Bhutan Dynasty

Journey to Himalaya

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Journey to Himalaya

Day 01 - Baghdogra - Phuntsholing
Day 02 - Phuntsholing-Paro
Day 03 - Hike to Takshang (Tiger Nest) then in the evening drive to Thimphu
Day 04 - Thimphu to Wangdue view Punakha
Day 05 - Wangdue- Trongsa via Gangtey valley
Day 06 - Eundu Chholing (Trongsa) - Zhemgang
Day 07 - Drive back to Trongsa through same highway
Day 08 - Trongsa - Bumthang
Day 09 - Bumthang Valley (Drive to Ugyen Choling Palace)
Day 10 - Bumthang - Mongar
Day 11 - Lhuntshe and back to Mongar
Day 12 - Mongar - Trashigang
Day 13 - Trashigang to Trashi Yangtse
Day 14 - Trashigang-Samdrup Jongkhar (180 Km)
Day 15 - Samdrup Jongkhar-Guwahati (101 Km) and our representative will bid you Bon Voyage
Day 16 - Guwahati-Bangkok (Every Wednesday there is direct flight to Bangkok)

Day 01. Baghdogra - Phuntsholing
Nearest airport for Phuntsholing, Bhutan boarder town is Bagdogra in North of Indian state of West Bengal is approximately, 3 hours drive to Phuntsholing. There are Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, and Deccan Air, etc services operating from Bagdogra linking Kolkata, Guwahati and New Delhi. Today our representative will receive you on arrival at Bagdogra Airport with Khadar(white silk cloth). After a drive of about 3 hours along a road lined with lush green tea gardens you will reach Phuntsholing, the gate way to Bhutan, which lies directly at the base of the Himalayan foothills. This small modern town in the south is the gateway of Bhutan for overland travelers. Like all other border towns, it is only a prelude. Phuntsholing is fascinating mixture of Bhutanese and Indian, a lively centre for the mingling people, languages, costumes and goods. Over night stay in Thimphu.

Day 02. Phuntsholing-Paro
Today right after breakfast, proceed to Paro, we will make our first stop on top of a low hill at Kharbandi, a small monastery situated in a garden of tropical plants and flowers, overlooks the town and surrounding plains of India was build by Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Chhoden in 1967. From Phuntsholing, the road winds north, over the southern foothills, through lush forested valleys and around the rugged north- south ridges of the inner Himalaya to the central valleys of Thimphu and Paro. It is a scenic journey; forests festooned with orchids cover the mountains on either side and exciting hairpin curves greet travellers with colourful sculptures of Tashi Tagye (the eight suspicious sign of Buddhism). There is one of the largest Hydroelectricity on the way, which is the biggest export from Bhutan. There is also chapcha pass (2800 Meters high/ 9,185ft) then Paro is 2300 M high and is about 6 hours' drive. Over night at the hotel.

Day 3. Hike to Takshang (Tiger Nest) then in the evening drive to Thimphu
Right after the breakfast drive towards the road point to Taktshang. Taktshang Monastery, the most famous of Bhutan's monasteries. Taktshang means "Tiger's Nest," so named because Guru Rimpoche reportedly flew to the site of the monastery on the back of a flying tiger in the late centuries of the first millennium. The monastery is perched on a cliff nearly 3,000 ft above the Paro valley floor. This day hike is not only historically and culturally interesting, but also incredibly scenic! It takes about two hours to reach the cafeteria, which gives a breathtaking view of the Tiger’s Nest. If you still feel like hiking then you can take another hour to reach the temple. Then return back and drive to Thimphu (about 2 hours drive). Check in at the Hotel.

Day 4. Thimphu to Wangdue view Punakha
After breakfast, go to Bhutan National Bank for currency exchange and then you can get an opportunity to purchase exquisite collector Bhutanese stamps. Then drive to Punakha. (The ancient capital of Bhutan) is 3 hours drive from Thimphu across Dochu-La Pass. (Alt. 11,400 ft) snow-capped eastern Himalayan ranges can be seen on a clear day. Prayer flags will flutter you over the pass deeper into the essence of Bhutan. Once you cross the pass, you wind down into a warm fertile valley and meander along a gently flowing aquamarine river that leads you to the Punakha valley. After lunch visit the Punakha dzong, the winter residence of the Je khempo (chief abbot). Punakha dzong is the second dzong system built in Bhutan by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel in the year 1637. The Dzong is said to be the most beautiful of dzong in Bhutan; it is an outstanding structure with intense artwork. Then visit the Wangduephodrang Dzong, sit majestically on a steep ridge over looking the highway that forks to the east and south of Bhutan. Over night at the hotel.

