Bhutan and Nepal - Land 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 - This morning visit Pashupatinath, the most sacred of all Hindu temples in Nepal, situated on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. After lunch continue to Bhaktapur, home of medieval art and architecture, also known as the ‘City of Devotees’.
Day 5 Kathmandu/ Paro - Fly to Paro in Bhutan. This afternoon 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.
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 Gangtey 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 is an independent art consultant, researcher, cataloguer and exhibition curator with specialist knowledge of Buddhist art. Zara first visited Nepal in 1973 and Bhutan in 1976 and has been returning to these areas on a regular basis ever since. Initially based at the Victoria & Albert Museum, with general responsibility for the Tibetan and Nepalese collections (1974-81). She was then affiliated with the Central Asian Department at Bonn University cataloguing the Tibetan, Bhutanese and Mongolian collections of all UK Museums, part of a larger cataloguing project throughout Europe (1981-88) and was the Assistant Director in Europe for the Orient Foundation (1984/5).
Zara has curated many exhibitions including “Tibet – Roof of the World” at the October Gallery, London (1991); “Man and Environment in Harmony” at Millbank, London (1992); “In the Steppes of Genghis Khan” at the October Gallery (1993); “Radiant Transmission – Contemporary Masterpieces of Tibetan Buddhist Art” held at the October Gallery and the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath (2003) , “Asia – Body, Mind, Spirit” for the Wellcome Collection and Asia House, London (2004) and “The Tiger in Asian Art” for Asia House, London (2010/11).
She also prepared the educational material for the “Sacred Art of Tibet – Wisdom and Compassion”at the Royal Academy in London (1992) and was the Art Consultant and Curatorial Advisor on Buddhist Art for the World’s Culture Gallery at the Liverpool National Museum on Merseyside (2001-4). In 2004/5 she was affiliated with the Centre for Cultural Heritage in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia as the art consultant and British Adviser on Mongolia’s museum collections. And is the editor of “Mongolian Buddhist Art – Masterpieces of Buddhist Art” Vol 1, to be published by Serindia in 2011. She is currently working with the Orient Foundation for Arts and Culture (www.orient.org) on a Tibetan digital art resource.
Zara is a lecturer for the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies (NADFAS) and delivers talks for musuems, universities, Asian art societies, private associations and charitable institutions. She has been the guest lecturer on numerous trips to the Buddhist areas of the Himalayas (Tibet, Bhutan, Ladakh, Sikkim, Nepal).
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