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ITINERARY AT A GLANCE
Bhutan Drukpath Trek
Day 01: Arrive Paro
After arriving & visa formalities and collection of baggage, you will be welcomed by our tour representative who will be your tour guide during your entire trip in Bhutan.
Check into your hotel. Free until lunch time for some rest from early morning flight, refreshment and lunch.
Afternoon, visit the following places:-
The Paro Dzhong is probably Bhutan's best known and most iconic Dzhong. This is probably the first building you will notice when you land at Paro International Airport and will probably be your first memory of Bhutan. The imposing Dzhong is perhaps the finest example of Dzhong architecture existing the world today, the massive buttered walls of the fortress dominate over the valley. The Rinpung Dzhong's names translates to the " Fortress on a heap of Jewels ".
The fortress was constructed in 1644 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal on the foundations of an ancient monastery. The fort played a crucial role in the history of the Paro valley as the Dzhong helped keep the marauding Tibetans away from the Paro valley.
The Dzhong was hit by an earthquake in 1897 but survived unharmed, but a fire in 1907 ended up causing severe damage to the Dzhong. The Dzhong is built on a steep hill along the banks of the Paro Chu river. The front part of the Dzhong is home to the District administration while the other courtyard towards the rare houses the district monk body.
The approach toward the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called the NemiZam. A paved stone path runs alongside the imposing outer walls of the structure. The valley's annual springtime religious festival called the Paro Tsechu is organized each year in the courtyard of the dzong and is attended by tourists from all over the world.
Ta Dzong (National Museum)
The National Museum of Bhutan is housed inside the six storied circular Ta Dzhong. The Ta Dzhong is a medieval watch tower situated above the Rimpung Dzhong. The Ta Dzhong was constructed in 1656 with a purpose to give advance warning to the Paro Dzong in case of an approaching army, in fact the word Ta means 'to see' in Dzhongkha. The future first king was imprisoned here for a brief period in 1872. In 1968 the Ta Dzhong was converted into the National Museum of Bhutan. The Museum houses a priceless collection of textile, costumes, paintings, appliqué, wooden handicrafts, weapons, armour and jewellery. There is a small section dedicated to the natural history of Bhutan. There is a small chapel on the top of the building with icons representing Himalayan Buddhist traditions.
Overnight in a hotel in Paro.
Day 02: Paro
After breakfast, we will take you for a morning hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. Hanging precariously and magically from a rather steep cliff, the Taktshang monastery is a monument of genuine pride for the Bhutanese nation. It defies architectural principles to the core and amazes tourists from around the world. It is a sight to behold. Taktshang or the Tigers lair as the monastery is called, it is widely regarded is one of the most important monuments of spiritual significance in Bhutan. Its history is deeply associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava, the revered Indian saint who came to Bhutan in the 8th century AD.
The cave was named Taktshang after Guru Rinpoche flew into the cave from KurtoeSingyeDzong in eastern Bhutan while riding on a tigress. When he landed in the cave, he took the wrathful form of Guru DorjiDrolo who is regarded as one of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche to decimate the demons. Several saints have chosen this sanctuary to pray and meditate in solitude. The monastery was built in 1692 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgaye who is said to be one of the reincarnations of Guru Rinpoche. The Monastery consists of four main temples along with their residences that are constructed along the rock ledge. There 8 caves in total out of which 4 are relatively easy to access.
The monastery was ravaged by fire twice in the 1900s first in 1951 and later the fire of 1998, which nearly destroyed the monastery completely. The government then undertook a comprehensive reconstruction in 200 with funding from foreign donors. The monastery was recreated to its original splendor and re-opened to the public shortly thereafter.
From the road, the hike toward Taktshang follows an uphill route and takes approximately 3-4 hours at an average walking pace on a clear, sunny day. We recommend that you carry sunscreen lotion, large quantities of drinking water, a walking stick just in case you need to shoo of the birds and a hat to further protect yourself from the sun.
