Chen-Ray Travel & Tours is one of the acknowledged travel agencies that is engaged in providing exciting and economical special interest tour to our esteemed clients. We are one of the leading tour operators who intend to organize successful tours for our clients as per their requirements and budget. Therefore, we have designed special interest tour and holiday packages for our clients. The packages include bird watching tour, cycling tour, kayaking and rafting tour, meditation trip, hot spring therapy, and many more adventures. Our motive is to provide dream vacations to the curious travelers across various locations in Bhutan. We are based in Thimphu (Bhutan).
“BHUTAN SPECIAL 2015”
(CULTURE, NATURE & ADVENTURE)
10 Nights/11 Days Itinerary
DAY I: ARRIVE AT PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT-THIMPHU
- On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be warmly received by a friendly, traditionally dressed Chen-Ray Travel & Tours’ (Bhutan Travel Company) representative with a traditional 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.
- Morning visit the National 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.
- Drive to Kuenselphodrang now popularly known asBuddha 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.
- 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 02: THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING
National Library: Was opened in 1967 to preserve the ancient Dzongkha texts and act as a repository for thousands of old religious books and manuscripts as well as the wooden blocks used for printing.
- Visit Zorig chusum (meaning 13 arts and crafts) which is popularly known as the painting school. Students in this institute learn 13 different traditional arts and crafts like painting, sculpture, wood carving, weaving, embroidery, etc.
- Folk Heritage Museum: The Museum offers a glimpse of not only the past but also depicts the present reality of rural Bhutanese people.
- Royal Textile Academy: Was instituted in May 2005 under the patronage of Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck as a non-government, non-profit organization with the aim to educate, promote and preserve Bhutanese Textiles. It showcases the traditional methods of weaving and has large collection of of dresses from the Royal family.
- Tango Monastery: This monastery was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in 13th century and Desi Tenzin Rabgye the 4th Temporal Ruler built in its present form in 1688. In 1616, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal meditated in its cave. Today it is the institute of higher learning of Buddhism in Bhutan. The Main Lhakhang (Temple) holds the statues of ‘Due Sum Sangye’ (three Buddhas of past, present and future).
- Centenary Farmers’ Market- Initially started as a week end market where the local villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products used to be open on Saturdays and Sundays. But now the market opens from Thursday to Sunday.
- In the evening go for shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu or the Craft Bazaar where you can find authentic handicrafts of Bhutan. The Bazaar is supported by the Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Craft (APIC) to promote the traditional arts and crafts and to supplement the income of the rural people.
Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 03: THIMPHU-PUNAKHA
- After breakfast, drive to Punakha (72 Kms, 3 hours drive) via Dochula pass (3140m). 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.
Chime 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.
Punakha Dzong: 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.
DAY 04: PUNAKHA – GANGTEY – PHOBJIKHA
- Drive to Phobjikha takes you through the Wangdue Valley.
- Wangduephodrang Dzong: This was another Dzong built by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel in 1638 at a spot that controlled the routes to Trongsa towards East, Punakha and Thimphu towards West, Gasa to the North and Dagana and Tserang to the South. Legend says that when Zhabdrung arrived in the area he spotted a boy building sand castle on the banks of the river. This was taken as good omen and when the dzong was built it was named after the boy – Wangduephodrang or Wangdi’s Palace. Complex and different in shape, the dzong comprised of three separate but linked structures. It was unfortunately completely destroyed by fire in 2012 and is now under reconstruction.
- Gangtey Goenpa: Gangtey Goenpa (Monastery) was established by Pema Lingpa’s grandson who became the first Gangtey Trulku. The goenpa is affiliated with several other important goenpas in this region, including Tamzhing in Bumthang. Currently the ninth reincarnation, Kunzang Pema Namgyel is the abbot here. Besides the goenpa there are several schools, a Tibetan style chorten (stupa) and meditation centers where monks retreat for periods ranging from three days to three years. There is also a Buddhist college nearby that offers a nine-year course in Buddhist studies.
- Phobjikha Valley: This valley is famous for potatoes which is one of the cash crops of the region and an important export to India. Phobjikha is also famed for the migratory black-necked cranes that make it their winter home. This endangered species of birds arrives from Tibet towards the end of October. Known as ‘Thrung Thrung Karmo’ by the Bhutanese, the locals have great affection for these beautiful birds and are featured in many folk songs. Their departure by the end of February is marked by songs of lamentation. Details of their habitat and habits are available at the Crane Observation and Education Center. If you visit the place at the time when the birds are in residence, you may be able to get a close view from the hides specially constructed for this purpose.
