Bhutan Map

BHUTAN, known to the natives as Druk Yul (Land of the Thunder Dragon), it is regarded as the last paradise on earth. Its isolation, spectacular mountains, varied flora and fauna, ancient Buddhist monasteries, vibrant culture and mystic aura have made it so.

Though small in size, the Kingdom's topography is one of dramatic contrasts. From the near-tropical southern border with India at an altitude of 300 m, the land rises to culminate in the over 7000 m peaks of the Himalaya in the north which form a natural frontier with the Tibetan region of Bhutan's northern neighbor, China.

THIMPHU
Lying in a valley (elevation 2,350 m), Thimphu is unlike any other capital in the world. The traditional architecture of its houses and buildings is particularly striking.

The places to visit are the Memorial Chortan, dedicated to the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk; Tashichho Dzong, seat of the government of Bhutan and the summer residence of the central monk body; the Traditional Medicine Hospital where herbal medicines are prepared; the National Library, a treasure trove of ancient texts; the Painting School where children learn the traditional techniques of drawing and painting; Dechenchholing to see traditional gold and silver smiths at work; Changangkha Lakhang which contains ancient scriptures and thangka paintings; and Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan's oldest fortress which now houses a school for Buddhist studies.

Bhutan 7 Days 6 Nights:

DAY  01 : Arrive Paro by Flight :The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh  air as you step out if the plane. You will be received by the representative of our counter part , in a traditional way and drive to Hotel Olathang. Afternoon visit  the Ta-Dzong built in the 17th century, as  watch tower to defend Paro Dzong below. This Dzong was later converted into the National Museum in 1967, and is filled with antique Thankha paintings, textiles, weapons and amour. Later on walk around the main street of Paro. 

Day 02: Paro Sightseeing: Morning hike up to the Taksang Monastery (Tiger's nest). The climb up to the view point will take around 3 hours and enjoy the stunning view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambava landed on the back of a Tiger in the 8th century, and meditated  for three months. The monastery was later built in this holy place in 1684. After lunch in the cafe walk back to the road point and drive to Hotel. Later visit to Rinpung Dzong:  The “fortress of the heap of jewels“ was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal on a hill above the township.  The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge (called the Nemi Zam) and then up a paved stone path running alongside the imposing outer walls.  The valley’s annual springtime religious festival, the Paro Tsechu, takes place in the courtyard of the dzong and on the dance ground on the hillside above. Overnight at Hotel

Note: Taksang Monastery was destroyed by fire 4 years ago and 90 percent of re-construction is completed.

Day 03:  Drive to thimphu (2 hours) the modern capital of Bhutan and  Thimphu sightseeing will include  visit to National Memorial Chorten: The building of this chorten was originally the idea of Bhutan's third king, H.M. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (“the father of modern Bhutan”), who had wished to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity, but was unable to give shape to his idea in his lifetime due to pressures of state.  After His Majesty’s untimely death in 1972, the Royal Family and Cabinet resolved to fulfill his wishes and erect a memorial that would perpetuate his memory and also serve as a monument to peace.  The National Memorial Chorten was consecrated on July 28, 1974.  The finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues within the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

Tashichhodzong: The “fortress of the glorious religion”, was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s.  Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.  It is open to visitors during the Thimphu Tsechu (held in autumn) and while the monk body is resident in its winter quarters in Punakha.

Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums: These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life.

Handicrafts shops: A wide assortment of colorful, hand woven textiles and other craft products is available for purchase at the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and many smaller crafts shops around the town.

Day 04:   Thimphu-Punakha :Drive to Punakha (70 Km) via Duchula pass. An hour drive from Thimphu will take you to this pass (3050 meters), from here one can have superb view of the Mountain ranges on a clear day. Drive on to Punakha  served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and still it is the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot).  Blessed with a temperate climate and fed by the Pho Chu (male) and Mo Chu (female) rivers, Punakha is the most fertile valley in the country.  Sightseeings  in Punakha & Wangdi

Punakha Dzong: Placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, the dzong was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative center of the region.  Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in recent years by the present monarch. The dzong is open for visitors during the Punakha festival (early spring) and in the summer months, after the monk body has returned to Thimphu. Afternnon 20 minutes of drive will take you to  WANGDUEPHODRANG (1,300m/4,265ft)

Located south of Punakha and the last town before central Bhutan, Wangduephodrang is like an extended village with a few well-provisioned shops. The higher reaches of the Wangduephodrang valley provide rich pastureland for cattle. This district is famous for its fine bamboo work, stone carvings, and slate which is mined up a valley a few km. from the town. Visit Wangduephodrang Dzong: Stretched along the hilltop above the confluence of the Punakha Chu and Tang Chu rivers, the imposing Wangduephodrang Dzong is the town’s most visible feature. Drive back to Punakha for overnight at Hotel Zangtopelri or at Hotel YT.

Day 05: Day excursion to Gangtey valley (or Khotoka). (3 hours drive will take you to Gangtey (3,000m/9,845ft): In the mountains east of Wangduephodrang lies the beautiful Phobjikha Valley, on the slopes of which is situated the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17th century.  The village of Phobjikha lies a few km. down from the monastery, on the valley floor.  This quiet, remote valley is the winter home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate. After visiting the Gangtey monastery and the surounding village drive back to Punakha for over night.

