BHUTAN TOUR & Sikkim -14
KATHMANDU - PARO
The flight into the Bhutan Himalayas is one of the most
spectacular experiences you will ever witness. Flying in
from the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal towards the North East,
one can witness from the left side of the plane, a chain
of the world's highest and majestic peaks. Pay careful attention
when the Druk Air captain points out the names: Mt. Everest,
Kanchenjunga and the rest as you fly pass them in minutes.
Soon you will descend
into Druk Yul, and even as the plane lowers it landing gears
preparing for landing you will not find any air strip or
signs of a city, do not despair, instead enjoy the view
of the approaching valley and the primeval alpine forests,
the little monasteries, temples and farm houses all in splendid
isolation. Moments before landing, you may catch a glimpse
of the fertile Paro valley, the colossal Paro Dzong and
the winding Paro Chu River. As you step out of the plane,
take your first breath of cool, clean fresh air, this will
be your first free gift Bhutan has to offer to the guest.
After your Bhutanese guide identifies you, he will escort
you to the Olathang Hotel on the hill.
2. PARO VALLEY
The people of Paro are known for their hard work, which
they like to show in their big and traditional country houses.
If you marry a girl from Paro, be prepared to put a metal
roofing over the traditional shingle roof in your wife's
house, to show that you are a capable and well – to – do
husband, so we joke among ourselves. Morning sightseeing
includes: the Ta Dzong National Museum considered to be
one of the best natural history museums in Asia ; it has
a fine collection of natural and historic artifacts. A short
drive to the Drukgyel Dzong fortress, a strategic sentry
where the Bhutanese forces repelled the numerous Tibetan
invasions from the north ; the majestic Jumolhari or the
'Mountain of the Goddess' can be seen in the background
for many, the 2- 3 hour hike to Taktsang or the famous '
Tiger's Nest' is a memorable spiritual journey. It was here
that the great tantric master Guru Padmasambhava flew in
from Tibet on a tiger to bring Buddhist teachings to Bhutan,
retreat in their spiritual quest : the remainder of the
day can be spent shopping or simply strolling through town.
3 - 4.
THIMPHU : THE CAPITAL OF BHUTAN
Thimphu is a short hour and half drive from one main valley
to the next across paddy fields, apple orchards, farm houses,
paddy stacks, farmers drying paddies on the rosd, cattle,
pine trees and hamlets that smell of burning wood. Check
in at the Jumolhari or Druk Hotels. When in Thimphu be prepared
for several things. This unique capital (8000 feet) of the
kingdom has adopted its own version of the British – India
colonial times traffic policemen, who can startle you and
memorize others with his elaborate hand gestures : sometimes
he may be signaling stop when it looks like go but don't
worry just observe the flow and notice his smile as you
stare at him.
Sightseeing includes the Tashicho Dzong,
seat of the royal government and central monastic body,
it was rebuilt in the early 1960s after a fire destroyed
most of the building; the late King's Memorial Chorten which
is well visited by the residents of Thimphu especially during
the festive and religious occasions; the Handicrafts Center
to view the traditional arts now being revived by the government
: the Indigenous Medicine Hospital, where herbal medicine,
acupuncture and the ancient art of healing that has passed down from Tibet is still being practiced today ; if
time permits you can also visit the Thankha Painting School
; silver and goldsmith village ; if you visit coincides
on a Saturday or a Sunday you witness the interesting 'Sunday
Market' so called even on Saturday ! ), you can delve into
the various vegetables, chilies, temperature fruits from
all parts of Bhutan, ( all grown without the use of pesticides
and chemical fertilizers ) ; not far from the market place
is the Changlimithang ground where you will always find
the game of archery ( the national sport of Bhutan ) being
5. THIMPHU TO GANGTEY VIA PUNAKHA & WANGIPHODRANG
(6 HRS DRIVE)
After breakfast, drive east climbing steadily towards the
Dochu La Pass at 10000 feet. A large chorten and forest
of prayer flags greet you as you face the range of majestic
peaks towards the North , Gangar Punsum , among others is
the highest unclimbed peak (over 24000 feet ) in the world.
The descent from the pass to valley is about 2 hours, with
an altitude drop of over 5500 feet you pass through temperate
forest colored with rhododendrons and magnolias, down to
the semitropical zone of orange, banana and cactuses. Situated
near the river on a small plateau is the famous Chime Lhakhang
for infertile women.
The Punakha Dzong built in the 16th
century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, was the winter capital
for 300 years ; today it is winter home to the Je Khenpo
the chief Abbot
, hundreds of monks, and also serves as the administrative
headquarters for the Punakhadistrict. Downstream from the
Punakha valley is the Wangdiphodrang Dzong strategically
located on a ridge (4430 feet) over looking the junction
of the Sunkoshi Tangchu rivers ; it is the gateway to central
and eastern Bhutan. Legend has it that Mahakala, the protective
deity of Bhutan appeared to tell Shabdrung of a prediction,
saying ; 'at top of a rocky spur where two rivers meet ,
at the place where a flock of raven will fly off in four
directions, you will build the dzong.' As prophesied by
the deity the Shabdrung built the dzong in 1638. The Punakha
and Wangdi valleys are also the winter home for many of
the high altitude farmers who migrate with their cattle
to the warm climate in the valley.
