Detailed Itinerary of the Last Shangrila
Day 1-Druk Airways flight to Bhutan is one of the most spectacular flights in the entire Himalayan region. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata, each flight is a mesmerizing aeronautical feat and offers an exciting descent into the kingdom.
On arrival you shall be received by ou representative who will be waiting eagerly to welcome you with khadars (Welcome Tradition) then transferred to your hotel.
Evening you can take leisurely stroll around the town's main street. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2- After breakfast, visit to Ta Dzong (National Museum) formerly a watchtower and now the National Museum. The museum collection includes ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts, weapons, coins, stamps and a small natural history collection. Then walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) situated at a commanding height overlooking Paro valley. Built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646, this dzong now houses Paro's monk body and the offices of the civil administration and is symbolic as the religious and secular centre of all affairs of the valley.
Afternoon visit to Drukgyel Dzong, the ruined fortress from where Bhutanese repelled several invasion by Tibetan armies. Then visit a traditional farm house which offers good insight into lifestyle of local people.
In the evening, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 3- After Breakfast we take a 2hour drive(55km) towards Thimphu, the modern capital of Bhutan. As we are about to reach Chuzom(Confluence of two rivers Paro and Thimphu) we stop to visit Tamchoe Lhakhang Built by Tangtong Gylepo,( The great brigde builder of Bhutan he is said to have made iron bridges with his bare hands) and now preserved by his descendants.
Along the way we have many more scenic beauties to be enjoyed. Nearby Thimphu, a visit to Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom which now houses the School for Buddhist studies.
After Lunch, we head off to Kuensel Podrang where the we can see the Buddha Dordenma Statue, measuring at a height of 51.5 meters making it one the worlds largest Buddha statue.
On our way back we visit the kings Memorial Chorten continuously circumbulated by His Majesty's subjects, spinning prayer wheels and murmuring mantras.
We then move towards Tashichho Dzong, 'fortress of the glorious dharma'. It is the centre of government and religion, site of the King's throne room, National assembly hall, and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1961 in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.
Then, visit Handicrafts Emporium and local shops if you like to browse through example of Bhutan's fine traditional arts. Here you can buy textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewellery, interesting items made from local materials, and all manner of unique objects. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 4- After breakfast, sightseeing of Thimphu valley includes, visit to the National Library, a treasure trove of priceless Buddhist manuscripts. The Traditional Medicine Institute, where centuries old healing arts such as acupuncture and herbal remedies are still practised. The Painting School, where young monks learn the art of Buddhist Thangkha Painting .
Also visit mask maker workshop and workshop for fine metal craft, weaving, ceramics and paper making. Then visit, Textile and Folk Heritage Museum, a fascinating testimony of Bhutanese material culture and living traditions.After lunch, drive to Punakha, the old capital town of Bhutan. Stop enroute at Dochula pass (3,050m) that heralds the most enchanting views of Bhutan.
On arrival, check into the hotel. Evening visit Punakha Dzong, the fortress of 17th century and later visit to Khamsm Yulley Namgyal Chhorten.
Day 5- After breakfast drive to Gangtey via Wangduephodrang. Visit majestic Wangdue Dzong and interesting local market.
Further ahead pass through dense forests and oak, rhododendron tress, reaching at Gangtey (Phobjikha).Evening take a walk around Gangtey village and visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in this region. Overnight at the guest house in Gangtey
Day 6- In the morning after breakfast explore Phobjikha valley which is famous for Black Necked Cranes. The cranes migrate here from Central Asiatic plateau to escape its harsh winters. After lunch drive to Trongsa crossing 3,300m high Pele la pass. Evening visit to Trongsa market. Overnight at the lodge in Trongsa.
Day 7- After breakfast walk by Trongsa Dzong built by Zhabdrung in 1647 and visit the Ta Dzong (watch tower), dedicated to Buddhist epic hero, King Gesar of ling and built to defend the Dzong and the neighbouring surroundings.
