9 days/8 nights.
Covered Destinations : ARRIVE PARO, THIMPHU, PUNAKHA, BHUMTHANG, RIDE TO URA VALLEY, TRONGSA , PUNAKHA.
The itinerary takes us to the cities that combine ancient culture and thriving modern commerce, amazing high-end restaurants with superbly trained chefs, exotic market places, unbelievably good (and sanitary) traditional street food and not-to-be-missed shopping opportunities.
On arrival at Paro airport you will meet and transfer to your hotel. Later small briefing on the bike and your tour followed by sightseeing. The beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates within itself a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan's oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and country's only airport. Mount Chomolhari (7,314m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial water plunge through deep gorges to form Pa Chhu (Paro river). Paro is also one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.
On arrival at Paro airport you will meet and transfer to your hotel. Later small briefing on the bike and your tour followed by sightseeing. The beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates within itself a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan's oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and country's only airport.
Mount Chomolhari (7,314m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial water plunge through deep gorges to form Pa Chhu (Paro river). Paro is also one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.
The 200 year old Watch Tower which was renovated and converted into National Museum in 1968. It houses a fine collection of national costumes and fabrics, gallery of Thangkas, an impressive stamp gallery with three dimensional and CD stamps issued as early as 1960 that are remarkable and other galleries showcasing armour and silverware with the handsome
Ringpung Dzong meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels” The Dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1646, with fascinating history and along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, old man of longevity, wheel of life and other cosmic Mandala.
Drugyel Dzong although mostly now in ruins. Built in 1647 by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel to commemorate the victory over Tibetan Invaders, which indicates by the name of the Dzong meaning Victorious Bhutanese Fort.
PARO (HIKING TO TAKTSANG MONASTARY) –
About 900 mts. (3000 ft) above the Paro valley
Paro Taktsang is the popular name of Taktsang Palphug Monastery (also known as Tiger's Nest), a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex, located in the Cliffside of the upper Paro valley, in Bhutan. A temple complex was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup, cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century. Padmasambhava is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and is the tutelary deity of the country.
deity of the country. The popular legend of the Taktsang Monastery is further embellished with the story of Desi Tenzin Rabgye, who built the temple here in 1692. Tenzin Rabgye was seen (by his friends) concurrently inside and outside his cave; even a small quantity of food was adequate to feed all visitors; no one was injured during worship (in spite of the approach track to the monastery being dangerous and slippery); and the people of the Paro Valley saw in the sky various animal forms and religious symbols including a shower of flowers that appeared and also vanished in the air without touching the earth.
PARO – THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
(152 KMS / 05 HRS)
Early morning sightseeing of Thimphu and ride to Punakha with lunch at the Dochula Pass Thimphu - The capital town of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Although not what one expects from a capital city, Thimphu is still a fitting and lively place. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style
Memorial Chorten This stupa was built in 1974 in the memory of Bhutan's third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.
Simtokha DzongThis Dzong, built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, stands on a low ridge 8 km down the valley from Thimphu. The Institute for Language and Cultural Studies is located here.
The most noteworthy artistic feature of this Dzong is the series of over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard. After visit of Thimphu drive to Punakha, on arrival check-in into the hotel Overnight at the hotel
DAY 04: PUNAKHA – BHUMTHANG
(212 KMS / 08 HRS)
Bumthang has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Comprising of four smaller valleys namely Tang, Ura, Choekhor and Chumey, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Bumthang is also the traditional home to the great Buddhist teacher Pema Linga to whose descendants the present dynasty traces its origin.
Places of interest in and around Bumthang or Jakar
Jakar Dzong : Founded by great grand-father of the first Shabdrung, the Dzong was initially built as a monastery in 1549. It was upgraded after the Shabdrung had firmly established his power in 1646. The Dzong is now used as administrative centre for Bumthang valley, and houses the regional monk body.
Jambay Lhakhang : This monastery was built in the 7th century by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits n the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.
Chankhar Lhakhang: Beyond Jambay Lhakhang is Changkhar Lhakhang, the site of the palace of the Indian King Sindhu Raja. Because of its simplicity it looks like an ordinary village house. The original palace was built of iron and this is why it was named Chankhar, meaning iron castle. It was rebuilt in the 14th century by a Saint called- Dorji Lingpa.
Overnight at the hotel
RIDE TO URA VALLEY
Ura Valley: Jakar to Ura is 48 km, about one and a half hour drive. To reach here, the road climbs to Jakar valley amazingly open countryside, only occasionally running into forest. Large sheep pastures line the road up to 20 km behind the southern tip of the Tang valley. The route crosses Ura la pass (3,600m) with a magnificent view of Mount. Gangkhar Puensum (is the highest mountain in Bhutan: height roughly 13,200 ft).
Villages in Ura have clustered houses, which is quite unusual in Bhutan. Above Ura village (3,100m) is a new temple dedicated to Guru Rinpoche. Inaugurated in 1986, it contains a huge statue of the master and remarkable paintings of the cycle of his teachings. Since last 25 years Ura has been transformed from a marginal community to prosperous valley.
Kurje Lhakhang : Situated before Jambay Lhakhang, Kurje Lhakhang consists of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 on the rack face where Guru meditated in the 8th century. Second temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of Guru's body and is therefore considered the most holy. The third temple was built in 1990s by Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108 chorten wall.
