Himalayan Kingdom Bhutan Odyssey

Get inspired with its awe-inspiring Himalayan scenery

About trip

A stunning cultural, adventure tour through Darjeeling, Sikkim and the Kingdom of Bhutan. Get inspired with its awe-inspiring Himalayan scenery, snow capped mountains, extraordinary Dzongs and Monastaries.

Destinations

Kolkata - Bagdogara - Darjeeling - Pemayantse - Gangtok - Kalimpong - Phuntsoling Border - Thimphu - Punakha - Paro - Kolkata

Duration

17 Nights /
18 Days

Himalayan Kingdom Bhutan Odyssey

We don’t just offer the classic trekking routes; you will have a comprehensive range of Himalayan Odyssey holidays and journey that takes you around the world, offering you off the beaten track adventure vacation experiences, trips that discover forgotten pathways, and tours that visit vibrant landscapes of snow capped mountains, mesmerizing flora and fauna, Buddhist monasteries, festivals and stunning cultural sights.

 

This adventure and cultural touring journey will take you to Darjeeling, Sikkim and the ‘Dragon Kingdom’ of Bhutan that will appeal to the Himalayan enthusiast keen to appreciate the culture and history of the East Himalayan Kingdoms. During the tour you will explore the renowned hill station of Darjeeling and gain memorable views of Kanchenjunga – the third highest mountain in the world. In Sikkim you will visit the Rumtek Monastery in Gangtok, and Kalimpong, where trade thrived between British India and Tibet until the early 1900’s.

 

You will explore your journey across the border to Bhutan – Land of Gross National Happiness. A country that has remained in isolation for centuries has today become one of the world’s most enchanting travel destinations. Bhutan is the dreamland for every traveler who has heard of it and who dreams of making the holiday of a lifetime. This little known Buddhist country is bountiful in amazing beauties and secret treasures, those that a visitor can never finish discovering. From mighty peaks to mysterious villages, from spectacular festivals to extraordinary architecture, from charming people to characteristic culture, Bhutan has it all. Here, you will visit the famous Taktsang Monastery and make the short drive to the capital of Thimphu, where you will have ample opportunity to wander the bazaars before crossing the Dochu La to Wangduephodrang and the remarkable Punakha Dzong. And you can choose to hike to the world-famous “Tiger’s Nest” on the face of a sheer cliff above the Paro Valley and many more wonderful places.

starts £ 2745 per person

Day 00 : Departure from UK

Departure from UK to begin your holiday experience

Day 01 : Arrive at Kolkata

You will arrive at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, where our representative and tour guide will meet you at the arrival terminal. You will be greeted and assisted on your arrival and transferred to your hotel.

 

A brief note for you to know about Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta by its old spelling, Calcutta conjures up images of human suffering to most Westerners, but actually it is not. Locally, Kolkata is regarded as India’s intellectual and cultural capital.

 

Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal state in the eastern part of India, located on the east bank of the Hooghly River and the second largest city after Mumbai in India. Founded as an East India Company trading post, it was India’s first capital under the British Raj from 1773 till 1911. Today it’s known for its grand colonial architecture, art galleries, Bengali cuisine and music, Rabindra sangeet and cultural festivals. Kolkata continues to spawn generations of poets, writers, film producers and Nobel Prize winners. It is also the home to Mother House, headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, whose tomb is on site.

 

Dinner at your own cost and overnight accommodation at the hotel.

Day 02 : Kolkata – The City of Joy

A good start to any day revolves around breakfast, and Kolkata has no dearth of places that take this meal seriously. From Indian staples to a sophisticated English spread, the variety is as diverse as the people and their culture. Following the early breakfast, you will start your day with your guide on a full day sightseeing tour of Kolkata, also nicknamed as the City of Palaces and the City of Joy.

 

The name City of Palaces comes from the numerous palatial mansions built all over the city while City of Joy comes from the lively, friendly and loving behaviour of all the citizens all over the place making the city more lively and enjoyable.

 

You will explore Kolkata city with a visit to the incredible Victoria Memorial, which is a vast and beautifully proportioned festival of white marble architecture by the bank of the Hooghly River, built between 1906 and 1921 under supervision of Lord Curzon as a memorial to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom in 1901, confidently was smartly modelled on the Taj Mahal. As you explore inside the memorial, you will locate the soaring focal central chamber and the Calcutta Gallery, an excellent, even-handed exhibition of memorabilia tracing the city’s British colonial-era history. Be that as it may, regardless of the possibility that you would prefer not to go in, the building is still worth admiring from a remote place, there is a magnificently photogenic view of the memorial reflecting on the lake from the northeast side. Alternately you can get nearer by paying your way into the expansive, all around, well tended park. In the evening you can request your guide to arrange tickets for the 45-minute English-language sound & light show here.

 

Then you will visit the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, locally called Birla Museum or BITM.  It was established on the 2nd of May’1959 and is one the major museums and art galleries in India, which is managed by the National Council of Science Museums. You will explore the various sections and galleries of the museum and come across fascinating physics, Transport Methods, Motive power, Biotechnology, Metals, Electricity, Television, Electronics, Life science and an Underground mock up coal mine exhibit. To entice your imagination, you will explore Birla Planetarium, which was set up in 1962 and is similar to the London planetarium, where you will be enthralled by the spectacular show of constellations, zodiacal and star patterns of the sky, journey to Antarctica, New View of the Solar System and space probes.

 

You will continue your Kolkata city exploration with a visit to the bathing Ghats on the Hooghly River (Ghat is a wide set of steps descending to a river, especially a river used for bathing.). The most famous ghat is Prinsep Ghat, built in 1841 during the British Raj, along the bank of the Hooghly River. You will see the Palladian porch that was built by W. Fitzgerald in 1843 in memory of the eminent Anglo-Indian scholar and antiquary James Prinsep. Located between the Water Gate and the St George’s Gate of Fort William. You will come across the monument of Prinsep that is rich in Greek and Gothic inlays. During the colonial era, all royal British entourages used the Prinsep Ghat jetty for embarkation and disembarkation. The first dock in the city was built on the east bank of the Hoogli River, far to the north of the present Dockland about three hundred years ago for trade and commerce.

 

The Prinsep Ghat is one of the picturesque and oldest recreational spots of Kolkata which locals visit in the evenings and on weekends to go boating on the river, stroll along the bank and purchase street food from stalls here.  You will come across a two-kilometer stretch of the beautified riverfront from Prinsep Ghat to Babughat or Baje Kadamtala Ghat illuminated with landscaped gardens and pathways, fountains, and renovated ghats. Here you can get a summarized mesmerizing view of the city of Kolkata This is the place to be and enjoy the majestic view of the city along the river banks. Right next to the Vidyasagar Setu – the Second Hooghly Bridge, along the banks of the Hooghly river, one gets an enchanting breeze of the river along with the lush green surroundings.

