East to West Tour
Day 01 : Fly from Kathmandu to Paro. Fly into the Kingdom of Bhutan. On the flight, you can see breathtaking views of the Great Himalayan Mountains. Upon arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be welcomed to the Kingdom by your guide from the Travel Agent and lunch at hotel. Evening ends with a walk through Paro's main shopping centre. You stay overnight in Paro.
Day 02 : Excursion in and around Paro. Visit Drukgyal Dzong, Kyichu Lhakhang, Ta-Dzong (National Museum), Rinpung Dzong, Paro's market and farm houses. You stay overnight in Paro. This day is planned for sightseeing in Paro. You visit the old fort ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong, which offers a very scenic drive of a typical Bhutanese landscape. The dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. On a clear day the Mt. Jhomolhari(7314metres, 24000 feet),the sacred summit, reaches skyward beyond the Dzong. Afterwards visit the Ta Dzong (built in1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. This unusual round building is believed to be in the shape of a conch shell. The centerpiece of this Museum is a complex four-sided carving depicting the history of Buddhism and its propagation. One side is Sakyamuni and the great teacher Atisha, representing the Sakya School. On the next lies Geylup, a disciple of Dalai Lama. Another is Nyingma lineage, the head is Guru Padmasanva, and the final is Drukpa Kagyu with the figure of Vajra Dhara. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong (literally meaning "Heap of Jewels"), built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. Here you can see finest example of Bhutanese architecture enroute you visit the near by Kichu Lhakhang built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. This Monastery is one of the 108 monasteries built across the Himalayan region by the Tibetan King to subdue the Demons that lay across the Himalayan region. The rest of the monasteries lie in other neighboring countries.
Along with these you are quite attracted by the Paro's market and farm houses.
Day 03 : Drive from Paro to Thimphu after full day excursion to view the Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) monastery. In the evening you drive to Thimphu and stay overnight here. After breakfast hike to Taktsang, the most famous of all Bhutanese monasteries. It is perched on the side of a cliff 900 m above the floor of the Paro valley, where the only sounds are the murmurs of the wind, and water and the chanting of the monks. The name Taktsang means 'Tigers Nest'; the Guru is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to the site of the monastery where he meditated in a cave for three months.
The monastery itself is closed to tourists except by special permit. However the one-hour walk to the viewpoint, where there is a small wooden teahouse provides a close-up view of the monastery. It's also a good warm-up hike if you are going trekking. In the evening visit a farmhouse for "traditional hot stone bath" and local hospitality. The drive through the Paro Valley, which lies beneath Chomolhari is one of the Bhutan's "Mountain of the Goddess." The drive from Paro to Thimphu is spectacularly scenic. In the spring season in Bhutan, you will find nature in a festive mood with rushing turquoise rivers which can be heard from miles away and mountains transformed into Master artist's palette of brilliant vermilion, yellows, purples, pink, oranges and reds to dazzle your senses. Wild cherry, mountains plums, cotton silk and forests of rhododendron trees bloom with astonishing beauty and abundance especially in spring. Enjoy the magnificent monasteries, stupas in the valleys and the mountains. Experience the "Last Buddhist Himalayan Kingdom" on earth.
Day 04 : Excursion in and around Thimphu with full day sightseeing of Thimphu valley. On this day you visit Memorial Chorten, National Library, Painting School, Traditional Medicine Institute, Tashichhodzong and Handicrafts Emporium. You stay overnight in Thimphu. You visit the Memorial chorten built in the memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, 15 century Changangkha monastery and drive further down with good views of the Thimphu valley. Next you visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved and visit the Painting School where traditional art is still preserved. Here artists are taught to paint Thankas sacred Buddhist scroll). You then go to visit the Traditional Medicine Institute where the ancient healing arts are still practiced and Tashichhodzong, 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. Along with these you go to Handicrafts Emporium where one can buy Bhutanese textiles and other Arts & Crafts stores. Here you can buy stunning Kiras that can be used as bed covers or wall hangings, jewelry and much more.