Then after lunch drive to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation, which is about 3 hours. 29 km from Trongsa road reaches the Yutong La pass (3,400m). Further 13 km ahead, the road enters into a wide open cultivated valley known as Chumey valley.On arrival in Bumthang, check into the lodge. Evening you can take leisurely stroll around the town's main street. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8- Bumthang is the general name given to combination of four valleys "Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura" with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. It is home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries.
Visit to Tamshing Lhakhang, the treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings. Then visit, Jakar Dzong, the administrative centre of the valley.Afternoon visit to Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places. Later visit Jambay Lhakhang, the ancient monastery dating from the introduction of Buddhism in the country.
Evening visit to the local shops. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 9- Bumthang to Ura is 48 km, about one and a half hour drive. To reach here, the road climbs to amazingly open countryside, only occasionally running into forest. Large sheep pastures line the road up to 20 km behind the southern tip of the Tang valley. The route crosses Ura la pass (3,600m) with a magnificent view of Mount. Gangkhar Puensum. Villages in Ura have clustered houses, which is quite unusual in Bhutan.
Above Ura village (3,100m) is a new temple dedicated to Guru Rinpoche. Inaugurated in 1986, it contains a huge statue of the master and remarkable paintings of the cycle of his teachings. Since last 25 years Ura has been transformed from a marginal community to prosperous valley.
Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 10- Morning after visiting Bumthang market, drive to Wangdue . Lunch would be served enroute at one of the famous restaurant in Trongsa town. Evening take a stroll around Wangdue town, visiting shops, local market and mingling with people. Overnight at the hotel in Wangduephodrang.
Day 11- Morning excursion to Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humour, songs and outrageous behaviour to dramatise his teachings and due to this also known as 'Divine Madman'. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. It is about 30 minute walk across field from the road to the temple.
The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning 'field'. It then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang. Afternoon drive to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 12- Start the day early for drive to Haa via Chele-la pass. 4 Km away at Bondey village the road to Haa diverts towards the right hand side and the climb up towards the chele-la pass starts. After driving through blue pine & rhododendron forest for 45 km, reach Chele-la pass ( 4200 meters). From this point one can have a superb views of Mount. Chomolhari & Jichu Drakey. This is a very good place to walk around for few minutes enjoying the view. Drive on to Haa, descending all the way for another 22 km (under an hours drive), finally reaching Haa.
The Haa Dzong is presently occupied by military, but the view from outside is stunning. After picnic lunch visit to the famous Monastery Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) followed by visit to Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple). The central shrine in Lhakhang Nagpo is said to have no difference with that of Lhasa JOWO in Tibet. The construction of the Lakhang Karpo is believed to have been assisted by the locality. As a result the place came to be locally known as "Hay" meaning "surprise" which later became "Haa" due to the differences in interpretations and pronunciations of different people over time.
The three giant hills looming over the fringes of Haa valley were called 'Me Rig Puen Sum' especially after the incidence of the Lhakhang Kdarpo construction. Today the three hills are popularly known as 'Rig Sum Goenpa' signifying three deities-Jambayang Chana Dorji and Chenrizig.
Later, other Buddhist saints like Guru Rinpoche and 'Machi Labdorn' came to the Jungney Drag in Haa and blessed the locality. The principal religion followed is Drukpa Kagyud.
After the arrival of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the chief guardian deity of Haa became Ap Chundu. Later in the afternoon drive to Paro same way back. The drive will be under 3 hours. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 13- After breakfast we drive north of Paro valley to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong the ruined fortress from where the Bhutanese repelled several invasion by the Tibetan army.
Then take an excursion to Taktsang Monastery, the most famous of Bhutanese monasteries. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery hence it is called "Tiger's Nest". The excursion to monastery's view point takes about 5 hours for round trip.
While returning to Paro town enroute we visit Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 14- After an early breakfast in the hotel, our representative will drop you to the airport for your flight to onward destination.