 

Kolkata also boasts its tram system. The Kolkata tram is the oldest operating electric tram in Asia, running since 1902, and currently the only operating tram network in India. The tramway is the same as that of the United Kingdom built in the colonial British era. Even the Kolkatta Metro Railway, the first underground train system in the country, will entice you to take a short and fun ride. You may also visit the home of Mother Teresa, the messiah of missionaries in India. Missionaries is dedicated care for those who include refugees, former prostitutes, the mentally ill, sick children, abandoned children, lepers, individuals with AIDS, the aged, and convalescent. These services are provided, without charge, to people regardless of their religion, social status and economic wellbeing.

 

During the city tour, our representative and guide will take you to the best of the Bengali Restaurants for an authentic Bengali lunch. The cuisine of Bengal is as rich and distinct as the state itself. The rule of the Nawabs has profoundly influenced Bengali food, which is a mix of subtle and blazing flavours. There are European influences like the snack food tradition and food like chops and cutlets that are of British origin but are prepared and served in most Bengali households. All said and done, the robust fish curries like ‘Hilsa’ or ‘Ilish’ – the ‘queen of fish’ and the sinful Bengali sweets like Rasagulla, Sandesh and Misthi Doi will easily steal the spotlight. You can order to eat Bengali delicacies depending on your taste and palate.

 

At the end of the day’s tour, you will be transferred to your hotel for Dinner of your choice at leisure, a cost for your pocket and overnight accommodation at the hotel.

Day 03 : Kolkata to Bagdogra - By flight and Bagdogra to Darjeeling

After breakfast at the hotel, you will fly to Bagdogra. You will touch down at Bagdogra International Airport, located west of the city of Siliguri. It is also the gateway airport to the hill stations in the North Bengal region of the Indian state of West Bengal. After landing at the airport you will be met by our representative and guide and you will be transferred by serpentine road where you will negotiate steep and winding mountain roads crossing lush green picturesque views to reach the old Raj hill station of Darjeeling, which is located in the Himalayan foothills with its backdrop of Mt. Kanchenjunga, which is among the world’s highest peaks.

 

Darjeeling is also known as “Dorje-ling”, a name that was derived from the local Tibetan name meaning the “Abode of the Thunderbolt”. Perched in the foothills of the Himalayas at 2134 meters above sea level, it is located in the northern extreme of the Indian state of West Bengal. This was the legendary British hill station, where your compass will find Nepal to its East, Sikkim to the south, and Bhutan southwest. Darjeeling was acquired by the British from the Raja of Sikkim as a gift more than a hundred and fifty years ago, and served as convalescent homes for the British employees. This ‘Queen of the Hills’ was once a summer and health resort for the British Raj elites in the 1800s. It remains the terminus of the amazing narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or “Toy Train,” an engineering marvel completed in 1881 to overcome the steep gradients and curves of the mountains and provided scenic railway transportation in the hills.

 

It is no wonder that you will see numerous sprawling tea estates in Darjeeling that produce the world’s best tea. It has earned its name and fame for the distinctive aromatic black tea grown on plantations that dot its surrounding lush green slopes. You will be fascinated by this town’s distinctive mix of Buddhist and colonial architecture where residents and locals are hospitable, the population comprises mostly of immigrant Nepalese, predominantly Gorkhas, Tibetans, as well as some Lepchas and Bhutias from Sikkim. Nepalese people are mostly Hindus while Tibetans follow Buddhism who live in harmony. When you compare them with the people of lower plains, they are quite different both in looks, features and culture. It’s an amazing world out there.
The town center of Darjeeling is known as Mall or Chowrasta, which is a flat open town square mountain platform with backdrop of mountains and valleys, is the hub of all activities, restaurants and shops. You will enjoy your journey with such visits which is combined with wonderful views of snow peaks and valleys, tea gardens, forests and flowering plantations, amazing sightseeing tours and activities, great food and stays…. Won’t you love a holiday like that?

 

You will enjoy your dinner at leisure and overnight accommodation will be at the hotel in Darjeeling.

Day 04 : Darjeeling

After an early morning breakfast at the hotel, before sunrise, you will start your day and score your jeep drive on the serpentine road enjoying the lush green picturesque hill views to visit the Tiger Hill, which is the summit of Ghoom, the highest railway station on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also famous for the panoramic views it offers of Mount Everest, and you will get the breath-taking and graceful views of the majestic Kanchanjunga, which extend across an incredible assortment of peaks and Ghoom Monastery.

 

The view of Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill is as iconic as is the experience of being here to have your first view of the mighty Himalayas, where the mesmerizing images will freeze in your mind for ever. On your journey up the hill road, you will find tourists in jeeps racing towards Tiger Hills early in the morning from nearly every hotel or resort with guests in an attempt to get a comfortable place to stand before hundreds jostle each other to get the perfect view and excellent shot of India’s highest peak. Truly, all of this grind is worth that grand view, you will view the changing colors from pink to crimson to orange and yellow. Actually Darjeeling and neighbouring Sikkim are all about Kanchenjunga, all sides, all views.

 

Later on, you will climb down the incline of the summit either by jeep or by foot and reach many tea estates including Chowrasta and Alubari, incidentally the oldest tea garden plantation within a 20 Km radius in Darjeeling or Jorebangla, which takes about 2 hours at an easy pace on any normal day. You will visit one of these gardens and the Tea factory inside the estate to see the whole process of making Darjeeling Tea. Unlike most Indian teas, Darjeeling tea is normally made from the small-leaved Chinese variety, it is available in black, green, white and oolong. Traditionally, Darjeeling tea is made as black tea, when properly brewed, it will yield a thin-bodied, light-coloured infusion with a floral aroma. The flavour can include a tinge of astringent tannic characteristics and a musky spiciness commonly described as muscatel. You can bring home a handy pack of Darjeeling tea of your choice.

 

After enjoying the enchanting Himalayan adventure, you will be transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon you are free for relaxation and lunch of your taste at your own cost. You may also like to visit the Spa at your hotel to flex your tiring muscles and bones and rejuvenate. After freshening up at the hotel, you can walk to the Chowrasta Mall, sit on a peripheral bench for a while, relax and enjoy the ambience and watch the activities. Then you can take a stroll along the scenic Mall Road – the Bhanu Sarani and complete a circle. If you have time, you can take a walk up the Observatory Hill behind the Mall and go to the famous Mahakal Temple on top and enjoy the stunning views and sunset. Later on, visit the mall road in the evening, stroll along Nehru road that leads down from the mall and you will find the road is lined with all kinds of shops including old heritage shops and art galleries on both sides and you can buy some curios or souvenirs. If you want, you can enjoy your dinner in one of the many restaurants.

 

Overnight accommodation will be at the hotel.

Day 05 : Darjeeling

After your breakfast upon sunrise, you will take the Darjeeling toy Ghoom ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Toy Train. Believe that it is going to be a fun ride with a picturesque view to the travelers on board, and one should not let go such an opportunity. This DHR Toy Train has been accorded the UNESCO World Heritage status, operating on narrow gauge tracks since the 1880s and is still unmatched when it comes to absorbing the magnificent beauty of the mountains. You will see an amazingly small steam engine pulling mini coaches up the steep mountains through breathtaking landscapes and overcoming almost impossible curves and gradients using sheer engineering ingenuity and creative skills. You will pass by villages and local shops on the way with children on the street waving at you as you take this relaxed and charming journey through the hills. The snail pace at which the toy train moves through the hilly terrain is at times so slow that you can often see the local school children hopping on and off the train on the move.