Day 05 : Drive from Thimphu to Punakha. In the morning you proceed for Punakha across Dochu La pass (3,050 m) with stunning scenery of the Himalayan ranges. During afternoon you visit Punakha Dzong. This day you stay overnight in Punakha. This morning you continue on your drive to Punakha, the road winds up from Simtokha Dzong into the pine forest and through small villages for 20 kilometres and then opens miraculously onto the northern ridge of the mountains. The views over the Himalayan panoply at Dorchula Pass at 10,500 feet is one of the most spectacular in all Bhutan as you can see the whole range of the Bhutanese Himalayas from here. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955. In the afternoon you visit the Punakha Dzong. The Dzong is situated between the two rivers. You will have to hike through the suspension bridge to reach the Dzong. The Dzong was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, "…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant". There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping; the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new national Assembly here in 1952
Day 06 : Drive from Punakha to Gangtey via Wangdue. In the morning visit Wangdue Phodrang Dzong and proceed for Gangtey. Evening free or explore the valley of Phobjikha. You stay overnight in Gantey. You drive to Wangdue and proceed on your excusion to Wangduephodrang which was built in 1638. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong, four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. You drive further to Gangtey valley. It is one of the most beautiful glacial valleys of the Himalayas. While driving to Gangtey, you will pass through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and arrive at Gantey village where you will be welcomed by Gantey Gompa. The Gangtey Gompa is at an altitude of 2800 meters. The only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan is located here. This beautiful valley is also home to the rare Black Necked Cranes migrating from the Tibetan plateau to escape the harsh winter. Explore Phobjikha valley, famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter. These cranes are very rare and endangered and highly protected by the Government. These cranes fly to Phobjikha valley which is their winter Habitat. The Cranes circle three times in a clock-wise direction around the Gangtey Gompa as a reverence to the Monastery before landing in the valley. They repeat the same practice before flying back to Tibet in early Spring. You can watch the cranes.
Day 07 : Drive from Gangtey to Phobjikha to Trongsa. After breakfast you visit Gantey Monastery and proceed to Trongsa across Pele La pass (3,300 m). Enroute visit Chendebji Chorten. You stay overnight in Trongsa. After a delicious breakfast you visit Gangtey Gompa from outside. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. It is the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. From Gangtey, you can see the picturesque Black Mountain range as well as Phobjika Valley, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes. From there you'll head to Trongsa, the ancestral home of the royal family. The route is along a spectacular winding road, crossing 3,300 meter high Pele La, and at certain times of year it's possible to see yaks. Enroute you visit the Chendebji Monastery. This Monastery is patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu and was built in the 19th century by Lama Shida, from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed at this spot. You can browse through the Trongsa shops and town in the afternoon.
Day 08 : Drive from Tongsa to Bumthang. After breakfast you visit Ta-Dzong (Watch Tower) and Trongsa Dzong. Proceed to Bumthang across Yotong La pass (3,400 m). Afternoon free or explore the picturesque valley of Bumthang. You stay overnight in Bumthang. In the morning you will visit Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. This is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan, built in its present form in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan and enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. After this you head towards to visit Ta Dzong, the watchtower built to defend this dzong. Afterwards, you will drive to Bumthang via Yongtala Pass and Kilakha Pass. Bumthang is the religious heartland of the nation, with lush valleys and hilly forests. Along the way you will stop at a yethra (textile weaving) factory, where the yethras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. You can spend the evening strolling through Bumthang town.
