Bhutan Map

PARO, THIMPHU &
PUNAKHA TOUR

Duration : 7 Days 6 Nights
Months : March to May and Sept to November

 

Thimphu is a small, charming capital city sandwiched in the heart of the Himalayas. It sits in its own valley fanning out from the river. The skyline hardly changes as new buildings are all constructed under zoning regulations. Thimphu's development is strictly monitored and buildings cannot exceed a certain height, nor can they be designed in anything but the traditional Bhutanese style.

 

Only a sprinkling of cars is ever found along the main street and the capital's population is not immediately visible. But, if you look, inside the bank of the shop, you find Thimphu's people and Bhutan's heart. Dressed in kho and kira, Thimphu people go about their work methodically, quietly bringing their nation through the growing pains of development and into its own definition of the modern world.

 

Bhutan's most stately and arguably most impressive building is Tashicchodzong, on the bakes of the Wangchu (Thimphu River). The home of the National Assembly and the summer residence of the capital's venerated monastic community, Tashicchodzong is a palatial building overlooking the river on the South side and the city of Thimphu from the North. While foreign visitors are only allowed to enter Tashicchodzong during the annual festival, its presence and its exterior and grounds provide a delightful spectacle. The dzong is the impressive result of a redesign of the original medieval structure sanctioned by the Third King, HM Jigme Dorge Wangchuck, when he moved Bhutan's permanent capital to Thimphu.

 

The most enjoyable way of passing time in Thimphu is just to wander along its main street. Many of the items on sale are made in India but textiles and the wooden crafts are Bhutanese as are all of the religious products. Thimphu's weekend market is another chance to watch the way life goes in the kingdom. Here, every weekend, Thimphu's residents break from whatever it is that they are doing to come to the market to pick up their weekly stock of vegetables, a copy of Kuensel (the weekly newspaper) and to exchange the week's gossip. It is a custom as old as the market and one both buyer and seller enjoy. For visitors who can't share in the gossip, a wander through the stalls reveals mountains of bright re chilies, eggplants and okra, asparagus in season and rice of every size. Traditional Bhutanese masks are sold, as are the carpets more reasonably found in Trongsa. On sale every weekend at no cost is life in Bhutan, a product to be cherished.

 

Another of Bhutan's loveliest exports is its wide and multifarious collection of stamps. These are best seen in commemorative books inside Thimphu's central post office. Other place of interest in Thimphu include the traditional painting school where the age-old styles of Bhutanese painting, including Thangka painting, are taught and the Memorial Chorten built in memory of His Majesty, the Third King of Bhutan. The National Library house a vast collection of books and research documents of Buddhist studies. Overnight stay at your hotel.

 
 
RINPUNG DZONG & TA DZONG

Apart from commanding a slightly elevated strategic point overlooking the longest stretch of the Paro Valley, Paro Dzong is symbolic as the religious and secular center of all affairs of the valley. It is also an architectural wonder, setting the tone for official dzongs throughout the kingdom and inviting the visitor to wonder at the cultural strength of the kingdom's heritage. Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro. Above the dzong, on the high hillside, is the castle shaped Ta Dzong. One time watch tower built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter valley wars of the 17th century, it is now home to Bhutan's national museum. The museum's collection includes ancient Bhutanese arts and artifacts, weapons and stamps, birds and animals. This is typical of the eclectic beauty of Bhutan - its prized objects bear little relation to each other but as a whole stand together as a history of one of the world's most pristine people.

 

TAKTSAN LHAKANG 

It is said that Guru Rinpoche, the father of the Bhutanese strain of Mahayana Buddhism, arrived in the Paro Valley more than a millennium ago on the back of a legendary or Tigress. He meditated for three months in a cave Taktsang Lhakang or Tiger's Nest. This monastery is now a hallowed shrine for Buddhist pilgrims who travel from all over the world to pray at its temple.

 

KYICHHU LHAKHANG 

This is one of the oldest and most sacred monasteries dating back to 8th century.

