Central Cultural Tour package (12 Days)

Day 1: Arrival at Paro and sight-seeing

• Paro valley extends from the confluence of the Paro Chhu and the Wang Chhu rivers at Chuzom upto Mt. Jomolhari at the Tibetan border to the North.

• It is one of the widest valleys in the kingdom and is covered in fertile rice fields and has a beautiful, crystalline river meandering down the valley.

• Paro is home to over 155 temples and monasteries in this area and many elegant, traditional-style houses mark the valley and surrounding hills.

Day 2: Paro to Thimphu

Day 2: Paro to Thimphu (65 km/approx driving time 1.30 hours) and sight-seeing; Buddha point, Memorial Chorten, Takin Park, Folk Heritage

• The Kingdom’s capital city is home to approximately 100,000 inhabitants including the Royal family. Thimphu city is the main center of commerce, religion and government in the country.

• One of the most curious features of Thimphu is that it is the only capital city in the world that does not use traffic lights. Instead a few major intersections have policemen standing in elaborately decorated booths (small pavilions), directing traffic with exaggerated hand motions
• Kuensel Phodrang alias Buddha Point is a gigantic Buddha Shakyamuni statue constructed on the hill top. The statue houses over one hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues. It is one of the most happening points in Thimphu. It is a short drive from Thimphu City Center from where visitors get a good overview of the Thimphu valley.

• The 51.5 meter bronze statue is three storied with several chapels. One can offer prayers to Buddha, walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.
• This large Tibetan-style chorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu and for many Bhutanese it is the focus of their daily worship.

• It was built in 1974 in the memory of the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–72)
Located in Motithang above Thimphu city is a wildlife reserve area for Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.

• The reason for declaring takin as a national animal of Bhutan on 25 November 2005 is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation in Bhutan in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley.
• This restored three-storey, rammed-earth and timber building replicates a traditional farmhouse and is furnished as it would have been about a century ago to provide an interesting glimpse into rural Bhutanese life.

• Details include the antique noodle press, the leopard skin bags and Brokpa yak-hair 'spider' hats.

• The restaurant here serves good Bhutanese meals.

Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha

Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha(77 km/approx driving time-3 hr.) visit Sangchen Dorji Lhendrub Choling nunnery and hike to Chimi Lhakhang. (20-minute trail across fields from the road at Sopsokha to the temple)

• Punakha is the administrative centre of Punakha dzongkhag, one of the 20 districts of Bhutan.

• Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu

• It is located at an elevation of 1,200 metres above sea level and rice is grown as the main crop along the river valleys of two main rivers of Bhutan, the Pho Chu and Mo Chu.
• Above Wolakha on the way to Drolay Goemba is the nunnery financed by Yap Dasho Ugyen Dorji.

• The nunnery serves as a Buddhist college for 120 resident anim (nuns). The attached ridgetop Nepali-style chorten is visible from as far away as the Dochula to Metshina road.
• On a small hill below the Metshina–Punakha road is the yellow-roofed Chimi Lhakhang, built in 1499 by the cousin of Lama Drukpa Kunley in his honour.

• lama subdued the demons of the nearby Dochula with his 'magic thunderbolt of wisdom

• A wooden effigy of the lama's thunderbolt is preserved in the lhakhang

• Childless women go to the temple to receive a Wang (blessing or empowerment) from the saint. With the blessing, it is believed to conceive a child of her wish

Day 4: Visit Punakha Dzong,

Day 4: Visit Punakha Dzong, longest suspension bridge and wangdue Phodrang Dzong.

• Punakha Dzong is arguably the most beautiful dzong in the country, Built strategically at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637, by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region.

• it is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan

• The dzong houses the sacred relics of the southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, including the Rangjung Kasarpani and the sacred remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and the tertön Pema Lingpa.
• Behind Punakha Dzong stretches the Punakha Suspension Bridge, the longest of its kind in Bhutan.

• The Bridge connects the Dzong with the Village on the other bank of the Pho Chu River.
• Sitting on top of the hill at the confluence of Punakha Chhu and Dang Chhu rivers, Wangduephodrang Dzong is town's most visible features.

• After a major fire which destroyed 374 years old Wangduephodrang Dzong then in the year 2012, the dzong is under major re-construction.

Day 5: Punakha to Gangtey

Day 5: Punakha to Gangtey - sight-seeing; Gangtey Lhakhang, Nature Park and farm house

• The Gangtey Monastery generally known as Gangtey Gonpa is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism and it is main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition.
• A pleasurable walk (around 2 hours) that gives a nice feeling for Phobjikha valley.

• It is the most beautiful and shortest of the existing nature trails in Bhutan overlooking Gangtey Goemba, head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara.

• The pleasure of observing black necked crane can also be taken while exploring the valley by foot.
• The Bhutanese county life still revolves around crop cycles and seasons. Therefore, Rural Bhutan is never aloof of terraced rice paddies, cornfields or buckwheat and wheat which create organically beautiful surrounding; however the size of cultivation remains in small proportion especially in semi-urban settlements.

• Traditional Bhutanese homes dot the country-side, resplendent with drying chilies and sliced meats.The Bhutanese house is often found decorated with painted images such as tiger, lion, gurda, thunder dragon etc, which are metical animals along with eight lucky signs, locally termed Tashi Tag Gay.

