DAY-1: ARRIVE PARO & DRIVE TO THIMPHU (55 KMS/1 HR 15 MINS):
Your guide and driver will welcome you at the airport and will proceed to the capital of Bhutan which is an hour’s drive away. Take brief stop at Tamchhu Lhakhang on the way. Built by Thangtong Gyalpo or the Iron Bridge Builder as he is known, this 14th century saint introduced the art of building suspension bridges with iron chains and the only way to reach his temple is by one of his bridges.
The view over Thimpu from the big Buddha statue helps to get our bearings before we plunge into this vibrant growing town struggling to blend the shock of the new with traditional aspects of life in the shadow of the Himalaya. Depending on opening hours, guest interests and time, your guide may include some of the following in your private schedule: The school of Arts & crafts, Textile museum, Folk Heritage Museum, Takin preserve (Bhutan’s National animal) or you may wish to just go window shopping. Overnight Thimpu (Alt; 2,320m)
DAY-2: HIKE TO CHARI & LOCAL SIGHTSEEING:
The 12th century Chari goemba is one of the most popular meditational retreat centre for the monks. The meditational sites are glued to the rocky cliff 300m above the river valley. Once the monks graduate from Tango Monastery most of them decides to sit for meditation around the holy temple of Chari from three years to nine years. Tango Chari is located 12km away from Thimphu city.
Visit the Bhutanese Paper Factory, This traditional handmade paper is still being widely used around the country followed by Memorial stupa, which was built in memory of our Late Third King. It now serves as a focal point of worship for people residing in Thimphu especially for elderly people.
Later visit the Tashichhoe Dzong (fortress of glorious religion), the main secretariat building, and the office of the King and Throne room and also the house of the State Monastic Body. Overnight Thimphu (Alt; 2320m)
DAY-3: DRIVE TO PUNAKHA (77 KM/2 HRS 30 MINS):
Experience amazing changes in vegetation types during this 2 hours’ drive. Stop at Dochula pass to enjoy a panoramic view of the Himalayan range. The pass is adorned with 108 stupas that was built in 2003 as tribute to our fourth king for his selfless deeds for the Nation. The picturesque route passes through forests of rhododendrons, magnolias, birches, firs & hemlocks. Drive for about for about 15 minutes down into the Botanical Park and get a interpretative walking tour through rhododendron and old growth forests.
Later in the afternoon, hike to Chimi Lhakhang. This temple is called the Temple of Fertility as it is believed that childless couples who come here to pray for a child is usually blessed with a child. This is the temple of one of Bhutan’s foremost saints, Lama Drukpa Kunley, also known as the “Divine Madman.” The trail takes you through the Himalayan paddy fields and a typical village called Lobesa. If time permits visit the nunnery that is located on the hill top where you can get a good view of Punakha &Wangdue valley. Overnight Punakha/ Wangdue (Alt; 1300m)
DAY-4: ATTEND PUNAKHA DRUPCHEN:
Punakha Drubchen is a unique festival as it hosts a dramatic recreation of the scene from the 17th century battle with the Tibetan army. This is one of the oldest festivals of the district. Unlike the annual festival called the tshechu, the Punakha Drubchen is a detailed dramatization of how the local Bhutanese militia duped and defeated an invading Tibetan army and forced them to withdraw. This 17th century event was also the beginning of the consolidation process of Bhutan as a country and it is historically very important for the country. This event is also a celebration of the Bhutanese roots.
In the afternoon drive to Yabesa village and hike through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions. The Chorten is built for the well-being of the King and the Nation. The walk takes us along the paddy fields climbing up gradually through chirpine forest to the chorten. Overnight Punakha (Alt; 1300m)
DAY-5: DRIVE TO PARO (130 KMS/3 HRS 30 MINS):
It is time to retrace our steps back over the Dochu La for a second chance of that spectacular view of the Himalayan range. Returning to the Chunzom (or confluence) we catch a glimpse of the three shrines in Nepali, Tibetan and Bhutanese style which were built to ward off evil spirits near the checkpoint.
On the final leg the sinuous route follows the Pa Chhu River, through apple orchards and rice paddies, past quaint homesteads to our home in the Himalaya, Paro town.
On arrival visit National Museum (Ta-Dzong).Once the watch tower for the Rinpung Dzong (Fortress), it was converted into the national Museum in 1968 (one of the best museums of Asia). The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. Later visit the Rinpung Dzong. Today, this massive fortress built in 1645 AD 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. A flagstone path descends gradually to the beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guard houses to the Dzong.
Evening visit Kichu Lhakhang,on eof the oldest temple in the country which dates back to 7th century. Overnight Paro (Alt; 2280m)
DAY-6: QUEST FOR MYSTICAL TAKTSANG (3,100 M):
Drive to Satsam Chorten and spend the day hiking up the forested path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most famous and scenic icon. The climb is steep and takes about 4 hours round trip. An important place of pilgrimage and refuge for more than 1200 years, Taktsang Monastery clings to sheer cliffs two-thousand feet above Paro Valley, and from your closest vantage point on a rocky ledge directly across from it, you will still need 200-300 mm lenses and a steady tripod to get tight photographs.
This sacred place got its name when Guru Rinpoche rode there on the back of a flying tiger and meditated in a cave behind the present-day monastery. Sadly, in 1998, the central temple was destroyed by fire, leaving the country in mourning for their holiest of spiritual places. But religious leaders and the King quickly developed a plan to rebuild Taktsang and donations started pouring in from Buddhist centres all over the world, and today, the magnificently rebuilt exterior is complete. Tiger’s Nest is once again the subject of cloud-shrouded posters that say, “Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon.” Picnic lunch on the hillside cafeteria.
Evening, visit a typical village home for a traditional Bhutanese style dinner accompanied by the local liquor called “Ara” (tastes somewhat like the Japanese Sake) & yak meat. Then luxuriate in the Bhutanese equivalent of a Jacuzzi called a “Chu Tse.” River rocks are heated and dunked into a large wooden tub with herbs. This type of bath is considered to have medicinal properties of healing. Overnight Paro (Alt; 2280m)
Our representative will bid you farewell at the Airport. Tashi Delek!