 

Your Toy Train ride lasts 2-hours as a round trip from Darjeeling up to Ghum and back will have train stops for 10 minutes at the Batasia Loop. At Batasia the train makes a loop around a wonderful manicured garden, where you will get an unparalleled view of Darjeeling town and the snow peaks of Kanchenjunga. As the train continues to roll its wheels, you will have the view of the War Memorial at the center of the Garden built in honour of the Gorkha soldiers who had sacrificed their lives in various wars following India’s independence.

 

You will reach Ghum – spelt Ghoom, a small hilly town in the Darjeeling Himalayan region and the highest railway station in India, located at 7407 feet above sea level, making it the highest altitude station on the Darjeeling Himalayan Rail track. Here the toy train will stop for 30 minutes for your visit to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway museum at the station premises. The highlight is the oldest toy train engine – The Baby Sivok, also hosts a wide range of old artifacts of the railways along with rare pictures of the toy train. This is where the DHR museum will send by post a certificate validating your ride on the toy train so that you can cherish the memories of your toy train ride.

 

Once you reach Ghoom, you will continue your will visit to the Yiga Choeling Monastery, the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monastery built in the year 1850 by the monk and famous astrologer Lama Sherab Gyatso, who was the first head of the monastery and continued his tenure until 1905 before he went back to his birth place at Tibet. This is the original and the Old Ghoom Monastery, located below Ghoom Railway station further down and on the narrow old military road.

 

As you explore the monastery, you will come to know that the monastery belongs to the Yellow Hat sect also known as the Gelupka. Lama Sherab built the external structure of the Yiga Choeling Monastery or the Ghoom Monastery. One of the key attractions inside the monastery that you will see is the 15-foot statue of the Lord Buddha which is known as The Maitreya Buddha or the Gyalwa Shampa which means the Buddha of the future or the Coming Buddha, which was constructed during the tenure of the second head of the monastery Lama Domo Geshe Rinpoche during 1910 and 1952 before he went back to Tibet. It is one of the biggest and oldest statues of the Buddha in the Darjeeling area. This statue was created with clay that was all brought from Tibet. In front of the Buddha’s statue there are two huge oil lamps that keep burning all the time and all through the year. As you go further inside the Yiga Choeling Monastery you will find images of many Buddha deities and lamas such as the Chenrezig – Avalokitesvara, Buddha of compassion, and Tsongkhapa who was the founder of the Gelupka sect to which the Monastery belongs, also a large collection of Buddha’s manuscripts inside that includes a 108-volume Kangyur – The Tibetan Buddhist Gospel, and also the attractive bells and a huge drum. Last but not least, facing the monastery when you look towards the left, you will get magnificent sweeping views of the snow capped Himalayan peaks including Mount Kanchenjunga. On a clear day, you will be awe struck with the marvelous views from outside the main gate of the monastery.

 

There is another monastery called Samten Choling Monastery in Ghoom, which is also sometimes referred to as Ghoom Monastery by the local drivers. Ask our representative and guide to take you to the original monastery, be specific and mention Old Ghoom Monastery.

 

Note: There is a charge for taking photographs and videos inside the monastery. The cash needs be to be dropped into the donation box. It is because the monastery runs its day-to-day operational expenses by way of donations. There is a board outside that clearly talks about the charges, and a monk inside reminds you of the same.

 

After your tour at Ghoom, you will drive by Jeep to Darjeeling through wonderful scenic roads whilst enjoying the magnificent views of the mountains, valleys and village life. Your return journey by the Toy train will be subject to operation of this train and seat availability.

 

You will enjoy your lunch with local food and cuisine at Darjeeling, where you will find small cheap restaurants that are local family owned businesses run by Tibetans, Nepalis and Bhutias, who serve wide varieties of cuisines, predominantly Chinese, Tibetan and Nepali dishes and also quality homemade food that have created little brands for themselves.

 

Post lunch, in the afternoon, you will continue the day’s tour to visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Himalayan Zoo and the Tibetan Self-Help Centre. Your exploration at the prestigious Himalayan Mountaineering Institute – HMI will reveal that it was built in 1954 as a tribute to Tenzing Norgay of Nepal – the world’s first explorer along with Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand to reach the summit of Mount Everest, so that he could impart his skills to all those who pursued climbing activities in the Himalayas and encourage mountaineering as an organized sport in India. As you explore HMI, you will find a 50-foot by 20-foot sports climbing wall, which is of international standard. There is also an indoor climbing wall and well laid out obstacle training area, on your choice you can get a short climbing lesson on the climbing wall. The institute also uses the nearby Tenzing Rock and Gombu Rock on the Lebong Cart Road for practical training of rock climbing. Further in the institute, you will see Swiss style houses for the sherpa trainers, a well stocked museum with a whole host of mountaineering artifacts and many original expedition items in displays which will amaze you, an auditorium screening mountaineering films, a souvenir shop and more which will attract you.

 

Then you will proceed to visit the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, commonly known as Darjeeling Zoo. It spans across 67.5 acres of land and is at an altitude of 7,000ft (2133m) above sea level. It is the largest high altitude zoo in India. This is the first zoo in India to receive the prestigious international award “The Earth Heroes” in 2014 out of over 300 zoos worldwide.

 

This is the only specialized Zoo in India and housed within its rocky and forested environment are high altitude amazing Himalayan wildlife and endangered species such as Himalayan bears, clouded leopards, red pandas and Tibetan wolves. It is internationally recognised for its conservation of the Snow leopard in its breeding Centre and is home to the world’s largest single captive population of Snow Leopards, Red Panda, and Tibetan Wolf. The star attraction of this Himalayan Zoo is a Snow Leopard that has been imported recently from the Dudley Zoological Gardens of the United Kingdom, this two year old snow leopard named as Makalu makes the total number of snow leopard come to 10. As you explore deep in the captive, you can see other endangered species that are rarely seen anywhere else in the world including Black Leopards and Clouded Leopards, Siberian Tigers, Yaks, Sambar Deer, Blue Sheep, Himalayan Tahr, Barking Deer, Goral and Musk Deer. Rose Ring Parakeets, Hill Mynas, Ring Necked Pheasants, Blue Gold Macaw and many others wildlife of Eastern Himalaya. Get ready with your camera to shoot the best selfie…

 

Note: Animals deserve life – Please Do Not Violate Rules. Do not enter Animal’s enclosure, Do not tease them, Do not feed animals, Zoo is a plastic free zone – Do not litter, Do not play music, Do not carry sharp objects or fire arms, Do not disturb zoo environment. Do not eat inside, Do not smoke, the Zoo is smoke-free for the health and happiness of all wildlife animals and guests. Violating rules can prove lethal for your precious life, so abide by the Do’s and Don’ts and have a safe visit to the Zoo.

