Days 01 : Arrive Paro by flight.
Reception by our guide. Lunch and drive to Thimphu. Paro is an enchanting place with roads lined with weeping willows, stately poplar trees, brightly painted houses with shingled roofs held down by round stones, and rice or wheat terraces planted along the valley floor.We pass terraced rice paddies and small villages as we drive to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. 2 hours drive. Overnight at Hotel.
Days 02 : Thimphu.
Here also is the School of [traditional] Arts and Crafts, the Folk Heritage Museum, and the National Library which houses ancient sacred texts. The Capitol Building and the Palace of the reigning king are here. Visit the Memorial Chorten to His Late Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, a multi-storied Chorten that will introduce you to the vitality of Tantric Buddhism.Overnight Hotel.
Days 03 : Drive to Punakha.
We begin our eastward travel across the most rugged, wildest regions of Bhutan. The trip starts with an ascent up over the Dochu La Pass at 10,007 feet with its fluttering prayer flags; in the midst you might catch sight of the snow-capped peaks of the Eastern Himalayas: Masangang, Tsendagang, Terigang, and if lucky you'll see Gangkar Punsum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 24,484 ft
From the pass we journey down to tropical Punakha. 70 kms and 3 hours. Walk across the suspension bridge to Punakha Dzong, the second of Bhutan’s fortress-monasteries (1637). See massive statues of the Guru Rinpoche and Shabdrung Namgyel, surrounded by soaring sandalwood pillars decorated with gold-plated etched bands. For many years, until the time of the second king, Punakha Dzong served as the seat of the government. The Shabdrung established a monk body here with 600 monks that were brought from the upper Thimphu valley. It remains today the winter home of the monks and of His Holiness of Bhutan.Overnight Hotel.
Day 04 Halt in Punakha.
The dramatic Wangdue Phodrang Dzong is draped along the end of a ridge above the river. Cacti were planted on the hillside below the dzong long ago to discourage invaders from climbing the steep slope. Legend relates that as this site was being sought, four ravens were seen flying off in four directions. Considered an auspicious sign, this was taken as representing the spreading of religion to the four points of the compass. Wangui (Wangdi) was the country's secondary capital in the early days, with control of the routes to Trongsa, Punakha, Dagana and Thimphu. Overnight Hotel.
Century, Jambay Lhakhang hosts one of the kingdom’s most spectacular monastery. Pople come from throughout Bhutan to celebrate special ceremonies to bless infertile women with children and to ensure bountiful crops for the future. Mask dances and brilliant costumes are all part of the excitement.
A full day visit to Prakhar Festival in Chumi with packed lunch. Impressive mask dances performed by the monks of Nimalung Draktsang. Overnight LodgeReturn westward to Wangdue. Stop at Trongsa At an elevation of 2180 m, Trongsa is smack in the middle of the country, separated from the east and the west by mountain passes. The town had a large influx of Tibetan immigrants in the 1950's and 60s. The Tibetans, however, are so well assimilated into Bhutanese society that there is almost no indication of Tibetan flavor in the town.
Trongsa Dzong (1644) is the ancestral home of Bhutan's royal family. It is the most impressive dzong in the kingdom -- described as being perched so high that the clouds float below it. One of the most aesthetic and magnificent works of traditional Bhutanese architecture, the dzong is a rambling collection of buildings that trails down the ridge with a succession of street-like corridors, wide stone stairs and stone courtyards. Overnight Hotel.
Days 05 : Drive to Thimphu. 3 hours 70kms.
Drive to Thimphu. Time permitting, we may visit the Museum of Textiles. At the fascinating Handicrafts Emporium one can buy weavings. Beautiful postage stamps may be purchased at the post office at face value. . In its center is Tashichho Dzong, the center for politics and religion. .Overnight Hotel
Days 06 : Drive to Paro. 60 kms 2 hours.
Staying the day in Paro, we visit Paro Dzong with its beautiful medieval looking interior and courtyard. Here, also, is the National Museum (Ta Dzong), an unusual round building in the intended shape of a conch shell. Built in 1656, it was the watchtower over the main fortress of Paro Dzong. On one of the six floors, there is a spectacular collection of 'thangkas' – artworks - both ancient and modern portraying all of Bhutan's important saints and teachers. A door off one gallery leads to The Temple of the Tree of Wisdom wherein the history of Buddhism is creatively depicted. And there is a collection of ancient weapons, many captured during various Tibetan invasions. Overnight Hotel.
Days 07 : Excursion
Day Hike up to Taktshang or Tiger's Nest, the most revered temple in Bhutan, perched on the face of a mountain: Legend recounts that in the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche made his magical trip from Eastern Bhutan to Western Bhutan on the back of a flying tigress to subdue the evil spirits who hindered Buddhism. After defeating these local mountain gods, he took an unusual step and blessed them as guardians of the doctrine; he thereby introduced Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan. Tiger’s Nest is where he landed and today it remains one of most sacred places in the kingdom. Total hours of walk 4 – 5 hours. Vegetarian meal at the Cafeteria. Overnight Hotel.
Days 08 : Fly out by drukair.
This morning we fly from Paro to Delhi via Kathmandu. Connecting flights will wing us individually homeward from here.