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Thousand Meadows excursion (11 days Bhutan experience)
Twenty five minutes before you land in to the Dragon kingdom you will be able to view the highest.mountain range, The Everest and then other mountains like the Mt.Kanchenjunga, Mt. Makalu and at the later end you will also see the mountains of Bhutan like the most famous Mt.Chomolhari, Mt.Jichu Drake, Mt. Tsrim Gang etc. Finally after a great view you will reach Paro airport after 2 hrs 45 minutes (from BKK) or 1 hr 30 minutes (from KTM). The company team will receive you at the airport and Welcome you to Paro, the only airport in Bhutan. The local time is 45 minutes behind Bangkok’s time and thirty minutes before Indian Standard Time. A beautiful drive along the crystal clear river would take us to the Lodge where a sumptuous Bhutanese meal will be waiting. Check in to the lodge and freshen up. After lunch visit the Paro Dzong which houses the Monk and civil body of the region. Dzong’s are fortresses built on strategic location. The museum just above the Dzong is one of the best natural history museums in south East Asia. The six storey structure which houses the museum used to be the old watch tower and gives us an introduction to Bhutanese history, culture and tradition. (It’s closed on Sunday and Monday. After the museum we will visit down town Paro which will take us back in time with its medieval setting. A stroll along the main strip gives us an idea of Bhutanese commerce. Drive back to the Lodge.
Day 2: Paro to Thimphu/Thimphu Sightseeing
You can have an easy start from Paro since Thimphu (2300m) is just 2hrs drive. On the way you will see a monastery called the Tachogang lhakhang. After a drive of 1 hour you will reach a place called chuzom which means the meeting of two rivers. The Thimphu River and Paro River meets here at a confluence of three different kinds of monastery that you will see in the country. There will be a road junction from whom one goes to the south which leads to Phuentsholing in the southern part of Bhutan and the other to the capital. Before reaching Thimphu you will see a dzong on the top of a hill which is the Simtokha dzong. This dzong was built by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel which is infact one of the oldest dzongs in Bhutan. It was built in 1627 and at present it is being used as a school for the monks and also for students who want to learn Dzongkha in a professional field.
You will reach Thimphu after 15 minutes from this dzong and then you can either check in your hotel first or start with your sightseeing after lunch. The first thing you will visit is the Memorial Chorten which was built in memory of the third king in 1974.You can further go inside the Chorten and enjoy the most exotic statues of the gods. You can then visit the Indigenous hospital, the Painting school where the art of ancient painting is used by the students. Then you can visit the Tashichhodzong from outside which is the seat of the Royal Government and central monastic body. After this you can go back to your hotel for some tea and relaxation. Then you can further continue your sightseeing by going to the Post office, Paper factory, a small weaving practice center, Changangkha monastery, Zangto Pelhri monastery and Zilukha nunnery. In the evening you can drive to the viewpoint from which you can view the whole Thimphu City. On the way you can also stop and visit a small zoo to see the National animal of Bhutan, the Takin. Later you can go for a walk on your own in the town. Overnight at hotel.
Please note that if you are in Thimphu during the weekends then you can visit the Subji Bazar i.e the vegetable market where you will witness a lot of natural people in their own style of selling and buying vegetables.
Day 3: Visit to Punakha & Wangdiphodrang
This day consists of your drive to Punakha and Wangdiphodrang that is 4 hours from the capital. On the way you will stop at Cafe called the Dochula Pass which is at 3050 meters. From here you will experience a superb view of the Eastern Himalayan ranges. You will then drive down further through temperate forests into semitropical range of orange and cactuses. Before you reach a junction you will see Chime Lhakang which was built by a famous divine mad monk named Drukpa Kinley.This monastery is a famous pilgrim site for infertile women who wish to bear children. As you drive further you will pass Khuruthang which is the Punakha town. This town has been shifted from the pervious town near the dzong and is a new settlement of the Punakha People. When you reach near the dzong you will see the Punakha dzong built on the meeting of the Phochu (Male River) and the Mochu (Female River). This Dzong was the winter capital 300 years ago; today it is the winter residence of the Jekhenpho the chief abbot and also serves as the administration center of the Punakha district. After the sightseeing of Punakha valley you can then proceed to Wangdiphodrang. On your way you will see a different kind of village, the Richengang village. Here you will see the houses are built very close together. You can visit the Wangdiphodrang dzong, which was built in 1647 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel. After a satisfying view over the dzong you can have your lunch in Wangdi town.
Day 4: Journey to Bumthang
You will be surprised to see another valley further south of the Gantey valley. It is called the Phobjikha valley but it is a part of the Gangtey itself. Over there most of the tourists camp for the night and also fish along the meanders. The Black necked cranes are mostly seen there. After breakfast you can start your journey to Bumthang, 5 hours 30 minutes away from Gangtey. Well crossing the Black Mountains which divide the Central and Eastern Bhutan and the Pele La Pass at an Altitude of 3150 meters, you will then pass a White washed Chorten, the Chendebji Chorten. It was founded by a lama, Shida. After an hour’s drive you will then reach Trongsa. Trongsa Dzong built in 1647 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel is a masterpiece in architecture that includes countless courtyards, passageways and corridors and 23 temples. After lunch you can drive for 2 hours and reach Bumthang. Overnight in guesthouse.
Day 5& 6: Bumthang Sightseeing
You have reached one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. Bumthang is a paradise place for trekkers, hikers ranging from an altitude of 2,600 meters to 4000 meters. In this valley you have the opportunities to visit many temples like the Kurjey Lhakhang, Jamphel lhakhang etc. You can also visit the Dzong that was built in 1646 and from there you can catch a good view over the Bumthang valley. After sightseeing, if you remember on your way yesterday you must have come across some villages and one of them being Chumey village which is really famous for the rich woolen textiles dyed with natural colours. You will also find Yatas and thin woolen cloth with patterns made into warm Jackets and other clothes. Overnight at guesthouse.
We back track Drive back to Wangdiphodrang (8 hours drive).
Wangdiphodrang – Paro (5hrs). Lunch in Thimphu.
Paro: The week long acclimatization in the country will have prepared you for the hike to most popular historical site in Bhutan, “The Tiger’s Nest” which is perched on a sheer cliff. It’s the mecca for tantric Bhuddhism and the Great Tantric Master meditated in one of the caves. The temple was built by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye in the 17th Century.
Day 11: Fly Druk air.