Day 09 : This day is for excursion in and around Bumthang. This is a full day sightseeing of Bumthang valley and you visit Jakar Dzong, Jambay Lhakhang, Kurje Monastery and Tamshing Lhakhang. You stay overnight in Bumthang. Bumthang consists of four valleys-Chumey, Choekhar, Tang and Ura - with altitudes varying from 2600 to 4000 meters. It is home to many prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. ] Bumthang altitude 2600m, has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Comprised of four smaller valleys, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Here tales of Guru Padmasambhava and his re-incarnation known as Tertons still linger in most nooks and corners. You visit the Jakar Dzong which literally means "The Castle of White Bird". The current structure was built in 1667. Now you visit 7th century Jambay Lhakhang built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659 on the same day as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang and was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life force. Under the temple is said to be a lake in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. In October one of the most spectacular festival, "Jambay Lhakhang Drup" is staged here. You then visit Kurjey Lhakhang that is named after body print of Guru Rimpoche, built in 1652 by Minjur Tempa. Finally you visit Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of the good message), established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and are the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom.
Day 10 : Drive from Bumthang to Mongar. Early morning you drive to Mongar across Thrumseng La pass (3,800 m). The mountains of eastern Bhutan can be seen in clear weather. During evening you visit Mongar Dzong. You stay overnight in Mongar. After Breakfast the drive will take you through the pine forests keeping the Jakar Dzong view behind you. Around half hours drive you will cross the Tang Chu and you will climb up and after some time cross through Tangsebgi village. The drive reaches Ura valley the highest and the most eastern part of Bumthang. It takes around 2 hours drive through blue pine trees, villages and onto the high pass of sheltheng la 3600m/11800 ft. When you look towards the north and in clear weather one can see the high white Gangkar Punsum (7541m/2974ft) the highest peak in Bhutan. The landscape of Ura valley is different that of the others, with round sweeping slopes, fertile pasture and wide fields. At the bottom you will see the large and unusual village with its cluster of big houses united by the paved flagstone alleys, a rare sight in Bhutan. The big community monastery dominates the village. It is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche (the great teacher). Ura festival usually takes place in 2nd week of May & sometime in June, dependent on the Bhutanese lunar calendar. Thimshingla National park starts here and if one wishes they can visit the field office at Ura. It is open from Monday to Friday and closed on holidays. The drive from here it will take you through the National Park. There is also the Rhododendron Flower Park this way (only worth seeing in spring time). Today you will cross the highest point of the road in Bhutan. The Thimshing La Pass at around 3800 M. and you will see a lot of changes in vegetation and villages. During evening you visit Mongar Dzong. This Dzong was rebuilt in 1953 and is quite small. There are around 50 to 60 monks in the Dzong, many of them young boys eight to ten years old. The image of in the Dzong are Buddha of long live as well as Guru Rimpoche ( One who brought Buddhism in Bhutan).
Day 11 : Drive from Mongar to Trashigang After breakfast proceed to Trashigang. After lunch visit Trashigang Dzong. You stay overnight in Trashigang. After breakfast you drive to Trashigang. It will cross through a low pass between these two Districts called Kori - La Pass 2400M. You will go through villages like Yedi and cross the Chakzam (means), the iron Bridge. Trashigang is considered as one of the Biggest Districts in Bhutan and it holds the head quarters of Trashigang. The 3rd Temporal Ruler of Bhutan Menjyur Tenpa built it in the17th century over looking the confluence of Drangme Chu & the Gambri Chu. You stay overnight in Trashingang.
Day 12 : Full day excursion to Tashiyangtse. You stay overnight in Trashigang. Trashiyangtse is famous for its huge white Chorten in Nepalese style and an old drawbridge covered with bamboo mats below the small Dzong.
Day 13 : Drive from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar. You are free in evening for excursion. You stay overnight in Samdrup Jongkhar. Drive from Trashigang will involve visits at the only university in Bhutan, the blind school, Khaling weaving centers and finally arrive at Samdrup Jongkhar, the border town of Bhutan. You stay overnight in Sampdrupjonkhar.
Day 14 : Drive from Samdrup Jongkhar to Guwahati (India). After breakfast drive to Guwahati for onward program.
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