Western Bhutan

/Western Bhutan
Western Bhutan 2018-05-21T18:53:39+00:00

Western Bhutan

The Western Bhutan

The western tour comprises of magnificent regions of Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Wangdue Phodrang, Punakha and Trongsa and Bumthang. Western circuit is special in terms of its festivity, religious significances and hospitality that never fail to amaze the visitors. The specialness is further enhanced by the beauty of the regions ranging from virgin Himalayas to rich flora and fauna.

Paro

During the journey, the traveler will experience from the plane a spectacular view of Mt. Everest, and other famous Himalayan Mountains including the sacred Mt. Jhomolhari, the second highest peak in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport you will be received by your Bhutanese friend from A Path to Himalaya Tours and Treks. The guests can discuss the Tour Programme over a lunch with the tour guide.

Paro is one of the most beautiful regions in the kingdom. The visitors can witness the pure traditional Bhutanese housing style, fertile rice fields and beautiful, crystalline river winding down the valley. Visitors often prefer staying at Paro for days due to its historical, religious sites and natural beauty. Paro houses more than 155 religious sites, among which Paro Taktsang monastery stands out surprising the visitors. This historic monastery is located on the cliff, hundreds of meters above the valley and is better known as the ‘tiger’s nest’.

Paro Festival

During the journey, the traveler will experience from the plane a spectacular view of Mt. Everest, and other famous Himalayan Mountains including the sacred Mt. Jhomolhari, the second highest peak in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport you will be received by your Bhutanese friend from A Path to Himalaya Tours and Treks. The guests can discuss the Tour Programme over a lunch with the tour guide.

Religious festivals known as ‘Tsechus’ and ‘Dromchoes’ symbolizing amity, peace and compassion, are held annually at various parts of the kingdom at different times of the year. These vibrant festivals are a time for the people from various walks of life to come together decent in all their ceremonial dress. During the festival, rare and sacred masked dances, sword dances and many rituals are performed. The festivals are considered so sacred that people come to witness, leaving their daily works behind. It is the time of the year where people take time for family. When it comes to accommodations, the visitors have choices; you can either enjoy the comfort of the grand hotels in Paro or can opt to stay with locals in their house. However, you have to inform it beforehand to the manager. Or you all could drive back to the capital, which is just a few hours’ drive from Paro.

Paro Taktsang

Early morning drive to Paro and drive up to Satsam Chorten (10 km from Paro town) and from there walk up to Taktsang Monastery. The name Taktsang means “Tiger’s Nest “. The Monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff drop of nearly 4000 ft. and overlooks the Paro valley and the river. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava known as the second Buddha in Bhutan meditated on this spot where the Monastery is situated having alighted there on the back of a flying tigress. The visitors’ can enjoy picnic lunch at the Taktsang cafeteria. The round hike takes about 4 Hours.

A nice evening activity is to visit the Drugyel Dzong (now in ruins), built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in1644. The dzong’s name actually means “victorious Druk” and it had been used as an administrative centre until 1951 when a fire caused by butter lamp destroyed it. You can explore the ramparts and on a clear day we can see the unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m) – this is a great sunset spot.

The Kichu Lhakhang holds down the left foot of an ogress whose body covers Bhutan and most of Eastern Tibet. It is one of the 108 monasteries that were miraculously constructed in one night by Tibetan King Songten Gampo in the 7th century. This is one of two of these monasteries that lies within Bhutan, the rest being found in neighbouring countries, in a fine example of the interconnectedness of the region and the complex Buddhist history that binds the region together.

Thimphu

Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan. It has all the facilities that a modern city must have such as internet cafes, hotels and restaurants, night clubs, shopping complex and amusing parks. However, it has not undermined its own cultural identity at the midst of modern development.

 

Memorial Chorten

Visit the Memorial Chorten (a great stupa) built in memory of the Third King of Bhutan who reigned the Kingdom from 1952-1972. Visit the mini Zoo where the national animals are kept and drive to Sangeygang where you can have a spectacular view of Thimphu valley. Visit nunnery in Zulikha. Visit the Wood Craft and Painting school where traditional arts and crafts are still kept alive through the instructions of painting and curving. Visit the Handicrafts Emporium where Bhutanese textiles and other arts and crafts are displayed and can be purchased. Visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved.

 

Tashichho Dzong and Simtokha Dzong

It was first constructed in 1216 A.D. by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa where Dechen Phodrang now stands above Thimphu. In 1641 Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal acquired it but finding it too small, he built another one, known as the lower Dzong. The original dzong was destroyed by fire in 1771 and everything was moved to the lower dzong. The new building was later expanded several times over the years. It was damaged during an earthquake in 1897 and rebuilt in 1902. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck had it completely renovated and enlarged over five years after he moved the capital to Thimphu in 1952 in traditional style using neither nails nor written plans. Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952 and presently this massive structure houses part of the government Ministries, the office of the King and the Throne Room. It also houses the State Monastic Body and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot and the senior monks.

