Flying into Paro is one of the most spectacular flignts one can experience. While descending into Paro valley, on a clear day sky you will be greeted by the world’s highest peaks, including Everest. The flight during late autumn is absolutely beautiful, though during the summers it will be cloudy. As the flight gets closer to the only international airport in Bhutan, you will see the Paro Dzong (fortress) on the hillside over looking Paro valley, with Ta Dzong, which now is the National Museum. Our representative will revive you upon your arrival and then drive you to Paro town. Traditional Bhutanese buildings flank the main road of the town. The main road still retains an old atmosphere, though this town is facing recent developments. One can get a chance to scroll through the town, visit shops, as this town hosts a number of souvenir shops. Beside this you can mingle with local people and take picture of the intricately painted houses. Every motif painted on the houses and buildings represents good luck and prosperity.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Paro
The first stop will allow you to view the magnificent TachoLhakhang, The hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder. After the visit we drive further to reach Chuzom, the confluence of Paro Chu (River) and Wang Chu (Thimphu Chu) After crossing Chuzom we enter Thimphu valley.
Visit to the National memorial chorten. This is a Tibetan-style chorten 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.
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 AshiDorjiWangmoWangchuk in 2001. It showcases the traditional artifacts used now and in the past, which helps connect people to the Bhutanese rural life.
Next we will browse the striking collection of intricate textile at the National Textile museum. The Museum introduces you to the living national art of weaving. The exhibition displays the major weaving techniques and styles of local dress and textile made by the Bhutanese women and men.
Towards the evening we will visit Tashichhoe Dzong and have glimpse king’s Palace.The Dzong is popularly known as ThimphuDzong or “the fortress of the glorious religion” it houses Bhutan’s administration, and the throne of His Majesty and other Government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan. Just below the dzong we can have a glimpse of King’s palace.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Thimphu
The day of hiking begins from Simtokha Dzong, which is the oldest Dzong in Bhutan to Talakha monastery. The hike is optional as there is a road that takes us right beneath the Talakha monastery. If you chose to hike the hike begins right from Simtokha dzong leading the way through blue pine forests. After approximately walking for 8 hrs, we get right at the top where the monestary sits calmly above the clouds. On a clear day sky we will get the best panoramic view of western Bhutan. One of the spectacular view is Jomolhari, our most sacred mountain 7314 meters, Jichhu Darke 6989 meters, Tsherem Gang 7000 meters, and if the sky is clear our view gets right across Sikkim, where the massive Kanchenjunga 8589 meters rises. If the sky is clear there is no limit as our view can even get further into Nepal were we can see some visibility of Everest 8848 and Makalu 8481 meters. For viewing this best season is October and November as the skies are clearer than other months.
Overnight: Hotel/ Resort in Thimphu
The journey continues as we head towards Punakha at 1300 m and a warmer region. Punakha is the winter residence of the central monk body and it is one of the richest agricultural lands. The valley is blessed with one of the biggest rivers in the country. En-route we will cross over Dochula pass at 3050 meters, and view the most dramatic panoramic view of the greater Himalayas. During summers this mountain pass is covered with mists and the views are obstructed. The dochula landmark is the Wangyel Chortens – 108 stupas built on the mountaintop in a Mandala pattern, further enhances the beauty and tranquility of the pass. From this cooler mountain pass we will descend into a warmer region of Punakha. As we descend we will notice a change in vegetation and temperature too. While we enter Punakha valley, we will stop for a visit at Chimmu Lhakhang the auspicious fertility temple, dedicated to the Tantric Buddhist Master Drukpa Kinley (Divine Madman). He is well known for his oral tradition of legends and songs. His teachings were through outrageous behavior and ribald humor in order to awaken the ordinary people. In particular he took female friends and disciples along the path of sexual desire and relationship to free them from attachment to the illusory world and to awaken their Bhddha-nature. We will walk through the rice fields 20 minutes to get to the temple. Depending on season one gets the glimpse of rural farming life, and the rural architecture, decorated with beautifully painted motifs and patterns. Its not unusual to find a huge phallus painted on the walls, so don’t be shocked, just ask our guides for more details. During early spring its time for paddy plantation and late autumns is harvesting season.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Punahka
The sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and the surrounding mountainsides offer a large variety of attractive places to explore and discover monasteries and the most impressive Dzong in the country.
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, The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance when driving. The three-levelled 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. After the 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 Je khempo (chief abbot) accompanied by the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colourful 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.
After the visit we will drive roughly 45 minutes towards queens village to visit the Nunnery. It was built by King Jigme’s maternal grandfather. Inside the monastery we can see very large statue of Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara) bodhisattva of compassion. The nunnery has stunning view of both Punakha and Wangdi Valley.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Punakha
Time to pack up and head to the colder valley of Phobjikha. The valley is significant in our country’s effort in preservation and protection the Black- Necked Cranes. Every year the birds arrive on their wintering grounds between mid-October and early December and remain until March through mid- April. We will visit the famous 16th century Gangtey Goemba that overlooks the large green expanse of the valley. The monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly be the families of the Gomchens (lay monk ) who take care of the monastery. After lunch we will walk downhill from the mani stone wall at Gangtey Goenpa to Khewa Lhakhang down in the valley. The trail is a gentle walk descending into the Semchubara village leading our way to a square Chorten and the Lhakhang.
Over night: Hotel/ Farm House in Phobjikha
Todays journey towards Thimphu, before we exit Phibjikha Valley we will visit the Crane Observation Center, where we can learn about the cranes, natural habitat, and phibjikha as a hotsopt for its conservation. We then drive to Wangdue, and briefly stop at Wangdue Dzong. The Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. It is remarkable as it completely commands an impressive view over both the directions. The Dzong is roofed with wooden shingles and has a rustic but disquieting charm to it. Currently the Dzong is going through a major renovation project. After the visit we drive to Dochula Pass for lunch and then visit the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang built by the eldest Queen Mother. The past and present perfectly merges in the intricate details of the Lhakhang murals, that tell the story of a supreme warrior whose vision extends into the distant future. Then we again decend back into Thimphu and take a leisurely walk in the city.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Thimphu
Its hiking day, and we begin by driving to Paro. Today’s exploration of Paro valley begins with a 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 Bhutan on a mythical tigress and meditated in a cave before bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The Taktshang Goempa is built around the cave, which is opened to the public once a year at the end of August. The four-hour 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. Back from the hike you will visit the auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang, a scared monument pinning down the left foot of a treacherous ogress, which is built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. This Monastery is one of the 108 monasteries built across the Himalayan region by the Tibetan King to subdue the Demoness that lay across the Himalayan region.
In the afternoon drive to the Watchtower or locally known as Ta-Dzong. This Watchtower was made National Museum in 1060. The Museum have been partially damaged due to the September 2011 earthquake, so some of the exhibit have been moved to the exhibit hall behind the museum. After the museum, take a short walk downhill to the Rinpung Dzong. This Dzong was built in the 17th century to defend Paro region from the invading Tibetan forces. The architecture is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture. The Dzong serves as a central administrative seat and central monk body. Then we again walk down to the Cantilever Bridge, to get a feel of the ancient way leading to the Dzong. The bridge is one of the fine examples of traditional bridge building in the country.
After this experience, we take a stroll in the town, visiting shops and finishing your journey and experiences of Bhutan.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Paro