DAY I: ARRIVE AT PARO – THIMPHU
- On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be warmly received by our friendly, traditionally dressed Chen-Ray Travel & Tour’s representative with a white welcome scarf (called Khadhar) with eight auspicious symbols printed on it. Drive to Thimphu which is about 1 hour drive from airport with sightseeing en route. Check in to your hotel and relax with a cup of welcome tea.
- Later drive to Kuenselphodrang now popularly known as Buddha point since the construction of the world’s tallest Buddha (Dhordenma) Statue (169 feet) started. You can also enjoy the spectacular view of Thimphu valley below.
- Visit the Memorial Chorten. This Chorten (stupa) was built (1974) in honor of the late 3rd King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. Built in a typical Tibetan style outside and with three shrines inside represents the mainspritual themes of the Nyingma School. The paintings inside depict tantric Buddhismin all its complexity. The complex is visited by people from all walks throughout the day and is one of the most public religious places in the capital.
- Evening free
- Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY II: THIMPHU
- Visit “Chang Gangkha Lhakhang”. One of the oldest Monasteries of Thimphu dating back to 15th century. It was built by a descendant of Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo. The new born babies of residents of Thimphu valley are taken to receive their first blessings from a High Lama (Monk).
- Visit the Takin (National Animal of Bhutan) reserve at Motithang.
- Drive down to the view point of Tashichho Dzong, the impressive fortress which houses the secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty the King and various government offices.
- Visit craft bazaar where one can find all kinds of authentic handmade Bhutanese handicrafts including the national dress of Bhutan, Gho and Kira. Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
- Evening visit Tashichho Dzong. The present form this Dzong was consecrated as late as 1969 and it is a visual delight. The history of this Dzong dates back to thirteenth century but the original dzong was not at the present site that offers no defensive merit. The old one was built in 1216 or so by the founder of the Lhapa School and was located on a spur to the North-East of the present one. This Dzong was badly damaged during a subsequent struggle with the drukpas and later became the property of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal in the 1630s. In 1641 he rebuilt the Dzong christening it Tashichhoe (the Fortress of Glorious Religion). This became the summer residence of the Zhabdrung and the clergy and Punakha the winter retreat. A fire in 1772 resulted in severe damage and the Desi and Je khempo of that time decided to rebuild it at the bottom of the valley where it now stands. After the capital was moved to Thimphu, it was renovated and expanded in 1962.
- Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY III: THIMPHU-PUNAKHA
- Drive to Punakha. Before reaching Punakha (about 22km from Thimphu) you will pass through a mountain pass “Dochu La” at 3100m above sea level. On a clear day, the view of the Eastern Himalayas from this pass is one of the best in the country. There are a hundred and nine chortens (stupas) in three tiers of forty five, thirty six and twenty seven circumscribing a single larger chorten at the top. This chortens are called Druk Wangyal Chortens or ‘Stupas of Victory’. The building of these chortens was initiated by Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck when her husband the fourth King, travelled to the South-East of the country in December 2003 leading his army against the insurgents from India.
- Hike to Chemi Lhakhang. This Lhakhang dates back to 1499 which was built by Lama Drukpa Kinley who is till this day known as a Divine Madman. Located beautifully on a hilltop, it is about 30 to 40 minute walk passing through a charming village set in lush terraced fields. Lama Drukpa Kinley is beleived to have subdued a demoness residing in Dochu La with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’ and a wooden effigy of this is preserved within. There are also statues of him along with those of Lama Zhabdrung, Sakyamuni and Avalokiteswara. Devotees receive blessings from his wooden phallus and iron Bow and arrow that lie here and childless women are said to have their wish fulfilled after visiting this Lhakhang.
- Evening free
- Overnight at your hotel i Punakha.
DAY IV: PUNAKHA
- Drive to Punakha Dzong (fortress). The Dzong straddles the confluence of two rivers- Phochu (Male River) and Mochu (Female River) is the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan. It was named as ‘Pungthang Dechen Phodrang’ or ‘Palace of Great happiness’. This impressive fortress was built in 1637. It was the second of the mighty dzongs built by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel (person who unified Bhutan) and was the seat of government till the end of the reign of the second King.
The site of the Dzong is believed to have received the blessings of Guru Padmasambhava (the Great Buddhist teacher who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan). In the eighth century he is believed to have prophesied: “…on the edge of the hill that looks like an elephant’s trunk, a man named Namgyal will come and build a fortress…”
The most recent historic event the wedding ceremony of the present King His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema’s was held inside this Dzong.
- After Dzong we drive further about 7km drive from Punakha Dzong and about 40 to 50 minutes hike from the road point to Khamsum Yuelly Namgyal Chorten which was completed in the year 1999 after eight years of construction. Located atop a hill commands a very beautiful view of the valley below.
- The 160 meters Pho Chhu Suspension Bridge is known for the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan, which gives you spectacular views of Punakha Dzong and the Pho Chhu Valley.
- Overnight at your Hotel in Punakha.
DAY V: PUNAKHA-PARO
- Drive towards Paro via Thimphu.
- Evening visit Ta Dzong, built in 1656 as a watchtower for Rinpung Dzong is now used as the National Museum which is a repository of not only precious works of art but also costumes, Armour and other hand crafted objects of daily life that provide a good snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. It opens 7 days a week except on National Holidays.
- Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) was built in 1646 by Lama Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal and strategically located to thwart Tibetan incursions into the rest of the country, this Dzong became one of Bhutan’s strongest and most important fortresses.
- Overnight at your Hotel in Paro.
DAY VI: PARO TAKTSHANG HIKE
- The hike to Taktshang Monastery perched on a cliff at 2950m/9700ft takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours as per your hiking ability. It is an uphill hike to the Monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. There is a cafeteria (Taktsang Jakhang) on the half way.
Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava (the great Buddhist master) with his magical powers came to Taktshang in the eighth century, flying from the east of the country on the back of a tigress (a form that one of his consorts is believed to have taken). He is said to have meditated for about three months in a cave on the cliff and subdued the evil spirits. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1692 by the fourth Desi Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below.
- Evening free for souvenir shopping in Paro town.
- Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY VII: DEPART PARO
- End of your travel to Bhutan. Our team will drive you to the Airport and bid farewell.