 

 

After your zoo venture, you will make a short visit to travel through the history of Tibet at a Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center, also known as Hermitage, which is located at a place called Lebong in Darjeeling. TRSHC was established initially in purpose to feed and house the hundreds of Tibetans who fled from Tibet after the Lhasa uprisings in the year 1959. His Holiness the Dalai Lama along with thousands of Tibetans were compelled to leave their homeland and had to flee into neighbouring countries so they could live as free human beings. They were determined to stand on their own feet and rely first and foremost on their own effort; the spirit of Self-Help and thus the Self Help Centre came into existence. The President and the board of directors of The university of High Studies for Excellence based in Wilmington City, country of Newcastle, Delaware, USA have conferred its international Gold Excellence Award to the President and people of the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre for outstanding performance. It will be a moving experience for you as your trip to Darjeeling becomes true in real sense.
The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center is a must visit place, if you are looking to buy carpets and other gift items such tibetan carpets, thankas, wood carved items like folding tables, frames, wall hangings, metal items like bronze and copper pots, prayer wheels and leather items such as boots and shoes for both ladies and gents. You can also get tibetan apparel such as woollen coats, jackets, caps, chuba, pullovers, mufflers, socks, gloves, ladies aprons, shawls, blankets are some of other items made here. This place hosts reasonable prices compared to other shop markets.
At the end of your day’s tour, you will be transferred to your hotel where dinner will be at leisure at your own cost and overnight accommodation at the Hotel.

Day 06 : Darjeeling to Pelling or Pemayangtse

After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, you will drive through the lush green serene hills and valley to reach Pelling, a mountain village which is situated at an altitude of about 2000 meters and commands a spectacular view of Mount Kanchenjunga. You will freshen up and have lunch and then, with your guide, you will proceed through the rich forests of Kanchenjunga National Park to visit Pemayangste Monastery. Pemayangtse means “Perfect Sublime Lotus.” Rabdanste, a couple of kilometers from the monastery, was the 2nd capital of Sikkim (which was originally the home of the Lepcha tribesmen) and is situated in the quaint little town of Gyalshing in the Pelling region of southwest Sikkim.

 

Pemayangste Monastery was originally designed and founded by one of the three lamas of Yoksum, the great Lama Lhatsun Chempoway, back in the year 1705 as a small Lhakhang and  subsequently, it grew bigger during the reign of the third Chogyal Chakdor Namgyal who was considered by Lhatsun Chenpo’s as the third reincarnation, Jigme Pawo, which is one of the ancient and most important gompas or monasteries in Sikkim and is the main gompa of the Nyingamapa sect (“Red Hat”) order, which is a tantrik sect established in the 8th century and follows the Nyingma order of Tibet Buddhism and controls all other monasteries of that order in Sikkim. The followers of this sect wear red caps rather than the yellow ones worn by monks in other monasteries. As you explore the monastery, you will find a treasure trove of ancient paintings, antique carvings and sculptures on the interior walls and a good collection of Thangkas. The walls of this monastery are adorned with traditional frescoes depicting tantrik Buddhist themes. You will be amazed with an interesting feature of the Pemayangtse monastery which is the depiction of Sangthopalri or heaven, intricately sculpted on wood by a single monk, which took several years to complete. Near the monastery, you will find traditional austere dwellings of the monks. Pemayangtse is endowed with rich natural beauty, as it is set amongst picturesque mountains, glaciers and has abundant shrubs of the exotic rhododendron. It is refreshing to walk and explore around the town and the sylvan environs of Pemayangtse. Coincidently it is a base for travelers seeking to explore the exhilarating trekking routes of western Sikkim.

 

You will never forget Pemayangtse monastery for its famous Buddhist festival of Losar, which marks the Tibetan New Year and is celebrated in the months of February and March every year with great fanfare. The traditional religious Kagyat Dance festival, involving mask dancing, is held every month in the monastery. The gaiety and the rhythm of the mask dance will haunt and enchant you, once you have seen it.

 

After this excursion, taking photos and spending some peaceful time in and around the monastery, you will be transferred to your hotel in Pelling for dinner at leisure at your own cost and overnight accommodation.

Day 07 : Pelling to Gangtok by Road

Wake up to a beautiful sunrise view of the snow capped Mount Kanchenjunga. After a hearty breakfast at your hotel in Pelling, you will start off early, along with our representative guide, with a mesmerizing 120 km hilly drive to Gangtok, which is located at 1750 meters above sea level and takes approximately five to six hours to get to. Your drive from Pelling to Gangtok starts heading south, keeping on the Legship-Gyalshing Road towards Geyzing. Thereafter, merge onto the Legship-Rabongla Road and connect to the National Highway 31 and en route in Pabong. Keep on the Indira Bypass that connects you to the Ranka Road and your drive from Pelling all the way will descend to the Teesta River, passing through paddy fields and small villages before arriving in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. This serpentine extravagant drive through the mountain flora and fauna will offer you a tranquil ambiance and a serene feel.

 

On the way you will halt for refreshments and lunch till you reach Gangtok.

 

You will be taken to the hotel to relax and have dinner at leisure at your own cost. Overnight accommodation will be at the Hotel.

Day 08 : Gangtok

You will have a heavenly breakfast at the hotel with breathtaking views of Gangtok. Depending on the hotel, your option could be buffet spread, as per your choice of Indian, International, Chinese, and Tibetan food. If it is not there then do ask for it and they will make it for you and serve you at your room.

 

You step up to drive around Gangtok city, which is located at an altitude of 5,410 ft in East-Sikkim. You will appraise Gangtok, the capital of the mountainous northern Indian state of Sikkim that was established as a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the 1840s, and became capital of an independent monarchy after the British rule ended, and joined India in 1975. Today, Gangtok remains a Tibetan Buddhist center and a base for hikers organizing permits and transport for treks through Sikkim’s Himalayan mountain ranges. Your excitement will peak through the day’s journey as you start to explore the Rumtek Monastery, which is noted for its beautiful murals, Tibetology and Do Drul Chorten. In the afternoon, you will visit Enchey Monastery and the Cottage Industry in Gangtok.

 

You will explore Rumtek Monastery, the seat of his holiness Karmapa Lama, the third highest monk in Tibetan Buddhism, the XVIth. This famous monastery was originally called the Dharma Chakra Centre, which serves as one of the most important seats of the Kagyu (Black Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism outside of Tibet. You will be amazed by the three storied beautiful shrine temple and a monastery for the monks. The 16th Gyawla Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism built this monastery at an elevation of almost 5000 feet and it is surrounded by lush green landscape. The monastery is a visual treat besides offering spiritual solace. The architectural design is almost identical to the original Kagyu, also known as Kagyupa or Kagyud headquarters in Tibet. You will continue your exploration in the main monastery building, that houses some of the rarest relics of Buddhist religious scriptures and artwork in the world in the form of wall Murals and Thankas (scrolls with intricate hand paintings) that belong to the 16th Karmapa and enshrines 1001 miniature golden statues of Buddha. Surprises may await you as Rumtek Monastery hosts various Tibetan festivals throughout the year. According to the Tibetan lunar calendar, the annual dance of Tse-Chu Chaam is organized at the monastery along with the Kagyat dance.