The Jowo Temple of Kyichu is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. The temple was built by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo in the 7th Century AD. The Kyichu Lhakhang was one of the 108 temples constructed by him to subdue a demon that was terrorizing the people of the Himalayas. The temple is believed to have been visited by the Guru Rinpoche in the 8th Century during his visit to the Paro Valley. Other important personalities to have visited the temple in antiquity include Lam Kha Nga and the Phajo Dugom Zhigpo. The Lhakahng underwent many extensions during the ages with the last one being carried out in 1965 by the Queen Mother Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck. She added another new structure to the temple called the Guru Lhakahng. As one of the oldest Lhakahangs, it houses many important relics. One of the most important relics of the temple is a 7th century statue of Jowo Sakyamuni which is believed to have cast at the same time as it famous counterpart in Lhasa Tibet.
There are 2 orange trees located in the courtyard of the temple; there is a belief amongst the locals that these orange trees bear fruit all year long. This site is one of the most sacred holy sites is all of Bhutan, and our companies travel consultants recommend every traveller to visit this sacred temple.
Druk Choeding is also known as Tshongdoe Naktshang. The temple was built by Ngawang Chhogyel, who was a prince of Ralung and the ancestor of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, in 1525. In the temple, visitors will find a statue of the Future Buddha known as Jampa in the seated position. There is also an image of the deity known as Gyenyen who is the protector of Bhutan. Gyenyen is surrounded by a collection of ancient swords, shields and other weaponry.
The Dumtse lhakhang Temple is located just north of the city of Paro. The Dumtse Lhabhang temple is very unique in its design as it’s designed like a Chorten (Stupa), which is highly unlike any guide other Lhakhang / temple in Bhutan. The Temple was built in the 1443 AD by Thantong Gyalpo, known as the iron bridge builder in Bhutanese legend. The Dumatse Lhakhang is built over 3 levels that represent the 3 spiritual realms of earth i.e. Hell, Earth and Heaven. The walls of the Dumtse Lhakhang are decorated in beautiful hand-painted murals that depict these 3 realms of earth. These beautiful murals are regarded as some of the finest examples of Bhutanese art in the country.
To visit the Dumtse Lhakahng tourists require a special permit that has to be obtained in advance, we recommend that you ask your Bhutan Travel Agent to apply for the same if you wish to visit the temple before you depart from your home country. Another thing that BhutanTravelAgency.com recommends is that you must carry a flashlight with you while visiting the temple. The inner reaches of the temple are very dark and only illuminated by a few
butter lamps and the odd small window.
In evening we will visit local market of Paro and overnight in a hotel in Paro.
Druk Path Trek
Day 3: Ta Dzong- Jele Dzong
Your trek Starts from here.
Distance: 10 km, 3-4 hours
Altitude: 3450 m
We will start early so that you can escape the heat and reduce the up hill challenge by not having to do it when it is warm and sunny. The area has a relatively less density of trees. The trail commences above the Ta Dzong (Museum). Since it is a 3-4 hour trek, it starts on an up-hill route and passes through temperate forests and vast farmhouses. By lunch time, the trail enters the thick coniferous belts. Here, watch out for wild animals & birds.
As evening sets in, you will reach the Jelela Pass that is 2600 m from here. Just a hundred meters downhill is the campsite with large meadows – an area, where yak herder’s camp regularly with their assorted flock of yaks.
Day 4: Trek Starts from Jele Dzong- Jangchuk Lakhang
Distance: 10 km, 4-5 hours
Altitude: 3780 m
On the fourth day, you will head to the Jangchuk Lhakha camp. It is a 4-5 hours trek and the campsite is located at an altitude of 3780 meters. You gain about 300 meters in elevation. The trail starts 200 meters on the hill toward Jeli Dzong which was the rest house of Bhutan’s 2nd king and is now a monastic institute. It passes through up and down paths and offers lovely views of the Paro valley on your left as you walk along the ridges. Here you’ll encounter dense temperate forests and lush alpine meadows.
