Central Bhutan Historical Tour
This itinerary is designed to take you to the most beautiful city in the central part of Bhutan which is also the center where Buddhism was first established in Bhutan in the 8th century. Bumthang valley is often compared with Switzerland due to its beautiful landscape and the wood log houses that dot the surrounding. You will visit the Paro, Thimpu, Punakha, Wangdiphodrang, Trongsa, Bumthang and the beautiful Phobjikha valleys. You visit many ancient monasteries and Dzongs, Hike through lush green valleys and villages with many opportunities to interact with the locals, visiting farm houses and conclude your visit to Bhutan with a hike to the magical ridge top “tigers nest” of Taksang Monastery.
- DURATION 11 DAYS (YEAR ROUND)
- TYPE Coach
- OPERATES 11 DAYS (YEAR ROUND)
- DEPARTS Paro International Airport
Day 1 Arrive Paro - Thimphu
During your flight to Paro, you will experience breathtaking views of the Himalayan Peaks including sacred Chomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport you will be received by our representative who will accompany you throughout the trip. From the air port, then drive for 1Hr 30 Minutes to Thimphu the capital city of Bhutan. The road leads through the Paro valley to the confluence of Paro and Thimphu rivers at chuzom (confluence). Three differrent styles of chortens adorn the confluence. A short way beyond, on the left, is Tachogang Lhakhang, the temple of the hill of excellent horse. It is private temple, built in 15th century, as the result of visitation from Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig, the compassionate Buddha. After the narrow, rock lined section of the road opens up as Thimphu approaches, Simtokha Dzong lies enroute. Simtokha means the place of profound tantric teaching’, this dzong now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language. On arrival in Thimphu, check into the hotel. (BLD)
Day 2 Thimphu sightseeing
Full day sightseeing in Thimphu. Visit the King’s Memorial Stupa built in 1974, Changangkha Lhakhang, Jungshi Paper factory where they make traditional Bhutanese paper, the National Library that houses the worlds largest book, ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts, Painting School famous for traditional thangkha paintings, visit the Folk heritage Museum founded by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. The museum is one of a kind that portrays the lifestyle of a genteel family in the Thimphu valley in the olden days. Visit the Choki Handicrafts shop where Bhutanese textiles and other handicrafts are displayed and can be purchased. The shop is closely linked to Choki Traditional Art School – many of the goods are produced in the school itself and all proceeds go towards the upkeep of the school and the provision of tuition for the students. Later, visit the Tashichho Dzong. The ‘Fortress of the glorious religion’ houses the throne room of His Majesty the king, the main secretariat building and the central monk body. Its courtyard is open to visitors during the off-office hours. Overnight at Hotel. (BLD)
Day 3 Thimphu / Trongsa
We head out of town on a spectacular 7 Hrs drive to Trongsa crossing the Dochu La Pass at 3100mtrs from where you can see the 108 beautiful chortens built by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. From this pass, on a clear day, you can have a superb view of the highest peaks in Bhutan. We continue our drive to Trongsa crossing the pelela pass (alt. 3,300m), the traditional boundry between east and west. The pass is marked by a large prayer
flag and the ground is covered with high altitude dwarf bamboo. Stop enroute at Chendbji Chorten, which was built in 18th century by a lama named Shida, it is Nepalese in style with eyes painted at four cardinal points. Overnight at hotel in Trongsa. (BLD)
Day 04 Trongsa - Bumthang
After breakfast walk by Tongsa Dzong, built in 1648. It is the ancestral home of the Royal Family. Both the first and the second king ruled the country from this ancient seat. All kings hold the post of Trongsa Penlop prior to begin crowned. Also, visit Ta Dzong, perched above the Trongsa dzong this is a watch tower which once stood guard over the Trongsa dzong from internal rebellion. It is now begin turned into a heritage museum. Then drive to Bumthang which is about 2 hours from Trongsa. 29 Kms from Trongsa road reaches the Yutong La pass (alt. 3,400 m). Further 13 kms ahead, the road enters into a wide, open, cultivated valley known as Chumey valley. Enroute we stop to visit the Yathra factory where they make the traditional Yathra fabric from sheep wool and this fabric is indigenous to the Bumthang valley. On arrival in Bumthang, check into the lodge. (BLD)
Day 5 Bumthang
Bumthang valley is one of the most sacred valleys in the Kingdom and innumerable legends surround the area. It is here that the kings are cremated and the present royal family traces their ancestry back to the famous saint, Pemalingpa. Full day sight seeing include visit to Kurje Lhakhang (where the saint Padsambhava subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock), Jampel lhakhang which was built in 7th century, then jakar dzong ( the fortress of white bird) built in 17th century by tenzin rabgay ( the fourth desi), Tamshing lhakhang built in 1501 by terton pema lingpa ( the founder of religious treasures). Then visit kunchosum lhakhang and membertsho ( the flaming lake) in fact it is a gorge where the river runs through but the story says that pema lingpa discovered religious text from this lake. Also worth seeing are the woodcraft workshop, Traditional hospital, and the cheese factory. Overnight in Bumthang. (BLD)
