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Itineraries

Royal Himalayan Kingdom: Bhutan

Here’s a quick way in which you can tailor-make your holidays, pick the access and exit points that are most convenient, throw in a few activities and stopovers of interest, give us your budget outline, and we’ll do the rest!

Access points – from where would you like to start your journey to north-east?

Paro airport, Bhutan

 Phuentsholing, Bhutan

Stopovers – all the local places of interest

Thimphu: Thimphu, one of the smallest capitals in the world is the portal to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. For most part of its history, Bhutan has tried to preserve its culture from the influences of the western world, by introducing modernity in gentle, measured steps. This peculiarity makes Thimphu and other parts of the country a unique travel destination.

Trashi Chhoe Dzong: Also called Fortress of the Glorious Religion, the Trashi Chhoe Dzong is situated north of the city on the west bank of the Wang Chhu. The Dzong was the site of the lavish formal coronation of the fifth King in 2008 and annually hosts the city’s cultural highpoint ‘Tsechu’, an important religious festival, where sacred dances and vibrant local markets enchant the crowds.

National Library: The National Library houses an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts. Nearby, the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) is where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts.

Thimphu local sightseeing:

Buddha View Point: The Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang) offers a good view of the Thimphu valley. One can pay one’s respects and offer prayers to the Buddha Statue, the largest in the country and then walk around for sights of the lush valley.

Simtokha Dzong: The Simtokha Dzong monastery was built in 1627 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a leader who unified Bhutan. It is the first Dzong of its kind and houses an Institute for Language and Cultural Studies. The prayer wheel behind the courtyard has ancient, intricate carvings add to the charm and contribute to this temple’s popularity.

Memorial Chorten: Also known as the Thimphu Chorten, this stupa was built in 1974 in the memory of late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Built with the intention to “represent the mind of the Buddha”, the paintings and images within the monument offer a rare insight into Buddhist philosophy.

Wangdue Phodrang: the last town on the highway to central Bhutan, the Wangdue Phodrang is a town and capital, and lends its name to a dzong which is the major tourist attraction in this region. A scenic drive through the Dochu La pass with fascinating views of the mountains takes you into the heart of Bhutan.

Takin Mini Zoo: Resembling a cross between a cow and a goat, the Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. Legend has it that the animal was created by the great Buddhist yogi, Drupa Kunley. The Bhutan takin is one among four subspecies, all of which are geographically limited to the eastern Himalayas. The Takin mini zoo is an ideal location to watch these caprid creatures, before looking out for them in the wild.

Punakha sightseeing:

Punakha Dzong: Located on an island between the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers, joined to the mainland by an arched wooden bridge, the city’s dzong is one of the most photogenic of all Bhutan’s ancient fortresses. The dzong contains many precious relics from the days when successive kings ruled over the mountainous kingdom using this valley as a base.

Chimi Lhakhang (fertility temple): A pleasant 20-minute walk across fields from the road at Sopsokha, brings you to the yellow-roofed Chimi Lhakhang. Built in 1499 in honour of Lama Drukpa Kunley after he subdued the demoness of the nearby Dochu La with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’ and trapped it in a rock at the location close to where the chorten now stands. The monastery is the repository of the original wooden symbol of phallus that Kunley brought from Tibet, which accounts for its fame as a fertility temple.

Phobjikha Valley:

Gangtey Gompa: The Gangtey Gompa, one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries is nestled amidst villages that still continue to live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. The Gompa offers views of the wide Phobjikha valley hemmed in by black mountain ranges. In winters, the valley plays host to hundreds of black-necked cranes who have spent the summer in Tibet, and celebrates their return annually with the Crane festival.

Bumthang: Bumthang has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Bumthang, literally meaning “beautiful field”, has numerous temples and monasteries shrouded in religious legend. Tales of Guru Padmasambhava and his reincarnation known as Tertons are still narrated in the valleys, and a lot of rich folklore still prevails.

Bumthang sightseeing:

Bumthang is best explored on foot, where a circuit can take you across the points of interest. Jakar Dzong is a monastery established around 1549, at an auspicious location, legend suggests, signaled by a roosting white bird. The 7th century Jambay Lhakhang, was one among 108 temples, built on a single day over the mortal remains of an ogress to tie her to earth forever. Kurjey Lhakhang is a monastery that offered a final resting place for the remains of the first three kings of Bhutan. The trail also covers the Tamshing monastery, the home of the sacred dances performed across Bhutan and the Kunchosum monastery. A scenic drive to Mebartsho (the burning Lake), named so as legend claims that Terton Pema Lingpa had a vision of the sacred treasures hidden within the lake. He lit a butter lamp and jumped into the lake, to re-emerge with a chest, a scroll of paper and the butter lamp still burning bright.

Paro sightseeing:

Drukgyal Ruin Dzong: The Drukgyal Ruin Dzong is a fortress and Buddhist monastery located in the upper parts of Paro valley, built in 1649 to commemorate a victory over an invasion from Tibet. In the early 1950s Drukgyal Dzong was almost completely destroyed by fire, and today it lies in ruins. Yet it makes for an interesting cultural visit in the Paro.

Kyichu Lhakhang: Built in 659, the Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. It shares a legend with the Jambay Lhakhang, as being one of 108 temples built in a day to entrap a demoness.

Rinpung Dzong: Rinpung Dzong is a fortress-monastery that serves both as a civil administrative center and as a monastic home. Most dzongs were built in the mid-1600s to protect the inhabited valleys from invasion by Tibet, this one was started in 1644 and most of the dzongs in Bhutan, it survived the massive 1897 earthquake mostly unscathed, only to be damaged by fire in 1907.

National Museum of Paro: The National Museum of Bhutan is among the few educational institutions that interpret the history and culture of Bhutan through its exhibits, conducting symposiums, publication of research findings and conservation of artifacts. It boasts a rich variety of artefacts from all over the country representing different eras, from as early as 4000 B.C E. to the present day.

Tiger’s Nest: a day-walk or horse-ride brings one to the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings to the rock face 900 metres above the valley floor. Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress and he subsequently meditated in the nearby ‘tiger lair’ caves, either tale accounting for the name of the monastery. It is one of Bhutan’s most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighbouring Buddhist countries. On the way back one can also visit Dumtse Lhakhang, a temple built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the iron bridge builder, and Drukgyel Dzong (fortress of victory), constructed to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invaders in 1644 and destroyed by a butter lamp fire in 1951.

Activities – all the crazy activities that we can organise for you, to add some adventure to your journey

As Bhutan is a largely cultural experience, activities like local sightseeing, scenic drives, day-long walking excursions or horse-rides and monument visits can be undertaken.

Rafting in Punakha: Bhutan has numerous glacial-fed rivers, and white-water rafting is an upcoming activity here. Experience giddying rapids over the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers at Punakha Dzong, we cannot promise you a better adventure!

Accommodation – there is a variety of accommodation available at each stopover, as per your budget, we can suggest the most viable for your journey

Exit points – where would you like your journey to end?
Paro airport, Bhutan

 Phuentsholing, Bhutan

Samdrup Jongkhar, Bhutan

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Cancellation should be confirmed by mailing: amishms@footloosegypsy.in or by calling Amish Shah at +91-9922939584

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