GLIMPSE OF THE DRAGON KINGDOM (5 DAYS/4 NIGHTS)
Kindly be at the check-in counter 2 hours ahead of your flight departure time. Your check-in luggage limit is 30kg on Economy Class / 40kg on Business Class, and hand luggage must not exceed 5kg.
DAY 1: PARO- THIMPHU (-/L/D) (65km, about 1 hour)
On arrival at Paro international airport you will be received by a representative of Bhutan Raewa Travels who will be waiting outside the arrival terminal of the Airport holding a placard with your name on it. The representative will be your guide for the duration of the tour and will welcome you in a traditional manner by offering a khadar (greeting scarf).
Before heading to Thimphu, visit the National Museum which is a repository of not only precious work of art but also costumes, amour and other hand crafted objects of daily life that provide a good snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. It is rated as one of the finest natural history museums in South Asia and it is a wonderful insight into Bhutan. Of special interest is the gallery of thangkhas which exhibits exquisite pieces of different vintages – those depicting Zhabdung Ngawang Namgyal, the first Je Khempo and first Druk desi are of particular significance.
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.
Then drive towards Thimphu. On the way see Tachogang Temple or the “Temple of the Hill of Excellent Horse” which rises in austere surroundings on the left bank of the river, a few km before Chhuzom at the confluence of the Paro and Thimphu rivers. A Tibetan Saint had a vision of the excellent Horse Balaha – an emanation of Avalokiteshwara while he was meditating there. He decided thereupon to build a temple at this spot in addition to one of his famous iron bridges (later carried away by floods in 1969). The exact date of the temple’s construction is not certain, but it was probably around the year 1433.
After that continue driving to Thimphu valley, at an elevation of 2,350 m / 7700 ft. Urbanization began here when Thimphu was proclaimed as a national capital in 1952 and the Dechenchoeling Palace was built at this time. Even today the city retains its ethnic architectural style and is the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Yet unlike other capital cities in the world, Thimphu remains essentially pastoral in character and changes its demeanor with the seasons.
On arrival, check into the hotel.
After lunch begin local sightseeing of the following places:
- 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.
- Drive to see the Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal, the Takin.
Further, drive up to BBS tower to get a view of the Thimphu valley.
Evening: Free time to visit local handicraft shops and do shopping’s.
Overnight at hotel – Thimphu.
DAY 2: THIMPHU INSIGHT- PUNAKHA (B/L/D) (77 km, about 3 hours)
Early Morning after breakfast visit The Changangkha temple, This popular fortress-like temple perched on a ridge above central Thimphu regularly hums with pilgrim activity. It was established in the 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, who came from Ralung in Tibet. One can also have a view from the back kora (pilgrim path), with its lovely black and gold prayer wheels.
Then 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)
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.
Check into hotel.
Overnight at hotel – Punakha.
DAY 3: PUNAKHA – PARO (B/L/D) (142km, about 4hours)
Morning after breakfastdrive 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.
Then visit Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chhorten (walk time approximately 50 minutes) – a three-storey chhorten built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck in 1999 for the protection of the country. It stands on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang, and is located about 6 miles from Punakha. It presents an incredibly complex iconography, which belongs to the Nyingmapa tradition.
Drive back to Paro for overnight stay.
Check into hotel. The evening has been kept free for leisurely visit to Paro town.
Overnight at Hotel – Paro
DAY 4: PARO DAY HIKE (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 Kyichu temple 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.
- 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.
Overnight at hotel – Paro.
DAY 5: PARO- DEPARTURE (B/-/-)
After breakfast your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight onward.