Day 5: Trek Starts from Jangchuk Lakhang – Jimi Langtsho
Distance: 11 km, 5-6 hours
Altitude: 3880 m
The fifth day of the trek takes you to Jimi Langtso Lake, which is located at a height of 3880 meters. This is the highest camp site on your trip. The trek will last approximately 6-7 hours and starts with about 500 meters uphill through coniferous forests and gleaming hillsides dotted with rhododendron flowers.
You will also see other exotic species of flora and fauna that is exclusive to this part of the world. After all, trekking in Bhutan has its own rewards. This trail offers you some of the most scenic views. Along side the trail, don’t miss the wild onions growing on the trail. After the first pass, it’s mostly up and down through rugged landscape with amazing natural views. You have to exercise caution if you are traveling on a pony. Just before you cross the last pass, you have to cross a ridge. On clear days, you can see Mt. Kanchenjunga and Bhutan’s Chomolhari, Jichu Drakey & Tsrim gang to your northwest.
After crossing the last pass, you will see the lake on your left. You will Move down-hill now to reach the campsite. Trekking in Bhutan may require some fortitude but the proximity to nature you will experience every moment makes it worth the effort for thousands of Bhutan travel enthusiasts like you each year.
Day 6: Trek Starts from Jimi Langtsho- Phajoding
Distance: 20 km, 5-6 hours
Altitude: 3870 m
We will commence the trek early to be able to reach Phajoding in a timely fashion. You’ll go uphill on this trek. The trek is about 6-7 hours duration and the campsite at Phajoding is at an altitude of 3870 meters. You will encounter countless passes on the trail of which some are as high as 4000 meters above sea level. You will also come across the famous yak herder’s camp full of yaks grazing all around the nearby lake. You may also catch the carven of Blue Sheep. You will next arrive at Lake Janetso and Lake Semkotatsol famous for year round trout fishing. Take in not one but many spectacular views of the mountains during your Bhutan trek and expedition. Once you reach the Phajoding Pass, you can look onto the Thimphu capital valley in its entirety during your downward journey.
Day 7: Trek starts from Phajoding-Thimphu
Distance: 5 km, approximately 3 hours
Altitude: 2350 m
On the last day of your most memorable and unforgettable trek in Bhutan, we will depart early in the morning so that we reach Thimphu in good time. You also have the option of departing late after visiting the old temples and other monuments in the area. The sunrise view overlooking the Thimphu valley in Phajoding is spectacular. You can watch the pheasants fluttering if you take a short stroll around the hillside.
Be sure to carry a walking stick with you which we will provide upon request at Phajoding to shoo away our feathered friends! The walk down-hill passes through mixed temperate forests and takes about two hours to complete.
Drive to Punakha after completing the trek. We will stop over for tea at Dochula Pass(3,100 m), where on a sunny day, you can get stunning views of the Himalayan ranges. The Dochu La Pass is probably the best known mountain pass in Bhutan. Located at an altitude of 3150 meter above sea level, the Dochu La Pass is about 30 kilometer away from the capital city Thimphu and the road to Punakha.
On a clear day the pass offers visitors a spectacular view of the majestic eastern Himalayan Ranges. A cup of hot coffee or tea at the pass has almost become part of tradition for people travelling to and fro from Punakha to the capital city.
There is a small cafeteria at the pass that offers a chance for travelers to enjoy a hot beverage or a snack, it is located just off the road and overlooks the pass and is an ideal place to sit back, relax and enjoy the view. Another striking feature at the pass are the 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens, that were built for the well-being of all sentiment beings on earth. The 108 Chorten were built as a tribute to the Kings of Bhutan for their selfless service and leadership they offer to the people of Bhutan. These Stupas or Chortens also represent the peoples love, appreciation and loyalty towards the country’s King. Then we will drive towards Punakha and visit:-
The Punakha Dzhong or the Pungtang Dechen Phortang Dzhong is located at the confluence of the Mo Chhu and the Po Chhu River, combine to form the Puna Tsang Chu which in turn is a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra River.
