Bhutan - Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon
- Experience the Paro tsechu, a colourful and atmospheric festival
- Spectacular scenery of the Eastern Himalaya
- The charming Bhutanese people
For centuries isolated from the forces of change by its inaccessibility, Bhutan is the last surviving kingdom in the Himalayas. Timed for the colourful Paro festival (tsechu) and the first flowering rhododendrons of the spring, experience ancient temples and distinctive monastic fortresses (dzongs) set amidst spectacular mountain scenery.
Day 1 London/ Delhi – Fly overnight to Delhi.
Day 2 Delhi/ Kathmandu – Arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Day 3 Kathmandu – Explore the city including Durbar Square, the historical heart of Kathmandu, and the hilltop stupa of Swayambhunath. Lunch in the medieval city of Patan, then walk around the Tibetan area surrounding the Bodnath stupa.
Day 4 Kathmandu/ Paro - Fly to Paro in Bhutan, situated in a beautiful valley dotted with small farms and Buddhist monuments.
Day 5 Paro - Attend the impressive Paro tsechu and witness this historical festival, staged in honour of the 8th century guru, Padmasambhava. Dance ceremonies are performed by monks in spectacular costumes, watched by the local population dressed in all their finery. Visit the Paro National Museum in the afternoon.
Day 6 Paro, Thimphu – On the final day of the tsechu watch the auspicious early morning unfurling of the giant thangka of Padmasambhava. Drive on to Thimphu and visit the School of Traditional Arts and the magnificent Tashicho dzong, built in 1641.
Day 7 Thimphu - Explore Thimphu - the early Changangka temple, the Memorial Chorten and the fascinating Textile Museum. In the afternoon drive along the Begana Valley and walk up to Cheri Monastery.
Day 8 Thimphu, Punakha Valley – Today drive from Thimphu over the Dochu-la Pass to the Punakha Valley. Visit the beautifully renovated Punakha dzong, built on the confluence of two rivers. An optional evening walk across the paddy fields to the 15th century fertility temple of Chime Lhakhang, built by the ‘Divine Madman’, Drukpa Kinley.
Day 9 Gantey Valley - Drive to the Gangtey Valley, enjoying the beautiful rhododendrons en route. Visit the hilltop Gangtey Gompa and enjoy a walk in this beautiful area.
Day 10 Paro Valley - Drive back to the Paro Valley and visit the dzong.
Day 11 Paro Valley - Morning walk up to the impressive Takstang Monastery, or Tiger’s Nest, built over Padmasambhava’s original meditation cave. A short visit to see the Drukgyel Dzong, if time allows, before visiting the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the most sacred shrines in the whole of Bhutan. Time at leisure to visit the Paro Bazaar.
Day 12 Paro/ Kathmandu - Fly back to Kathmandu for overnight stay.
Day 13 Kathmandu/ London - Fly back to London via Delhi.
Zara Fleming is an art historian specialising in Tibetan and Himalayan art and has travelled extensively throughout these mountain regions. She is Vice President of the Tibet Society and Tibet Relief Fund.
Zara has led tours to the Himalaya and beyond for many years, and was a curator and lecturer for the recent Asia House exhibition, The Tiger in Asian Art.
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