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Fly Paro and Drive to Thimphu (L/D)Fly onboard Druk Air to Paro, Bhutan. On a clear day the panoramic views of the Himalaya are sensational, including Everest, but particularly exciting is the approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro. In Paro you will be received by your Bhutanese guide and transferred to the capital town of Thimphu (1 hr drive). The distance of about 55kms from Paro town takes little less then 1 hr. with recently broadended road. Drive south following Pachu river to the river confluence at Chuzom, which is also the hub of road network going to Paro, Haa, Thimphu and Phuntsholing. From Chuzom, the road follows Wangchu River upstream as you pass through villages and suburbs to the capital, Thimphu. En-route, you can stop to view Tachogang temple and the nunnery at Sisina. Thimphu: (at 2300m) is Bhutan's capital city and center of government, religion and commerce. About two hours drive east from Paro is this a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style. Tashichho Dzong: This fortress serves as the office of the King, ministers and various government organizations. It also is the headquarters for central monastic body of Bhutan. Bhutan's spiritual leader Je-Khenpo and the monks of both Thimphu and Punakha reside here during summer. It is also the venue for Thimphu Festival in the fall season. Weekend Market of Thimphu: starts around noon on Friday and ends on Sunday afternoon. It resembles the farmers market in the west. However since there are no big super markets, Thimphu's weekend market is the main source of fresh produce. It is an interesting place to visit, where village people jostle with well heeled Thimphu residents for best and cheapest vegetable and other food products. Overnight at Hotel
Thimphu sightseeing (B/L/D)There are a good many things to see in the capital which has a very relaxed, laid-back feel about it. Thimphu is relatively small having a population of approximately 90,000 people and the streets are wide and tree lined. You will almost certainly visit the Late King's Memorial Chorten, the National Library, Drubthob Nunnery, Folk Heritage Museum, Takin Preserve, the handmade paper factory, the school of arts and crafts where young students learn the traditional arts and crafts (Zo Rig Chusum – the thirteen crafts), Gold and the Silver Smiths workshop, Zangtopelri Lhakhang, and the Handicraft Emporium and the local handicraft centers to see the weavers at work and also varieties of textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, jewellery etc. Memorial Chorten: This white and tall landmark of Thimphu was built in 1974 in the memory of third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of Modern Bhutan. It is a four-storey tall white building, containing statues and iconography of deities from complex tantric teachings and serves as an important place of worship for Thimphu residents, as well as from other parts of the country. Zilukha Nunnery: is housed in Drubthob Goemba (monastery). There are about 70 nuns who live and pray everyday in the monastery. There are good views of Tashicho Dzong, Golf course and upper Thimphu. Takin Sanctuary: Takin (Budorcas taxicolor) has been chosen as the national animal of Bhutan is based both on its uniqueness and its association with country's history and mythology. It is said that Devine Madman, a popular saint is said to have created it with his magical power at a large congregation of devotees. It resembles a cow from back, a goat in from the front, and it continues to befuddle taxonomists, who cannot quite relate to other animal. Overnight: Thimphu
Thimphu – Punakha ( 3 hrs)In the morning we drive to Punakha ( 3 hrs. drive), the old winter capital. Leaving Thimphu the road climbs via a series of zigzags over the Dochu La Pass, 10,000ft/3,048m. On a clear day panoramic views can be had of the eastern Himalaya, including Bhutan's highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770ft/7,550m. The road drops down through varied forest finally emerging into the highly-cultivated Punakha valley. On the way visit Chimi Lhakhang, also known as Chime Lhakhang or Monastery or temple, is a Buddhist monastery. Its located near Lobesa, it stands on a round hillock and was built in 1499 by the 14th Drukpa hierarch, Ngawang Choegyel, after the site was blessed by the "Divine Madman" the maverick saint Drukpa Kunley (1455–1529) who built a chorten on the site. Drive to visit the Punakha Dzong. This dzong was the second dzong to be built in Bhutan and it served as the capital and seat of government until Thimphu was promoted to the top job in the mid-1950s. It's arguably the most beautiful dzong in the country, especially in spring when the lilac-coloured jacaranda trees bring a lush sensuality to the dzong's characteristically towering whitewashed walls. Evening relax in the hotel. Overnight: Punakha
Punakha- Paro( 4 Hrs)After breakfast check out from the paro and drive to Paro. Enroute stop for a while and hike to the village of Rinchengang. It’s a 30 minutes hike to the village of cluster of house mentioned by the ethnic’s people. In Paro visit National Museum of Bhutan which is established in 1967, the museum is housed inside a circular Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower. It has fascinating collection of arts, relics, religious thangkha paintings, household’s stuffs, arms, handicrafts, stuffed animals and Bhutan famous Stamps among others. Rinpung Dzong: was built and consecrated in 1645 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal on the site of five storey castle built in 16th century. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries it served as a bastion against invasion from the north. It is regarded as one of finest Bhutanese architecture - with intricate wood work, large beams slotted into each other and held together without nails. In it houses the giant 30m X 45m Thangka (Thongdrol), commissioned in mid 18th century, displayed on the last day of Paro Tsechu festival. Nowadays, it functions as the administrative and judicial headquarter of Paro district, and residence for the 200 monks of Paro Rabdey. Overnight in Paro, Hotel
Paro Sightseeing (B/L/D)Taktshang - Tiger's Nest: Tiger's Lair or Tiger's Nest as it often referred to for Taktshang Pelphung monastery, is one of the most venerated and famous of Bhutan's monasteries. It is located on the face of a sheer 900m cliff above the floor of Paro valley. It is an impressive and un-miss-able sight but accessible only by walk or to ride mules/pony. If you need the riding horse, you must ask your local guide to arrange it on the previous day. From the trail head (2600m), the walk till the Cafeteria is a steep one hour uphill (about 350m ascent). From the Cafeteria (2940m) and areas around it, one can get a good close-up view of Taktshang. Savor views of the monastery over a well-deserved cup of tea and biscuits at the cafeteria. For those who wish to proceed further from here, one must be able to walk. Usually Ponies/horses will not take people beyond this point and neither will they take you downhill. From the cafeteria, trail continues uphill for another 45 minutes to a high observation point (3140m) where there is a Chorten (stupa). From this vantage point, the lookout to the monastery is a very spectacular and seems almost close enough to touch. It is now on the other side of a deep chasm, only around 150m away as bird flies, but takes half hour or even more to reach. Continue down the flight of cliff-hanging steps on the narrow trail to a beautiful waterfall that plunges down the deep chasm and alongside is a retreat hermitage, jammed dramatically into a rock crevice. Then climb up the flight of steep steps to the monastery. At any point on this walk, you can always return if you find it too difficult. Once inside the monastery, there are several shrines or temples to see with few monks in residence. After visiting Taktshang monasteryâ€™s many shrines, most tours schedule lunch at the Cafeteria upon return. After lunch, retrace back to the road-head where you started in the morning. The retrace back is all downhill and always on foot as it is not suitable for riding pony/horse. On the way back visit Kichu Lhakhang . It was built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gompo in the 7th century miraculously built 108 temples, along with Jorkhang in Lhasa. Kyichu is considered to be one of them and is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Overnight: Paro
Departure Transfer (B)After breakfast, drive to Paro International airport for onward destination
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