The Punakha Dzhong is the second largest and the second oldest Dzhong in Bhutan. The Dzhong is home to some of the most sacred relics of the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism; it is also home to the sacred mortal remains of Shabdrun Nagawang Namgyal and Trenton Pema Lingpa the great treasure discoverer of Bhutan. The Punakha Dzhong has also served as the of capital Bhutan till 1955 before the capital was moved to Thimphu. The Dzhong is still the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot) and the central monastic body.
The Punakha Dzhong plays host to the annual Punakha Theschu Festival which is very popular with the locals and tourists alike.
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
The Yulley Namgual Chorten, lies approximate 7 kilometer north of Punakha. The Chorten is situated along a hill up the valley and can be reached after a leisurely hike through the woods and rice paddies. The Yuelley Namgyal Chorten was constructed by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, in the 1990’s, Built over a period of 9 years, Bhutanese craftsmen including carpenters, painters, and sculptors consulted holy scriptures rather than engineering manuals, to construct this 4-storey temple.
The temple is dedicated to the well-being of all beings that reside in the Kingdom. The temple is considered one of the finest examples of the use of traditional Bhutanese architectural style in modern times. If you can convince the temple keeper to let you inside with you camera and promise you will not click pictures of the sides of the temple them you will be able to see an awesome view of the Punakha Valley.
Overnight in a hotel in Punakha.
Day 08: Punakha – Gangtey
Post breakfast we will visit Chimi Lhakhang. The Chimi Lhakang or the Chimel Lhakang is a Bhuddhist monastery located in the Punakha District of Bhutan. The monastery stands on a small hill close to the village of Lobesa and was constructed in 1499 by Ngawang Choegyel, the 14thDrukpaheirarch.
The Temple is very deeply connected to the legends of Saint Drukpa Kinley also known as the Devine Madman. It has been said that the demon of Dochu-La with a magic thunderbolt of wisdom in imprisoned him in a rock close to the temple. Drukpa Kuenley is called the Divine Madman due to his unorthodox methods of teaching via songs, humor and sometimes bizarre and shocking behavior with deep sexual overtones. You might be shocked to see that the temple houses a number of wooden phalluses that the Lama had brought with him from Tibet. Pilgrims who visit the monastery receive the blessing by being struck on the head with a ten inch wooden Phallus (erect penis). The symbol of an erect penis is said to ward off evil.
The monastery is also known as the temple of fertility and is visited not only by the Bhutanese but women from countries as far as Japan and United States to receive a special blessing that can help these women conceive children. These women receive the blessing by getting struck on the head with a 10 inch wooden/ ivory phallus.
The Temple can be accessed by undertaking a short 20 minute walk across the rice fields from the nearest road head. The Lhakhang is a square shaped building with a golden spire on its roof. The temple has many rows of prayer wheels and the temples exterior has embedded slate carvings of various Buddhist saints. Near the temples entrance there is a small Chorten that marks the spot where the Lama subdued the demon of Dochu La.
Later we will drive to Gangtey, and visit Gangtey monastery
The Gangtey Monastery or the Gangtey Goempa is an important monastery / temple associate with the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism. The Monastery is Located in the Wandue Phodrang Dzhongkhag in central Bhutan. The Gangtey Monastery is situate in the picturesque Phobjikha Valley, which is also renowned for being the winter home of the rare Tibetan Black Necked Cranes. The monastery was established in 1613 by Peling Gyalse Rinpoche, the grandson of Trenton Pema Lingpa the great treasurer discoverer.
