Bhutan East to West Delight
Day 1: Guwahati – Samdrup Jongkhar – Trashigang
Arrive in Guwahati airport in Assam, India. Here you will meet your Bhutanese guide and driver, who will manage all immigration formalities and drive to Samdrup Jongkhar, a frontier town in southeastern Bhutan (3hrs). Along the way, you will pass through many rural towns of Assam, tea estates and rice-fields. Enter Bhutan and stroll around small township of Samdrup Jongkhar.
Then you will start all day drive ascending to the Himalayas. After few hours drive we will stop to get blessing from Hindu hermit for safety of our journey. Soon after you will have opportunity to visit first of many charming Bhutanese Buddhist temples, called Zangto Pelri Lhakhang, with detailed mural painting. During afternoon you will stop in Khaling village to visit National Handloom Development Project, which maintains rich tradition of local weaving. Also you will pay a visit to the National Institute for the Visually Impaired. One of the accomplishment of this progressive institution is the development of Bhutanese version of Braille’s script. Along the way, you’ll also pass by Karma Thegsum Dechenling Goemba, huge monastery school and Sherubtse College, first Bhutanese university campus established in 1978. Also we visit temple in nearby Kanglung village.
Overnight in Tashigang.
Day 2: Trashigang – Excursion to Trashi Yangtse
Morning visit of Trashigang dzong which was built in 17th century and has commanding view of the valley. Inside are few interesting temples and local government offices. After that you’ll take about 2 hours drive time to Trashi Yangtse. On the way, pay a visit to the Gom Kora temple, place where 8th century magician-saint Guru Padmasambhava left his body imprints. Further drive will offer occasional views of snowy mountain in clear weather. Finally you will see impressive building of the old Trashi Yangtse dzong which is home to 300 monks. The dzong used to protect former trade route with Tibet and was established by the saint Pema Lingpa of 15th century. The temples with valuable statues are worth of exploring. Also near the Trashi Yangtse is the famous Chorten Kora, the largest stupa in Bhutan built in Nepali style. This is the site of two colourful local festivals at the beginning of the year. Trashi Yangtse is also home to National Institute for Zorig Chusum, the school where the young people learns the art crafts of their forefathers to keep Bhutan’s traditional arts alive. Evening return to Trashigang.
Overnight in Trashigang
Day 3: Trashigang to Mongar
It’s just 3½ hours drive to Mongar but it would be a pity not to make a 2 hours detour to Dramtse Gompa, which is one of the most important monasteries of eastern Bhutan. This is the place from where the famous Naga Chham (Drums of Dramtse), mask dance with drums originated. This dance is ubiquitous feature of many festivals and also it was included to the UNESCO list of of oral and intangible heritage. Monastery itself was founded in 16th century by descendants of the saint Pema Lingpa and it’s name means “the peak where there is no enemy”. There is number of interesting chapels with a lot of important statues of the saints and protector deities. If you’re in mood for short hike, you can also pursue 1.5 hour scenic hike from Dramtse to Baging la via Shergang village. After reaching Mongar, you will pay a visit to it’s dzong (castle). Although built in 1930, the dzong maintains Bhutanese architectural traditions.
Overnight in Mongar
Day 4: Mongar to Lhuntse – Excursion
Morning drive to Lhuntse which is one of the most rural and isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges, beautiful conifer and pine forests and remote villages with rice, millet and corn fields. Kurtoe region of Lhuntse is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family. On the way, we will make a detour to Takey la, the place where the gigantic statue of Guru Rimpoche was recently built. Inside the statue, you find number of richly decorated chapels, which belongs to best in Bhutan. Further you will continue to Khoma village for most elaborate traditional cloths in Bhutan. Quality of weaving is so fine that even Royal Family places their order for clothes here. Village itself is interesting and beautiful so we will spend some extra time here having a lunch in local house and tasting local delicacies. Then we will continue to Lhuntse to see a dzong which belongs to one of the most spectacular monastery-castles in Bhutan, with total 7 chapels you can explore. Residing monks have welcoming reputation. Drive back to Mongar.
