Across the land of thunderdragon - Cultural tour
Price on request
Transport, english speaking tourguide, 3 meals per day, overnight stay, admission to places of interest according program, visa
Flight, drinks, tips for driver, tourguide
Duration: 15 days
Arrival in airport Paro (Bhutan)
Departure airport Guwahati (India)
Overnight: in traditional and comfortable hotels
This journey is the ultimate immersion into the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, as we travel across the country ending our trip in India. We begin in Western Bhutan as we explore temples accessible only on foot, and hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery. We travel to the cultural heart of Bhutan and explore the fascinating culture, festival and legends that pervade this beautiful valley. Continuing east, we explore areas of Bhutan that are seldom visited by western guests. This journey is truly a unique experience for those who are looking to take in all that is special about Bhutan.
Arrival in Paro
The first day to the land of thunder dragon brings you with a fresh air in Paro valley. The joy of Bhutan creeps into your mind with lots of colourful buildings and the prayer flags around you. Overnight in hotel.
In the morning hike up to Taktshang Monastery, it is quite up hill walk which takes you around 3 hours, at average speed. Of course one can use ponies riding up to Taktshang. Taktshang means tiger’s nest, it is said that Guru Rinpoche flew to the site of the monastery on the back of a tigress, a manifestation of his consort Yeshe Tsogyal, to subdue the local demon, Sinngey Samdrup. It takes you around two hours to get back from the tiger nest. After the lunch you can visit the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. This Dzong was built in 1649 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in a location chosen for its control of the rout to Tibet. The Dzong was named “Druk” (Bhutan) “Gyel” (Victory) to commemorate the victory of Bhutan over Tibetan invaders in 1644. Overnight at hotel.
Paro - Thimphu
Drive to Thimphu with the outmost scenery along the Paa chu (river) and Wang chu (river). About 5km before Chuuzom, the road passes Tamchhog Lhakhang, a privat temple built by the Thangthong Gyelpo (iron bridge builder). En route to Thimphu visit National Library, with its extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts and the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a six-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. Afternoon we visit the National Memorial Chorten, within which there are finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues which provide deep insight into Buddhist philosophy and in the evening the Tashichhodzong, the seat of the government. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Make a day hike to Tango monastery located 14 kilometres to the north of the capital near Cheri Monastery. The trail to Tango is a climb of 280m and it takes about an hour. Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa founded the monastery in 12th century, and later Tenzin Rabgye, the 4th Temporal Ruler in 1688, built it in its present form. In 1616, the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, meditated in its cave. The self-emanated form of the wrathful Hayagriva is deified in the monastery. It belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism in Bhutan. In the evening visit the Sunday market (only on Friday Saturday and Sunday).
Thimphu - Punakha
In the Morning proceeds to Punakha across Dochu-la pass (3,150). The highest point on the road is marked by a large Bhutanese chorten and prayer flags fluttering on the hill. On a clear day, there is a spectaculars view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas from this spot. On reaching punakha visit punakha Dzong that served as a capital of Bhutan until 1955, and still the winter residence of Je khenpo (the chef abbot). Later in the afternoon hike to chimi lakhang. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
The day in Punakha gives you the wonderful scenario on the Mochhu river surrounded by the paddy field. It is more interesting to hike up to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, perched high on the hill on the opposite bank of the Mochhu river, built in 1999 dedicated to the present king and serves to protect the country. When you descend down from the chorten one can walk through the village where the trail lads to the Amankora hotel. Later in the evening stroll around the Khuruthang town and it is worth visiting the temple near the town.
Punakha - Phobjikha Valley
Drive to Phobjikha, on reaching Pele La Pass take a side diversion road to the hidden and beautiful Phobjikha valley, a protected wildlife conservation area within Jigme Singaye National Park. From October till March, it is also the roosting ground for Black Necked Cranes. Hike about 2 hr from the base of the Gangtay Monastery along the natural trail, a footpath encircling the roosting ground of Black Necked Cranes and visit cranes information centre. Overnight in hotel in Phobjikha.
Phobjikha Valley - Trongsa
Today we drive over the Chele La Pass (3420m), which is marked by a chorten and the array of prayer flags. On a clear day (which is rare in these parts) there is a view of Jhomolhari (7314m), Jicchu Drakye (9689m) and Kang Bum (6526m). The Pele La pass markes the western border of the Singaye Wangchuck (formerly the Black Mountains) National Park and is the gateway to central Bhutan. En route to Trongsa we pass by the Chendebji Chorten, at a lovely spot by a river confluence. The large white chorten is patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu and was built in the 19th century by Lama Shida, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed here. On reaching Trongsa visit the Trongsa Dzong, which has a rich history dating back to the 16th century. It is also the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family. The first two hereditary kings ruled from this Dzong. Overnight in hotel.
Trongsa - Bumthang
In the morning visit the Tower of Trongsa, this watchtower, or Ta Dzong, on the hill above the Dzong has been converted into the excellent Tower of Trongsa Museum by Austrian-financed team. The state of the arts displays focus on Buddhist art and the history of the monarchy. The drive between Trongsa to Yotongla-la pass (3400m) gives you the most enthralling view of rhododendron during the month of April and May. The road then runs down through dense coniferous forest to enter a wide, open, cultivated valley, known as Chumey valley where you can see the distinctive strip of woven woollen fabric called yathra. The short climb to Kiki-la (2860m) and then descend into the Chokhor Valley. Overnight in Bumthang.
