Bhutan - The Land of Thunder Dragon
Duration: 8 days
Highlights: Kolkata, Paro, Thimphu, Punakha
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Day 1 - Arrival in Kolkata
Upon arrival at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, you are met by your Guardian Angel and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel, where you are assisted with check-in. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Day 2 - Kolkata – Paro – Thimphu
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board your flight to Paro.
The hour and a half long flight is, perhaps, one of the most fascinating with awe-inspiring views of the Himalayas and offers an exciting descent to Paro Airport. Here, you are met with our representative who accompanies you on an hour’s drive to Thimphu, traversing the Paro valley to the confluence of Paro Chhu and Wang Chhu rivers at Chhuzom.
On arrival in Thimphu, check in to the hotel.
Enjoy a walk around Thimphu Main Street and market area in the evening.
Day 3 – Thimphu
After breakfast, proceed on a full-day guided tour of the city.
Start at the Textile Museum which is part of the Royal Textile Academy and worth a visit to experience Bhutan's living national art of thagzo (weaving). Visitors can learn about Bhutan’s history and culture in this centre for textile research. Next, it’s on to the National Library, a glowing example of traditional Bhutanese architecture which not only houses ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts and manuscripts but also modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.
Visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum. Commonly known as the Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan (Zorig Chusum) namely, sculpting, painting, carpentry, wood-turning, paper-making, masonry, casting, weaving, carving, bamboo-work, tailoring, embroidering and applique-work, silversmithing-blacksmithing-goldsmithing.
A visit to Simply Bhutan is also extremely interesting and demonstrates a project that works towards the preservation and promotion of Bhutanese culture. The structure has been built reusing old timber, window and door frames and other items from demolished houses.
After lunch, see the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, in 1974 and one of the most iconic religious structures of Thimpu. Then see Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point) - the largest Buddha statue in the country, with incredible views. Finally visit Trashi Chho Dzong, located on the western bank of the Wang Chhu river and the seat of the head of Bhutan’s civil government and monarch.
Day 4 - Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast, enjoy a drive to Punakha through the Dochula Pass (3,080 meters above sea level), marked by a large Chorten and trademark prayer flags.
On arrival, visit the beautiful Punakha Dzong, built at the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers.
Later, enjoy a walk to Richengang village, near Wangdue. One of the oldest villages in Bhutan with traditional architecture, here, observe the locals’ ancient way of life that has remained unchanged through the centuries.
After lunch, your excursion to Chimi Lhakhang, a Buddhist monastery, involves a 15-minutes-drive and then a walk through paddy fields and villages. Perched atop a hillock in the valley, Chimi Lhakhang is known as The Fertility Temple.
Day 5 – Punakha
After breakfast, visit Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a four-storied temple built by the Queen Mother in the 1990s. To reach this beautiful chorten, hike through paddy fields and vegetables patches, walk along the banks of the Mo Chhu river and cross a suspension bridge. Upon reaching your destination, bask in the stunning view of the lush valley and mountains around you.
Hiking time: 2 hours
Altitude: 2,250 meters (7,382 feet)
The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Day 6 – Punakha – Paro
After breakfast, embark on a four-hour drive to Paro. Cross back through the Dochula Pass where you can stop to soak up the panoramic views of the towering Himalayas once again.
En route visit the 17th-Century Simtokha Dzong, that showcases skilled craftsmanship in the form of its architecture, interiors, paintings etc.
On arrival, check in to your hotel.
After lunch, set out on an excursion of Paro valley. Visit Ta Dzong; once a watchtower, it now houses the National Museum. Here, see the massive collection of antiques including thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and armor, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artefacts.
Later, visit Paro Dzong (Rinchen Pung Dzong or Rinpung Dzong), meaning “fortress on a heap of jewels”, and unlock its long and fascinating history.
Day 7 – Paro
After breakfast, enjoy a short drive to Satsam Chorten. En route, stop by and visit the 7th-Century Kyichu Lhakhang, built by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo.
Then, reach the trailhead and embark on a walking excursion to Taktsang Monastery (approximately five hours roundtrip, on foot). Located on the side of a cliff 900 meters (2,952 feet) above the Paro valley floor, it is Bhutan’s most popular monastery. Legends say that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated in this monastery, hence the term ‘Tiger’s Nest’.
Enjoy lunch at the famous Taktsang cafeteria.
On the way back, visit the historic ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, a memorial for Bhutanese warriors who fought the Tibetan invaders centuries ago.
In the evening, you may enjoy a walk around Main Street and the market area.
Day 8 – Paro – Kolkata
After breakfast, drive to the airport to catch your flight to Kolkata for your onward journey.