Bhutan,Darjeeling &Sikkim - 13 days
This 13 day tour to Bhutan, Sikkim & Darjeeling offers unique travel opportunity in the Himalayas. Geographical contrasts abound with a rich mixture of ecosystems ranging from sub tropical to the high mountain ranges, which hold a wide variety of endangered species, a wealth of flora and fauna, and the unique cultures and traditions of the people.
As one of the rarest and most unique of travel destinations, Bhutan offers the experience of the Buddhist tradition in a setting of unique architecture, and breathtaking Himalayan landscape. The friendly people of Bhutan share with you their traditional lifestyle untouched by outside influence. A trip to Bhutan is a unique opportunity to experience Himalayan Buddhist culture uninfluenced by the outside world.
Sikkim, a former Himalayan kingdom, now a state in India, is richly endowed with a prominently Buddhist culture dating back to the 7th century AD. It’s unique location in the Himalayas and elevation ranging from 1970 ft / 600 mtrs. to over 26250 ft/ 8000 mtrs spread over an area of 7000 sq. km. offers diverse flora and fauna ranging from sub-tropical to the alpine. Mt Khangchendzonga (8345 mtrs.), the third highest mountain in the world and the guardian deity of Sikkim looms majestically throughout the trip. Darjeeling-“The Queen of the Himalayas” is a bustling tourist town renowned for its tea gardens, the Himalayan mountaineering Institute, the sunrise over the Himalayas from the Tiger Hill and imprints of the British Raj.
From US$ 2800.00
ITINERARY IN DETAIL
Day 01 Fly to Paro (7480 ft.) - Thimpu ( 7700 ft.)
Fly to Paro in Kingdom of Bhutan. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Great Himalayas from the flight. Upon arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be welcomed to the Kingdom by your guide. If time permits, sightseeing tour of 200-year-old Watch Tower that has been renovated and converted into National Museum in 1968. It houses a fine collection of national costumes and fabrics, gallery of Thangkas, an impressive stamp gallery with three dimensional and CD stamps issued as early as 1960 that are remarkable, and other galleries showcasing armor and silverware with the handsome Royal teapots. On the top floor there is a four-sided temple complex depicting the history of Buddhism and its propagation. Then visit the Dungtse Lakang on the same route.
Drive to Thimpu through the Paro Valley. The drive from Paro to Thimphu is spectacularly scenic. Overnight in Thimpu.
Day 02 Thimpu - Punakah (4420 ft.)
Thimphu is the only Capital City in the world without traffic lights. Magnificent monasteries and Stupas in the valleys and mountain tops. Experience the "Last Buddhist Himalayan Kingdom" on Earth. Visit to the Memorial Chorten built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, Dupthop Lhakhang ( Monastery for the nuns), National Library and the painting school where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkhas ( sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). Visit the traditional Medicine institute where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices.
After lunch you will visit Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal traditional silver smiths and Bhutanese traditional paper factory. Drive south and visit Simtokha Dzong, the first Dzong built by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal. It is now used as the Institute for study of traditional teachings. Afternoon drive to Punakha, through Dochula Pass (10170 ft.) for 3-4-hrs to the ancient Capital of Punakha. After crossing Dochula Pass, you can take a walk along the trails for about an hour or two watching birds and animals in the thick jungles. Great views of the himalayan peaks from this point. The journey is beautiful, as the fragrant air blows from the pink cherry trees and splashes of pink color through the orange, red and dark green forests. Sightseeing of Punakha, which was the winter capital for over 300 years until the time of second King. Punakha Dzong which dominates the whole area was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel, and established the central monastic body with 600 monks. Today, Punakha is still the home for Je Khempo (Chief Abbot) and the central monastic body. Overnight Punakha.
Day 03 Punakha - Wangdi (4430 ft.) - Paro
Morning drive to Wangdi Phodrang valley for sightseeing. Visit the only Dzong with wooden roof maintained in its ancient style. Walk around Wangdi town and have lunch.
After lunch, drive to Thimphu. En-route, visit Simtokha Dzong, the first Dzong built in Bhutan by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel in 1629. Since 1961, it has been the institute for religious and classical studies. Drive back to Paro. Overnight.
Day 04 Excursion to Taksang Monastery (9850 ft.)
After brekfast, Visit Drugyel Dzong, although mostly now in ruins. Built in 1647 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel to commemorate the victory over Tibetan Invaders, which indicates by the name of the Dzong meaning Victorious Bhutanese Fort. Visit Drugyel High School and Kychu Lhakhang, the oldest monastery in the valley built in 7th. century. From this point we see the spectacular views of Mt. Jhomolhari which is considered sacred.
Then the guide will take you to the starting point of the hike to view the spectacular Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s lair). The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.
Stop at the cafeteria for a rest and refreshments and continue the hike for short while until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the remains of Taktsang monastery. Built in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. The history states that Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tiger. Looking at the monastery flying tigers doesn’t seem so impossible after all.
Day 05 Paro -Phuntsholing
After breakfast, start your journey down south to Phuntsholing. It is about 180 Kilometers of scenic drive that takes you from the alpine forest of pines and junipers to lianas, orchid and bananas. Within 6 hours of drive, the altitude will drop approximately 6,500 feet. Phuntsholing town is a bustling trading frontier for Indians, Bangladeshis and other business people who visit here to trade commodities with their Bhutanese counterparts. On your way you will have several stops for great photograph opportunities and will also visit Kharbandi Temple.
