Bhutan Spiritual Tour
Bhutan is one of the most important places for the Buddhist pilgrimage and spiritual tour. Buddhism has been the predominant religion from the 7th century and since then many saints, religious masters, mystics and scholars have visited and blessed Bhutan and its people with invaluable spiritual and cultural heritage that shapes the Bhutanese lives and history. Today, the Buddhist world, considers Bhutan with special importance as the last bastion of Mahayana Buddhism. Hundreds of sacred monasteries, stupas, religious institutions, fluttering prayer flags and prayer wheels which dot the landscapes and countryside are the strong evidence of immense living faith in Buddhism. This tour will enable you to experience the in depth spirituality and profound understanding of Mahayana Buddhism. The major highlights of this tour are visit to the most sacred places of Bhutan which includes: Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’, Punakha Dzong, Membar Tsho “The flaming lake”, Bumthang, Haa valley, Wangdue, Jambay Lhakhang and many more.
On arrival in Paro International Airport, and after completing customs and immigration facilities you will be met by our local tour escort and after a short briefing you will then transferred to the hotel. After the short refreshment in the hotel, drive to the Paro Rimpung Dzong, National Museum and Jangsa Dumtse Lhakhang (temple).
After having lunch in Paro town, then we will drive to Thimphu – the capital city of Bhutan. On reaching Thimphu, we can visit Tashichho Dzong, seat of the royal government and central monastic body. In the evening free for a leisure walk to explore Thimphu city – the only capital city where Traffic Lights are absent. The walk around the city is easy and would be enjoyable to experience the Bhutanese way of life.
In the morning we can drive to Doedena, the northern end of Thimphu. From here, hike an hour up the Cheri Goemba (Monastery), built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1620 and is the place where he first established the body of monks. If you are enthusiast – we recommend taking an hour walk up to Tango University. The goemba sits at the edge of a richly forested hill with its great wall appear stunning in contrast to the surrounding foliage and dominate the entire hillside. We will take our lunch near the Doedena river side.
After lunch we will drive back to Thimphu and visit to Memorial Chhorten, Changangkha Lhakhang and Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrangling) where visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from here.
After your breakfast checks out from the hotel for your next destination, DRUK WANGYEL CHORTEN, “Chortens of the victory of the Druk Gyalpo” the top (dochula pass) is unlike that of any other pass you will encounter here or for that matter anywhere in the world. At Dochula Pass you will have a breathtaking panoramic view of the Eastern Himalayan Mountain ranges on clear days. The pass is adorned with 108 small stupas and many kinds of prayer flags. On reaching Lobesa, we will visit Chhimi Lhakhang. Chhimi Lhakhang, it is a pleasant 30-40 minute walk from the road head, through cultivated fields and up a gentle slop. The temple is known as “the temple of fertility”. At Punakha, we can visit PUNAKHA DZONG, the dzong straddles the confluence of two rivers and resembles a giant battleship. Its full name is ‘Pungthang Dechen Phodrang’ or ‘Palace of Great Happiness.’ This extremely impressive fortress was built as far back as 1937. After this, we will drive till the view point of Khamsum Yule Namgyle Chhorten, passing the beautiful rural landscape.
After your early breakfast drive to Bumthang, en route to Bumthang is the Chendebji Chorten, patterned on Katmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes painted on the four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Zhida, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. On reaching Trongsa, visit to the Tower of Trongsa, Religion and Power in Bhutan. The Tower of Trongsa is a museum in which aspects of Bhutanese culture and history are explained by beautifully objects, while for others it is as scared place of encounter with the gods. Then continue the journey to Bumthang through the hairpin bends with the dense forest of rhododendron, conifers, alder and oak crossing Yotong La, 3425m. The road then comes out into a wide-open cultivated valley which is the Chumey Valley, the first of Bumthnag’s four valleys. From here the road goes on straight until we see Jakar Dzong and then drops into bends before straightening out again in the main valley at Chamkhar. Dinner and overnight stay at Bumthang.