According to a story during a visit to the Phobjikha Valley, Trenton Pema Lingpa foretold the people that one day his descendants will construct a monastery on the hills surrounding the valley and make it the seat of the Peling Tradition. The present ruling dynasty of Bhutan is descendant of the great Trenton Pema Lingpa.
The monastery is a complex of five temples that surround a main central tower. The main hall of the monastery is built in Tibetan style architecture and is made completely out of wood with its 8 main wooden pillars considered to be the largest in Bhutan. Between 2002 and 2008 the monastery underwent a complete renovation / restoration.The monastery was consecrated by the present day reincarnation of the Pema Lingpa in October 2008. The monastery has a very close connection to the royal family of Bhutan.
The Phobjikha is a wide glacial valley located in close to the Gangtey Monastery. The Phobjikha valley is the winter home of the rare Black Necked Cranes that migrate from Tibet from the arid plains of Tibet to roost in the more comfortable climate of the Phobjikha Valley. The valley is at an altitude of 2900 meters above sea level and experiences a much lighter winter as compared to the harsh extremes of Tibet. A part of the valley lies in the Black Mountain National Park. There are 2 rivers that flow through this valley called the Nakay Chu and the Gay Chu. According to legend it is said that the rivers represent a serpent and a boar.
Once upon a time there was a race between the two to determine wether people can grow rice in the valley or not, if the serpent won then the people of the valley could grow rice but if the boar won, then rice could never be cultivated in the area. Eventually the serpent lost and till date rice is not grown in the Phobjikha Valley. While visiting the Phobjikha Valley one must take time out to visit the Black Necked Crane Information Centre, the centre
is located at the edge of the main forest are along the road and can be easily accessed. The centre has an observation deck that is equipped with a high power telescope that gives visitors a chance to spot some cranes.
The Information Center has a display that offers an insight in to the natural and cultural history of the valley.
Overnight in a hotel in Gangtey.
Day 09: Gangtey – Thimphu
Post breakfast, we will drive towards Thimphu, and on the way, we will visit Simtokha Dzong
The Simtokha Dzong is a small Dzong located approximately 5 kilometers south of Thimphu. The Dzong is officially called the Sangak Zabhon Phodrang which roughly translates to the Palace of the Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras. The Simthoka Dzong is said the be the first fortress to have been built by the legendary Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in Bhutan. The fortress was constructed in the year 1629. Some suggest the Dzhong is the oldest surviving complete Dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong is currently home to the Institute for Languages and Cultural Studies which is attended by monks and common people alike.
The site of the Dzong is said to have been built over a site where a demon had disappeared in to the rocks nearby. The site of the Dzong is located very strategically at a point from where the Dzong can protect the Thimphu Valley and also protects the valley that leads to the Dochu La pass and onwards to Eastern Bhutan. The Dzhong was attacked during its construction by the Tibetans and a group of Bhutanese Lamas who were against Shabdrung. Even though the initial attack failed the Dzhong was subsequently conquered in 1630. After a few failed attepmpts the Shabdrung regained control over the Dzhong when the Dzhongs main building caught fire and its roof collapsed on its occupiers killing them all.
The Kuensel Phodrang or the Buddha point is the world’s largest sitting Buddha statue, the statue is 167 feet high. The statue is situated on top of a hill overlooking the city of Timphu, it can be accessed by road and is about 15 minutes away from the city’s center. The word Kuensel means everything is clear and from this place you will sure enjoy a great view of the Thimphu Valley on both sides. The statute will house a temple inside it, the statue and its adjoining car park and recreational center are currently under construction and is expected to be ready by December 2012. The statue is constructed out of bronze and is studded with many semi-precious stones. Since they are no factories in country that can make such a large bronze cast structure, statute is being manufactured in China and the pieces are brought to Bhutan and are assembled here.
On the drive to the statue the steep winding hill road offers an unparalleled view of the city of Thimphu and is an excellent place to capture a view of the city especially after dark. A journalist once described the view as “seeing an osasis of light in the desert of darkness “as the city light of Thimphu shine very bright in an otherwise dark Thimphu valley.