Day 5. Wangdue- Trongsa via Gangtey valley
Today drive early to Phobjikha valley, A broad glacial valley (10,000 ft) on the flanks of the Black Mountains, Phobjikha with it's gently slop is a place of astonishing beauty described as" the most beautiful valley in the most beautiful country of Himalayas". Every winter, the rare and beautiful black-necked cranes return from Tibet to the Gangtey valley where they are protected. Gangtey also has a very interesting Nyingmapa monastery, the only one of the only one of its kind west of the Black Mountain range. The monastery is renovated by 9th Gangtey Tulku Rimpoche. After lunch Drive to Trongsa. On the stop Chendebji Chorten, patterned on Katmandu’s Swayambhunath stupa, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. It was built in the 18 century by Lama Shida, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. Then drive further south of Trongsa valley is Eundu Chholing, the winter palace of the first king, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck. We will spend one night in the place.

Day 6. Eundu Chholing (Trongsa) - Zhemgang
From Eundu Chholing it is fruitful to take a side trip to Zhemgang and the Tingtibi Valley. A three hours drive from Eundu Chholing to Zhemgang takes you along the valley of Mangdi Chu. En-route you can see the Baling village. Leaving the Mangdi Chu, you ascend to Zhemgang on a hillock. The quaint small town has a Dzong and spectacular views of mountains and valleys. Zhemgang Dzongkha derives its name from a 12th century monastery built by Lam Zhang Dorji Dragpa, a scholar-sage of Drukpa Kagyud School according to a Bhutanese researcher. The Dechen Yantse dzong, in 1980, stands on the site where Lam Zhang built a monastery in 12th century. The monastery was named "Zhemgang" or immeasurable mound based on the name of the founder who visited Bhutan from Zhamling in Tibet in his mission to propagate Buddhism."Zhemgang, then called as Khengrig Namsum in olden times derived its name from Zhemgang, different pronunciation changed the name into Zhemgang," the researcher at the national library said. The monastery, which was later rebuilt as a dzong in the 17thcentury had a significant role in the evolution and shaping of the history of Khengrig Namsum. It has witnessed the major events of triumphs and blunders, withstood intrigues, a sacrilegious murder and cruel jolts of nature in the history of Zhemgang. The dzong has witnessed the unsuccessful attempts to kill its founder, Lam Zhang, the final gruesome killing of Lam Zhang, civil strife amongst the various chieftains and the final consolidation under the central government. As a part of the national museum is effort to validate and verify the significance of dzongs in Bhutan, Dr Yonten Dargye, who researched on Zhemgang dzong said that the dzong had important political and religious significance in the history of Khengrig Namsum, the three regions of Zhemgang. Region was divided into multiple kingdoms with as many as nine Dungs, two Khoches, and four Ponpos, (feudal chieftains of noble descent). The polity of the region was marked with civil strife and the struggle for power amongst the local chieftains. Nyakhar dung who tried to establish hegemony in the region was notably the most powerful whose power was a threat to other local chieftains. The Tingtibi valley is reached by a descent to the Mangdi Chu which is further South of Zhemgang. Overnight at the local Guest House/Farm house to get real feelings of Khengpa. People in Zhemgang region are called Khengpa.

Day 7. Drive back to Trongsa through same highway
On the way we will stop in the Beling, Taksila, Langthel and Dang Dung. The landscapes are attractive and there is the possibility of seeing flora and fauna on the way to the village. These villages are also living cultural museum of Bhutan. Over night at Trongsa.

Day 8. Trongsa - Bumthang
In the morning visit Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648, it was seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second kings ruled the country from this ancient seat. All the five kings were invested as Trongsa Penlop(Governor) prior to ascending the throne. Presently the administrative seat of the district and the home of the monastic school. Built at split-levels on a narrow spur, the dzong offers magical wonder. The watchtower, located directly above the dzong, has on display many interesting armors and other weapons of war used by ancient warriors. Continue onwards to Jakar. Overnight: Lodge Rinchenling /Swiss Guest house. Bumthang valley (5 1/2 hour drive). After breakfast we depart towards Bumthang passing over Pele la (11,000 ft) And Yotungla pass. Here we get our first glimpse of the Black mountains. High Himalayan Mountains Such As Jumolhari are in view amidst hundreds of prayers flags; blessings abound. As we continue onwards we begin to get our first glimpse of the incredible massive dzong - Trongsa dzong; an architectural Wonder! Trongsa medieval watchtower and the great Mangde Chu (river) enhance Trongsa dzong in its exceptional beauty and grandeur. Presently the administrative seat of the district and the home of the monastic school. Built at split-levels on a narrow spur, the dzong offers magical wonder. The watchtower, located directly above the dzong, has on display many interesting armors and other weapons of war used by ancient warriors. Continue onwards to Jakar. Overnight at Hotel/Lodge.