Konchogsum Lhakhang: It was built in the 6th century but was renovated in 1995, which accounts for its fresh look. It contained a large bell and it is said that when this bell was rung it could be heard all the way in Lhasa in Tibet. During the 17th century a Tibetan Army tried to steal this bell but was too heavy and they dropped it and cracked it. It is now displayed at the National Museum in Paro.
Overnight at the hotel
BHUMTHANG – TRONGSA
(68 KMS / 02 HRS)
Trongsa forms the central hub of the nation and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched. Both His Majesty King Ugyen Wangchuck, the Penlop of Trongsa, who was elected the country's first hereditary monarch and his successor, King Jigme Wangchuck, ruled the country from Trongsa ancient seat. The Crown Prince of Bhutan normally holds the position of the Trongsa Penlop prior to ascending the throne. including the present King. The entire landscape around Trongsa is spectacular.
Places of interest in and around Trongsa
Chendbji Chorten Approximate four hours drive from Wangduephodrang is Chendbji Chorten, patterned on Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu. It was built in 18th century by Lama Shida, from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot.
Trongsa Dzong Like almost all towns in the Kingdom, this Dzong architecture dominates the entire Trongsa horizon dwarfing the surrounding buildings. Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan.
Both the first and second King ruled the country from this ancient seat. Protected from invaders by an impenetrable valley, Trongsa Dzong is an impregnable fortress. The Dzong itself is a labyrinth of temples, corridors and offices holding court over the local community. It is built on many levels into the side of the hill and can be seen from every approach to Trongsa heralding its strength as a defensive stronghold.
Ta Dzong The Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five storeys, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, a task entrusted to him by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity. There are 224 items on display including a sacred image of Sung Joenma Dorji Chang (self spoken Vajradharna), a bronze statue of Pema Lingpa, made by himself, and a number of centuries-old treasures like dance and ritual costumes and objects, ancient prayer books, paintings and scrolls, and textiles.
The Ta Dzong is a living museum and the main lhakhang in the Utse is dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha (Gyaltsab Jampa), also known as the Future Buddha). A Khesar Lhakhang is dedicated to Khesar of Ling. The tower has always been a place of retreat and there are hermits in practice, including two yogis, who are in lifelong meditation. The Ta Dzong is the only structure that has been restored specifically to tribute the Wangchuck dynasty as Bhutan celebrates the centenary of the Monarchy.
Overnight at the hotel
TROGNSA – PUNAKHA via Gangtey / Phobjikha
(212 KMS / 08 HRS)
After buffet breakfast at the hotel, ride to Gangtey & Phobjikha
The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, and extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valley’s are tightly enclosed.
A few kilometers beyond the Gangtey Monastery, on the valley floor lays the village of Phobjikha. This place 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.
Phobjikha, at an altitude of 2900 m, falls under the district of Wangduephodrang and lies on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu (Chhu Naap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water). According to a local legend, the two rivers actually represent a snake and a bore.
The two animals once raced each other with an agreement that if the snake (Nakay Chhu) won, Phobjikha valley would be able to grow rice, but if the boar won, then rice could never be cultivated in the area. The snake lost since it had to meander all the way during its journey. Rice cannot be cultivated in the valley even today. Places of interest in and around Gangtey & Phobjikha Valley
Gangtey Goempa Perched on a small hill that rises from the valley floor, the Gangtey Monastery is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountain’sGangtey valley, Bhutan and also the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens who take care of the Monastery. Gangtey was founded by Pema Trinley, the grandson of Pema Lingpa, the famous Nyingmapa saint of Bhutan. In 1613, Pema Trinley establishes the monastery and became the first Gangtey Tulku. The religious traditions of Pema Lingpa still taught there. The second Tulku, Tenzin Legpa Dondrup (1645 to 1726), enhanced the size of Gangtey while keeping up good relations with Drukpas, and rebuilt the monastery in the form of a Dzong.
Black Necked Crane Information Centre Situated on the edge of the forest and wetland along the main road of Phobjikha valley, the black-necked crane information Centre has an observation room equipped with high power telescope and spotting scopes for catching the best view of the cranes. The centre also offers display information that outline the natural and cultural history of the area. There is a small gift shop, which sells handicrafts produced by the local people.
Overnight at the hotel
PUNAKHA – PARO
(142 / 05 HRS)
After breakfast ride to Paro via Dochula Pass.
Punakha Dzong Punakha Dzong located strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The Dzong served as the religious and administrative center of Bhutan until the mid-1950s. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the early 17th century and where the Bhutanese enthroned the first King.
Chimi Lhakhang It was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman by the West). It is believed that childless women who visit the monastery will conceive after receiving the ‘wang’ (blessing).
Dochula pass Dochula pass at 10,500 ft. (23km from Thimphu - 45 minutes drive), where you can see one of Bhutan’s most enchanting views. At Dochula, you will also see a unique cluster of 108 Namgyel Khangzang Chortens that spiral up to the main Chorten known as the “Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens”. Her Majesty, the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck had dedicated these chortens as a tribute and monument to the selfless service and visionary leadership of our Fourth King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The Chortens are also a celebration of the stability and progress that His Majesty the King brought to the nation. These chortens are a new landmark for travelers as they cross Dochula, the first mountain pass into the interior of the country.
Overnight at hotel. Lunch & Dinner on own.
PARO + DEP.
In time transfer to Paro International airport to board the flight for onward destination