National memorial chorten
The National Memorial was built by Bhutan's third king, H.M. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who is also known as the "father of modern Bhutan." He wanted to erect a monument carrying the message of world peace and prosperity. However, he was unable to give shape to his idea in his lifetime due to pressures of state and other regal responsibilities. After his untimely demise in 1972, the Royal Family and Cabinet resolved to fulfill his wishes and erect a memorial that would perpetuate his memory and also serve as a monument to eternal peace, harmony and tranquility.
The National Memorial Chorten was gifted to the nation on 28 July, 1974. The exquisite wall paintings and the delicately carved statues reflect deep insights into Buddhist spirituality and a rich tradition of prayer and learning.
The National Memorial Chorten is known as the ‘most visible religious landmark in Bhutan’.
The Chorten was consecrated by His Holiness, the Late Dudjorn Rinpoche. Unlike other Stupas the Chorten is not a shrine for the mortal of the late King. The Chorten on contains a photograph of the King in full ceremonial attire. The King had intend for the Choten to be “ Chorten that represents the mind of Bhuddha ”
The national Memorial Chorten is located in the center of the capital city, Thimphu and is designed like a Tibetan style Chorten. The Chorten is patterned of the classical Stupa design with a pyramidal pillar crowned by a crescent moon and sun.
One of the most distinct features of the Chorten is its outwards flaring rounded part that makes the Chorten look more like a vase rather than the classical dome. The interior of the Chorten has a large number of paintings of Tantric deities, in explicit sexual poses that sometimes can be a little disconcerting to visitors.
Overnight in a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 10: Thimphu
Early morning after breakfast, you will visit Tashichho dzhong
The Tashichho Dzhong is a Buddhist monastery cum fortress at the northern edge of Thimpu the capital city of Bhutan. The Dzhong was built on the western bank of the river Wang Chu, and has historically served at the seat of the DrukDesi or the Dharma Raja of Bhutan’s government. After the kings assumed power in 1907 this post was combined with that of the king and Thimphu severed as the summer caital of the kingdom before becoming the full time capital of Bhutan.
The original Thimphu Dzhong (the Dho-Ngyen Dzhong) is said to have been constructed in 1216 by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa. And was later taken over by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo before the Dzhong was conquered by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who found the Dzhong to be too small and expanded it to what is now known as theTashichho dzong is also called the "fortress of glorious religion." It was erected in 1641 and was subsequently rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s.
The Chagangkha Lhakahng temple is a early medieval Buddhist temple in the capital city Thimphu. The temple is situated on a ridge overlooking the city, near Mohitang on the outskirts of Thimphu. The temple is the oldest temple in Thimphu and was constructed by Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo in the 12 century AD. Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo is also the founder of the Drukpa Kaygo School of Buddhism. The Lhakhang’s central deity is Chenirizig. There is a large statue of Chenrizig, the 11 headed, thousand arm manifestation of Avolokiteshwara. The prayer books in the temple are larger in size compared to the usual Buddhist texts. There are also large prayer wheels and paintings in the walls of the temple. The temple offers an excellent view of the city of Thimphu from its courtyard.
Folk heritage museum.
The folk heritage museum was open to the general public in 2001 upon completion. It treasures troves of culture and rich Bhutanese heritage provide rich insights into the Bhutanese ethos. Try to schedule your visit during the morning hours since the museum is less crowded at that time and there is plenty of sunlight to go around.
The folk heritage museum is housed in a replica traditional Bhutanese house learn first-hand about Bhutan’s rich cultural traditions, its deeply rooted heritage which spans thousands of years and the Bhutanese way of life. The tour of this almost living museum will also give you a glimpse onto how many rural folk of the country live today following the ancient Bhutanese ways.