Day 06: Punakha-Phuntsholing: This is a long way drive (240 KM) via Thimphu. Lunch at Punakha Café and afternoon drive on to Phuntsholing for overnight at Hotel.

Note: Since it is a long day there will be not much time for sight seeing on the way, however if the time permits it is worthwhile for visit to Kharbandi Gompa:  This beautiful monastery situated in a garden of tropical plants and flowers at an altitude of 400m /1,300ft above the town, was founded in 1967 by the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron.  The monastery contains paintings depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha and statues of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche. From the monastery garden there is a splendid view of Phuentsholing and the plains of West Bengal with their tea gardens beyond. 

Day 07: Phuntsoling – Gangtok/Darjeeling Transfer to Gangtok/Darjeeling 6-7 hrs drive passing through the West Bengal and river Teesta.

 

 

I T I N E R A R I E S


GENERAL INFORMATION

VISA AND TRANSPORT: Foreign travelers must posses a visa for Bhutan which is granted initially for 14 days. While the actual visa is stamped on arrival in Bhutan upon payment of us$20, visitors need to obtain visa clearance from the Tourism Authority of Bhutan (TAB) in advance. Visa can be extended in Thimphu for up to six months. The operator making your arrangements will handle the official formalities.

Transport is provided by tour operators who have their own fleet of luxury buses. All major places of interest are connected by paved roads.

ACCESS: Druk Air, Bhutan's airline operates flights to Paro from Bangkok, Kolkata, Dhaka, Kathmandu and New Delhi. There are two overland entry/exit points. One is from the Indian state of West Bengal into Phuntsholing in southwest Bhutan. Phuntsholing is four hours' drive from Bagdogra, the nearest Indian airport, and seven hour's drive from both Gangtok (Sikkim) and Darjeeling. The drive from Phuntsholing to Thimphu takes six hours. The other point is Samdrup Jongkhar in the southeast, 110 km from Guwahati, India. An Inner Line Permit to enter Assam will also be required to enter/exit through Guwahati. Tashigang is six hours' drive from Samdrup Jongkhar.

SEASON: March-may and September-November are the high season months, while June, July and December-February comprises the low season. Bring cotton or light woolen wears in summer (maximum temperature 30 degrees Celsius) and heavy woolens and down jacket in winter (minimum 1.1 degrees Celsius).

ADVENTURE: Trekking and mountaineering.

 

 

 

AROUND BHUTAN

WESTERN BHUTAN
Paro is 65 km (two hours' drive) to the southwest of Thimphu. The Taktsang Monastery where Guru Rinpoche meditated to subdue evil spirits; Rinpung Dzong, venue of the paro tsechu (religious festival); Ta Dzong which houses the National Museum; the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, built to commemorate Bhutan's victory over Tibetan aggressors; Kyichu Lakhang, with its extraordinary collection of religious pone of the oldest and most sacred temples in Bhutan; and Dungtse Lakhang with its extraordinary collection of religious paintings, are the places to see in the valley.

Punakha, 77 km (three hours and 15 minutes' drive) northeast of Thimphu, served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and, even today, it is the winter home of the central monk body. The Punakha Dzong houses many sacred artifacts and temples. The road from Thimphu to Punakha crosses the 3,115-m Dochula pass.

Wangdi Phodrang(or Wangdi) is situated 70 km (three hours' drive) southeast of Thimphu. The Wangdi Phodrang Dzong played a key role during the unification of Bhutan. Enroute from Wangdi to Tongsa is the Gangtey Gompa, the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan.

CENTRAL BHUTAN
Tongsa is 129 km (four and half hours' drive) east of Wangdi and crosses the 3,300 m Pelela pass. The Tongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of Bhutan's Royal Family, houses 23 temples. The watchtower, Ta Dzong, has a temple dedicated to King Gesar, the hero of a great epic.

Bumthang consist of the valleys of Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura. It takes two and half hours to reach Bumthang, 68 km northeast of Tongsa. Bumthang is ideal for making excursions to the many monasteries and shrines - Tharpaling, Choekrak, Tamshing, Kurjey, Jambey, Kunzangdra among others - as well as to Mebartso, "the flaming lake".

EASTERN BHUTAN
Mongar is 198 km (seven hours' drive) southeast of Bumthang. The road to Mongar crosses Thumshingla (3,800 m), the highest pass in Bhutan. The Mongar Dzong is relatively new compared to the other dzongs of the Kingdom.

Lhuntshi is 76 km (three hours' drive) north of Mongar. The landscape here is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges, and dense coniferous forests. This district is famous for its weavers and the fine quality of fabrics they produce.

The 90-km trip from Mongar to Tashigang, the easternmost district, takes four hours. Some 20 km before Tashigang is the Dametsi Monatery, the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. After Thimphu, Tashigang is the largest urban center where the Tashigang Dzong stands over the Gamri River. Tashi Yangtse, north of Tashigang, has dzong and the Nepalese style Chorten Kora.

 

   
 

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