Day 9. Bumthang Valley (Drive to Ugyen Choling Palace)
The valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in the kingdom. It is also the religious heartland where many saints and masters meditated leaving their imprints as sacred places of worship and pilgrimage Tales of Pedmasambhava dominate these holy shrines. In the morning visit, Jampa Lhakhang which is built by Tibetain King Songtshen Gompa in 7th century and then drive to Kurji Lhakhang were body imprints of Guru Rimpoche remain s preserved upon a rock. Then short hike to Tamzhing Monastery. If the weather is clear, you will enjoy the view of green valley, dotted with hundreds tempals, thousand flags and beautiful chamkhar river flow through the valley. The valley is also called mini Switzerland of Bhutan. Then Drive to Swiss Guest House for pure westerner lunch which is cooked by the proprietor himself. Then drive to Ugyen Cholling, by noon we should all be traveling further into the remote eastern side of Bhutan to the Tang valley. Our journey finds us driving 20 miles, 13 miles of which is on an unpaved road. We stop at a roadside temple and a nunnery, ending in the Tang valley and the village of Kesum. From the roadhead we have a one-hour hike over a suspension footbridge, through farm fields and cluster villages, up a “hill” to the mystical Ugyen Choling Palace where we will spend nights in the owner’s guesthouse or in the Dzong. Ugyen Choling Palace built 17 th century by Deb Tsokey Dorji, a descendant of Buddhist Saint Dorje Lingpa. Ugyen Choling is a national treasure, privately owned by the same family for hundreds of years. Its remote location makes it one of the less frequently visited historical sites in Bhutan, hosting fewer than two hundred guests per year. One of the owners wrote a book on Bhutanese folk tales of the Yeti and her brother is the property’s caretaker.The best part of the Palace is the quaint museum housing permanent exhibits on three floors in the main building and the Utse, the central tower. Traditional living quarters are recreated to capture the realistic ambiance of the ancient lifestyles and conditions of the households. Everyday kitchen and weaving utensils, war weapons--including petrified yak dung to make gunpowder--tools and farming implements are the main part of the exhibits.

Day 10. Bumthang - Mongar
Today on the way visit the only Buddhist Institute who provides degree in Buddhist philosophy for women. It is founded by 9th Gangtey Tulku Rinpoche. Then Drive towards eastern Bhutan. On then pass through Ura valley which lies at an altitude of 10,000 feet. There is about 40-50 closely packed houses alongside cobblestone streets that give the village a medieval atmosphere. The women in Ura village cover their head with white cloth piece to protect from the harsh cold wind and carries sheepskin (behind their back) used as cushion and as well as to protect their cloth from the loads they carry. The differences between Eastern and Western Bhutan are far greater than the high pass that separates them. Perhaps like the Scots and the English, there are subtle but marked differences. History has played a significant role with the kingdom only being unified with the east at the end of the last century and prior to that many wars separated each side. Thrumshing La pass and a seven-hour drive separate Ura from Mongar in the East. The journey is one of the most beautiful in all the Himalayas. The descent from Thrumshing La to Lingmithang is astonishing for several reasons. The road drops from 3,800 meters to 650 meters in only a few hours passing from pine forest through semi-tropical forest to orange groves. Carved out of the side of the mountain, in parts the road's edge borders a sheer cliff which drops thousands feet. Arriving at Mongar marks the beginning of your eastern Bhutan experience. Eastern Bhutan is famous for its fine weaving. Weavers using backstrap looms produce cotton and silk cloth in incredible colors and patterns. Often natural colors are made from bark, leaves and flowers.The predominant ethnic group in Eastern Bhutan are Sharchops, who are generally followers of the Nyingma tradition of Buddhism and tend to be shorter and stockier than people in other parts of the country. Another characteristic of Eastern Bhutan is that the cities and towns are generally built on mountain slopes, a notable exception being Samdrup Jongkhar which is located in a valley on the Indian border. Sharchopkha is the predominant language of the region, though there are local variations. Some of the finest weaving villages in Bhutan are found in the Mongar area Over night at Hotel Wangchuk which is one of best hotel in the eastern Region of Bhutan.

