LIVING CULTURE OF BHUTAN

This cultural tour explores the heritage and traditions of Bhutan’s timeless culture that still thrive today. This tour is specially tailored to provide a deeper insight into the lives of the diverse people of Bhutan. Based in the western valleys, you will be immersed the daily lives of Bhutanese, with exclusive activities including farmhouse visits, interaction with northern nomad tribes and participation in special Buddhist ceremonies. It also includes visits to Bhutan’s many cultural highlights including Ta Dzong Museum, Rimpong Dzong with its wooden cantilevered bridge and the infamous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) in the Paro Valley, The National Memorial Chorten, 12th century Changangkha Temple and the National Library exhibiting ancient scriptures in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, and the Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lhakang in the sub-tropical Punakha Valley. The best time to do this tour is during the months of December to late March when the nomadic Laya people migrate south to Punakha for winter.

DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities.

Following lunch, visit Kyichu temple, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan which was built in 7th century. Attend a special purification ceremony at the temple performed by monks. This ceremony is mainly performed to purify and to bring good luck to you for your trip in Bhutan. Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River.

Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

 

DAY 02: THIMPHU

Begin your day with a visit to the handmade paper factory. Paper has been made in the Himalayas from a long period of time, traditionally to supply the Buddhist monasteries with paper for woodblock and manuscript books. The most common and popular papers of Bhutan are made from the bark of the de-nar plant, a variety of Daphne. It is a dark woody paper fiber found only in Bhutan. Bhutanese Handmade Paper is made without environmental damage to the land.

If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. (This market is open only from Friday until mid Sunday). Later visit the Folk Heritage Museum featuring an exhibition of items and artifacts of Bhutanese villages and rural households. The museum also organizes demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs, educational programs for children and research and documentation on rural life of Bhutan.

In the evening, your guide will demonstrate how to wear our national costumes (gho for men and Kira for women). It is an opportunity for the clients to try our national dress.

Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

 

DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA

Depart for Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. The road takes you over Dochu-La pass (3,100m) where you will stop to walk around the 108 stupas and, if the weather is clear, enjoy an incredible view of Himalayan peaks. Before reaching Punkha, visit Royal Botanical Garden in Lamperi. The park features a variety of forest types, spectacular scenery, natural rhododendron groves, endangered wildlife and a lake. Declared over an area of 47 square kilometres, the park serves as a biological corridor connecting Jigme Dorji National Park and Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Continue your drive towards Punakha through beautiful countryside offering a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdom’s. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.

Check into your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang. Afterwards, visit Lhawang Tshering’s small incense making factory, the most successful and leading incense exporter in Bhutan. Incense, (poi) is one of the most essential elements in religious offerings. Its aroma, it is said, can help to soothe and calm a restless mind. After visiting the incense factory we will visit the small town of Wangduephodrang.

Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.

 

DAY 04: PUNAKHA

Morning visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness”. It was built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. After visiting the dzong we will walk about 10 minutes to see the swing bridge built over Pho Chu river connecting people from Shengana village with Punakha Dzong. This is one of the longest suspension bridges in Bhutan constructed around 2001.

Later explore around Punakha valley and look for semi-nomadic tribal people known in Bhutan as “Layaps” (Interaction with Layap people  is possible only from Dec –end of March). They can be seen in and around Punakha valley during the winter months when they migrate southward from Laya to escape the extreme cold. After a picnic lunch nearby the Pho Chu river, we will drive to Nobgang. Here you will see the simple palace of the fouth queens.  Then we will visit a farm house. Take some butter tea and snacks and  see their living life styles how they thrive. Here we will see a Traditional Bhutanese cooking and other daily local activities. If possible, we may also visit a farm house where they perform an annual ritual ceremony known as “Choku”. The “Choku” is a two day annual religious ceremony held at the homes of Bhutanese families to offer prayers of thanks for the blessings of the past year and to ensure well- being in the future. Monks are invited to perform rites and rituals and ceremonies at the home (Dec- Feb month only). If time permits, we will visit the Talo Dzong, It’s a revered monastery built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and it’s the house of so many Buddhist Monks who study and meditate.

Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.

 

DAY 05: PUNAKHA – THIMPHU

This morning we will drive back to Thimphu on the same road crossing over Dochula pass at 3150m. En route we will stop on the pass for hoisting prayer flags. A monk will perform a purification ceremony on the flags. One of the prayer flags, popular in the Himalayas and other Tibetan Buddhist practicing regions, is called “Lungta” – meaning Wind Horse. Hundreds of these flags can be seen flying atop and around homes; mountain passes hills, bridges, monasteries and temples.

After the ceremony is over we will continue our drive to Thimphu. Check into the hotel for lunch followed by a tour of the The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century and the Choki Traditional Art School. Evening walk in the town and enjoy tea or coffee in local café.

Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

 

DAY 06: THIMPHU – PARO

Morning visit to the National Memorial Chorten, first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery.

Following lunch, depart for Paro. On arrival enjoy a stroll through downtown Paro before checking into the hotel. Afterwards, participate in some unique Bhutanese recreational activities including Khuru, a Bhutanese dart game, Archery, The National Game of Bhutan and Degor, a throwing competition. If possible, we will arrange a story teller to entertain you with Bhutanese folktales before dinner.

Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

 

 

DAY 07: PARO

After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. The cave is said to be the origin of Buddhism in Bhutan. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments.

In the afternoon return to Paro for some sightseeing including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Upon your return to the hotel, enjoy a traditional hot stone bath.

Alternatively, day 7 could be spent on a day trip to the Haa Valley, one of the most picturesque districts in Bhutan. Reached via the beautiful Chelila Pass, Haa Valley is characterised by its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain.

Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

 

DAY 08: DEPART PARO

Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.

Tour Package

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Vajra Guru Spiritual Travels

Email Id: vajrag@gmail.com

Email Id: vajraguru@druknet.bt

Website: www.bhutanspiritual.com

Mobile: +975 17636588

Telephone No:+975-02-335588

Fax No: +975-2339988