Visit Simtokha Dzong. This is one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan. It was built in 1629 AD. It houses the largest monastic schools in the country.

The National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and some of the oldest records of Bhutanese history and religion.

The Painting School, famous for carving and free hand art can be witnessed. Here you can see not only paintings, sculpture, clay work and metal work, but also students and artists at work.

The Handicrafts Emporium to see the exquisite artistry of Bhutan’s traditional crafts and textiles.

The Traditional Medicine Institute, established in 1988, traditional herbal medicines are prepared here in accordance with ancient practices and distributed nationwide. There is a daily clinic where doctors diagnose patients and prescribe appropriate traditional medicine or treatments.

The Folk Heritage Museum.

The principal exhibit is the museum building itself, a stunningly restored traditional rammed-earth and timber house. The museum is dedicated to connecting people to Bhutan’s rural past through exhibition of items and artefacts used in rural households, demonstrations of rural customs, traditions, habits and skills; educational programmes for children about rural life in Bhutan, and research and documentation of rural life.

The Dupthop Lhakhang,

one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. A nice day trip from Thimphu takes you to Tango and Cheri Monasteries, two of the most highly respected Buddhist academic monasteries in Bhutan

Tango Monastery

Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa founded the monastic school at Tango Monastery in the 12th century and the present building was built in the 15th century by the ‘divine madman’, Lama Drukpa Kuenley.  Tango is the residence of an important Tulku (reincarnate lama) who is recognized as the seventh reincarnation of the highly respected fourth Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye, whose previous incarnation passed away in 1830.

The Cheri Monastery was built in 1620 by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The monastery, which is now a major teaching and retreat centre of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu order, is located at the northern end of Thimphu Valley about fifteen kilometers from the capital. Stunningly located on the southern edge of the Jigme Dorji National Park, the monastery is a steep walk uphill from the road head through a delightful forest rich in plant species, animal and birdlife. The views from the monastery are delightful and a silver Chorten inside the monastery holds the ashes of the Zhabdrung’s father.

Haa

These two famous monasteries are also known as Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple). The central shrine in Lhakhang Nagpo is said to be almost identical to that of the Jowo temple in Lhasa. Legend has it that local deities assisted in the construction of Lhakhanga Karpo. The Bhutanese come here to offer prayers and adorn the hills with prayer flags to pray to the Mountain Gods.

Punakha

Drive to Punakha through Dochula Pass (3150m). On the way stop for a photo stop at Dochula Pass which is 26km away from Thimphu valley, and for Tea and snacks and to enjoy the most spectacular view of eastern Himalayan snow capped Mountains and also the great view of Gasa Dzong at a distance (If weather is clear). Lunch in Dochula Cafeteria The journey continues through varying scenes of greenery all the way to Punakha. Visit Punakha town. The Punakha Dzong lies between two great rivers with the wonderful view of Punakha Dzong. The names of the rivers are Phochu (Male River) and Mochu (Female River). This Dzong serves as the winter residence for the Je Khenpo, Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body and also the office of the district Administration.

Wangdue Phodrang

Built during the 17th Century this magnificent Dzong is located near the last town before entering central Bhutan and it played a vital role in unifying the districts of Bhutan. It is said that the Dzong came into being when the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal came across a small boy named Wangdue who was playing on the riverbank. Being so touched by the boy’s innocence the Shabdrung named the Dzong in the valley Wangdue Phodrang (meaning Wangdue’s palace). The Dzong’s location was fixed as it was the site at which four ravens were seen flying in four different directions which was considered an auspicious omen, indicating the spread of Buddhism in these four directions.

Gangtey Gompa

Founded in the 16th century by Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson of the great Bhutanese saint Pemalingpa. At the end of the 17th century it was enlarged by the second reincarnation, Abbot Tenzin Legpai Dhendup. It is currently headed by the Abbot Kunzang Pema Namgyal, who is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang and is well known for its lovely paintings and statues.

Rare birdlife in the Phobjikha Valley

Enjoy the contrast from high rhododendron forests into the unique open marshlands of the Phobjikha Valley, famous for sheltering the rare Black Necked Cranes during winter. The cranes, usually in a flock of up to 200 birds, migrate from northern Tibet to winter here. Their numbers have been gradually increasing over the years and it is important to respect this important conservation site and not to disturb these beautiful birds.

Contact Info

Babesa, near BoB Head Office, P.O.Box # 1310, Thimphu, Bhutan

Mobile: +975 17411111

Web: A TRAILFINDER TOURS

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