 

An amazing story will mesmerize you, as you hear from the legend monks stating that after the first Karmapa ended his long years of meditation in a cave, he was greeted by 1000 fairies each one of whom gave him a strand of hair. All those hairs were woven into a hat. It is said that the same hat is now in custody of the Rumtek Monastery. But the hat has to be kept in a box or held by hand, otherwise it would fly off.

 

As the day proceeds, you will visit the Do Drul Chorte and find that Do-Drul Chorten or Stupa is built on a hillock by the Venerable Trulshi Rimpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism in 1945. The Chorten Stupa is marked by a golden topped dome. Inside this stupa, you will see  the deity enshrined on top of the chorten stupa which is known as Dorjee Phurpa or Vajra Kilaya and has the complete mandala script sets, and also has a set of Kan-gyur relics (Holy Books), the complete ‘Zung'(mantras) and other religious objects. Around this Chorten, which is one of the most important stupas in Sikkim, are 108 Mani-Lhakor (prayer wheels, also known as wish wheels) all of which have mantras inscribed on them in Tibetan. These prayer wheels are turned in a clockwise direction by the devout Buddhist while chanting “Hail to the jewel in the Lotus”, to invoke the Buddhisattva. You will have the privilege to rotate the prayer wheels on your visit at the stupa. The Chorten is surrounded by Chorten Lakhang, where there are two huge statues of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava).

 

Here, you will find young and old lamas learning and doing work in the compound of Do Drul Chorten. Small monks glance out of the glass, glancing brilliantly robed in crimson silk, & with a playful smirk on their juvenile faces. This particular monastery consists of great holiness & Sikkim people around the state approach to give their compliments, as a consequence fair amount of movement is there in the monastery.

 

Just after your Do Drul Chorten tour in Gangtok, you will visit the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, a premier study center for Buddhist religion and philosophy. You exploration will be to a traditionally styled Tibetan architecture, located in the beautiful sylvan surroundings. This unique institute was established in 1958 to promote research into Mahayana Buddhism and Tibetan culture. This is a treasure trove and has one of the world’s largest collections of Buddhist books and manuscripts, plus statuettes, thangkas – Tibetan cloth paintings and sacred objects and artifacts. This Tibetology Institute houses a museum, a Tibetan library and a general reference center on Tibet and the Himalayas. The 14th Dalai Lama laid the foundation stone of the institute on the 10th of February 1957 and was opened officially by the Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru 1958.

 

You will be mesmerized by its library, which holds one of the largest collections of Tibetan works in the world outside Tibet. The vast collection includes antique Lepcha scripts, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts, statues and antique thankas and other prized relics of religious art. Adjacent to the Institute is a Memorial park dedicated to Miwang Chogyal Chempo Palden Thondup Namgyal, 17th in the line and 12th consecrated Denzong Chogyal, the King of Sikkim. This institute is the only one of its kind in India and just three of their kind in the whole world.

 

In the afternoon for lunch, your guide will help you to look around and you will come across eateries that exhibit class and charm. It is home to almost everything that the cuisine of this area has to offer in its most rich, splendid, authentic soups Tibetan and Indo-Chinese cuisines form with a flattering variety of options. What is impossible to miss in Gangtok is the Momos, Thupka, Wonton, Gyathuk, Thenthuk and more, along with a Sikkim style meat patty called Shah-Phalaey. The most unique to the area is Chang, a local made alcoholic beverage. Enjoy!

 

After your hearty meal, you will continue your city tour and visit the magnificent Enchey Monastery or the Enchey Sang-ngag Rabtenling – a religious name which means- ‘Sacred Stable Place’, which was founded on a hilltop in 1840 by Lama Dhrupthob Karpo or the ‘White Saint’, who was a celebrated lama and a tantric who performed superhuman feats and belongs to the Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism. As you explore, you will come to know that the 10th King of Sikkim – Sikyong Tulku, rebuilt the monastery later in the year 1908 in its present shape. You will see unique architecture which is an artistic adaptation of Gyanak Riwo Tse-Nga or the sacred mountain with five peaks in China – which is the spiritual place of Jampalyang. The monastery performs Chaam, its annual masked religious dance on the eve of the Sikkimese Losoong which usually falls in the month of December or January. Today it is one of the major monasteries of Sikkim.

 

At the end of the days tour, you will explore the Gangtok Cottage Industry.  You will come to know that this cottage industry was put up during the time of the Chogyals of Sikkim and learn about the historic lines that are attached with it, as a venture to preserve, shield and propagate the authentic Sikkimese arts, handicrafts and skills of native and village artisans, the key attractions for your visit to Sikkim are that you will find lovely souvenirs like handmade Sikkimese style wooden etched tables known as Choktses, which are exquisitely carved and richly coloured in red and gold, you will find amazing ancient handcrafts, exotic carved furniture, customary handlooms, hand woven Tibetan carpets, traditional motifs, blankets, shawls and different other local products that are made and exhibited as purchasable items such as Thangkas, Batiks and hand-painted masks. Lamp stands, bamboo craft, esoteric masks, flashing silks and many more are found here. The cottage industry emporium associates itself as a part of the socio-cultural landscape and therefore, offers a perceptive peek into Sikkimese traditions and life.

 

After your exploration through Gangtok city, you will be transferred to your hotel; you will have dinner at leisure at your own cost and overnight accommodation.

Day 09 : Gangtok to Kalimpong

After your breakfast at sunrise, you will drive through the serene mountains, serpentine hilly national highway 31A and lush green valleys crossing the Teesta bridge to a road at the opposite mountain that climbs up to Kalimpong, a virgin sleepy remote hill station set in beautiful mountain scenery and strategically located on the old trade route to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal, located at an altitude of 4,100ft.

 

Your guide, while on the way to Kalingpong, will arrange lunch for you at your own cost.

 

You will be transferred to the hotel to relax and enjoy an unforgettable stay and dinner at leisure. Your overnight accommodation will be at the hotel.

Day 10 : Kalimpong

Rejuvenate at sunrise and after your breakfast at the hotel, you will start a leisurely day with pleasant walks around Kalimpong to enjoy panoramic valley views of the Himalayas, and explore the interesting Buddhist monasteries, colonial architecture, churches, a fascinating nursery industry and Tibetan handicrafts and more. You will come across this bustling bazaar also known as the Kalimpong Market Square in the town, which sprawls along a saddle-shaped mountain ridge overlooking the roaring Teesta River and lorded over by the summit of Khangchendonga.
You will be amazed that Kalim, in local dialect, means “King’s Minister” and Pong means “Stronghold”. So the name Kalimpong actually means “Stronghold of King’s Minister” and has originated from the time of king’s Chogyal dynasty of Sikkim. Veterans of this place say that the name has been derived from the word Kalibong and locals call it Kaulim, it is a type of fiber plant used for making paper and is found in abundance hence the name.

 

As an inquisitive travel historian, you would like to know that like Darjeeling, Kalimpong once belonged to the chogyals of Sikkim, but it fell into the hands of the Bhutanese in the 18th century and later passed to the British rule, before becoming part of India at Independence. Scottish missionaries, particularly the Jesuits, made great efforts to win over local Buddhists in the late 19th century and Kalimpong remains an important educational centre for the entire eastern Himalaya. Kalimpong’s early development as a major Himalayan trading centre focused on the tea trade with Tibet, across the Jelep La Pass. Don’t miss your visit to the Dr Graham’s Homes, started by the missionary Dr Graham in 1900. You will also see the small village of Lava, noted for its market and monastery located outside of Kalimpong.

