7 DAYS TOUR IN BHUTAN FROM PHUENTSHOLING
DAY 1: PHUENTSHOLING ARRIVAL (-/-/D)
On arrival at Phuentsholing, you will be received by a representative of Bhutan Raewa Travels who will be there to welcome you at your hotel in a traditional manner by offering a khadar (greeting scarf).
Check into hotel.
In the evening visit to Mani dungkhor (prayer wheel) which is located in the heart of the town. A Mani dungkhor was built in the memory of Gongzim Raja Sonam Tobgay Dorji and a chorten built in the memory of the Late Prime Minister of Bhutan Dasho Jigme Palden Dorji. The holy site was consecrated by the former Yanbi Lopon in Phuentsholing. The Mani dungkhor and chorten was built by Dasho Lhendup Dorji.
Over night at hotel – Phuentsholing.
DAY 2: PHUENTSHOLING-THIMPH (B/L/D) (176km, about 8 hours)
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan (179 kms/07 hours). The road climbs steeply up into the hills, winding in innumerable bends, to an altitude of approximately 2,000m/6,560ft. We will make stops along the way from time to time, so as not to miss the magnificent view of the Indian plains and the Toorsa River below. After a two hour drive through light mountain jungle, displaying lianas and orchids, we pass over the first ridge and begin a long and gradual descent to the river which is the source of energy for the massive Chukha Hydel hydroelectric power project. We cross the river, and rise up the mountainside ever further into the hills, leaving Chukha and the small town of Chimakothibehind us.
Lunch is served en route.
On the way visit Kharbandi Gompa. This beautiful monastery situated in a garden of tropical plants and flowers at an altitude of 400m / 1300 ft. above the town, was founded in 1967 by the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron. The monastery contains paintings depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha and statues of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche. From the monastery garden there is a splendid view of Phuentsholing and the plains of West Bengal with their tea gardens beyond.
Drive to visit SemtokhaDzong which is the oldest Dzong built in Bhutan by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1629.
On arrival in Thimphu check into hotel.
Over night at hotel – Thimphu.
DAY 3: THIMPHU INSIGHT (B/L/D)
Morning after breakfast we will begin the local sightseeing of the following places:
- The Changangkha temple, built in the 15 century by Lama Phajo Drigom. It lies on a hilltop commanding the Thimpu valley. The temple has very old scriptures and Thankas. The main deity of the temple is Avalokiteshvara, God of compassion.
- Drive to see the Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal, the Takin.
- Visit the National Library, a treasure trove of priceless Buddhist manuscripts. The National Library of Bhutan (NLB) was established in 1967 with the primary objective of collecting and preserving mainly ancient Bhutanese written and printed resources. The multi-functional library can now pride itself on being a modern library with a number of service and research facilities. It accommodates a large and steadily growing collection of manuscripts, books, scriptures and written documents as well as a large number of hand carved wooden blocks for printing traditional religious books.
- See the Institute for Zorig Chusum: Commonly known as the 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.
- The Traditional Medicine Center where local medicines made from the Himalayan herbs are made and dispensed to the people.
- Walk around Memorial Chhorten in Thimphu built in 1974 in memory of the Third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. The Memorial Chhorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, and for many people it is the focus of their daily worship.
- Evening visit Centenary Market one of the biggest structures in Bhutan, Centenarary Farmers market was built in 2008 to mark the coronation of fifth King of Bhutan and 100 years of monarchy. The two storied building has 458 stalls for sale of vegetables, fruits, meats and other farm products. It also houses cafeteria and separate stalls for non wood forest products. Vendors from throughout the country come here to sell their farm produces. The market is open six days in a week except Wednesday. Across the Wangchu, over a traditional Bazam, cantilever bridge, few old sheds still remains people sell handicraft items here.
Over night at hotel – Thimphu.
