As you arrive into Paro, you will be met by our local representative and escorted to your vehicle. Begin your journey towards east into the booming metropolis of Thimphu. Situated at an altitude of 2,300 m it is the capital of Bhutan and offers unique opportunities to explore the Bhutanese culture, lifestyle and traditions in depth.
Check into your hotel and relax.
After lunch we will spend our time circumambulating the sacred National memorial chorten. This is a Tibetan-style stupa built in 1974 in memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who passed away in 1972. It is one of the most visible religious structures in town and for many people it is the focus of daily worship. Remember to walk around the Chorten at least once to gain merit and good luck.
From the museum we will drive to the National Post office for stamps. Bhutan is famous for producing unique and innovative stamps. After selling peculiar ‘CD-stamps’ Bhutan’s Post office now offers personalized stamps; we invite you to surprise your family and friends with your custom-made stamp made with one of your favorite holiday photographs!
Towards evening we will visit Tashichhoe Dzong and get a glimpse of King Jigme’s Palace.
The Dzong is popularly known as Thimphu Dzong. It is the seat of the government and the centre of all religious affairs of the Kingdom. It houses the office and the throne room of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. Just below the dzong you can sight King Jigmi’s palace.
Overnight in Thimphu.
After breakfast visit the Biggest Buddha statue (50 m) built on a hill top down south Thimphu. The statue is overlooking the south stretch of Thimphu valley.
Next we will drive up to Changangkha Lhakhang.The monastery is perched on a ridge above the city offering spectacular views of Thimphu town. The 12th century temple is the oldest temple in Thimphu. It is still one of the main centers of worship for the locals. The main figure inside is of the statue of 11-headed Avalokitesvara, the God of Compassion. The lhakhang is frequently visited by families as it is believed that if you bring a sick child to the temple, it will not take long before recovery. Many go to pray for protection of their loved ones.
Take in more of the Kingdom’s rich culture at the Folk Heritage Museum. The museum is a restored three storyed traditional rammed mud and timber house inaugurated as a museum by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk in 2001. It showcases the traditional artifacts used now and in the past which helps connect people to the Bhutanese rural life.
After lunch, hike to the ancient Wangditse Goemba. It is an easy hike through pine forest and with good overview of King Jigme’s palace. (1.5 – 2 hrs hike). The goemba houses the statues of the guardian deities.
On our way back stop to visit the Mini Zoo, which exhibited various indigenous wild animals, which were later released back into the wild by order of the 4th King who declared that such a facility was not in keeping with the Bhutan’s environmental and religious convictions.
The zoo now only features the Takin, which is the national animal of Bhutan. The Takins were originally released with the rest of the animals, but had become so familiar with people that they were found wandering around Thimphu looking for food. The only solution was to put them back into captivity.
Overnight in Thimphu.
Check out of the hotel after breakfast. The sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and the surrounding mountain sides offer a large variety of attractive places to explore and discover monasteries and the most impressive Dzong in the country.
Before we drive on the national east – west highway we will briefly visit Semtokha Dzong.
The oldest dzong in the country (built in 1629) stands on a soaring ridge 5 km away from Thimphu. It’s strategic position is evident as it controls all the approaches to and from Thimphu. Notice the contrast of traditional and modern as you enter the dzong grounds; the white painted dzong with the growing city in the background and the newly constructed 52 m tall Buddha statue perched on the hill right behind. It now houses the Institute of Language and Culture Studies.
After the visit we will continue our journey towards east. Roughly 50 minutes drive we will stop to stretch by hiking to Hongtso Goemba (1 hrs hike).
The Goemba was built in 1525 by the older brother of Drukpa Kuenlay, the Divine mad man. It is a two story traditional Bhutanese building where the main alter room has an enormous statue of Guru Tshoki Dorji in a standing posture together with his spiritual consort. Inside we can view very old wall paintings.
Picnic Lunch at Dochula cafeteria. (3000 m)
If weather permits we will have great views of the extended eastern himalayas in Bhutan from Dochula pass (3050 meters).
Later we will decend into the Punakha valley. A 2 hrs drive will bring us 1700m down into the valley, where a one hour hike will take you to the famous Chimi Lhakhang (Fertility Temple)
The 30-minute walk from the road to the lhakhang is through open farmland and rice paddies.
Overnight in Punakha
After early breakfast travel up the valley north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, (2-3 hrs hike). The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen from a distance. It was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable.
Heading back down the valley stop for Lunch at the hotel.
Later, visit the stunning Punakha Dzong.
The Dzong is considered one of the most important and also one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the Kingdom. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637, and was the seat of the government every winter until Thimphu was established as the permanent capital in 1955. It is still the winter residence of the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colorful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, as well as paintings of one-thousand Buddhas.
Overnight in Punakha
The journey west takes us back to Paro valley following thru wang Chhu and Pa Chhu rivers.
Enjoy a picnic lunch at Paro.
Later, visit Paro Dzong and take in the amazing architecture of this 17th century monument, a premier example of Bhutan’s architecture. Paro Dzong is also known as Rinpung Dzong which means the ‘fortress on a heap of jewels’. This fine example of Bhutanese architecture now serves as a central monastic and administrative seat of the Paro province.
From the Dzong, a leisurely walk back into Paro town crossing the scenic Nyamai zampa, a unique model of Bhutan’s traditional cantilever bridge.
If time permits drive up north to take a short walk around the Drukgyel Dzong (ruins).
Overnight in Paro
Today’s exploration of Paro valley begins with an early hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s nest monastery) 4-5 hrs hike. Tiger’s Nest or Taktshang Goempa is one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments. It literally hangs off the face of a cliff 900 meters (2952 feet) above the valley floor. The legend states that Guru Rinpoche flew into paro valley on a mythical tigress and meditated in a cave where Taktsang stands today.. The Taktshang Goempa is built around the cave. The 4-5 hrs round trip hike offers spectacular views of the Goempa and the valley below.
Horses or mules can be arranged on request to help lighten the journey.
Lunch at the hotel
After lunch head back down the valley to visit the auspicious kyichu Lhakhang.
Overnight in Paro.
Enjoy a relaxed breakfast this morning, after which time to check out and transfer to the airport for your flight back home, with wonderful memories of your hiking trip in Bhutan with Airtours Holidays !
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