 

You will be amazed by its diverse cultures, traditions and hospitable locals from Lepchas, Nepalese – also known as Gorkhas, British, Indians, Tibetans and even Sikkimese. You will find all its reflections in the local food and beverages, house architectures, language, and many other cultural dimensions. So, you will enjoy the stunning ambiance, lunch and dinner at ease and leisure.

 

You will have a relaxing sleep with overnight accommodation at the hotel.

Day 11 : Kalimpong to Phuntsoling Border

Early in the morning, you will wake up to a stunning sunrise view over the Himalayan range. After your breakfast at the hotel, buckle up. You will start your day with an incredible journey of a lifetime to Bhutan, and be driven through the Bhutan Gate to the Phuntsholing, a thriving town of Southern Bhutan, adjacent to the Indian border. This is the place where Buddhism first took hold in Bhutan. Phuentsholing offers an eclectic mix of Indian and Bhutanese culture, thanks to its location. You will enjoy the journey as the breathtaking views of lush green tea plantations wash over you. The most amazing part you will notice is that while Phuentsholing is on the Bhutan side of the border, Jaygaon, a bigger town, is on the Indian side of the border, the line of control is just a wall, i.e., say one meter – just try to visualize that!

 

Your guide and driver will arrange for you to have lunch on the way to Phuentsholing. On arriving in Phuntsholing, you will be transferred to the hotel. Your overnight stay and accommodation will be at the hotel at Phuentsholing as scheduled.

Day 12 : Phuntsholing to Thimphu

You will have an early morning breakfast and, along with your English-speaking guide, you will drive to the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu. 4 km ahead of Phuentsholing, you will enroute to visit a 400 meter high temple house of Kharbandi Gompa, the beautiful monastery situated in the garden of tropical plants and flowers, which were set up in 1967 by the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron.

 

You will explore the monastery that houses the mesmerizing paintings depicting scenes from the life of Buddha and impressive statues of Bhutanese deities of Shakyamuni Buddha, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rimpoche. After that, you will move to the lush green garden outside the monastery to see eight different types of Tibetan chortens or Tibetan Buddhist stupas. The monastery garden has admirable surroundings that you can explore and see the splendid beauty of Phuentsholing and the West Bangal plains and their tea gardens which cannot be described beyond superb. Here, outside the monastery, you get plenty of opportunities to click amazing pictures to cherish the lifetime memories.

 

You will then continue your journey on the mountain roads and proceed further to Thimphu.  Your entire drive will be very pleasant with views of lush green valleys, snow peaked mountains and numerous scenic spots en route.

 

A Stupendous lunch will be served at a cafeteria in Bunakha, which is the location for the Mega Indo-Bhutan power project ‘Sankosh’, a dam over the Bunakha Reservoir on the Wangchu River in Bhutan.

 

Five miles before you reach Thimphu, you will en route your journey and visit the spectacular historical monument Simtokha Dzong which overlooks the Thimphu Valley, the valley leading to Dochu La and Eastern. The name ‘Simthoka’ literally means “Atop a Demon” and ‘dzong’ means “castle-monastery”. This small dzong, which is the oldest, is in its complete original form is also known as Sangak Zabdhon Phodrang and was built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who unified Bhutan and believed that the legend associated with the dzong’s construction reveals that it was built in order to subdue an evil spirit that was harassing travellers in the region.

 

You will visit the stunning dzong that was modeled after the Gyal Gyad Tshel Institute of Ralung in Tibet and you will witness architectural distinctiveness in the monument, as its Utse or central tower, has twelve sides. Inside the religious Utse, you will see a large statue of Yeshay Gonpo (Mahakala) the chief protective deity of Bhutan. Another interesting aspect of the dzong you will come across, is that it contains the bed chambers of both Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Jigme Namgyel two of the most important legends in Bhutanese history. Zhabdrung was the leader that first united Bhutan as a nation and Jigme Namgyel was the father of the first King of Bhutan Ugyen Wangchuck. As you explore further, you will see that the dzong is the house of countless statues and paintings of various life forms of Lord Buddha, deities and religious figures including The Eight Manifestations of Guru Rimpoche, Jampelyang the Bodhisattava of Wisdom, Shakya Gyalpo the Buddha of Compassion and many more, all intricately carved and painted in exquisite detail. This dzong is the oldest fortress of the Bhutan Kingdom – the Land of Thunder Dragon which now houses the School for religious and cultural studies.

 

On reaching Thimphu, you will be transferred to the hotel for dinner at leisure at your own cost and an overnight stay to rejuvenate back after an exotic long drive.

Day 13 : Thimphu

Thimphu, the roaring capital of the Himalayan Kingdom Bhutan, is perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world. This picturesque bustling town is home to the fifth and current reigning Druk Gyalpo or “Dragon King” His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of the Kingdom of Bhutan with the Royal Family and the civil servants, high commissions, embassy’s and foreign missions with representation in Bhutan.

 

Immediately after your breakfast, your tour starts with a morning visit to the National Library and Archives of Bhutan (NLAB) which was established in 1967 for the purpose of “preservation and promotion of Bhutanese history, rich cultural and religious heritage.” You will witness an extensive collection of 120 Buddhist manuscripts and literature with some works dating back several hundred years. These rare and remarkable collectives were donated by the late Queen Mother, Ashi Phuntsho Choden. You will feel that it is worth seeing the collection of Chokey (Classical Tibetan) and Dzongkha manuscripts along with traditional format texts (dpe cha) that are arranged primarily by Buddhist tradition or, in certain circumstances, by textual genre. It will be interesting for you as you will see each section has been meticulously assigned a specific color cloth wrapping; Blue for Bon (bon), Orange for Kagyu (bka’ rgyud), Yellow for Gelug (dge lugs), Red for Nyingma (rnying ma), Green for Sakya (sa skya), Orange for Buddhist Philosophy (root texts and commentaries), and Pink for Rigney (rig gnas; traditional arts and sciences), and each level has an active Buddhist shrine dedicated to different Buddhas, bodhisattvas, historical masters, and teachers.

 

Note: NLAB is closed on weekends.
Then, you will continue your visit to the Government-run National Handicrafts Emporium and privately owned crafts shops, which offer a wide range of Bhutanese handcrafted products, including the splendid thangkha paintings, exquisitely hand woven textiles, traditional boots, bamboo baskets and festival masks for which Bhutan is famous. If you wish, you can buy a beautiful souvenir for your family and friends at home.

 

You will visit the fascinating National Folk Heritage Museum made out of rammed earth and timber that replicates a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse. You will gain in depth information and get an interesting glimpse of the ancient Bhutan lifestyle and households, from all kitchen equipment like the antique noodle press, to the store house and even the stable to see how the rural Bhutanese used to preserve and what their home looked like, including the Leopardskin bags and Brokpa yak-hair ‘spider’ hats they used to wear and many more.  The museum is a walkthrough of the fast changing rural tradition, habits, and skills, a pretty good place for someone like you who is interested in history and culture. You will have lunch at the folk heritage restaurant here, which serves authentic Bhutanese meals with traditional taste.