Today we visit many of the valley's significant sites. We visit Jampa Lhakhang, where according to legend, it was one of 108 temples built in a day by Tibetan King Songsten Gampo to pin down an evil ogress (Jampa holds down the left knee.) In keeping with Bhutan's significant historical figures, we also visit the Kurjey Lhakhang where Guru Rimpoche came in the 8th century to settle issues with feuding local rulers. With a flash of his magic, the guru resolved the conflict and converted everyone to Buddhism, leaving his body imprint on a rock for which Kurjey Lhakhang is named. The Kurjey Lhakhang temple complex is made up of three buildings and the body imprint of the guru can be seen in the first and oldest of the temples, which was built in 1652. In the evenings we gather in local farmhouse specialties such as buckwheat noodles and pancakes, dumplings, and fresh home brewed wine. Besides they even offer you a typical Bhutanese hot stone bath.
Bumthang - Mongar
Your journey continues eastwards, winding through more rugged terrain. The drive to Mongar takes about six hours, with spectacular views en route. We drive up into the hills above the valley and then past Ura village, before climbing sharply to the highest point on Bhutan's road network, Thrumsing-La pass (3750m). From here, the road gradually descends to the alpine valley of Sengor, with wonderful views of cascading waterfalls and the hills of eastern Bhutan along the way. The vegetation changes from alpine to subtropical with the loss of height, and bamboo and luxuriant ferns overhang the road as we drop down to the valley floor. Our descent ends at 2,300m, where we cross the Kuri Chu (river). We ascend again through pine forests, maize fields, and eastern hamlets to reach Mongar town, high on a gentle slope above the valley. We visit the Mongar Dzong, built in the 1930's and one of Bhutan's newest dzongs. It was constructed in the traditional ways of previous dzongs, without plans or the use of nails.
Mongar - Trashigang
The first part of our journey today is through leafy forest filled with ferns. After driving through the Kori-La pass (2,400m), marked by a pretty chorten and a Mani stonewall, we descend rapidly through cornfields and banana groves to reach the famous curves in the road just below Yadi, a recent and now fast-growing settlement. After zigzagging down the hillside, the road east runs along the Gamri River. A short while later a turnoff on the left leads up to the Drametse (meaning 'the peak where there is no enemy') temple. The temple, perched on top of a steep hill above the village, was founded by Choeden Zangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is the place of origin for the famous Drametse Nga Chham, a masked dance with drums. Another twenty miles along our road lay Trashigang (3,610'), which clings to a steep hillside above the Gamri River. Trashigang is the principal township of the biggest and most populated district in the country. After lunch, we visit Trashigang Dzong, standing at the extreme end of a rocky outcrop far above the river gorge. It serves as the administrative seat for the district and the local monastic community occupies part of the dzong.
Trashigang and excursion to Trashiyangtse
After breakfast we visit the temple of Gom Kora, set on a small plateau, overlooking the river. Gom Kora is a famous place, as Guru Rinpoche is said to have subdued a demon here, trapping it in a rock. We continue down the road to Doksum village, where we see women busily weaving traditional Bhutanese fabric, and a chain-link swing bridge dating back to the 15th-century. The road turns into the hills here, running up the side of a winding river valley to Trashiyangtse. In former times, Trashiyangtse was an important center because it lies on one of the caravan routes leading from western and central Bhutan. Also the winter home for the Black necked Cranes. Trashiyangtse is now a rapidly growing town and the administrative center for this district. The area is famous for its wooden containers and bowls, which make memorable souvenirs of a visit to this remote region. We visit Trashiyangtse Dzong, which overlooks the town and was built in the late 1990's when the new district was created. We will also visit the dazzling white stupa of Chorten Kora on the riverbank below the town, and the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum, where students are trained in Bhutan's 13 traditional arts and crafts. In the evening we return to Trashigang.
Nach Deothang sind es ungefähr 80km, dieser Ort erinnert an eine Schlacht während des Duarkrieges im 19. Jahrhundert, als die Truppen von Jigme Namgyal die Briten besiegten. Die Strasse führt rasch in die Ebene mit dichtem Tropenwald und einer Fülle von Teak, Bambus und Farn. Übernachtung im Hotel.
Trashigang - Samdrup Jongkhar
The Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar road was completed in 1965, and the journey to the Indian border takes about six hours. Along the way, we pass by Sherubtse College in Kanglung, which was founded in 1978 and is a degree-granting institution affiliated with the University of Delhi. We also visit the nearby Zangtho Pelri temple representing Guru Rinpoche’s paradise, built in 1978 by the late Minister of Home Affairs. We then drive on to Khaling, home of the National Institute for the Disabled and the Weaving Center. Visits to these may be arranged by prior request only, before leaving Thimphu (please let your guide know while in Thimphu if you are interested). From here, it is a further 50 miles to Deothang, which is remembered in history as the site of a famous 19th century battle fought during the Duar Wars, in which the forces of Jigme Namgyal defeated the British. The road then descends fairly rapidly to the plains through dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak, bamboo, and ferns. Overnight in hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar.
Samdrup Jongkhar - Guwahati
After breakfast we say farewell to Bhutan and drive to Guwahati, the capital town of the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, for your departure flight.
(subject to change)