Tour of the dragon
East – West Bhutan for 13 nights / 14 days (One can also do the reversal tour starting from West – East Bhutan)
Day 01: Guwahati – Samdrupjongkhar (You can take druk air from Bangkok and fly to Guwahati and from there you can drive to Samdrupjongkhar on the same day. This route saves lot of time unless you want to do some tour in India and prefer to fly via Delhi.
From the border town of Samdrupjongkhar our guide will receive you and the driver and check into the hotel and dinner will be served at the hotel itself.
Day 02: Samdrupjongkhar – Trashigang (7/8 hrs drive) / pack lunch
Have breakfast from the hotel and begin your journey. It’s a long drive once again. The drive from Samdrupjongkhar to Trashigang is expected to last for 7-8 hours. You will drive through the southern foothills of himalaya crossing the various villages and peaks. On arrival check into the hotel and dinner will be served at the hotel itself.
Day 03: Day excursion to Trashi yangtse – Trashigang (4 hrs drive to and fro) / Pack lunch
After breakfast you will drive to Gom Kora temple. The other name of the temple is Gomphu Kora, which denotes a sacred meditation site of Guru Rinpoche. The Guru meditated in this temple and left a body impression on a rock, similar to that in Kurjey Lhakhang in Bumthang. The murals on the walls of the goemba / temple are believed to date from 15th century.
Chorten Kora: It is based on stupa of Boudhanath in Nepal, and constructed in 1740 by Lama Ngwang Loday. During the second month of lunar calendar there is interesting celebration here, known as ‘Kora”.
On the way you will make a short stop at Doksum village. Later drive back to Trashigang and dinner will be served at the hotel.
Day 04: Trashigang – Mongar (3 hrs drive)
After breakfast from the hotel you will visit Trashigang dzong, it was built in 1667 by Mingyur Tempa, Bhutan’s third Desi the secular ruler. The dzong was built on the high promontory that overlooks the confluence of the Dangme Chhu (river) and the Gamri Chhu. The entire eastern region was governed from this dzong from the late 17th century until the beginning of the 20th century. On arrival check into the hotel and lunch will be served at the hotel and later will visit Mongar Dzong and in the evening you can stroll around the small town of Mongar. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 05: Mongar – Bumthang (pack lunch) 7/8 hrs drive (pack lunch)
After breakfast you will begin your journey to Bumthang. The journey continues towards central part of Bhutan winding through more rugged terrain. The drive, with spectacular views will take about 7-8 hours. You will cross the highest motor road pass in the Kingdom, the Thrumshing la – 12,465 ft and will pass through Ura village in Bumthang (make a short stop in Ura) and finally reaching to Jakar. On arrival check into the hotel and dinner will be served at the same hotel.
Day 06: Bumthang sightseeing / you can do this tour with hike or bus
Bumthang is the general name given to a complex of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600 m to 4,000 m. Today’s sightseeing includes your cultural visit to Dzongs. Jambey lhakhang & Kurje lhakhang (8th century fame) one of the most sacred places in Bhutan as Guru Rimpoche meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to the Jambey Lhakhang. Like Kyichu Lhakhang in the Paro valley, Jambey Lhakhang is also one of the 3 temples from 108 temples constructed in 7th century by the King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet.
Visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting Buddhist paintings. Later see the Jakar Dzong, the dzong of the white bird, which houses the administrative seat of the district and is the only dzong in the country that does not contain a Drukpa monastic community. Dinner and overnight at the same hotel.
Day 07: Bumthang – Trongsa – Gangtey (5 -6 hrs drive)
After early breakfast you will begin your drive to Gangtey via Trongsa across Pelela pass (3300 m). On reaching Trongsa you will visit Trongsa dzong.
Trongsa Dzong, situated at the altitude of 2300 m and built in 1647 by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. It is the ancestral home of the Royal family both the first and second King ruled the country from this ancient seat. All four Kings held the post of Trongsa Penlop (honorary governor) prior to being crowned as King. The Dzong is a massive structure with many levels, which slope down the contours of a hill on which it perches. Because of its highly strategic position as the only connecting route between east and west, the Trongsa Penlop was able to control the whole of the eastern region effectively.
Ta dzong museum, which has the same name to Paro Ta dzong. This watchtower, which once guarded the Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion stands impressively on the hill and was refurbished and turned into museum in the year 2008. Today it provides visitors an insight on the historical reigns of our monarchs and the other arts and artifacts.
Continue your drive and on reaching Chendibji, make a short stop to visit the Chendbji Chorten built in the 18th century patterned on Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu. It was built by Lama Shida, from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed at this spot.
On arrival check into your hotel and dinner will be served at the hotel.
Day 08: Gangtey – Punakha (3/4 hrs drive)
Have breakfast and will visit the crane observatory laboratory and later Gangtey Goemba / monastery, which was built on a hill overlooking the green expanse of the entire Phobjikha valley. The extensive complex consists of the central goemba and outlying monk’s quarters, meditation centers, schools and a small guesthouse. In 15th century Pema Lingpa the famous treasure discoverer prophesied that a goemba named Gang-teng (hill top) would be built on this site and that his teachings would spread from here. Gyalse Pema Thinley, the grandson and reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, founded this only Nyingma temple here in 1613 and Tenzing Legpai Dhendup, the second reincarnation, built the goemba.
Continue your drive to Punakha and on arrival check into your hotel and dinner will be served at the hotel.
