East/West and Central Bhutan (17 Days)
Day – 1 Arrive Paro International Airport
During the flight, one will experience breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mount Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be received and escorted by our company representative to the capital city Thimphu (65Kms). Check in at hotel.
Day – 2 Thimphu – Sightseeing
Morning : Visit the Memorial Chorten, a huge sputa built in memory of the third King who reigned from 1952-1972. Visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved. Visit the Painting School where traditional art is still preserved. Artists are taught to paint Thankas here (sacred Buddhist scroll). Visit the Handicrafts Emporium where one can buy Bhutanese textiles and other arts and crafts. Lunch at the Hotel. Afternoon : Visit Simtokha Dzong. This is the oldest fortress in Bhutan, built in 1629 AD by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It also houses the largest monastic school in the country. Visit Tashichho Dzong – the main secretariat Building. It is from here that the King and other prominent civil servants run the country. The Head Abbot and the central monastic body also reside here during the summer.
Day – 3 After an early breakfast, drive to Punakha and Wangdiphodrang. On the way, halt at Dochula Pass ( 26 Kms) for a hot cup of tea/coffee and on a clear day, the most spectacular view of the Eastern Himalayas. After lunch, visit the Punakha Dzong, the former winter capital and present administrative seat of the district. It is also the winter residence of the central monastic body. The Dzong (fortress) lies between two river, the Pochu and Mochu, meaning male and female rivers. It was built in 1637 AD. Visit Wangdiphodrang Dzong, perched on a promontory 13 Kms away from Punakha. The dzong was built in 1638 AD. Overnight at Meri Phusum Resort/Hotel Zangtoe Pelri.
Day – 4 Punakha – Trongsa (142 Kms)
After an early breakfast drive for six hours to reach Trongsa. Lunch enroute.
Check in at the hotel.
Day – 5 Morning : Visit Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of the Royal Family and its watchtower. Built in 1648 A.D, it is presently the administrative seat of the district and the home of the monastic school. Built at split-levels on a narrow spur, the dzong is an architectural wonder. The view from here extends for many kilometers and in the old days, it was a vigilance point for both the eastern and western routes. Thus, the strategic importance of this dzong.
The watchtower, located directly above the dzong, has on display many interesting armors and other war paraphernalia used by ancient warriors.
Check in at one of Bumthang’s many small but homely guesthouses.
Day – 6 Bumthang Sightseeing: Visit the historical Jakar Dzong, built in 1646 A.D by Minjur Tenpa, the third Druk Desi (Temporal ruler). In 1683 A.D it was extended by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay, the fourth Desi. Visit several ancient and sacred monasteries such as the Jambay lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, Kencho Sum Lhakhag, Tamshing and Pema Samba Lhakhangs. Also visit member Tso “The flaming Lake,” which is considered one of the most important pilgrimage spots. A trip to the Bumthang Swiss farm is also interesting. Night halt at Bumthang.
Day – 7 Bumthang – Mongar (198 kms)
After an early breakfast, gear up for a fantastic drive to Mongar. The journey is long and crosses Thrumshing La, which is 3800 mtrs, is the highest pass in Bhutan. Check in at hotel. Guesthouse. Mongar is the district headquarters but hardly more than a transit town. It is also the first town built on a slope instead of the usual valley. This is characteristic in eastern Bhutan where there are few valleys. The true land of the Eastern People, the Sharchopas, begins from Mongar.
Day – 8 Mongar – Trashigang (90 Kms)
Morning ; visit the Mongar Dzong. Mongar Dzong is a new dzong, completed recently. It was built in the 19th century, restored in 1953 and again in 1990 after being gutted by a fire. The administrative seat and the monk body reside in the dzong. Lunch at the hotel/guest house and drive to Trashigang. Check in at the guest house.
Day – 9 Trashigang – Sightseeing
Visit the famous Trashigang Dzong. The Dzong precariously hugs a spur at more than 400 mtrs, jutting out over the Gamri River. The Dzong commands a remarkable view of the surrounding countryside. Built in 1659 AD, it is practically impregnable, protected on three sides by the river and ravines, and from behind by the mountains. After lunch, take a leisurely stroll through Trashigang town. Overnight at Trashigang.
Day – 10 Day excursion to Khaling (65 kms).
After an early breakfast, drive to Khaling. Enroute visit Sherubtse, Bhutan’s only college and the sacred Zangtokpelri Monestery. At Khaling, visit the blind school and the Traditional weaving center and return to Trashigang in the evening.
Day – 11 Sightseeing of Drive to Rangjung Monastery and diverse historical sites at Gomkora.
Day – 12 Trashigang – Mongar or Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar.
Day –13 Mongar – Bumthang or Samdrup Jongkhar – Gauhati
Day – 14 Bumthang – Thimphu
Day – 15 Thimphu – Paro
After breakfast, drive to Paro. Check in at the hotel.
At Paro, visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong) the watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong, which was converted, into the National Museum in 1968. Lunch at local Restaurant. Afternoon: Drive to Drugyal Dzong (a ruined fortress – 16 klms away from Paro town). The dzong, although in ruins, holds great historical significance. It was from this fortress that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan invasions. The name means “The Victorious Bhutanese.” This spot offers a magnificent vista of Mount Chomolhari, “Mountain of Goddess” (Alt.7329 m). Visit a typical Bhutanese farm house on the way back. Visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guard houses, to the dzong. Today, the Dzong is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork is one of the most beautiful in the nation. The Dzong was built in 1645 AD.
Day – 16 Day Excursion to Taktsang Monastery (short trek)
Trek to Taktsang Monastery (10Kms) from Paro Town. The name Taktsang means “Tiger’s nest”. The monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 800 mtrs. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava or the second Buddha, alighted here upon the back of a tigress. Picnic Lunch at Taktsang Cafeteria. The round trip hike takes about 4 hrs.
Day – 17 Morning departure from Paro airport.