Rhododendron Festival - 9 Nights / 10 Days
Duration: 10 days tour
Season: April 18 – 20 2017
Rhododendron Festival Overview:
Places Covered: Paro, Thimphu, Haa, Punakha and Wangdue.
The two days Rhododendron festival is celebrated at Lampelri Botanical Garden, which is about one and half hour drive from Thimphu en route to Punakha. Bhutan has over 46 different species of rhododendrons in the country. For nature and flower lovers, this is the perfect trip you can make best use of it. You can walk down the trail in the forest and enjoy the beauty of of wild rhododendrons that grows in abundance. It has the highest record of 29 species of rhododendron grown in Lampelri Botanical Park out of 46 species of rhododendron in the country.
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular flights amongst all the mountain flights. You can glimpse a spectacular view of Mount. Everest, Kanchenjunga, and other popular peaks in Bhutan such as Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsrim Khang. On arrival at the Paro International Aiport , our guide will receive you and drive you through one of the most fascinating valleys of Bhutan to your hotel for overnight halt.
Afternoon, visit Drukgyel Dzong; a ruined fortress located about 14 km away from Paro town. It was built in 1649 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to commemorate the victory of Bhutan over Tibetan invaders, led by the Mongolian warlord, Gushri Khan in 1644. Drukgyel Dzong captured the eyes of western visitors when it was featured on the cover of the National Geographic magazine in 1914. Above the ruined fortress, appears the towering peak of Mount Jomolhari, “mountain of goddess” which is about 7,315m high. The fortress served as an administrative centre until 1951, when a fire caused by a butter lamp destroyed it. The ruins still attract lot of tourists for its rich history and glorious past.
Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang (Monastery), it is one of the two oldest monasteries built in the seventh century by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in Bhutan. It is considered one of the holiest places in Bhutan as it marks the advent of Buddhism in the country. Kyichu Monastery is located between Drugyal Dzong and Paro town. Evening, take a leisurely walk around Paro town. Overnight halt in the hotel.
After breakfast, hike to Taktsang Monastery. Literally meaning ‘Tiger’s Nest’ , because Guru Rinpoche (Precious Buddhist Saint) is said to have flown to the site of the monastery on the back of a tigress and then meditated in a cave for three months in the eighth century. It is precariously perched on the right side of a cliff, at 2950 metres above sea level and 900 metre above Paro valley. It is considered one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for the Buddhist world today
It is about 4-5hours walk up and down. Lunch at Taktsang cafeteria. Evening, take a leisurely walk around Paro town. Overnight halt in the hotel.
Morning, visit Ta Dzong (now National Museum); originally built as a watch tower of Paro Dzong in 1951 is now converted to the National Museum in 1968. It has a unique and varied collection of ancient paintings, textiles, weapons and armour, bronze statues, old household objects, exquisite postage stamps, jewellery and many other decorative arts.
Then visit Paro Dzong (Fortress); also known as Rinpung Dzong, which means ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’. It was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and is one of Bhutan’s most impressive Dzongs in the country which depicts the finest examples of Bhutanese unusual architecture. It serves as the administrative centre of the Paro district and also houses the state monastic community. The courtyard of the Dzong serves as a venue of Paro Tshechu (festival), held annually in spring.
After lunch, drive to Thimphu(about 1 hour 30 minutes drive). En route, visit Semtokha Dzong, first fortress built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1627 among the series of fortresses built by him in 17th century in Bhutan. About 4 miles drive from Thimphu, this fortress is situated on a lofty ridge and now houses the educational institute for Buddhist studies. On arrival, transfer to hotel for overnight halt.
Morning, visit Memorial Chorten (Stupa), one of the most religious stupa visible in Thimphu. The religious paintings and complex tantric statues inside the monument reflect both peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist deities. It was built in 1974 in memory of the Third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is popularly considered as the Father of Modern Bhutan.
Then visit Changangka Lhakhang (Monastery) ,which was built in 15th century by the high saint Phajo Drugom Shigpo. It is a monastery of Compassionate Buddha Chenrigzee. After that visit Zilukha Nunnery, to see nuns reciting prayers and then visit National Library where it houses a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and texts including the imprinted and archaic text of Bhutanese history. The library also has research documents and printing blocks for prayer flags. You can visit Traditional Painting School, a centre where children learn traditional drawing and painting, wood carving, sculpture and other forms of traditional arts. On a visit, one can view the students at work. Then have a visit to Heritage Museum, the living farmhouse of the 19th century depicting the harmonious living style of the Bhutanese family with the domestic animals in the premises.