National textile museums :
The second important Museum that also opened its doors in 2001 is the National Textile Museum of Bhutan. During a trip to this museum you will get an up close and personal experience of the living national art of weaving. The changing exhibitions at the museum will introduce you to the major weaving techniques that the weavers employ to make these beautiful fabrics. It also gives you a chance to see the various styles of dressing of the men and women from different parts of Bhutan. The museums exhibits follow 6 major themes :
•Weft Pattern Weaves
•Role of Textile in Bhuddism
•Historical achievements in textile
•Textiles made from different indigenous fibers
•The royal textile collection.
National institute of zorig chusum
The art and crafts currently taught in Bhutan, were introduced to the country in the 15th century by Trenton Pema Lingpa. Trenton Pema Lingpa also known as the Great Treasure National Institute for Zorig Chusum - Discoverer is credited to have introduced these art forms to the people of Bhutan. These traditional crafts are a representation of the centuries of knowledge and ability that was been handed down to master craftsmen and artisan through each generation. Bhutan’s unique artistic tradition has played a vital role in shaping the countries distinct culture and heritage.
It was realized that this unique and priceless heritage of the nation need to be protected and promoted with the strong patronage of the royal government. With this vision in mind the royal institute for Zoring Chusum was established in the year 1971 to train the youth in the 13 traditional Arts and Crafts of Bhutan.
The institute now falls under the aegis of the National Technical Training Authority which was established in 1990 to ensure high quality vocational training for the people of the country. The institute has now been operational for almost 40 years and has taught students the arts of painting, embroidery, calligraphy, sculpting and wood carving.
Bhutan's National Library was established in the 1967. Its mission is to preserve the literary treasures of the nation which constitute a significant element of Bhutan's rich and vibrant cultural heritage. The library was established with a small collection of precious texts, National library Thimphu Bhutan and was housed in the central tower of the Tashicho Dzhong. The collection then moved to the its present building located in the Changgandkha area of Thimphu. The building that houses the collection is traditionally constructed four storied eight cornered building that is a homage to the central tower temple located in Bhutanese Dzhongs.
It houses an extensive collection and archive of Buddhist literary works mostly in ancient block-printed format, with some manuscripts several hundred years old. This collection, which is also known as the "Choekey Collection," mainly comprises Buddhist literature written in Choekey, the religious script of Northern Buddhism. It also includes works written both in Tibetan and in Dzongkha, Bhutan's national language. There is also a foreign literature collection which comprises works written in English with subject interest on Buddhist studies, Bhutan, the Himalayan region and neighboring countries like India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka where the Buddhist religion is also practiced.
Overnight in a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 11: Thimphu (Sightseeing continued)
Post breakfast you will visit Motithang takin preserve
The Motithang Takin Preserve also known as the Thimphu Zoo by many is a small natural preserve for the Takin Bhutan’s national animal. It was originally a mini zoo, but it was converted in a preserve later on as the Takin. The mini zoo contained a small number of Takin but the King of Bhutan later decreed that it was improper for a Buddhist nation to keep an animal in captivity. The animals were set free and the zoo was shut down, but for some reason the Takin refused to leave the area for the forests nearby. Instead the animals were frequesntly found roaming around the streets of the capital city in search for food. As a result the government decided to demarcate an 8 acre fenced location as the Motithang Takin Preserve. The preserve is a forested preserve that mimics the Takin’s natural habitat, in addition to the Takin there are a few musk deer and barking deer that live inside the preserve. There are plans to expand the preserves collection to include other rarely seen animals that live in Bhutan, currently the preserve plans to add the Red Panda and the Himalayan Serow to the preserve.
Jungshi handmade paper factory
The Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory is a small paper factory located in Thimphu that produces paper using traditional Bhutanese methods. The paper products produced at the factory are made from Daphne or Mulberry plant bark.
On you visit to the factory you will see the process from the beginning to the end. The process starts with people pulling the bark off the plant to the process of cooking to create wood pulp to the creation of the final product.