Overnight in a hotel in Mongar
Day 5: Mongar to Bumthang
The journey continues westwards winding through more rugged terrain. The drive will take minimum 7 hours, but it won’t be boring at all. Road offers most spectacular views in the country ascending 3200 meters in the distance of 84 kilometres. After about a hour drive, you’ll pass along the ruins of Sengor dzong, which burned to ash in 1899. Chortens on the roadside are built in memory of 300 labourers who died during roadbuilding in 1970’s. You’ll also come along the stunning Namling waterfall. After crossing the second highest motorable pass in Bhutan, the Thrumshing-la (3,580 m), you gradually descend to clustered village of Ura. It’s good idea to stop at rhododendron garden just after the pass to see the number of species of this beautiful tree. From Ura village we will continue drive to the Shertong-la pass (3580 m). Right after that in sharp turn, the Gangkhar Punesum, highest mountain in Bhutan might be seen in clear weather. Reaching Jakar in the evening.
Over night in Bumthang .
Day 6: Bumthang – Excursion to Tang
Bumthang is a beautiful wide valley and as the name suggests the place abounds in numerous spiritual sites, stories and myths. In the olden days Bumthang used to be frequently haunted/disturbed by demons and terrifying spirits, and many learned holy Lamas had subdued most of these spirits and turned them into local deities and protectors of the Buddha Dharma. There are many sacred temples and monasteries and we have chosen a few important ones for you to visit.
Visit Tang Valley you have to drive from Jakar towards the west-east road that goes to Ura for 10 KMs. Then through the unpaved roads you will finally reach this beautiful valley. This is the road which can take you to the burning lake (Membartsho) and Pema Tekchok Choeling Shedra.
You will visit Pema Thekchok Nunnery join the nuns for a specially organized for your group- Chöd or Chod Ritual is a unique spiritual practice and a path to complete enlightenment, by cutting through attachment to the body to offer compassionate sacrifice, so that in wondrous application of wisdom and compassion all things unite. Chod is a powerful Buddhist tantric practice. In Tibetan Buddhist Tantra it is taught to beginners for accumulation of merits. It clears the karmic obstacles and blockages arising from our negative interaction with others in countless past lives, harming others through physical, verbal or emotional aggression results in a karmic seed, which ultimately ripens in various sufferings of body and mind. Chö or Healing Chod Puja is a unique spiritual practice and a path to complete enlightenment.
Day 7: Bumthang
After breakfast Jakar dzong and old Jambay lhakhang temple, which pins down the leg of giant demoness. Walk to Kurjey lhakhang temple complex. After exploring the place, enjoy the picnic lunch on beautiful riverside. Finally continue walk to Tamshing lhakhang, the temple where you can wipe your sins by carrying the chain-bar smithed by 15th century blacksmith-saint Pema Lingpa. Thereafter visit of Red Panda brewery and explore the town with it’s interesting curio shops and welcoming local restaurants.
Day 8: Bumthang Flight to Paro
Morning flight to Paro, afternoon explore Paro valley.The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley.
After lunch visit Kyichu Lhakhang and Rinpung Dzong, this 15th century massive fortress/monastery, is also the administrative center of the dzonkhag and Ta Dzong. Built as a watch tower the Ta Dzong, it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum boasts antique Thangka, textiles, weapons and armour, household objects and rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Over night in Paro.
Day 9: Paro – Hike to Tigers Nest Monastery
No journey to Bhutan is complete without a visit to Takstang monastery. Drive short distance from the hotel to the trail-head and climb for about 2-3hrs to legendary Takstang (Tiger’s nest) monastery. Option to hire riding horse for part of the way is available. Return to Paro for any remaining tour or stroll around the town area. Farewell dinner.
Over night in Paro
Day 10: Paro – Depart Bhutan
After early breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Our representative will help you with exit formalities and then bid you farewell.