 

After your lunch, you will visit the National Textile Museum, a fascinating testimony of Bhutan’s living traditions, Bhutan’s textiles and textile art. As you explore the museum, some of the museum’s gems like the pearl robe from Tsamdrak Goenpa, crowns of Bhutan’s Kings, Namzas (dresses) and other accessories worn by the Royal Family, personal bedding of His Holiness Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji and the first version of the Raven Crown will fascinate you.

 

You will witness the display skills of making cloth such as spinning, coloring fibers, preparing a loom, and manipulating two sets of yarns. Alongside this, displays are the decorative fabrics produced by Bhutanese weavers that have several uses such as clothing, ceremonies and blankets. Various textile arts and crafts are categorically displayed in the museum galleries. The highlights here include traditional regional garments and masterpieces produced by women and men. You will be surprised to know that Bhutanese women are the chief weavers in the household and men mostly embroider and appliqué fabrics for sacred and ceremonial use.

 

Note: The National Folk Heritage Museum is closed on Sundays and The National Textile Museum is closed on Monday.

 

In the afternoon, your kingdom city tour will continue with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten – the Memorial Stupa also known as the Thimphu Chorten, where Chorten literally means ‘Seat of Faith’ which Buddhists often call such monuments, the ‘Mind of Buddha’. You will explore and find that this is a prominent landmark, which was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk – “the father of modern Bhutan”. It now serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as an iconic monument to World peace and prosperity. You will be fascinated to see the Thimphu chorten, which is a large white structure crowned with a golden spire with its sun-catching the golden finial and also witness the exemplary Buddhist architecture and artwork with its gorgeous paintings and intricate sculptures.

 

On your way back, you will end your day’s journey at Trashichhodzong, the beautiful medieval fortress and monastery, which houses most of the Government’s office and King’s Throne room. It is also the summer residence of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot.

 

After your day’s exploration, you will be transferred to the hotel for dinner at leisure and overnight accommodation in Thimphu.

Day 14 : Thimphu - Punakha

You will have breakfast in the backdrop of a morning view of Thimphu and you will start your day with a short drive to Thimphu city centre on the paved road to visit the Buddha Point – the Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park to see the Great Buddha Dordenma Statue. This 51.5 meter gigantic statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, which is made of bronze and gilded in gold, is notably one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world.

 

The statue fulfils an ancient prophecy dating back to the 8th century A.D and it is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire universe. You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, and then walk around and take a mesmerizing glimpse of the valley that overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu.

 

After your exploration at Buddha Point, you will drive up to Dochu-la pass which is located at 10,130 ft and you will be able to stop briefly here to take in the picturesque views and you will admire the Chorten, Mani Wall, and Prayer Flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If you’re lucky and the sky is clear, from the pass you can see from left to right the majestic peak of Masagang at 7,158m), Tsendagang at 6,960m, Terigang at 7,060m, Jejegangphugang at 7,158 m, Kangphugang at 7,170 m, Zongphugang at 7, 060 m, a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana and finally Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.

 

After a hearty Bhutanese lunch at the local restaurant, in the afternoon, your drive will continue to visit Punakha Dzong, also known as Pungtang Dechen, where you will be stunned to see a massive structure and the most beautiful dzong built at the confluence or junction of the Pho Chhu river and the Mo Chhu river. Do not miss the beautiful sight of the Dzong reflecting off of the water. As you continue your exploration of it structural beauty, you will come across the preserved remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifer of Bhutan as well as a sacred relic known as the Ranjung Karsapani. You will be surprised to witness this religious relic that is a self-created image of Avalokiteswara that miraculously emerged from the vertebrae of Tsangpa Gyarey the founder of the Drukpa School when he was cremated.

 

History revels that it was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and still serves as the winter residence of the monk body. The first King, Ugyen Wangchuck was crowned here in 1907. The fortress or monastery has withstood several damages from fire, earthquake and flood. The flood of October 1994 caused great damage to the fortress yet miraculously, spared the statue of Buddha Jojampa.

 

Your day’s journey will end its drive for dinner at leisure and overnight accommodation at the hotel  in Punakha.

Day 15 : Punakha - Paro

In the morning, after breakfast, you will drive to the charming Paro valley town, located on the banks of the Paro (or Pa) Chhu river, which is the gateway to the last Himalayan Kingdom. Upon your arrival, you will check in at the hotel. As the sun rises overhead, you will start the day with a visit to Ta Dzong, which was once a watchtower that was built to defend Rinpung Dzong during the inter-valley wars of the 17th century and was later inaugurated as Bhutan’s National Museum in 1968. As you explore the museum, you will come across a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps. Walking through the museums circular shape, you will see an augmentation of varied collections displayed over several floors. Afterwards, you will walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong to know its long and fascinating history. Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda, the district administrative head and Thrimpon, the judge of Paro district. You will approach the Dzong through a traditional covered bridge called Nemi Zam and walk through the bridge, over a stone inlaid path, which offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it. It is also the venue of Paro Tshechu, a Bhutanese festival held once a year in the spring.

 

Note: Ta Dzong is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

 

You day’s exploration will end for dinner at leisure and overnight accommodation at hotel in Paro.

Day 16 : Paro

Wake up in the morning to the picturesque views of the Paro valley. After an early breakfast, you will start your days hiking excursion to the historic and sacred Taktshang Monastery, one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. As you trek up, you will see that the refined architectural appearance of the monastery is shaped in the best traditions of Buddhist, which is of white buildings with golden roofs. Then you will continue your trekking and come across the ancient history said by legends that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called the ‘Tiger’s Nest’. And since then, this Bhutanese Jewel was recognised as a most sacred place and was visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and is now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime.

 

The main peculiarity of the monastery is its isolated location. It is only accessible by mountainous paths and the remote location of the monastery makes it amazingly beautiful and unique, but also creates technical difficulties. Your visit to the Paro Taktsang Monastery will be an unforgettable experience and you will give thanks to its unique location and the views of the surrounding majestic mountains and emerald green valleys.

 

In the afternoon, you will visit the ancient archaeological ruin of Drukgyel Dzong, now a UNESCO World Heritage site in Bhutan, which is the most beautiful and delightful village nestling at its foot, which was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Historically and strategically, this Dzong withstood all its glory and was featured in the 1914 vide National Geographic magazine. The glory of Drukgyel Dzong remained even when it was destroyed by a fire in 1951. On a clear day, you can see the commanding view of Mount. Chomolhari from the village, below the Dzong Kyichu Lakhang, it is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Bhutan Kingdom dating back to the 7th century, the other is Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang. The Lhakhang complex is composed of two temples, the first temple was built by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in the same original pattern.

 

Your day’s trek will end at the hotel for overnight accommodation and dinner at leisure.

Day 17 : Paro to Kolkata by Flight

Paro is also home to Paro Airport, Bhutan’s sole international airport.

