Dzong. Built in 1647 by the Shabdrung, it is the most impressive
Dzong in Bhutan. Then visit Ta Dzong on the hillside above the town, built as a watchtower to guard Trongsa.
After lunch, proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy heartland of Buddhism. The 68 km, journey takes about 3 hours. The road winds steeply up to Yutong-la pass (3,400m/11,155 ft), then runs down through dense coniferous forest to enter a wide, open, cultivated valley, known as Chumey valley. From here it is about an hour to Bumthang, a most pleasant run in the soft, late afternoon light.
Day 07 : Bumthang
Bumthang is the general name given to group of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m / 8,520 to 13,125 ft.
In the morning, we will visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan’s “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, is one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro).
After lunch, we will visit Tamshing lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later on we will visit Jakar
Dzong, “the Dzong of the white bird”, then take a stroll through Bumthang’s market area before returning to the lodge.
Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 08 : Bumthang – Mongar (198 km, 7 hours)
The journey continues eastwards, winding through more rugged terrain. The drive to Mongar takes about 6hours with spectacular view en route. We will drive up into the hills above the valley and then past Ura village, before climbing
shapely to the highest point on Bhutan’s motor-able road network, Thrumshing-la pass (4,000m/13,125 ft).
From here, the road gradually descends to the alpine valley of Sengor, with wonderful views of cascading waterfalls and the hills of eastern Bhutan along the way. Vegetation changes from alpine to subtropical with the loss of height, and bamboos and luxuriant ferns overhang the road as we drop down to the valley floor. The descent stops at 700m/2,300ft, where we cross the Kurichu river. We ascend again through pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets to reach Mongar town, high on a gentle slope above the valley.
Picnic lunch at a scenic spot en route to Mongar.
We visit Mongar Dzong, built in the 1930s and one of Bhutan’s newest
Dzongs, but constructed in the same way as all previous Dzongs, without either plans or the use of nails. Overnight at the lodge in Mongar.
Day 09 : Mongar – Trashigang (96 km, 3 hours)
This trip of about 96 km takes only 3 hours. The first part of the journey is through leafy forest filled with ferns. After driving through the Kori-la pass (2,450m/8,040ft), marked by a pretty chorten and a mani wall, we descend rapidly through corn fields and banana groves to reach the famous road zigzags just below Yadi, a fairly recent and now fast growing settlement.
After zigzagging down the hillside, the road east along the Gamri river. A turnoff on the leftside up to Drametse. The temple, perched on top of a steep hill above the village, was founded by Choeden Zangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is the place of origin of the famous Drametse Nga Chham, a masked dance with druns. About 30km. Onwards lies Trashigang (1,100m/3,610ft), which clings to a steep hillside above the Gamri river. Trashigang is the principal township of the biggest and most populated district in the country.
After lunch, we will visit Trashigang Dzong, standing at the extreme end of a rocky outcrop far above the river gorge. It serves as the administrative seat for the district and part of the
Dzong is occupied by the local Drukpa monastic community.
Overnight at the lodge in Trashigang.
Day 10 : Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar (180 km, 6 hours)
Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar road was completed in 1965 and the journey takes about 06 hours. Along the way, pass by Sherubtse College, the only college in the country founded in 1978.
Also visit the Zangtho Pelri temple built in 1978 by the Late Minister of Home
Affairs. It represents Guru Rimpoche's paradise. Driving ahead, reach to Khaling to visit the Blind School and
weaving centre. Deothang, 80 from Khaling is the centre of Technical training college and road maintenance headquarters for the east. From here the road descends fairly rapidly to the plain through a dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak, bamboo and ferns.
Overnight at the lodge in Samdrup Jongkhar.
Day 11 : Samdrup Jongkhar – Guwahati (110 km, 3 hours)
After breakfast drive to Guwahati, the capital town of Indian north eastern state of Assam.
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