Splendid Tour of Bhutan
Mystically hidden in the folds of the Great Himalayas is the last Shangri-La on earth, known to most as Bhutan but these hill-people proudly call themselves Drukpa and their land Druk or Drukyul, literally translated-the Land of Thunder Dragon. What has set this little nation apart from the rest of the world is its courageous decision to adopt Gross National Happiness (GNH) as its guiding philosophy for development.Hence, here in Bhutan progress is measured in terms of the collective happiness of its citizens, a dream proclaimed in 1972 by a young Dragon king who was then barely out of his teens. His Majesty the fourth King has also envisioned creating an enlightened society through a balanced pursuit of material progress and spiritual wellbeing.
Many visitors describe Bhutan as a mystical, harmonious valley coexisting with nature. Gross National Happiness which was introduced as developmental policy is now individuals’ everyday living principles. As you walk through any valley you will hear laughter echoing through paddy fields. Bhutanese have so much time at hand contrary to people in western countries. You meet any Bhutanese especially from rural areas they will talk with you for hours. The idea of rush-hour is hardly familiar to Bhutanese. Bhutanese are mostly peaceful. Most Bhutanese aspire for enlightenment. At an individual level they practice mindfulness. At a society they render help. Most Bhutanese avoid animal cruelty. They are genuinely kind even to stray dogs. You could still walk through any village of Bhutan and feel safe. Bhutanese love their neighbours as their own family. They ensure safety, food and health of their neighbour. With Bhutanese kindness you could still survive some months without a job.
Splendid Tour of Bhutan 5 Nights/ 6 Days Itinerary
Arrive at Paro airport, after completion of immigration and custom formalities our representative will receive and transfer you to the hotel. Later, if time permits visit Kichu temple, one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demon. In the evening relax and overnight at a hotel in Paro. Evening take a stroll around the Paro town
Today hike to Taktsang Goempa (Tiger's Nest Monastery). After breakfast, hike to Taktsang Goempa (Tiger's Nest Monastery). The hike up to the viewpoint will take about 1 1/2 hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. It was first built in 1962at a cave where Guru Padmasambhava mediated in the 7th Century and legend legend states that Guru Padmasambhava flew to the site atop the back of a tigress and meditated in the cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours in order to subdue demons residing within it. After visiting the monastery, walk back downhill to the road with lunch at the viewpoint cafeteria.
After lunch, visit the National Museum which is now being housed at a hall near the Ta Dzong (National Museum) as it is now closed to the visitors due to major cracks formed during the September 2011 earthquake that hit Bhutan quite hard. Later visit Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. It is also known as the Rinpung Dzong which means a “fortress that sits on a heap of jewels”. This imposing dzong located above the Paro River is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture with its inward sloping walls that rise to an impressive height. The dzong was built in the 16th century on the foundation of a monastery built by Guru Rinpoche (who is regarded as the “second Buddha”). From the Dzong, walk further down to Nyamai Zampa, an oldest traditional cantilever bridge in Bhutan.
After breakfast, drive to Punakha via the Dochula pass. An hour's drive from Thimphu will take you to this pass (3140 m) where one can have a superb view of the Eastern Himalayas on a clear day with a powerful binocular telescope. Visit the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo for the security and wellbeing of His Majesty the King of Bhutan. Also visit Druk Wangyel Temple which was built to honor His Majesty, the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The past and future appear to merge in the details of the temple that tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distance future.
Drive onto Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan and presently the winter residence of the central monk body. Later visit the Punakha Dzong, Placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, the dzong was built in the 17th century by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced and in 1907, enthroned the first King Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in the recent years by the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the Dzong enrich your trip with the opportunity to see the highest standards in woodwork. Do not miss the massive Kuenray, the Coronation Hall of all Bhutanese kings, the Dzongchung at the entrance to the dzong and the cantilever bridge over the Mochu that has been recently renovated.
If time permits visit the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. This fascinating temple was built by the Queen Mother of the 5th King to bring universal peace in this world. The best of the spiritual art works are painted on the inner walls. There are also paintings of Buddhist teachers and tutelary deities of the country. This is a great temple to study the symbolic meanings from frescoes and sculptures.
After breakfast drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. En-route to Thimphu valley, stop at Lobesa to visit the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where couples unable to concieve come here for blessing.
Lunch at Thimphu, after Lunch visit Tashichhoe Dzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body. In the evening stroll around Thimphu town and you may visit local handicraft stores.
After breakfast visit the following as per your interest and time availability:
- National Textile Museumwhich is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs. You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
- The Folk Heritage Museum,an outdoor museum that gives an insight into rural life in Bhutan.
- The School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Craftswhere students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
- Centenary Farmers’ market(Thu-Sun) where farmers would be selling their wide range of farm produces (vegetables from farms and wild ferns or bamboo shoots collected from forest, flour, rice, roasted rice, rice flakes, spices, yams both cultivated and wild ones collected from forests, fruits, etc) and livestock products (mainly cheese and butter). Free interaction with the people from town and from villages who come to this weekend market. Weekend market is from Thursday-Sunday (4 days).
- The Memorial Chortenwhich was constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of the country, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Bhutan.
- Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal Takin (budorcastaxicolor white) the national animal of Bhutan
- Changangkha Lhakhang(temple): This temple situated atop a small hound overlooking the Thimphu valley was built in the 13th century by the illustrious Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo. The temple is considered the spiritual home of children born in the Chang valley.
- Kuenselphodrangwhere largest Buddha statue in the country is perched on the hillock overlooking the Thimphu valley and also if interested/if time permits, take a leisure walk through Kuenselphodrang Nature park and enjoy the nice view of the entire Thimphu valley below.
After breakfast travel to the International airport to connect onward flight.
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