Bhutan - Land of the peaceful dragon

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Day 1: Arrive in Calcutta, India

Upon arrival in Calcutta you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore on your own before meeting with the group for dinner and our orientation meeting. Overnight in Calcutta.

 

Day 2: Calcutta - Kalighat Kali Temple

A full day exploring the ancient sights of Calcutta. We visit Kalighat Kali Temple, Sir Stuart Hogg Market, Victoria Memorial hall and Indian Museum, one of the most significant and the first museum to be founded in India. Overnight in Calcutta.

 

Day 3: Fly to Bagdogra, India - Tea Factory

Today, we fly from Calcutta to Bagdogra in India. Our adventure to Darjeeling (West Bengal), Sikkim, and Bhutan begins with a scenic drive to Darjeeling where we will have time to explore and relax. We will visit a tea factory and a Tibetan refugee center. Overnight in Darjeeling.

 

Day 4: Darjeeling - Mt. Kanchenjunga

This morning we take a trip to Tiger Hill for a view of the sunrise over the mountains in hopes of seeing Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. After breakfast we ride a Raj-era train where we will visit the Railway Museum and then continue on to visit the Ghoom Monastery. Overnight in Darjeeling.

 

Day 5: Darjeeling - Mountaineering Institute

Today we drive to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. The Institute was established in 1954 following the mountaineering success of Hilary and Tenzing. After the museum, we walk through the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park as they protect endangered species, including some of the most unusual animals in the world. Amongst these are Red Pandas, Siberian Tigers, Yaks, Snow Leopards and Himalayan bears. Overnight in Darjeeling.

 

Day 6: Gangtok, Sikkim

In the morning, we drive and cross the boarder into Sikkim. After lunch, we continue to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Until 1965, Sikkim was a separate state ruled by a Chogyal (a Sikkim king) whose history dates back to the 16th century. Today, the monarchy has been abolished and Sikkim is part of Indian.

We visit a handicraft center to see the beautiful fabrics of Sikkim. Overnight in Gangtok.

 

Day 7: Gangtok Sites & Institute of Tibetology

We start off our day with a visit to the Ganesh Tok temple which is also a view point. We then visit the Flower Exhibition Center that was once the Loop Garden in North Sikkim during 1963 and then inaugurated by the Gyalmo Hope Namgyal. The most beautiful Himalayan flowers can be seen here including Orchids.

After lunch we will visit the Institute of Tibetology. The Institute was established in 1958 to promote research on the language, culture and religion of Tibet. It houses an impressive collection of over 3,000 books, containing some of the earliest translations of Buddha's teachings. In the evening we walk through the Lal Bazzar Market, the main attraction for the locals in Gangtok town. Overnight in Gangtok.

 

Day 8: Rumtek Monastery, to Kalimpong

Today we drive to Kalimpong, first stopping to visit the Rumtek Monastery. Rumtek Monastery was the seat of the Kagypa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The first monastery was built here in 1717, but crumbled to ruins and the present monastery dates from 1960.

We return back to the Sikkim boarder to drive to Kalimpong. Overnight in Kalimpong.

 

Day 9: Phuntsoling, Bhutan

An early start to the morning so we can visit Durpin Dara Monastery also known as Thongsa Monastery. We continue to Phuntsoling, just inside the Bhutan border. Today is a long day so we will have a box lunch to save time. On our first night in Bhutan, we have a short walk through the streets of Phuntsoling and savour being among the few who have traveled to this remote and exotic land. Overnight in Phuntsoling.

 

Day 10: Thimphu - Rinchending Monastery

We have a full day drive through the spectacular countryside to Thimphu, the nation's capital. Enroute, we visit Rinchending Monastery also known to some as the Kharbandi Monastery. It is widely known today that most of the thousands of people who visit the Lhakhang do so to pray for children. We will have lunch at the start of the 15 minute walk that leads up to this mystical monastery. We visit the Thimphu post office where we can make our own stamp and send a post card home with your own made stamp. Overnight in Thimphu.