DAY 4: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (77km, about 3 hours)
Drive toward Punakha valley (the old capital of the country) via the Dochula Mountain pass (3,140 m). On a clear day Dochu La offers a stunning view of the snow capped Himalayan ranges:
- Kang Bum (6,526 m)
- Gangchhenta (6,840 m)
- Masang Gang (7,165 m)
- Tsenda Gang (7,100 m)
- Teri Gang (7,300 m)
- Jejekangphu Gang (7,100 m)
- Zongophu Gang (Table Mt) (7,100 m)
- Gangkhar Puensum (7,541 m)
Visit Druk Wangyel Chhorten, built by the Queen Mother for the peace and stability of the country. The 108 Khangzang Namgyal Chhortens are a new landmark for travellers as they cross Dochula, the first mountain pass into the interior of the country.
On the way visit Chimi Lhakhang, located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. There is a short 20 minute walk through the village of Sopsokha en-route to the temple wherein you will cross paddy fields and get a feel for rural Bhutan. The temple was built by Ngawang Chogyel in the 15th century after the ‘divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. The temple is believed to bless couples unable to have children and many people from around the world visit this holly site to seek its blessings.
Drive to see the impressive Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful dzongs of Bhutan. For many years until the time of the second King, it served as the seat of the government. It is the winter residence of the monastic body, and was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Inside the Dzong is the set of the 108 volumes of Kanjur – holy book of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, written in gold. The Dzong also safe guards Bhutan’s most treasured possession: the Rangjung Kharsapani, a self created image of Chenrigzig which is described by Shabdrung as a treasure as vast as the sky.
Check into hotel.
Overnight at hotel – Punakha.
DAY 5: PUNAKHA – PARO (B/L/D) (142km, about 4 hours)
After breakfast begin the drive back to Paro.
On arrival, check into the hotel.
In the afternoon visit Dungtse Lhakhang which is situated just across the river. Dungtse Lhakhang is possibly the only ancient temple built in the shape of a chhorten.
The lhakhang is literally chained down since local belief holds that it will otherwise fly off to heaven! It was constructed in 1421 by Thangtong Gyelpo who came to Bhutan in search of iron ore to be used for constructing bridges in his homeland of Tibet.
Visit Kyichu temple one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demoness lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demoness.
The evening has been kept free for leisurely visit to Paro town.
Overnight at hotel – Paro.
DAY 6: PARO DAY EXCURSION (B/L/D)
After an early breakfast take a short drive to road point from where the hike begins to the famous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) which clings precariously to a cliff 800 m / 2,600 ft above the Paro valley. The climb up to the view point will take around three hours (depending on one’s fitness). In the second half of the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, alighted here upon the back of a tigress, and upon meditating for three months in a cave, assumed the form of Dorje Droloe, the Terrifying Thunderbolt and subjugated the Eight Evil Spirits who hindered the propagation of Buddhism. Thereafter, the Buddhist Dharma was introduced to Paro valley and soon spread to the rest of Bhutan. Taktsang is one of the holiest sites in the country and one of the most venerated Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas.
Lunch will be served during the return hike back to the road point. The afternoon will comprise of a visit to Drugyal Dzong and a local farm house as detailed below:
- Drugyal Dzong, now in ruins, was built in 1646 by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, led by Mongolian Warlord, Gushri Khan. Strategically built over the only passage into Paro valley, the Dzong helped to repel numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. It so impressed the early English visitors in 1914 that the Dzong was featured on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine. In fine weather, the towering peak of Mount Jumolhari 7314 m high appears as a backdrop. This mountain which marks the frontier with Tibet is sacred and the dwelling place of goddess Jomo.
- In the evening visit a local Farmhouse to see firsthand how rural Bhutanese live. The Farmhouses are very decorative, built and painted in a classical style. The houses are normally three stories; the ground floor is used for cattle, the top floor for drying hay, while the family live in the middle floor.
Try a hot stone bath.
Overnight at hotel – Paro.
DAY 7: PARO – DEPARTURE (B/-/-)
After breakfast your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight onward.