After lunch, visit Mini Zoo to see Bhutan’s national animal Takin and then drive farther up to Radio Tower to catch a spectacular glimpse of Thimphu valley. Take a gentle walk in the midst of colorful prayer flags that dot the beautiful landscapes to experience the breath of spirituality. Then visit Traditional Medicine Institute, where the rich herbal medicine found abundant in Bhutan are prepared and dispensed. The institute also researches the use of medicinal herbs and plants and operates a trial experiment on the premises. After that you can stop to visit Textile Museum and Handicrafts Emporium, where various products of Bhutanese arts and crafts are displayed and can be purchased as well.
After that, visit Tashichhoedzong,“fortress of glorious religion”. The Dzong was initially erected in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and later the third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuk rebuilt its present form in 1965. It was built in traditional fashion, without using nails and architectural plans.It is also the home of the throne room of His Majesty the king of Bhutan, the summer residence of central monastic body and ministries and various government organizations. Overnight halt in the hotel.
After breakfast, drive to Punakha and Wangdue (about 2 hrs drive). En route, halt at Dochula pass (10500 feet) to see the spectacular view of snow capped eastern Himalayan Mountains.
En route attend full day Rhododendron Festival at Lampelri Botanical Garden. Lunch at Lampelri Botanical Park. Take a short hike through the Rhododendron park. Evening, drive to Punakha. Overnight halt at hotel.
Morning, visit Khamsum Yuela Chorten (Stupa) built by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. It’s a short pleasant hike across the rice fileds to the hilltop. Once you reach there, you can catch a stunning view of the beautiful villages in the valley. The stupa houses complex tantric statues and religious paintings depicting Bhutan’s rich culture and traditions, marvellous arts and crafts, history and Buddhist religion. Then visit Punakha Dzong (Fortress), it was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region. It is located strategically between the confluence of Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). The Dzong was damaged by an earthquake, fire and flood a number of times and destroyed many historic documents. However, the Dzong has been fully restored to its original splendor by the present king and it serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region.
After lunch, visit Chimi Lhakhang (Monastery), a revered temple popularly recognized as a pilgrimage site for childless couples to receive blessings. Situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, it is about 20 minute’s pleasant walk across the rice fields from the road. The temple was built in the 15th century by Ngawang Chogyel after the “Divine Madman” Lam Drukpa Kuenley built a small stupa on the site.
Overnight halt in the Hotel.
Morning, drive to Gangtey (about 3 to 4 hours drive). Upon arrival check into hotel. After lunch, visit Gangtey Gompa built on the ridge overlooking the beautiful wide valley of Phobjikha. It was founded by Pema Thinley, the grand son of Terton Pema Lingpa, the popular Nyingmapa saint of Bhutan. The pristine green valley is also the winter residence of rare and endangered black-necked cranes that migrate from Tibet to Bhutan in late autumn in a group of 200 to 300. Evening, take a leisurely walk across the beautiful Phobjikha valley. Evening, take a leisurely walk across the beautiful Phobjikha valley.
Overnight halt in the hotel.
Morning, drive to Paro (about 6 to 7 hours drive). En route visit Wangdue Town. Upon arrival, check into hotel for overnight halt. Evening, stroll through town.
Overnight halt in the hotel.
Morning drive to Haa ( about 2 hours 30 mins drive). Until recently, this place was restricted for the tourists. The Haa valley is one of the most beautiful and fascinating valleys in Bhutan. When you drive from Paro to Haa via Chelila pass (4200 metre above sea level) and if the weather is clear, you will have a spectacular glimpse of Haa valley. Also you can catch a magnificent view of Jhomolhari , “mountain of goddess” which is about 7,315m high (the second highest peak in Bhutan) and Jichu Drake which is about 6,794m high. En-route, you will get immense opportunities to take photographs. After arriving in the beautiful valley, visit Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple). Each temple has its rich religious interpretation and is definitely worth visiting. Then visit Haa Town.
After lunch, drive back to Paro taking different route to see the people and beautiful houses in the scattered villages en route.
Upon arrival transfer to the hotel for overnight halt.
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.
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