Day 1: Arrive – Paro airport and then transfer to Thimphu. (1hr 20mins drive)
Our pilgrimage begins with a journey towards east into the booming metropolis of Thimphu. Situated at an altitude of 2,300 m it is home to 100,000 Bhutanese.
Thimphu being the capital of Bhutan, offers unique opportunities to explore the Bhutanese culture, lifestyle and traditions in depth.
We invite you to see the sights of the Kingdom’s capital with us. Below we have listed some of the experiences that we enjoy the most!
After lunch we will spend our time circumambulating the sacred National memorial chorten.
This is a Tibetan-style stupa built in 1974 in memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who passed away in 1972. It is one of the most visible religious structures in town and for many people it is the focus of daily worship. Remember to walk around the Chorten at least once to gain merit and good luck.
From the museum we will drive to the National Post office for stamps. Bhutan is famous for producing unique and innovative stamps. After selling peculiar ‘CD-stamps’ Bhutan’s Post office now offers personalized stamps; we invite you to surprise your family and friends with your custom-made stamp made with one of your favorite holiday photographs!
Towards evening we will visit Tashichhoe Dzong and have glimpse king Jigme’s Palace.
The Dzong is popularly known as Thimphu Dzong. It is the seat of the government and the centre of all religious affairs of the Kingdom. It houses the office and the throne room of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. Just below the dzong we can have a glimpse of King Jigmi’s palace.
OVERNIGHT AT AMANKORA, THIMPHU.
Day 2: Explore Thimphu valley.
After breakfast we will visit the Biggest Buddha statue (50 m) built on a hill top down south Thimphu. Thestatue is overlooking the south stretch of Thimphu valley.
Next we will drive up to Changangkha Lhakhang.The monastery is perched on a ridge above the city with great viewsof Thimphu town. The 12th centurytemple is the oldest temple in Thimphu. It is still one of the main centers of worship for the locals. The main figure inside is of the statue of 11-headed Avalokitesvara, the God of Compassion. The lhakhang is frequently visited by families as it is believed that if you bring a sick child to the temple, it will not take long before it recovers. Many go to pray for their child’s protection.
We will take in more of kingdom’s rich culture at the Folk Heritage Museum.
The museum is a restored three story traditional rammed mud and timber house inaugurated as a museum by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk in 2001. It showcases the traditional artifacts used now and in the past which helps connect people to the Bhutanese rural life.
After lunch we will hike to the ancient Wangditse Goemba. It is an easy hike through pine forest and with good overview of King Jigme’s palace. (1.5 – 2 hrs hike)
Wangditse Goemba was founded in 1750 by the attendants of Bhutan’s 8th desi Yeshey Rabgye (temporal ruler). It was renovated after it suffered serious damage in a windstorm in 1995 and earthquake in 2011. The goemba houses the statues of the guardian deities.
On our way back we wil stop to visit the Mini Zoo.
The zoo used to exhibit various indigenous wild animals, which were later released back into the wild by order of the 4th King who declared that such a facility was not in keeping with the Bhutan’s environmental and religious convictions.
The zoo now only features the Takin, which is the national animal of Bhutan. The Takins were originally released with the rest of the animals, but had become so familiar with people that they were found wandering around Thimphu looking for food. The only solution was to put them back into captivity.
OVERNIGHT AT AMANKORA THIMPHU.
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha (3 hrs drive)
The sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and the surrounding mountain sides offer a large variety of attractive places to explore and discover monasteries and the most impressive Dzong in the country.
Before we drive on the national east – west highway we will briefly visit Semtokha Dzong.
The oldest dzong in the country (built in 1629) stands on a soaring ridge 5 km away from Thimphu. It’s strategic position is evident as it controls all the approaches to and from Thimphu. Notice the contrast of traditional and modern as you enter the dzong grounds; the white painted dzong with the growing city in the background and the newly constructed 52 m tall Buddha statue perched on the hill right behind. It now houses the Institute of Language and Culture Studies.
After the visit we will continue our journey towards east. Roughly 50 minutes drive we will stop to stretch by hiking to Hongtso Goemba (1 hrs hike).
The Goemba was built in 1525 by the older brother of Drukpa Kuenlay, the Divine mad man. It is a two story traditional Bhutanese building where the main alter room has an enormous statue of Guru Tshoki Dorji in a standing posture together with his spiritual consort. Inside we can view very old wall paintings.
