(4 nights / 5 days Cultural Tour)
Day 01: Arrive at Paro
Upon arrival at Paro airport, received by representative of Bhutan Exodus Tours and drive to Thimphu (60 kilometers). Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .
Day 02: Thimphu – Punakha – Thimphu
(72 Kms, 3 hours drive).
After breakfast, Drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while at Dochula pass to view Higher Himalayas. While in Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu ( Male River ) and Mo Chu ( Female River ). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephants. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping; the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche . From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper.
The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang ( Palace of Great Happiness ). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new national Assembly here in 1952. After Lunch, drive to Wangdi Phodrang. Enroute stop a while to view Chimi Lhakhang also called the ” Temple of Fertility ” built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley also popularly known as “Devine Mad man” in 15th century. Enroute sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang , it includes: visit to Wangdiphodrang Dzong (from outside) built in 1638. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong; four ravens were seen flying away in four directions.
This was considered auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Drive back to Thimphu in the evening.
Over night in Hotel.
Day 03: Thimphu – Paro
After breakfast, sight seeing in Thimphu . It includes: visit the National Memorial Chorten, a monument dedicated to the Third King of Bhutan. His Late Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The inside paintings and statues provide a very rare insight into Buddhist Philosophy. Then visit the National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts followed by visit to Painting School , famous for carving and free hand art and Folk Heritage Museum .
After lunch, Excursion to Cheri Monastery. In the evening, visit Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion), built in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and reconstructed in 1961 by the Late King, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wang chuck, who is regarded as Father of Modern Bhutan. Then visit Handicrafts Emporium to see the exquisite artistry of traditional crafts and textiles. In the evening, drive to Paro.
Dinner and over night in Hotel.
Day 04: Paro Sightseeing
After breakfast a short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten, the trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favourite consort.
After lunch, visit the Ta dzong, an ancient watchtower, which has been, since 1967, the national museum of Bhutan then visit Rimpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Dzong presently houses administrative offices. In the evening, visit the Drukgyel dzong, now in ruins was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in1644; the dzong name’s means indeed “victorious Druk”. The Dzong was used as an administrative center until 1951 when a fire caused by butter lamp destroyed it. Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan ‘s oldest and most sacred monasteries dating from the introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century and Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 05: Departure
Early morning, drive to the Airport and Farewell.