 

Day 11: Thimphu Festival

Today we enjoy the sights and sounds of one of the biggest festivals in the country, the Thimphu Tshechu. The Tshechu is a religious event celebrated on tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). Enjoy the many colourful dances that are performed through out the city. Overnight in Thmiphu.

 

Day 12: Thimphu Festival

Sightseeing of the nation's capital. Bhutan is the only country whose government is officially Buddhist, and as such, a walk through the streets of Thimphu is a walk unlike any other in the world. We visit the Chorten Memorial Temple before we see a real life Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Overnight in Thimphu.

 

Day 13: Over Duchola Pass to Punakha Dzong, Wangdi

We depart Thimphu and drive over the Duchola Pass which is approximately 10,170 ft/3100 m and walk around the Chortens of the fallen soldiers and get lost in the prayer flags that cover this high pass.

Our first stop is the monastery that over looks the ruins of the Wangduephodrang Dzong which was a peaceful monastery set on top of the hill overlooking the Wangdi river. The Dzong, which was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1638, the third oldest Dzong in Bhutan was burned down on June 24, 2012. We will see the new temple they created, all by hand in a month, to house the relics and learn more about the Dzong, the monastery and the monks. After our lunch at our peaceful resort by the river, we will visit the Punakha Dzong, which serves as an old capitol of Bhutan. This remarkable fortress is built between two rivers and has survived many glacial floods as well as fire. Overnight in Wangdi.

 

Day 14: Bumthang

After breakfast you will drive to Bumthang, the cultural heartland of the country. The route is along a spectacular winding road, crossing 3,300-meter-high Pele La pass, and at certain times of year it's possible to see yaks. You will stop in Trongsa for lunch. After lunch you'll visit Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Then you'll proceed to Bumthang with lush valleys and hilly forests. Along the way you will stop at a yathra (textile weaving) factory, where the yathras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. Overnight in Bumthang.

 

Day 15: Bumthang - Jakar Dzong, Jambey Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang

Today we explore Bumthang with visits to Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; Jambey Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, dating from the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan; and Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places, because Guru Rinpoche left his body imprint on the cave when he was meditating. After lunch we will visit the Tamshing Lhakhang temple that houses the religious Buddhist paintings and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in Bhutan. Overnight in Bumthang.

 

Day 16: Tsonga

Today we get up early to travel back east stopping at Tsonga. We stop here as a resting point from a long day of driving. A relaxing walk around the town or free time to explore on your own. Overnight in Tsonga.

 

Day 17: Thimpu

An early start to the morning will take us over the Duchola Pass once again before we drive back to Thimpu. We will have the opportunity to visit a painting school and several handicraft emporiums. We end our day with a visit to the nunnery perched high on the hill overlooking the Thimphu valley before a relaxing evening. Overnight in Thimpu.

 

Day 18: Paro

A short drive will take us to Paro where we will have lunch, and stop at Kichukhakang Museum to further our knowledge of Bhutan's culture and customs. We arrive in Paro and have a short walk through Paro town before enjoying an evening in Paro. Overnight in Paro.

 

Day 19: Paro - Hike to Taktsang Monastery

Today we start early to hike to the famous Taktsang Monastery. Marvel in the history of this holy place and see the holy cave where it is said to be the origin of Bhuddism in Bhutan. The views over the Paro Valley will take your breath away. For those who do not want to hike the full way you can hike to the tea shop where the famous view of Tigers Nest can be seen and wait for the hikers that go to Tigers Nest and return. Before returning to our hotel we will visit the Drukgyel Dzong which was built in the 16th century to commemorate a victory over the invading Tibetan forces. The fortress today lies in ruins, the elements and a fire in the 1950s having taken a toll on the site. Overnight in Paro.

 

Day 20: Fly to Calcutta, Farewell Dinner

Today we say 'good-bye' to Bhutan and fly to Calcutta, where we will have a free afternoon before we have our farewell dinner.
Overnight in Calcutta.

 

Day 21: Depart Calcutta

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your departing flights.

 
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