When you travel to Bhutan for a holiday you will see and feel the difference. Not only this you will also see fantastic views of the eastern Himalayas as you drive pass through a mountain pass or in the shadow of snow-covered peaks. You will feel the touch of Buddhist influence. This peaceful region, however, has seen a violent past. You will learn of some of those stories as you visit fortresses of the region.
Thimphu , Paro
Day 01: Arrive in Paro and drive to Thimphu
Fly into Himalayas with Druk Air, Bhutan’s only National Air Carrier. The green walls of the hills in to Bhutan from the plains of India rise ever higher as the plane flies north towards the Tibetan border. Silvery rivers rush along the valleys, waterfalls plunge down the forested mountainsides, and to the north, the great snowcapped peaks of the inner Himalayas rise up to the heavens.
As the aircraft enters the Paro valley, look down and you will see the Paro Dzong on the hillside overlooking Paro Chu (river) with Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower and now the National Museum, above it. You will be welcomed by our representative at the airport and transfer to Thimphu. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Thimphu
After breakfast, the day will begin with sightseeing in Thimphu valley including visit to the following: the National Library, housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. Later visit Textile and Folk Heritage Museum, a fascinating testimony of the Bhutanese material culture and living traditions.
After lunch, also visit King’s Memorial Chorten continuously circumambulator by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who has wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.
Later, visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through example of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewellery, interesting items made from local materials.
Evening visit Trashichhoedzong, “fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the centre of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.
Day 03: Thimphu - Dochula Pass - Paro (98 km, approx 3½ Hrs drive)
After early breakfast, drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m/ 10,130 ft) to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m ), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7, 060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana - finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
Later drive to Paro en route visiting Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the country built in 1627. It now houses the School for Buddhist studies. Evening take a walk around Paro main street. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 04: Paro
After breakfast visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum . The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artefact’s.
Then 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 inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount..
After lunch, drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, "mountain of goddess’’ can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong.
En route take a short stop at Satsam Chorten for a view of famous Taktsang Monastery.
Along the way, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 05: Depart from Paro
After early breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.
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