Day 6 Bumthang - Trongsa - Gantey / Phobjikha
After breakfast proceed to Gantey/Phobjikha via Trongsa. The approach to Phobjikha valley is through a forest of Oak and Rhododendron. It is a glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains. The only
Nyingmapa monastry, Gangtey goemba sits prominently on a hill top. The valley is a designated conservation area and borders on the Black Mountain National Park. Because of the large flock of black-necked cranes(Grus nigricollis) that winter here, it is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country. The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN), Crane Observation & Education Center was established in the Phobjikha Valley in 1996 by Bhutan’s government, with assistance from the World Wildlife Fund. The center studies the conservation needs of the valley and holds workshops for farmers and students. Here you can use the centers powerful binoculars to observe the cranes in the valley and also get information about the cranes. The rare and endangered black-necked crane occupies a special place in Bhutanese hearts and folklore. Its arrival every autumn from Tibet inspires songs and dances; it usually heralds the end of the harvesting season and signals the villagers that it’s now time to pack up and go to the warmer lower valleys since Phobjikha valley is snowed-in during the winter months. The world’s entire population of about 5000 black-necked cranes breeds in Tibet and Ladakh. They winter in south-central Tibet and Bhutan. Overnight at lodge.
Day 7 Phobjikha / Punakha
Morning sightseeing around the Phobjikha valley. Visit the carpet weaving center, The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN), Crane Observation & Education Center and visit the Gangtey goenpa monastery. We continue our drive to the Punakha Valley. Enroute stop at Wangdiphodrang and visit the beautiful Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638, a beautiful example of Bhutanese architecture. A half-hour walk through mustard fields brings us to Chimi Lhakhang (lhakhang means temple), a monastery and fertility temple dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, a Tibetan Buddhist saint known popularly as “the divine madman” and considered a folk hero in Bhutan for his unconventional ways. Drukpa Kuenley originally built a chorten on the site in the 14th century. The temple, flanked by nearly 100 tall prayer flags, sits atop a picturesque hill and has long been a pilgrimage site for childless couples. Overnight at Hotel. (BLD)
Day 8 Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten / Punakha Dzong
Morning drive to Nezigang village and hike to Khamsum yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a shrine built by Her Majesty the Queen, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck in 1999. The shrine is perched high on a hill on the opposite bank of the Mo chu river offering superb views of the Punakha valley. The hike is a gradual ascent through cultivated rice fields and little hamlets. In the afternoon, we visit the Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It stands majestically at the junction of the two rivers – Pho Chu and Mo Chu(the Male and Female rivers). The Punakha Dzong is an architectural wonder and it has played a prominent role in the civil and religious life of the Kingdom. The Dzong had been destroyed four times by fire, earthquake and flood. The Dzong has been now fully restored to its original splendor. The official name of Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang translates as “the palace of great happiness.” Overnight at Hotel.
Day 9 Punakha / Paro
Morning drive to Paro via Dochula. After a hot cup of coffee at a café atop, we continue our drive to Paro. Visit Ta Dzong, built in 17th century as a watch tower for Paro Dzong. This Dzong was later converted into the National Museum in 1967, and is filled with antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and armour. Also visit the Rinpung Dzong, built in 17th century to defend valley against Tibetan invaders. It is now used as an administrative centre and home of monastic community. Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest monastery of the Kingdom is another place of interest. (BLD)
Day 10 Hike to Taktshang “Tigers Lair”
Hike to the famous Taktshang Lhakhang “The Tigers Lair”. Clinging to a black rock face, 900 meters above the valley floor, nestles Taktshang Lhakhang, one of the holiest and the most beautiful site of Bhutan. Taktshang, the tiger’s lair, acquires its name from the legend of its foundation, when in the 8th Century Guru Rinpoche, widely revered as the second Buddha, arrived from Tibet flying across the mountains on the back of a tigress. He meditated at the site for three months, from where he used the religious cycle of the Kagye to subjugate the Eight Categories of Evil Spirits, and thus converted the region to Buddhism. The hike to the Monastery is a gradual climb through the quiet approach path winds through lush meadow, oak and rhododendron forest, past quaint hamlets, fluttering prayer flags and rotating prayer wheels. The hike takes you about 4-5 hours from the car park. Afternoon leisure/shopping. Overnight at Hotel. (BLD)
Day 11 Depart
Drive to Paro international Airport. See off by our representatives.