 

DRUGYEL DZONG 

Eighteen kilometers from Paro town on the south side of the valley are the burnt ruins of Drugyel Dzong (victorious fortress). It was from this monastery that the Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan armies during the 17th century.

 

I T I N E R A R I E S

  PARO, THIMPHU & PUNAKHA TOUR

 DETAILED ITINERARY

 

 

DAY 01 - PHUNTSHOLING

Arrival at Bagdogra Airport or NJP Railway station and proceed to the border town of Phuntsholing. As soon as you enter Bhutan, the distinctive flavor of the country hits you. The Bhutanese prefer to call their country 'Druk - Yul' which means "The Land of the Dragon". Bhutan is renowned for its undiluted culture and unspoiled natural wonders. Bhutan's past is still its present. Over night stay at hotel in Phuntsholing.

 

DAY 02 - PHUNTSHOLING - PARO

After finishing all border formalities in Phuntsholing, a scenic drive takes you to the charming valley of Paro. You will be struck by the silence and peace of Paro's valley. The town of Paro is small with most of the inhabitants living in the beautiful valley that surrounds the town. The valley floor is at its widest in the area nearest to the airport, the town and Paro Dzong. A destination all of its own, Paro is home to the national museum and watchtower to one of the oldest and most celebrated dzongs in all Bhutan. After checking in at your hotel, you can take a short trip to the market in the evening.

 

DAY 03 - PARO SIGHTSEEING

Your full day will be spent seeing the dzongs and monasteries of Paro. Over night stay at you hotel.

 

DAY 04 PARO - THIMPHU

Morning drive to Thimphu and stop at Chuzom for a scenic view where Paro chu [river] joins Thimphu chu. Enroute visit Simtokha dzong, six kms from the city limits and is the kingdom's oldest fortress which is now used as the Dzongka language school of Bhutan. On arrival, check in at you hotel. Afternoon sightseeing of Thimphu also visiting the Handicrafts Emporium and School of Painting.

 

 

DAY 05 THIMPHU - PUNAKHA -WANGDI PHODRANG - THIMPHU

A full day excursion to Punakha. The first stop after leaving Thimphu on the journey East is Dochula Pass at 10,500 feet. Only 45 minutes from Thimphu, it offers visitors their first glimpse of the Himalayan range. The best time to reach Dochula is dawn when the clouds are thin and the early morning sun casts breath-taking light on the distant mountains framed in shades of red from the brilliant flowers. The road to Punakha branches off left and curls its way down the valley. The town of Punakha does not hold many attractions apart from the glorious dzong which dominates the valley floor. Before Thimphu was made capital of Bhutan, Punakha held the title as Winter capital because of its more temperate climate. Thimphu's monk body and the Je Khenpo (leader of Bhutan's religious order) still come to Punakha to pass the winter.

 

Punakha Dzong was strategically built at the confluence of the Phochu (male) and Mochu(female) rivers by the first Shabdrung of Bhutan, Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It has been destroyed by four fires and an earthquake in 1897 and has frequently been devastated by flood water coming from the great northern glaciers. The Dzong has now been fully restored to its original splendor.

 

A 45-minute drive from Punakha is Wangdi Phodrang or Wangdi, as it's more familiarly known. The last town in the west before arriving at the Central region of Bhutan, Wangdi is a typical small Bhutanese town. A bustling market with well-stocked shops and pretty view over its own valley and Dzong. Wangdi is a good place to stretch your legs and wander around the shops.

 

Back to Hotel in Thimphu for overnight stay.

 

DAY 06 - THIMPHU - PHUNTSHOLING

It is time to say goodbye to the beautiful country of Bhutan. A long trip takes you back to Phuntsholing for a well-earned rest.

 

DAY 07 - PHUNTSHOLING

Continue your journey in the Darjeeling/Sikkim region or catch a flight/train for departure.

 

 

 

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MARCOPOLO WORLD TRAVELS, Palzor Stadium Road, Opp. SNT Bus Terminus, Gangtok -737101, Sikkim, India.
Phone : 91-3592-204116/ 229407/ 221723 ; Fax : 91 - 3592 - 205078 ; Email : sikkiminfo@yahoo.com