Day 09: Punakha sightseeing
After breakfast you will visit the following places:
Khamsum Yueling Temple. The hike will not take more than 1 and half hour (to and fro). This temple has the best present day architecture and is being built by the crown prince’s mother Ashi Tsering Yangdon Wangchuck.
Punakha Dzong: Built strategically at the Junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative center of the region. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the present King.
Lunch will be served at the restaurant in Punakha. After lunch you will will visit the following sights:
Chimi lhakhang (the temple of the Divine Madman, who is popularly known as Drukpa Kuenley) He inherited the Divine madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is believed as a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. The translation of the life of Drukpa Kuenley is done by Keith Dowan –Drukpa Kuenley-The Divine Madman. A walk to and fro will not be more than 45 mins.
Farm house: On the way to Chimi Lhakhang, you will visit a farm house to interact with the family and Bhutanese tea with roasted rice will be served to you.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 10: Punakha – Thimphu (2.45 – 3 hrs)
Have breakfast from the hotel and you will drive to Thimphu via Dochu la (pass / 3050m). Make a short stop at the pass. On arrival check into the hotel and lunch will be served at the hotel. Refresh and relax and in the afternoon you can explore the Thimphu city on your own or can take your guide along.
Day 11: Thimphu sightseeing
After breakfast you will check out from the hotel and do the following sightseeing:
Zoo where one can see the national animal of Bhutan TAKIN, which has the head of a goat and the body of a cow.
Traditional hospital: get a tour of the grounds and learn how they make and distribute the herbal medicine.
Painting school: The school of arts & painting teaches the children to master in the 13 types of arts and crafts of Bhutan.
National library: is another sight to see the collection of Bhutanese scriptures some dating back from the 8th century.
Traditional paper factory displays the Bhutanese paper making in process.
Folk Heritage museum is a replica of a medieval farm-house and is patronized by HM the Queen Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. In the village we still have this kind still alive.
The textile museum is patronized by HM the Queen Sangay Choden Wangchuck to protect the textile heritage of Bhutan. There are some old collections along with the display of vegetable dyes and materials used for Bhutanese textiles.
Memorial Chorten; the stupa built in the memory of Bhutan’s Third King.
Tashichho Dzong: Also known as “fortress of the glorious religion”, the Dzong was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1965. Tashichhodzong houses the main secretariat building and the central monk body.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu
Day 12: Thimphu – Paro (sightseeing) (1 hr 15 mins drive)
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and will drive to Paro. On arrival you will do the following sightseeing:
Ta dzong”the only National Museum in Bhutan. The best among natural history museums in Asia, the Ta Dzong offers a unique collections ranging from ancient Armour to textiles and THANGKHA paintings. Initially Ta Dzong was built as the watch tower of Paro dzong later it was converted into museum. From the museum it offers a great view of the Paro valley (This museum has been partially damaged by an earthquake last year and it’s under renovation whereby no one is allowed to go inside the building. Mean while you will be able to see some of the artifacts, which has been moved for display to another building above the museum.)
Paro Rinpung Dzong: Also known as “fortress of the heap of jewels “, it was built during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called the Nemi Zam. A walk through the bridge to the Dzong, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it. It is also venue of the Paro Tshechu, held once a year inspiring.
Kyichu temple is one of the last three surviving temples among 108 temples. In the 8th century a Tibetan King built 108 such temples. Till date only three had survived, two in Bhutan and one in Tibet known as the Jokhang in Lhasa.
Drukgyal dzong or the Fort of Drukpa victory is almost 10 miles north from the town. From this fortress Bhutanese repelled several invasions by Tibetans throughout the course of history. Looming above the smoldered ruins if the weather is clear you can see the snowcapped peak of Mount. Jhomolhari.
Check into the hotel and dinner will be served at the hotel.
Day 13: Paro hike to Taktsang
After breakfast hike to the Taktsang monastery, which was built on the cliffs. The entire hike (to and fro) will take about 3 hours of average walking speed from Ramthangkha (the terminating point of the motorable road)
Taktsang monastery is one of the most venerated pilgrim sites of Bhutan. The monastic complex clings to the rock towering 900 m above the valley. Taktsang is located at 2950 m above the sea level.
In accordance with the prophecy of Guru Rinpoche, Khandro Yeshi Tshogyal, the consort of Guru Rinpoche, meditated at Taktsang, transforming herself into a tigress to protect herself from harmful humans and wild animals. People who happened to be in the vicinity of Taktsang in those days had seen a real tigress residing in the cave. The cave thus came to be known as “Taktsang” meaning “the tigress’s lair”. The image of the wrathful Guru Dorje Droloe one of his eight manifestations mounting the tigress, as we witness today inside the temple is the form of a tigress in our impure perception but in reality the tigress is the form assumed of Khandro Yeshi Tshogyal. The monastery was built in the year 1692 with the command of the fourth desi (secular ruler of Bhutan) Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye. Today the 13 yr old boy who is recognized as his reincarnation is residing in the Tango monastery.
After visiting the temple hike back and lunch will be served in the restaurant. After lunch you can either visit the Paro town to explore the Bhutanese stores or relax at the hotel. Dinner and overnight at the same hotel.
Day 14: Paro depart to Bangkok/ Delhi/Kathmandu/Kolkata
Have breakfast from the hotel and our representative will see you off at the airport. Good bye and have a nice flight. The Dragon Kingdom will soon disappear within its guardian mountains