Author: Nishiraj A. Baruah
Deyor Camps, a leading camping and adventure chain, has just launched a 6 nights/7 days holiday tour package to the Eastern Himalayan country of Bhutan. The popular tourist spots of Bhutan like Thimpu, Phuentsholing, Punakha /Wangdue and Paro which are all dotted with magnificent beauty are a part of the tour package. The Bhutan package also includes visit to exclusive places like Royal Botanical Park in Lamperi, Ta Dzong—National Museum, Tiger’s Nest, Kyichu Monastery, and Chele-La-Pass (13,088 ft). Here’s how the day by day itinerary looks like.
DELHI – BHUTAN – 6 NIGHTS/7 DAYS
DAY 01: JAIGAON – PARO ( 164 km, 4.30 hrs)
After breakfast in Jaigaon (border town in West Bengal) and collecting the permits at the Bhutan border, drive to Paro starting with a stop at Paro Dzong, perhaps the finest example of Bhutanese architecture as well as a local religious administrative centre. Later in the day after checking into hotel, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as a watchtower, now housing the National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”, which has a fascinating history. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel in Paro.
DAY 02: PARO
Option 1: After breakfast excursion to Taktshang monastery (approx 5-hour walk)
It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900 m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. By afternoon, drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari (mountain of goddess) can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong. On the way, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. By evening explore on foot the main street and market area. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Option 2: After breakfast, take full day excursion to Haa Valley
Adjoining the districts of Paro, Chhukha and Samtse, Haa Valley, spread over an area of 1706 sqkm, is one of the most picturesque places in the Kingdom. During pre-Buddhist era, Haa Valley was known for its animist tradition. The exotic Haa Valley was opened for the first time to foreign tourists only in 2002.
En route to Haa Valley, take a short stop at Chelela pass. At a height of 3,988 m, Chelela is considered to be one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan. On arrival in Haa Valley, visit the famous monasteries of Lhakhang Karpo (White temple) followed by Lhakhang Nagpo (Black temple). You may also explore
the Ha Wangchuklo Dzong built in 1915 after the Dumchog Dzong was razed to the ground by fire. It’s in the middle of lush greenery with beautifully painted walls. Later explore Haa town and its market area and then return to Paro for overnight stay.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
DAY 03: PARO – THIMPHU (51 km; 1.30 hrs)
Post breakfast drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan with en-route stop at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. On arrival in Thimphu check-into the hotel. Visit PangriZzampa monastery for an astrology session. Later you will visit a handmade paper mill, School of Arts and Crafts (closed on Sundays, government holidays) where students learn 13 different arts used predominantly in Bhutan. Later visit national library and Simply Bhutan museum. Also experience archery at the museum. Later, drive pass by a memorial chorten built in memory of the 3rd king of Bhutan. Visit Buddha viewpoint, Changangkha Lhakhang (oldest temple in the valley), Enclosure (where national animal, takin, are kept) and Zilukha Nunnery. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 04: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (75 km; 3 hrs)
Today’s drive passes through Dochula pass (3,100 m), the most beautiful pass in Bhutan. This pass is important because of the 108 Druk Wangyel Chortens built by queen mother in 2003. If the weather permits one can enjoy a spectacular 180 degree view of the highest mountains of Bhutan. After a photo break, you will continue your drive to the warm valley of Punakha. On arrival, check into the hotel. Afternoon, you will visit the most beautiful Punakha Dzong, which houses the most elaborate temple in the country. The Dzong showcases the finest example of the arts and crafts of Bhutan. Later in the day excursion to Chimi Lhakhang. From the hotel it is about 15 minutes drive along motorable road after which you have to walk (1.1/2 hour walk, both ways) through paddy fields and villages. You will come across the Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley. Known as the temple of fertility, the area around gives you glimpses into the daily life and lifestyle of the villagers. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
DAY 05: PUNAKHA – BHUMTHANG (212 km; 8 hrs)
After breakfast check out from the hotel and drive to Trongsa across Pele-La-Pass (11.120 ft), the traditional boundary between east and west Bhutan. There is an abrupt change in vegetation, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo. Stop enroute Chendbji Chorten – built in the style of the great Bodhanath Choten of Nepal. Further ahead visit Trongsa Dzong, the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan, and Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower. Then drive further up to Bumthang over the Yutong-La-Pass (11,155 ft). Check in to your hotel and later, visit Jakar Dzong, literally meaning the Castle of White Bird. The current structure was built in 1667. You will also visit Lamey Goemba, a large palace and monastery built in 18th century by Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi. In October one of the most spectacular festival, Jambay Lhakhang Drup, is staged here. You will also visit Chakhar Lhakhang (or Iron Castle). In the second half of the day, visit Tamshing Lhakhang or the temple of the good message, established in 1501. The evening ends with a visit to a local handloom weaving house for interaction with the weavers. Overnight stay at Bumthang.
DAY 06: BHUMTHANG – PUNAKHA (212 km; 8 hrs)
After reaching Punakha hike up through fields of chilies, cabbages and rice along the banks of the Mo Chhu to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten (approx. 2 hours round trip walk), a stunning monument recently built by the Queen. Afternoon visit includes a nunnery perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang. The temple houses a 14-feet bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara.
DAY 07: PUNAKHA – JAIGAON (245 km; 7 hrs)
Post breakfast in the hotel, ride towards Jaigaon via Dochula Pass (Thimphu by pass road), crossing small villages. You will also cross Phuntsholling on your way to Jaigaon. Phuentsholing (alt. 300 m/985 ft) is a frontier town with a thriving commercial centre, situated directly at the base of Himalayan foothills. It is a fascinating place where different ethnic groups – Indian, Bhutanese and Nepalese – mingle prominently. Being a border town, Phuentsholing serves as the convenient entry/exit point for Bhutan and is also an important link to visit Indian states of West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam. Overnight stay at Jaigaon hotel.
DAY 08: JAIGAON – GANGTOK (218 km; 5.30 hrs)
After breakfast in hotel, time for departure, as you ride towards Gangtok via Nagarkata, Mal Bazar, Kalimpong and other villages. Check in the hotel, then go for a sightseeing tour. As per your itinerary, today you will be visiting Tashi Viewpoint for watching the Kanchenjunga snow peaks. You will also visit Ganesh Tok, Hanuman Tok, flower show, Cottage Industry and Handicraft Centre, Institute of Tibetology, Dro-dul Chorten, Enchey Monastery and Banjakhri Falls (maximum 6 hours). Dinner and overnight stay at Gangtok hotel.
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