Heart of Bhutan tour commence short flight to Paro from Kathmandu a spectacular flight that offers view of Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu in Nepal and Mt. Jhomulhari and Jichu Drake in Bhutan. Explore around the Paro still retains tradition by way of architecture and farming. Visit Paro Tsechu, where you can join the local people in its celebration, festival will consist of mask dances and local folk songs. You will observe the Drukgyal Dzong, the ruined fort, which was once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. Thimphu sightseeing continues with the Folk Heritage Museum (a beautifully restored Bhutanse farmhouse from the last century) and the National Painting School. Drive over the Docchu-La pass (3050 m) into the beautiful valley of Punakha. If the weather is clear the Himalayan ranges can be seen, particularly the peak of Jhomulhari (7,314 m) to the west. Explore around the Bumthang which is said to be one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. Visit the old monastery of Gangtey Gompa dating back to the 17th century. Drive through southern plains with thick forest of junipers, cider, oak, rhododendrons, magnolia and lots of species of wildlife.
Arrival at Paro (by Druk Air) - Paro
Paro – Taktsang – Thimphu
Thimphu valley sightseeing
Thimphu – Punakha
Punakha – Trongsa – Bumthang
Bumthang – Gangtey – Wangdue
Wangdue – Thimphu
Thimphu – Phuentsholing
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. One can see Mt. Everest, Kanchen Junga, Makalu and other peaks in Bhutan such as Jhomulhari and Jichu Drake. The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. Your Bhutanese escort from Bhutan will greet you on arrival, and then drive you the short distance to the hotel Olathang.
Paro is a picturesque valley with quaint clusters of hamlets amid terraced paddy fields. Although the site of the nation’s first airport Paro still retains tradition by way of architecture and farming.
Afternoon full day witness the last day of Paro Tsechu, where you can join the local people in its celebration, festival will consist of mask dances and local folk songs. Dinner and overnight at hotel. Overnight at hotel Olathang.
After breakfast drive the winding road to the Drukgyal Dzong, the ruined fort, which was once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions and on your way back visit Kyichu Lhakhang one of the oldest temple in Bhutan (7th century). Lunch served at a restaurant in Paro town. After lunch visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. This dzong was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum boasts antique thangka, textiles, weapons and armour, household objects and rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
We also visit the Rinpung Dzong, built in 17th century to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The dzong is now used as an administration centre and school for monks. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Morning drive to Satsam Chorten and then hike to Takstang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, the most photographed in Bhutan. The monastery has been rebuilt after a disastrous fire destroyed it some years ago. The monastery can only be viewed from afar as it is not open to the public. The view is however worth the steep 1 & half hour walk up a wide mountain path. Here it is being said that Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigeress in the 8th century. Lunch served at the viewpoint cafeteria and then walk back to the road point and visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temple in Bhutan and then continue your drive to Thimphu,the modern capital of Bhutan. The drive will take around 1½ hour. Thimphu has a population of about 98,000. The town is made up of just three lines of shops and is the only capital in the world without traffic lights. In the evening visit the Handicrafts Emporium, which has all types of Bhutanese handicrafts for sale. Overnight at hotel.
After breakfast drive at Sangaygang, a field of Bhutanese prayer flags, perched high above the city. Colored flags send prayers to the heavens and white flags honor the dead. Visit the Motithang Mini Zoo where you can see the National animal Takin research centre where these odd animals graze peacefully in a small protected park. Walk to the Zilukha Nunnery and then drive to the Tango Monastery for a picnic lunch.The hike to the monastery takes about 45 minutes. It is a 13th Century structure and today is home to about 150 monks studying Buddhist Philosophy and meditation. Thimphu sightseeing continues with the Folk Heritage Museum (a beautifully restored Bhutanse farmhouse from the last century) and the National Painting School. In the evening visit the National Memorial Chorten built in honor of our 3rd king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (a wonderful opportunity to mix with the local population). All the buildings in Bhutan conform to national building principals and are beautifully carved and decorated. Dinner at Royal Golf Club. Overnight at hotel.
After breakfast drive over the Docchu-La pass (3050 m) into the beautiful valley of Punakha. The teahouse at the pass offers beautiful views of the Himalayan range in the distance. This is a 3 hour drive with stops en route. Afternoon visit the magnificent Dzong spanning the MoChu and Po Chu rivers. This is the winter residence of the monastic body and the Je Khenpo (chief Abbott). If time permits a hike to Khamsum Yule Chorten is worthwhile. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Today we start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan. The drive to Bumthang via Trongsa is approximately 7 hours crossing over Pele La pass (3,300 m) and Yotongla pass (3,400 m). “The Central Road”, across the Black Mountains, was completed 30 years ago, and it brought about great changes to the people in central Bhutan.
We pass Wangdue, one of the major towns and district headquarters of Western Bhutan where we make a short stop to view the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong dramatically located on the spur of a hill at the confluence of the Tsang Chu and Dang Chu rivers. We then climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pelela Pass (3,300 m) with an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo. This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between West and East Bhutan. If the weather is clear the Himalayan ranges can be seen, particularly the peak of Jhomulhari (7,314 m) to the west. En route we cross Chendebji Chorten built many centuries ago to suppress a demon. After lunch we go out to view the impressive Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home of the ruling dynasty. In olden days the dzong commanded the passage between East and West Bhutan. We also visit the Ta dzong, an ancient watchtower, above the main Dzong, which has an interesting display of Mongol armour. We then drive to Bumthang valley (described as “one of the most beautiful spot in the Himalayas” across the Yotongla pass (3,400 m). Overnight at Rinchenling Lodge.
Bumthang is said to be one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. Here many great teachers meditated and left in their wake many sacred grounds. The Guru and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders), have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley.
In the morning we hike to visit Tamshing Monastery (one of the oldest monastic schools built by Terton Pema Lingpa) and Kurjey Lhakhang (where the Guru Rinpoche subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock). We also visit Jambay Lhakhang (one of the oldest temple in Bhutan built in 7th century) and Jakar Dzong (seat of the district administration).
In the afternoon hike to Thangbi valley across the suspension bridge and visit the Thangbi Lhakhang built in the 14th century. Dinner and overnight at hotel Rinchenling lodge.
The drive to Wangdue takes about 7 hours via Gangtey. Gangtey lies towards the east of Punakha and Wangdue on the flanks of the Black Mountains. There is an old monastery of Gangtey Gompa dating back to the 17th century. A few kilometers past the Gompa on the valley floor are the fascinating valley of Phobjikha. The gentle sloping hillsides of Phobjikha is described as “the most beautiful valley in the Himalayas”. This is the winter home of black-necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. Overnight at hotel.
After breakfast a short drive will take you into the valley of Lobesa and from the road point walk for 20 minutes through the rice terraced fields to the temple of Chhimi Lhakhang, temple of the divine madman” Drukpa Kuenley” which is mostly visited by women who are unable to bear children. After the visit then drive back to Thimphu. Evening ends with a stroll through the main street of Thimphu. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
After breakfast drive to Phuentsholing which is approximately 5 hours and covers 177 kms. The drive to southern plains is through the thick forest of junipers, cider, oak, rhododendrons, magnolia and also you will find lots of species of wildlife. Lunch served at Bunakha Tourist Restaurant. Enroute visit Kharbandi situated on a spur overlooking the Indian plains and continue your drive to Phuentsholing where your Bhutan representatives will help you with the exit formalities and drive you to the border town of Jaigaon and bid you farewell and happy journey back home.
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