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Bhutan

Glimpse of Bhutan(5 days)

Published: Monday, 07 April 2014

Day 01 DELHI - PARO - THIMPHU

Arrive at Paro , reception by Yodsel representative; After your guide identifies you, he will escort you to your vehicle and drive you to Thimphu the capital of Bhutan. The drive will take approximately 45 minutes.

DAY 02 THIMPHU - TONGSA

After breakfast we begin the drive to Trongsa. The drive takes around 6 - 7 hours. The road to Trongsa branches off a short distance before Simtokha Dzong. About a kilometer after the crossroads, there is an excellent view of the Dzong. The road climbs rapidly after that with numerous turns and bends. Soon you reach Dochula Pass at 10,000 feet where you are greeted by a large chortenand a forest of prayer flags. There on a clear day you can view an endless chain of Himalayan Peaks such as GangarPunsum (24,000 ft), the highest unclimbed peak in the world, Ganchenta, teri gang, table mountain among other all above 20,000 ft. From there you descend 5, 5000ft through temperate forests colored with rhododendrons and magnolias down to the semitropical zone of oranges, banana and cactuses. Situated near the river on a small plateau is the famous ChhimiLhakhangbuilt by the famous "divine madman" DrukpaKuenley; a famous pilgrim sitefor infertile women who wish to bear children.Further down is Lobeysa where the crossroads going to Punakha andWangduephodrang form, we take the road to Wangdi.

Nine kilometres straight south from Lobeysa the road arrives at the base of Wangduephodrang Dzong situated on the ridge overlooking the old trade routes that ran east westand north south. The drive from Wangdi to Trongsa (129 kilometers) takes about 4 hours. The road to Trongsa starts from the East Side of the Dzong and is flat for the first 10 kilometres or so, and then the road begins its climb up to the Pelela Pass where if the winter has been cold you may see herds of yaks. Just before the pass you may, on a clear day, see the high range of the Himalayas, particularly the peak of Jhomolhari, at 23,685 ft, to the west. After you descend from the pass the road comes down to the bottom of thevalley, the road soon enters Trongsa district where it follows the riveralong a narrow, enclosed valley for about 10 kilometers.

On the right hand side is the picturesque village of Chendebji, which is reached by an ancient bridge roofed with bamboo matting. A great, whitewashed stone chorten appears at a bend in the road. Chendebji Chorten is in Nepali style with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. It was built during the first halfof the 18th century by a lama named Shida, in order to nail into the ground a demon that had been terrorizing the inhabitants of this valley. On the left side, the Queen Mother constructed a chorten in Bhutanese style in 1982. From Chendebji to Trongsa, the road emerges from a gorge and follows the Mangde River valley, as it turns and heads straight for Trongsa.

The landscape is dramatic and the road is hewn into the side of the rock with a sheer drop on the other. You will see Trongsa Dzong at the bottom of the valley 20 kilometers before reaching it. Trongsa Dzong is the most impressive Dzong of Bhutan. This Dzong was built in 1647 by ShabdrungNawangNamgyel and is a masterpiece in architecture that includes countless courtyards, passageways and corridors, in addition to the 23 temples inside the Dzong.

DAY 03 TONGSA - JAKAR

This is a short drive taking about than 2 hours to cover the 42 kilometers. The road passes through Trongsa town just beneath the Ta Dzong or watchtower and then rises rapidly through a series of hairpin bends. The view of Trongsa and the Dzong is marvelous on this side of the valley as well. At a distance of 29 kilometers from Trongsa is the Yutong La Pass at 11,155 ft. There is now a dense forest of conifers, which stretches as far as the eye can see. After 13 kilometers, the road comes out into a wide, open, cultivated valley. This is Chumey valley, the first of Bumthang's four valleys. Bumthang is different from all the valleys in Bhutan, being very spacious and open. Bumthang has numerous beautiful and important Buddhist monasteries and pilgrimage sites.

One could spend months exploring this fascinating valley. Almost every little valleyor a hill has a background of interesting myths and legends about Kings,Buddhist masters and serpents. Bumthang is especially dotted with religious relics left behind by the famous Guru Rinpoche, and his reincarnation the Treasure Finder, Terton Pemalingpa who is known to have found there sacred Ters or Buddhist Texts after diving into a lake (Membartso lake/pool) with a lighted lamp on his head.

Among the many sightseeing places are the JakarDzong, the Dzong of the White Bird; the Jamey and TamshingLhakhangs, two of the oldest temples (dating to the 7th century) in Bhutan; theKurjeyLhakhang where the Kings of Bhutan are taken for their cremation rites; besides the religious sites do not miss a trip to the BumthangMatha regions (villages) where you can find rich woollen plaid textile dyed with natural colours, and the Yatas, thick woollen cloth with bright patterns often made into warm jackets and scarves. Overnight in guesthouse. DAY 04 JAKAR - WANGDI Drive back to Trongsa and onwards to Wangduephodrang. We will be halting for the night.

DAY 05 WANGDI - THIMPHU

Today we drive back to Thimphu. After lunch visit the Memorial Chorten built-in memory of the late King; visit the Tashichhodzong, seat of the RoyalGovernment and Central Monastic Body, it was rebuilt in the early 1960'safter a fire destroyed most of the building. The amazing thing about this building is that it was built without a single drawing or a single nail!visit the handicrafts Center where the traditional arts are being revived by the government, also visit the Indigenous Medicine Hospital, where herbal medicine, acupuncture and the ancient art of healing that was passed downfrom Tibet is still being practiced today, if time permits you may also visit the Thangkha Painting School, silver and goldsmiths village.

DAY 06 THIMPHU - CHERI MONASTRY

Drive to Dechenchholing, a small army training camp, and carry on for some 20 kilometers more till we come to a dead end at the foot of a mountain. Cheri monastery was built on this mountain in 1619. Tango Monastery is also close by, on the right, at the same level as Cheri but out of sight of the road. Tango dates back to the 13th century but was rebuilt in its present form in 1688.

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