Day 6: Gangtey to Trongsa-visit Chendebji Chorten

Day 6: Gangtey to Trongsa-visit Chendebji Chorten

• Trongsa is the headquarter of Trongsa District in central Bhutan.
• Chendebji Chörten was built in the style of the great Bodhanath Chörten of Nepal. It was constructed by Tshering Wangchuk, son of Yon-Say and the Mahasiddha Zhidag in accordance with the prophecy of the Second Gangteng Tulku Tenzin Lekpai Dhundrup in order to subdue harmful and anti-religious sprits.

• It is located 41 km west of Trongsa at 2430 meters from sea level.

Day 7: Trongsa to Bumthang

Day 7: Trongsa to Bumthang (Visit Trongsa Dzong and Ta Dzong enroute to Bumthang)

• Trongsa Dzong is the largest dzong in Bhutan.

• Built on a spur overlooking the gorge of the Mangde River, a temple was first established at the location in 1543 by the Drukpalama, Ngagi Wangchuk, son of Ngawang Chhojey.

• Trongsa Dzong, the largest dzong at a striking location is an important administrative building providing the headquarters of the government of Trongsa District.
• It is the most historic dzongkhag in center Bhutan considering the number of ancient temples and sacred sites.

• Bumthang consists of four mountain valleys of Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor although occasionally the entire district is referred to as Bumthang valley.

Day8: Paro sight-seeing-visit

Day8: Paro sight-seeing-visit Jampa Lhakhang, Kurje Lhakhang, Wangdichholing Museum and Mebar Tsho (burning lake)

• Jampa lhakhang is a one-storey low complex built on a plateau above the Chamkhar River.

• It is 1 km south of Kuje monastic complex and four kilometers north of the district headquarter.

• Jampa Lhakhang means "Temple of Maitreya, the future Buddha"

• Like Kyichu Lhakhang in the Paro valley of Bhutan, this temple is said to be one of the first that King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet constructed in Bhutan in the seventh century.
• This large, active and important temple complex is named after the body (kur) print (jey) of Guru Rinpoche which is preserved in a cave inside the oldest of the three buildings that make up the temple complex.

• The first of the three temples, the Guru Lhakhang is the oldest and was built in 1652 by Mingyur Tenpa when he was Trongsa Penlop.

• Tucked just below the caves is a figure of a snow lion with a jachung (garuda) above it, which represents the struggle between Guru Rinpoche (appearing as the garuda) and the local deity, Shelging Kharpo (as the snow lion)
• Wangdicholing Palace in Bhumtang was built in 1857 as the summer residence of the first temporal ruler. The palace became the summer home of the first and second kings of Bhutan.

• It is now restored as a museum

• Incredible colors - the paints are made from natural dyes, the cobalt paint is made from crushed cobalt which held the color.
• The Burning Lake, Mebar Tsho is located along the way to the Tang village over the feeder road under Bumthang valley. It takes approximately thirty minutes drive to the Mebar Tsho from Chamkhar town.

• Mebar Tsho is considered one of the most sacred sites in the region as it is related to the renowned religious treasure reveler (Terton) Terton Pema Lingpa.

• Pema Lingpa is considered an incarnated disciple of Padmasambhava. Pema Lingpa discovered treasure within the lake in late 15th century.

Day 9: Bumthang to Paro by Domestic flight

Day 9: Bumthang to Paro by Domestic flight

Day 10: sight-seeing-Dumtseg, Kichhu, Ta Dzong and Drugyel Dzong.

• It is located on the edge of a hill between the Paro valley and the Dopchari valley across the bridge from Paro

• The temple is notable as it is in the form of a chorten, very rare in Bhutan.

• The Buddhist iconography depicted in the Chorten is considered a unique repository of the Drukpa Kagyu school.
• Kyichu Lhakhang is an important Himalayan Buddhist temple situated in Lango Gewog of Paro District in Bhutan

• The Jowo Temple of Kyichu is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, originally built in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emperor Songtsän Gampo.

• It is considered to be one of the four border taming temples he built.

• In the 8th century the temple was visited by Padmasambhava and it is believed he concealed many spiritual treasures here.
• Perched above Paro Dzong, Ta Dzong (watchtower) was built in 1649 to protect the undefended dzong and renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum

• The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell, with 2.5m-thick walls
• Drukgyal Dzong was a fortress and Buddhist monastery but now in ruins it is located in the upper part of the Paro District.

• The dzong was built by Tenzin Drukdra in 1649 at the behest of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, to commemorate victory over an invasion from Tibet.

• In 2016, to celebrate the birth of the crown prince, His Royal Highness The Gyalsey, as well as to commemorate two other significant events, namely, the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to Bhutan in 1616 AD and the birth year of Guru Rinpoche, the re-construction of the dzong took place. The ground breaking ceremony was held a day after the Crown Prince was born.

Day 11: Hike to Paro Taktshang (Paro town to Tiger’s Nest base)

• 15 minutes drive from Paro airport

• 10 minutes drive from town

• 2-3hours uphill hike from base to Tiger Nest

• return - 2 hours down hill

• visit Drugyel Dzong (9.3 km approx driving time 20 minutes)
• Constructed upon a sheer cliff face, hundreds of meters above forests of oak and rhododendrons and the valley floor is Bhutan’s most iconic landmark Taktsang Monastery, the Tiger’s Nest

• Paro Taktsang is a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site

• The temple devoted to Padmasambhava (the Temple of the Guru with Eight Names) is an elegant structure built around the cave in 1692 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. .

Day 12: Departure



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