 

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Paro airport to board your flight to Kolkata. Upon arrival in Kolkata, you will be transferred to your hotel.

 

If you want, you can take a short visit to some local places and the local Bengali bazaar near the hotel where you will find local cuisine and souvenirs. Your overnight accommodation will be in Kolkata.

Day 18 : Departure from Kolkata

You will be transferred in time to the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at DumDum for your onward journey.

Your exclusive journey begins with your arrival in Kolkata.  Earlier it was called Calcutta, which was the first capital of Modern India, where the British set up the East India Company and coincidently was the gateway to the 200 year rule in India. You will then travel through the multi-cultural state of Sikkim in the East, where the mystical Himalayas and the stunning scenic views of Kanchenjunga, or K2, will take your breath away. Magnificent Sikkim, also known as the Switzerland of India, boasts its scenic views of mighty mountains of The Alps, the Tea gardens of Darjeeling, the hill stations, the old British railway – the Toy Train, the Buddhist monasteries and the strong influence of Tibetan culture. The highlight of the tour is that you will also visit Kaziranga National Park in Assam, a state in northeastern India, located south of the eastern Himalayas

 

You will travel to the North Eastern town of Bagdogra, where you will begin your journey through the Himalayan Kingdom. Surrounded by tea plantations, Darjeeling, once a summer resort for the British Raj elite is a fascinating town with a distinctive mix of Buddhist and colonial architecture. You will visit Tiger Hill at sunrise with views of an incredible assortment of peaks. Also, enjoy a ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway to visit the Yiga Choling Monastery at Ghoom which is a highlight of the stay in Darjeeling.

 

The picturesque drive from Darjeeling climbs and descends along the Teesta River, passing through paddy fields and small villages, leading you into Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. The Rumtek Monastery, the largest in Sikkim, is perched on a hilltop facing the city of Gangtok. It is the aspiration of the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, to establish his seat-in-exile to help spread the teachings of Buddha throughout the world.

 

Further to your journey, you will take a leisurely drive to Kalimpong, a hill station near Darjeeling which is located on a ridge overlooking the Teesta River, a popular tourist destination due to its temperate climate and proximity to other locations in the region. Horticulture is also important to Kalimpong. You will visit the flower market, which is notable for its wide array of orchids. You will also visit nurseries, which export Himalayan grown flower bulbs, tubers and rhizomes which contributes to the economy of Kalimpong. Home to ethnic Nepalis, indigenous ethnic groups and non-native migrants from other parts of India, the town is a religious centre of Buddhism. You will witness the Buddhist monastery Zang Dhok Palri Phodang which holds a number of rare Tibetan Buddhist scriptures.

 

Your next stop will be at The Kaziranga National Park in Assam, located on the banks of the Brahmaputra River, which is spread over 430 sq kms with swamps and Elephant grass and is ideal for the habitation of the one-horned Rhinos. Besides this, other major wildlife attractions include the Indian Elephants, Indian Bison, Swamp Deer or Barasingha, Hog Deer, Sloth Bears, Tigers, Leopard Cats, Jungle Cats, Otters, Hog Badgers, Capped Langurs, Hoolock Gibbons, Wild Boar, Jackal, Wild Buffalo, Pythons and Monitor Lizards. Kaziranga is also a birding paradise, and includes Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black-Shouldered Kites, Black Kites, Brahminy Kites, Pallas’s Fishing Eagles, White Tailed Eagles, Grey-Headed Fishing Eagles, Himalayan Griffon, etc. A safari into the National Park is a remarkable experience.

 

As a part of your travelogue, you will continue your exploration with an incredible journey of a lifetime to Bhutan – Dragon Kingdom, and your visit starts with a sightseeing tour to the various cultural sites takes place with an experienced tour guide. You will be driven for the short trip to Phuentsholing, a thriving border town of southern Bhutan. Visiting the Paro Rinpung Dzong, which is a splendid experience in Paro. When you drive to Punakha from that point, you will have an opportunity to visit Tachog Lhakhang Temple (a sanctuary). Your visit goes over the Dochula Pass, which is more than 3000 meters and enjoy the stunning view of 108 Chortens. Punakha is additionally a chronicled historical place with significant symbols, which was the capital of Bhutan for a long time. You will visit the Punakha Dzong Fortress and the Divine Madmans Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang which are other tourist sites in Punakha. You will continue your journey to reach the Nobding village, where you need to cross the Pele la pass, which is at 3300m from sea level. Then you will come to Bumthang where you will come across and visit Yathra Weaving Centre at Zugney Village, Tamshing Lhakhang and then drive to Mebar Tsho – Burning lake. Then you drive back to Thimpu, drive to Paro and end the excursion.

 

We can show you more than just the tourist attractions..! Book your trip now to tailor make it….

 

Note: This trip involves considerable walking uphill and on uneven terrain. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to the fullest. While elevations are not severe, the relatively high altitude could pose problems for travellers and tourists with health conditions. You should consult your physician if you have health concerns.

PRICES / TERMS & CONDITIONS

(All prices as offered in Pound Sterling – Minimum two persons traveling)

 

Offer :  Starting from £ 2745.00 per person

*Supplements may apply peak periods, city sold out dates, and high seasons.

PACKAGE COST INCLUDES:

  • Economy class return flights UK to India.
  • Accommodation at above mentioned or similar hotels on twin sharing basis as per the chosen Option.
  • Daily buffet breakfast at all hotels except hotels in Pelling, Gangtok & Kalimpong where it would be on Half board (Breakfast & Lunch or Dinner) basis.
  • Meals on the Bhutan Part – Full board basis at all hotels / enroute local restaurants.
  • All transfers / visits / excursion as per the program by standard vehicle.
  • All transfers / visits / excursion as per the program by Non Air-Conditioned vehicle in Bhutan.
  • Services of English speaking local guide for sightseeing as per itinerary.
  • Services of English speaking Accompanying Escort / Guide for entire Bhutan portion as per itinerary.
  • Entrances at the Monuments (01 visit).
  • All road taxes, parking fee, fuel charges, interstate taxes
  • Escorted arrival/departure transfers at airport as per itinerary
  • Current Government Taxes.
  • Bhutan Tourism Development fee
  • Bhutan visa fee

PACKAGE COST DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • Expenses of personal nature like tipping, laundry, telephone/fax calls, alcoholic beverages camera/video fee at monuments, medical expenses, porterage, airport departure tax etc
  • Meals other than those specified above
  • Any international/domestic airfare
  • Any airport taxes
  • Transport during days at leisure

MONUMENT CLOSURE DAYS

 

KOLKATA –

  • Victoria Memorial- Closed on Monday
  • Birla Museum- Closed on Monday
  • Mother Teressa Home- Closed on Thursday

DARJEELING –

  • Tibetan Refugee Centre – Closed on Sunday
  • HMI & Zoo – Closed on Thursday

GANGTOK – 

  • Rumtek Monastery, Tibetology , Enchey Monastery & Cottage Industry- All remains  Closed on Sunday

 

Remarks –

Normally AC would not needed in Bhutan,  however if clients insists then supplement cost for same would be US$ 12.00 Per Person / Per Night.

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