The numerous paddy fields indicate the
fertile conditions ideal for agriculture, farmers here often
grow 2- 3 crops a year , rice and chili being important
cash crops for the farmers. Stop for picnic lunch at the
Wangdi guest house.
After lunch, about 3 hours drive to one of the
most beautiful open valleys in Bhutan, Gantey is winter
home to the rare and endangered black necked cranes (grus
nigricllis) which migrate to Bhutan around mid November
from Tibet and central and eastern, Sikang, Yunnan and Tonkin
in China. Cranes have for centuries
captured the human imagination with their intelligence,
poise, sociality, beauty and freedom, which have given rise
to several myths, legends, folktales and songs. The Bhutanese
have their songs of the crane popular among village folks.
This year (1994) about 185 birds have arrived from Tibet
to feed in their traditional habitats in Gantey. By mid
February, the cranes fly back across the Himalayas to their
summer home towards Tibet and China. The small village is
dominated by the yellow roofed Gangtey Monastery, said to
be the only Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan headed by the
Gantey tulku (ninth reincarnation to bear the name). Overnight
stop at Gantey in the vicinity of the monastery.
6 – 7.
GANTEY TO JAKAR ( BUMTHANG ) VIA TONGSA ( 6 HRS)
For the bird enthusiasts an early morning excursion to view
the cranes can be arranged. After breakfast, continue journey
towards the Pela La Pass crossing the Black Mountains which
divide western and central Bhutan, takes about 4-5 hours,
rhododendron among grazing yaks are memorable sites along
the pass; on clear days the Jumolhari can be seen at 23,685
feet, towards the west. After passing through the domain
of yak, sheep and short bamboo brush, past the Nikkarchu
Bridge is the Tongsa district ; the great white washed stone
chorten, built in Nepalese style in the 18th
century lies on a bend below the road. The temple was founded
by lama called Shida who subdued a demon that was a menace
to the valley.
As you approach Tongsa, you cannot miss viewing the
'never reaching ' Tongs Dozing in the distance; visible
yet elusive before you act usally get near it. Stop for
lunch at the Tongsa Lodge or one of the comfortable wayside
inns run by Tibetan residents. Commanding the Mangde river
valley at an altitude of 2200 meters ( 7220 feet) Tongsa
Dzong is the most impressive Dzong of Bhutan.
It used to be the old gate way between
the east and west. The Dzong
built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel is a masterpiece
in architecture that includes countless courtyards, passageways
and corridors, in addition to the 23 temples inside the
Dzong. After lunch is a short 2-3 hours drive to
Bumthang. Over night halt at Jakar Lodge.
Different from all the other valleys in Bhutan is the
spacious and open valley of Bumthang : ranging in altitude
from 2600 meters (8530 feet) to 4000 meters (13125), Bumthang
is a haven for trekkers and hikers not mention the numerous
beautiful and important Buddhist monasteries and pilgrimage
sites, making it the cultural and historic center of Bhutan.
One could spend months exploring this fascinating valley.
Almost every little valley or a hill has a background of
interesting myths and legends about kings, Buddhist masters,
and serpents. Bumthang is especially dotted with the religious
relics left by the
famous Guru Rinpoche, and his reincarnation the Treasure
Finder, TertonPemalinga who is known to have found the scared
Ters or Buddhist Texts after diving into a lake ( Mebartsho
lake / pool ) with
a lighted lamp on his head among the many sightseeing
places are the Jakar Dzong, the Dzong founded by a white
bird ; the Jambe and Tamshing Lhakhangs, two of the oldest
temples dating to the 7th century in Bhutan ;
the Kurje Lhakhangs, where the kings of Bhutan are taken for their cremation
rites ; besides the religious sites do not miss a trip to
the famous Bumthang Matha regions ( villages) where you
can find rich woolen plaid textiles dyed with natural colours,
and the Yatas, a thin woolen cloth with bright patterns
often made into warm jackets
(8 HRS DRIVE)
10 PHUNCHOLING - DARJEELING
Darjeeling – Gangtok: Transfer
to Gangtok (after breakfast,98 kms / 04 hrs). Overnight
at Hotel Golden Pagoda. Day 05 Gangtok: Take an excursion
to Tshangu Lake (12000 ft. 35 kms / 02 hrs). Overnight at
Hotel Golden Pagoda.
Day 12 Gangtok: Go for a day sightseeing
covering Directorarte of Handicraft & Handsome, Enchey
Monastery, Research Institute of Tibetology, Chorten, Rumtek
Monastery and orchid sanctuary. Overnight at Hotel Golden
Day 13 Gangtok – Bhardrapur Verdana, Overnight
in Bhadrapur Hotel..
Day 14 : Bhadrapur
to Katmandu by flight. And transfer to the Hotel.
Tour Cost: US$ 1740.00 Net per
Single Supplement: US$ 350.00
Group size: 4 pax.
Visa : Visa cost for Bhutan : US $ 20.00
at Bhutan airport.
Kathmandu/ Paro : US $ 195.00
Biratnagar/Bhadratpur : US $ 109.00+2 one way Per person
01 Accommodation with taxes and breakfast,
Tour & Transport in Sikkim
All meals, Guided City – tour, all Fees,
including in Bhutan
03 Air port drop and pick up.
* Airport Tax & Excess baggage
* Bhutan and Indian visa
* Lunch and dinner in Sikkim , India
* Expenses on personal Nature
* Travel Insurance
* Extra cost occurred in case of landslides etc.
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