Check into your hotel and walk around the Bazaar and visit Zangto Pelri Temple located in the middle of the town. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 06 Phunsholing - Darjeeling ( 7000 ft.)
This morning you will be met by your guide from Sikkim. He will drive you through the Indian plains and gradually climbing uphill towards Darjeeling. (2134 m / 7000 feet). Evening: free to explore the markets Overnight at hotel.
Day 07 Sightseeing in Darjeeling
Today you have full day tour of Darjeeling, which includes TIBETAN SELF-HELP CENTRE, a center for training young people in the intricate art of Tibetan handicrafts and handloom. The sales emporium is open to visitors to pick up souvenirs.
A joy ride on the DARJEELING HIMALAYAN RAILWAY which is now recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
THE HIMALAYAN ZOO houses the rare and endangered Himalayan Fauna like the Red Panda, Black Bear, Snow Leopard etc. in their semi natural habitat.
HIMALAYAN MOUNTAINEERING INSTITUTE, is a premier training institute for mountaineers and also a museum detailing the first ascent of MT. EVEREST by Tenzing Sherpa & Sir Edmund Hillary and numerous other expeditions. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 08 Darjeeling - Pemayagtse (6840 ft.)
An early morning drive to TIGER HILL to view a spectacular sunrise over the Himalayas. On return from Tiger Hill visit the GHOOM MONASTERY, built in 1875 the Monastery which follow the Gelugpa sect, houses one of the largest statues of the Maitreya Buddha. After breakfast drive to Pelling crossing into Sikkim at Jorethang across the Rangit River.
After lunch in the hotel at Pelling, visit the 18th century PEMAYANGTSE MONASTERY which follows the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Pemayangtse – "the Sublime Lotus", also houses the famed "Zangdopalri", a fascinating model of the celestial abode of Guru Padma Sambhava, crafted single-handedly out of wood by the late Dungzim Rimpoche. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 09 Pemmagtse - Yuksom- Ravangla (6400 feet)
The drive to Yuksom has a detour to KHECHEODPALRI LAKE also known as the wish fulfilling lake. This unusually calm lake, located in the midst of a dense forest is considered very sacred and no water sport or other activities besides prayers and worship are allowed around it.
Yuksom, which means the meeting place of three wise men, is a quaint little village where the history of present day Sikkim started with the coronation first king of Sikkim by three Buddhist monks in 1641 AD. A visit to the Norbugang chorten and the Coronation throne, which have stood mute witness to this historic event. Enroute to Ravangla is the TASHIDING MONASTERY, a 30 minute walk from the road. The monastery is the most sacred and was considered the heart of Sikkim by the Buddhist saint Guru Padmasambhava.
The drive across the Rangit valley, one of the two major rivers of, through semi-tropical forests, cardamom plantations and quaint villages takes you to Ravangla. A stay at the Mt. Narsing Village Resort gives an experience of a typical sikkimese countryside with a slow pace of life, great open spaces for walks and hikes, and fabulous mountain views, all with the warmth of the traditional Sikkimese hospitality. Overnight in Resort.
Day 10 Ravangla - Gantok (5250 ft.)
Drive to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, enroute visit TEMI TEA GARDEN to observe the processing of one of the finest tea in the world. Under the majestic Mt. Khangchendzonga, the guardian deity of Sikkim, Gangtok is a happy blend of the traditional and the modern. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 11 Gantok
Full day tour of Gantok, which includes TASHI VIEW POINT: Located 8 km beyond the town, this spot offers an absolutely breathtaking view of Mt. Khangchendzonga and it’s attendant peaks. ENCHEY MONASTERY : This 90 year old monastery on a hillock, 2 km above the town follows the Nyingmapa sect and is the main monastery in Gangtok. GOVERNMENT INSTITUTE OF COTTAGE INDUSTRY: This centre offers you the opportunity to observe the local artisans at work and the traditional skills being imparted to young boys and girls. If you want to take back souvenirs, the institute’s salesroom is well stocked with local handicraft and handloom products. DODRUL CHORTEN : One of the most important Stupas of Sikkim built by the late Venerable Trulsi Rimpoche in 1945-46, it contains a mandala of Dorji-Phurpa, holy texts, mantras and is encircled by 108 prayer wheels. RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF TIBETOLOGY: Situated close to the Chorten this institute is a repository of the largest collection of Tibetan artifacts outside Tibet. Also renowned worldwide for the study of Buddhist philosophy and religion, it is a treasure house of rare Thankas, Buddhist icon and objects of art. RUMTEK MONASTERY: 24 km drive to the opposite hill takes you to this magnificent monastery built by the late Gyalwa Karmapa, the head of the Kagyupa sect. This monastery has been built as an exact replica of the original Kagyu monastery in Tibet. It is also the international headquarters of the Karma Kagyu centres. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 12 Day trip to Tsomgo Lake (11980 ft )
Located east of Gangtok close to the Indo-Tibet border (closed to foreigners) Tsomgo Lake is a typically beautiful mountain lake at an altitude of 11980 ft. The journey to the lake offers a magnificent view of Mt. Khangchendzonga and other peaks of the Sikkim Himalayas. Return to Gantok.
Day 13 Gantok -Bagdora- Onward flight
After breakfast you will be driven to Bagdogra airport for your onward flight.
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