Day 11. Lhuntshe and back to Mongar
Lhuentse is one of Bhutan's remotest and least developed districts, and the landscape in the north is dominated by the Himalayas. The district is famous for its beautiful and intricate woven cloth. Lhuntshe is famous for its fine weaving. Weavers using blackstrap looms produce cotton and silk cloth in incredible colors and patterns. Often natural colors are made from bark, leaves and flowers.There are no shops selling it, but no doubt pieces can be bought by visiting the houses of weavers - the village of Khoma is an especially good place to look. Shangrila, on the main street - a very simple guest house offering very basic amenities. Khoma - an hour walk from the main road to Lhuentse Dzong - famous for its intricate woven cloth called Kishu Tharas. Then drive back to Mongar and over night same hotel.

Day 12. Mongar-Trashigang
After Breakfast drive to Trashigang, today the rides take us over Kori la pass 3000 meters. After the pass the road is very beautiful as it has lots of soft turns called Yadi loops through beautiful pine trees. The pretty, lively town of Trashigang is a good jumping-off point to visit the kingdom's wild east. Few travellers make it here but, as long as you're happy to leave behind the relative comforts of Thimphu and Paro, exploring this neck of the woods can have its rewards. This is the most densely populated part of Bhutan but also most definitely the hinterland. Locals are fond of a tipple, and bodies sleeping off their excesses at the side of the road aren't an unusual sight. This is a good place to sample the local arra and soak up the atmosphere (in that order). Villagers come to town on holy days, which occur on the first, 10th and 15th of the Bhutanese month. After selling their produce they get stuck into the arra and paint the town an unforgettable Bhutanese shade of red. Trashigang Dzong sits on a jagged piece of land jutting out from the town and is the first landmark that can be seen from the road winding up to Trashigang. The Dzong was built in 1659 and commands a spectacular view over the valley for which it is the administrative center. The Dzong is significant for the fact that it only has one courtyard.

Day 13. Trashigang to Trashi Yangtse
Chorten Kora - an impressive stupa similar to the famous Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu. Hand made wooden bowls (dappa) are a wonderful and practical souvenir. The halves of the bowl fit tighly together, so they can be used to carry cooked food, which is their function in Bhutan. However, they also make excellent salad or cookie bowls. Dappa are a speciality of the Trashi Yagtse region, and it is possible to purchase them directly from the workshops of dappa makers. In the Afternoon we will drive to Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1995 in order to protect large areas of virtually untouched Eastern Himalayan ecosystems ranging from warm broadleaved forest to alpine scree slopes. It partly overlaps with the earlier Kulong Chhu National Park which mainly covered alpine and subalpine habitats. Altitudes in the sanctuary range from 1500 m in the south to over 6400m in the north. The northern parts include glaciers, snow peaks scree slopes, alpine pastures and scrub and glacial lakes and valleys. The central parts include ridges and valleys covered in scrubland, conifer forest and broadleaved forest. The southern and lower part consist more ridges, valleys and river gorges. Most are covered in broadleaved forest. Flatter areas have often been cleared for agricultural land and villages. Covering much of Trashi Yangtse district, this 1,550 sq km reserve provides sanctuary to rare animals such as blue sheep, snow leopards, red panda, musk deer and Himalayan black bear. Today we will stay in the farm house and you will have nice feeling of eastern Bhutan (people and the customs).

Day 14. Trashigang-Samdrup Jongkhar (180 Km)
Today we have to start very early; today we will pass through Sherabtse University in Bhutan. Then to Khaling weaving center then finally to Samdrup Jongkhar the exit/enter point of Bhutan. Samdrup Jongkhar is boarder town to Assam boarder. Check in the hotel.

Day 15. Samdrup Jongkhar-Guwahati (101 Km) and our representative will bid you Bon Voyage
Today we will drive to Gawahati which is 101 Km from Bhutan Boarder. The entire drive is in the plains. Time to explore Gawahati and fare well dinner before we depart tomorrow.

Day 16. Guwahati-Bangkok (Every Wednesday there is direct flight to Bangkok)
Today you can fly to kolkata and visit the place around. Overnight at Hotel.

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