There is a small shop at the factory that sells a variety of paper and stationary that is produced from paper made here.
National handicrafts emporium
The National Handcrafts Emporium is a state run Handicrafts showroom in 4 different cities of bhutan. The emporium is run by the National Woman’s Association of Bhutan as a Non-Government Organization that is run under the royal supervision of Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Choden Wangchuk.
The Handicrafts Emporium showcases the finest handicrafts of the country and supports one of Bhutan’s most important income generating activities. The lack of an organized handicrafts industry in Bhutan is one of the biggest concerns of the organization running the Emporium as they strive to create some form of organization in this otherwise unorganized sector.
The products on sale at the emporium include; locally manufactured hand woven fabrics, wooden masks, cane and bamboo products, traditional wooden utensils such as cups and bowls, handmade paper, statuettes, prayer wheels etc. Most of the goods are manufactured in the winter months, since business is slow for farmers in the winter months many families turn to the production of handicrafts goods to supplement their income during the lean winters. Apart from its central branch in Thimphu the emporium has now opened its doors in 3 more locations including one at the Paro International Airport, Bumthang and the Rural Handicrafts Sales Centre at Tashigang. The Rural Handicrafts Sales Center is known as a good place to pick up woven kiras, table runners and scarves, particularly if you can’t make it to the weaving centre in Khaling. Kiras aren’t cheap (Nu 4000 to 16,000) but do keep in mind that an elaborate piece can take up to six months to create.
National institute of traditional medicine services
The National Institute of Traditional Medicine or the Institute of Traditional Medicine Services is located in the capital city Thimphu. The Institute is situated on a hilltop above the Traditional Arts Center and the National Library of Bhutan.
The King directed the Bhutanese Department of Health to establish a traditional medicine system for the welfare of the people of Bhutan and preserve the traditional Bhutanese methods of treatment. An “ Indigenous Dispensary” was opened on 28 June 1968 at Dechencholing in Thimphu, staffed by doctors who were trained in Tibet, which later relocated to present location in Thimphu.
The relocated “Indigenous Dispensary” was renamed the National Indigenous Hospital and then later the National Institute of Traditional Medicine. Finally in 1998 the institute was upgraded the Institute of Traditional Medicine Services (ITMS).
Traditional Medicine in Bhutan dates back to the 17th Century to the times of Shabdrung Nagwang Namgyal. Traditional medicine in Bhutan can trace its roots back to Tibet, but ever since it came to Bhutan, Bhutanese traditional medicine evolved and developed completely independent of its Tibetan Ancestors.
The institute produces tradition remedies in laboratories from minerals, animal parts, precious metals, gems and plants. Over 40,000 patients are treated annually at the hospital
The institute has a training wing that trains people in traditional medicine. There is a 5 year bachelor’s degree course for people who want to become physicians and a three year course in nursing.
The weekend market is highly recommended to travelers who want to experience the local Bhutanese way of life. The weekend market is located in a set of stall of both side of the Wang Chhu River. The market essentially is a farmers market, where every week vendors from throughout the region start arriving by Thursday evening and stay at the market till Sunday. It is interesting to see the well-heeled and well to do residents of the city jostle with the common folk for the freshest produce of the region.
Depending on the season you will find different kinds of fruits and vegetables available in the market. The most striking feature of the market are the chilli stalls that sell chilli in its fresh or dry from. Chili is the favorite spice of the Bhutanese and no Bhutanese dish is complete without a generous garnish of the fiery chilli.
Across on the western banks of the river, the Kundeyling Bazaam houses a collections of shops and stalls that sell textile, clothing, handicrafts, and other goods that the locals may need. You will also find a lot of cheap ornamental goods on sale that have been imported from Nepal it is advisable to visit the market with a guide who can help you hunt for a good bargain.
Overnight in a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 12: Paro Departure
In the morning after early breakfast we will see you off at the Paro Airport for your onward destinations.