- Dinner and overnight in the hotel Gangtey/Phobjikha..
DAY 05: GANGTEY – TRONGSA – BUMTHANG
- After breakfast drive to Bumthang.
- Stop at the Chendebjee Chorten (stupa). This Napalese style stupa lies on the banks of Nikka Chu at an extremely serene spot. It was built in the eighteenth century by Lama Shida of Tibet to suppress a demon who had been troubling the inhabitants of the valley. A smaller Bhutanese style chorten was constructed nearby by the Royal grandmother in 1982.
- Trongsa Dzong: The most impressive Dzong (Fortress) in the country – it is intricately layered into the hillside, in complete harmony with its surroundings. The structure is aesthetically designed and its clean lines boast a superb sense of proportion and space while finely carved woodwork and elegant paintings suitably embellish it. Following the instruction of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel, the Dzong was built in 1644 by Chhogyel Minjur Tempa who later became the third Desi (Governor). The Dzong was named Chökhor Raptentse Dzong. The structure was enhanced by Desi Tenzin Rabgye in 1771 and now contains twenty-three temples. It is a veritable maze of corridors, courtyards and passageways leading to the multiple levels contained within the great outer impregnable shell.
- Ta Dzong: Located strategically above the Trongsa Dzong, it was built by Choeje Minjur Tenpa, the first governor of Trongsa, in the year 1652. The tower stood guard over the Trongsa Dzong to protect the main stronghold of the town from any external threats. It is a short steep walk from the Trongsa town.Tower was converted into museum in 2008.
- Drive to Bumthang enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way.
- Over night hotel in Bumthang.
DAY 06: BUMTHANG – NANGSEPHEL – DAPHAM DZONG NATURE HIKE
- Drive to the village of Nangsephel 15 km from Bumthang on a dusty farm road.
- Hike through villages and Jungles to the ruins of Dapham Dzong (Fortress) which once stood tall on hill overlooking the valley and against many Tibetan invasions.
- Picnic lunch in the Jungle
- Evening walk around the village and experience the life of the rural people.
- Overnight in typical Farm House
DAY 07: BUMTHANG SIGHTSEEING
- After breakfast, visit Jakar Dzong, which literally means “The Castle of White Bird”. The current structure was built in 1667.
- Visit Jambay Lhakhang, built by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659 on the same day as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang and was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life force.
- Then visit Kurjey Lhakhang that is named after body print of Guru Rimpoche, built in 1652 by Minjur Tempa.
- Visit Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of the good message), established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom.
- Overnight in Hotel
DAY 08: BUMTHANG – WANGDUE
- Early breakfast, drive to Wangdue.
- Evening at leisure.
- Overnight in Hotel.
DAY 09: WANGDUE-PARO
- After breakfast drive to Paro.
- Check in to your hotel.
- After lunch, visit Ta Dzong (built in1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum.
- Below the museum is the Rinpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”) , the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
- Hotstone bath and dinner at a typical Bhutanese farm house
- Overnight in Hotel.
DAY 10: PARO, HIKE TO TAKTSHANG MONASTERY
Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery: 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. 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.
Kyichu Lhakhang: It was built in 659 by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. The temple fell into disrepair but was superbly restored in 1839 by the 25th Je Khempo (Chief Abbot). He also contributed the outstanding statue of Avalokiteshwara, with eleven heads and thousand arms, which is located in the sanctuary.
DAY 11: PARO – AIRPORT
- Your travel in Bhutan comes to an end. Out team will drop you to the airport and bid farewell.
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- Traditional Welcome drink on check-in to every hotel.
- Cultural show ( Thimphu Festival from 22nd to 25th September 2015)
- Tashichho Dzong
- Dochula Pass – (Annual Festival on 13th December)
- Dochula – Lungchu Tsey Hike 4 hours
- River Rafting/Kayaking at Punakha
- Farm House stay at Nangseyphel, Bumthang
- Gangtey Lhakhang (Festival from 21st to 23rd September 2015)
- Gantey Nature Hike 3 hours
- Endangered Black Necked Crane (November to March)
- Trongsa Old trail hike (from view point to Trongsa Dzong, if interested)
- Trongsa Dzong (Festival from 20th to 22nd December 2015)
- Jampey Lhakhang (Festival from 27th to 30th October 2015)
- Mebar Tsho (Flaming Lake)
- Taktshang the Tiger’s Nest
- Traditional Hot stone bath with dinner of Bhutanese Cuisine with Ara (local brew) in Farm House