Today we will do sightseeing in the Bumthang city – visit to Kurjey Lhakhang, is named after the body print of Guru Rinpoche which is preserved in a cave inside the oldest of the three buildings, Tamshing Lhakhang which was established by Terton Pema Lingpa in 1501 and is the most important Nyingma Goenba in the country. Then we will drive to Tang Valley and visit to Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake). Then lunch will be served at Farmhouse or we will take hot picnic lunch. We will visit to Jambay Lhakhang, which is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, built in 7th century. Then we will go to farmhouse for dinner and overnight stay. Today after dinner we will enjoy with the Traditional Hot-stone bath.
Hike to Tharpaling Monastery or Petsheling Monastery. We can mediate or relax in a monastery and very peaceful surroundings.
Today you will be driving to Gangtey, the winter home land of black-necked crane there. In Gangtey you can either rest in the peaceful vicinity of the lodge, or there a plenty of local walks, including bird watching and the visit to gompa which overlooks the valley. GANGTEY GOMPA, in the mountains east of Wangdue Phodrang lies the beautiful Phobjikha valley, on the slope of which is situated the great monastery of Gangtey, established in 17th century. The village of Phobjikha lies a few Km. down from the monastery on the valley floor. This quite remote valley is the winter home for the Black Necked Cranes, which migrates from the arid of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate BLACK NECKED CRANE CENTRE, visit the Black Necked Crane Centre, though you might not be on a Crane season, you will get a loads of information about the crane, even a short 3-4 minute documentary will be available regarding the Black Necked Crane.
Unique Spiritual Experiences in Bhutan.
Early morning visit to Gangtey Shedra (monastic School) for Morning Prayer. Back to hotel and have breakfast. Then visit Gangtey Goenpa Lhakhang. This temple is one of the most important temples in Nyingmapa Sect of Buddhism in Bhutan). Gangtey Natural Trail Hike-This is one of the easiest hike in Bhutan through pine forest and open meadow. Make time to meet the Khenpo/trulku to discuss and ask some clarification about your spiritual question. Evening visit again to Gangtey Shedra for Meditation Class and evening prayer. We have customs to give a small donation to the head monk or temple.
It is a custom that we have to give some donations to the services that we received from Monks, Tulku and other religious figures. The donations are usually given in an envelope to the monk as part of a brief ceremony at the end of teaching or prayer or at where the individual gives the donation and holds the scarfs and the master gives a blessing, placing the ceremonial scarf on the individual. All the prices and donations can be discussed with our guide.
After the breakfast at hotel, drive back to Paro. The road descents to Wangdi Valey and the road climb steeply through forests of pine, hemlock spruce and rhododendrons. At Dochula Pass (3150m) you will have a breathtaking panoramic view of the Eastern Himalayan Mountain ranges on clear days. The pass is adorned with 108 small stupas and many kinds of prayer flags. On the way we will visit to Tachho Gang Lhakhang crossing over the iron chain bridge. On reaching Paro, we will stroll around Paro town, for some shopping.
TAKTSANG GOMPA, it is now time to embark on your somewhat arduous adventure for the day ascending the 3000 ft cliff reach the most spectacularly located Gompa in all of Bhutan. According to the legend Guru Padmasambhava visited the site in 8th century flying from the East of the country on the back of a tigress( a form that one of his consorts is believed to have taken). He meditated for three months in the cave here and then domining his terrifying form of Dorli Droloe subjugiated the evil spirits. Following him many permanent saints came here to meditate; notably Milarepa, Labdoenma and Thongtong Gyalpo. Today, Taktsang is more a holy place in the country. KYICHU LHAKHANG, go back in time and history and visit the 7th century Kyichu lhakhang. As the name suggest, the temple is a reservoir of peace, where you will really feel peace here. Next to the temple is a house now turned into museum dedicated to the late Delgo Khyentse Rinpochhe. One can come across photographs and other artifacts belonging to Rinpochhe.
After breakfast at the hotel, Artisans of Leisure Travel will transfer you to the airport in Paro for departure flight to Kathmandu or your onward destination.