Picnic Lunch at Dochula cafeteria. (3000 m)
If weather permits we will have great views of the extended eastern himalayas in Bhutan from Dochula pass (3050 meters).
After lunch we will decent our way into the Punakha valley. In just 2 hrs drive we will decent 1700 m into the valley.
There we will hike to the famous Chimi Lhakhang (Fertility temple. (1 hr hike)
The 30-minute walk from the road to the lhakhang is through open farmland and rice paddies.
It is believed that a demoness who had been terrorizing the valley transformed herself into a black dog to escape the wrath of Drukpa Kuenlay, the Divine Madman. However, he caught the dog and buried it under a pile of earth shaped like a woman’s breast. He then built a chorten on top of this mount and prophesied that a temple would one day be consecrated over it. True to the prophecy, his brother, Lam Ngawang Chogyal, built Chime Lhakhang in 1456.
If you are wishing for a child, it is believed by the Bhutanese that a visit to the Divine Madman’s temple, Chime Lhakhang, might help increase your chances! Many parents also bring their newborn children to receive blessing and seek protection of the baby.
OVERNIGHT AT AMANKORA PUNAKHA.
Day 4: Punakha Tour
After early breakfast we will travel up the valley north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up and pay respect to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, (2-3 hrs hike)
The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance. The three-leveled chorten took eight and a half years to build and was consecrated in 1999. Dedicated to the Fifth King, it was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable.
Heading back down the valley we will stop for Lunch at the hotel.
After lunch we will visit the stunning Punakha Dzong.
The Dzong is considered one of the most important and also one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the Kingdom. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637, and was the seat of the government every winter until Thimphu was established as the permanent capital in 1955. It is still the winter residence of the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colorful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, as well as paintings of one-thousand Buddhas.
OVERNIGHT AT AMANKORA PUNAKHA.
Day 5: Punakha – Paro(4.5 hrs drive)
The journey west takes us back to Paro valley following thru wang Chhu and Pa Chhu rivers.
Picnic lunch at Paro.
After lunch we will visit Paro Dzong and take in the amazing architecture of this 17th century monument, a premier example of Bhutan’s architecture.
Paro Dzong was built in 17th century to defend Paro from the Tibetan invasion, is also known as Rinpung Dzong which means the ‘fortress on a heap of jewels’. This fine example of Bhutanese architecture now serves as a central monastic and administrative seat of the Paro province.
From the Dzong, a leisurely walk back into Paro town crosses the scenic Nyamai zampa, a unique model of Bhutan’s traditional cantilever bridge.
If time permits drive up north to take a short walk around the Drukgyel Dzong (ruins).
The Dzong was built in 1649 to celebrate a decisive victory over Tibetan forces and to curtail further invasions. Under the leadership of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the Bhutanese fought twelve battles with the Tibetans in different parts of the country, where one battle took place in Drukgyel Dzong. In the later years, the Dzong became an administrative centre under the Dzongpon (Lord of the Dzong) until gutted down by a fire in 1951
OVERNIGHT AT AMANKORA PARO.
Day 6: Paro Tour
Today’s exploration of Paro valley begins with a early hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s nest monastery) 4-5 hrs hike
Tiger’s Nest or Taktshang Goempa is one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments. It literally hangs off the face of a cliff 900 meters (2952 feet) above the valley floor. The legend states that Guru Rinpoche flew into paro valley on a mythical tigress and meditated in a cave where Taktsang stands today.. The Taktshang Goempa is built around the cave. The 4-5 hrs round trip hike offers spectacular views of the Goempa and the valley below.
Horses or mules can be arranged on request to help lighten the journey.
Lunch at the hotel
After lunch we will head back down the valley to visit the auspicious kyichu Lhakhang.
The 7th century monastery is one of the oldest and most sacred temples in the Kingdom where the seed of Buddhism was won in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songsten Gampo ordered the establishment of monasteries in the Himalayan region to subdue evil spirits and to spread Buddhism. Of the 108 monasteries which was built, two major ones were built in Bhutan namely the Kyichu Lhakhang and the Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang. Kyichu Lhakhang, which pins down the left foot of a treacherous Ogress, are a great finish to this day of cultural immersion and your journey to this ancient kingdom of BHUTAN.
OVERNIGHT AT AMANKORA PARO.