SIKKIM CULTURE

DARJEELING – SIKKIM AND BHUTAN

TOUR CODE – NGS 72

DARJEELING – SIKKIM AND BHUTAN

DURATION – 15 NIGHTS AND 16 DAYS

 

DAY 01:             KOLKATA-BAGDOGRA –DARJEELING, AIR/90 KMS- 3 HRS

Early morning transfer to airport to board the flight for Bagdogra. On arrival drive for Darjeeling, check into hotel. Darjeeling:  Located at an altitude of 7,000 ft enjoys a temperate climate with a maximum of 25 degree in summer and 05 degree in winter and it might drop to Zero at times. Darjeeling is a world famous tourist destination in the state of West Bengal, India. Nestled among the lower Himalayas, it is known for its raw and captivating natural beauty and excellent quality of tea it produces; Darjeeling tea is aptly titled as the ‘champagne of tea’ for its exquisite flavor and taste. It is also famous for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is lovingly called the ‘Toy-Train’ – a favorite among tourists.   Darjeeling in the past was under the rule of the erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim, which was leased to the British East India Company and was converted into a beautiful hill station and became a favorite among holiday makers. Darjeeling is a name of Tibetan origin, which means the “Land of the Thunderbolt”.  Relax & retrieve. 

                                                

DAY 02:             DARJEELING

Early morning excursion to Tiger Hill to behold the most spectacular sunrise and the Himalayan Mountains with visit to Ghoom Monastery (Yiga-Choling) to see the statue of Maitry (Coming Buddha). Tiger Hill – Situated at an altitude of 8500 feet offers a captivating view of the early morning sunrise. In addition, enchanting view of the mountains like the Kanchenjunga, Mt. Everest, Makalu, Pandim, Kabru, Siniolochu, Kumbakaran and Ratong, among others, is visible from the top of the hill. Later do a city tour covering Tibetan refugee Self Help Centre, Tea Garden, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Market. Relax & retrieve.

DAY 03:             DARJEELING – GANGTOK (98 KMS / 3 HRS)

Morning drive for Gangtok: Nestling in the lush greenery of the Himalayas is Gangtok (5,800 ft), the small capital city of Sikkim, where Buddhist prayer flags flutter in the mountain breeze, exotic orchids and chirruping birds run riot in a colorful melee. Gangtok is a blend of the traditional and modern, where modern concrete multi-storeyed structures clinging to the hillside stand alongside ‘chortens’ (stupas) and monasteries and lamas in colourful maroon. Afternoon visit The Enchey Monastery, built by the 8th Namgyal of Sikkim in 1840, belongs to the Nyingmapa Sect of Mahayana Buddhism. The monastery has been renovated in recent times. Relax & retrieve.

 

DAY 04:             GANGTOK

Early morning visit Tashi view point. Built by the late King of Sikkim Mr. Tashi Namgyal, it is situated about six kilometres away from Gangtok on the North Sikkim Highway; this place offers an astounding view of the Khangchendzonga snowy range on a clear day. On the opposite hill, the Phodong and the Labrang monasteries can be seen. Later visit the Rumtek Monastery, Do Drul Chorten, the Rumtek Monastery, 24 kms from Gangtok, is noted for its carved and painted woodwork, magnificent murals, icons and rare manuscripts.  The Do Drul Chorten, considered to be one of the most important chortens of Sikkim, was built in 1945 and has 108 Mani Lhyakor (Prayer Wheels) around it besides the two huge statues of Guru Padma Sambhava. Relax & retrieve.

 

DAY 05:             GANGTOK – PHUNTSOLING (170 KMS / APPROX 6 HRS)

Morning drive for Phuntsoling the border to Bhutan from India, a commercial and industrial city. After completing the Visa formalities at the Border check Post, check-in at the hotel. Relax & retrieve.

BHUTAN – the land of “Thunder Dragon” is a fabulous Hidden Kingdom, which most of the people have never heard of, has now opened its doors to eager visitors to this exotic land. In this land locked Himalayan kingdom conservation of nature remains the top priority rather than industrialization.  Bhutan is the only country in the world, where tantric form of Buddhism plays a vital role in people’s life. Prayers and devotion are as natural as work and play. The art and architecture is very impressive. Large Dzongs (castles/Forts) monasteries, Temples are built from stone and wood without using a single nail or with the help of modern architects. The unique culture and traditions of this hidden Kingdom can be a life time experience.

 

Phuntsholing popularly known as the gateway to Bhutan. Phuntsholing is a vibrant town located adjacent to the Indian Border town of Jalpaiguri, a district of the Indian state of West Bengal. The town is a bustling commercial centre providing a glimpse of Indian merchants in their particular attire and Bhutanese in National dress. Afternoon visit the famous Karbandi Monastery built by Queen Mother in the 1970s.  Overnight at your hotel.

 

DAY 06:             PHUNTSOLING THIMPHU (ALTITUDE 2,280M) – DRIVE TIME: 6HRS

After breakfast we leave, for Thimphu. Arrive by late afternoon and check into hotel.  Later after your check in formalities are over you will visit, Memorial Chorten, Kuenschholing View Point(Largest sitting Buddha), Weekend Market: People from all walks of life come to buy vegetable and fruits from farmers across the country, Tashichho Dzong (Fortress), It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body. Overnight at Thimphu

DAY 07                        THIMPHU

Today you will hike to Kuensel Phodrang : Located just beside the largest sitting budha in the world, the hike takes 1 Hour 45 minutes around the nature park. It also gives you the views of the Thimphu. Mini Zoo: Here you can see just one animal – Bhutan’s national – the Takin Hand Made Paper Factory: The handmade paper making in Bhutan stemmed from the age old tradition originated in 8th century of Bhutanese history, Authentic Craft Bazar, Later stroll around the city of Thimphu.  Overnight at Thimphu

DAY 08                        THIMPHU – GANGTEY (6hrs) Altitude 2800 m/ 9240 asl

The valley of Gangtey/Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of the black necked cranes. Bhutan is home to around six hundred black necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from Tibetan plateau. These elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March. Overlooking the Phobjikha valley is the Gangtey Goenpa. This is an old monastery that dates back to the 17th century. This place also is famous for its hikes, trekking and bird watching activity.

Morning visit General Post Office: Get an insight into Bhutan through its stamps and get your stamps out of your own picture. Later drive to Gangtey valley. On the way stop at Dochula Pass: Whereby you can take pictures of snow capped Himalayas and take pictures over a cup of tea or coffee, The Royal Botanical Park: It is the country’s first recreational Park which is within accessible distance from the capital city, Thimphu. The park attracts lots of visitors which include birdwatchers, travelers, and picnickers. Overnight at Gangtey.

 

DAY 09                        GANGTEY – TRINGSA (6hrs drive) Altitude 2200 m/ 7260ft asl

Trongsa forms the central hub of the kingdom and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country where launched. This town is situated on a steep ridge and offers spectacular views of the deep valleys surrounding it. The various hotels, guesthouses and restaurants all offer stunning views from their balconies. Trongsa also boasts an impressive museum. The watchtower of Trongsa has been converted into a museum. It is also an heaven for birdwatchers and hikers.

Today morning you will drive early since it s a long drive to Trongsa. On the way you will come across beautiful passes, valleys and landscapes. Overnight at Trongsa

 

DAY 10                        TRONGSA – BUMTHANG (5hrs Altitude: 2600m/ 8580ft above sea level

This fascinating valley is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples and Monasteries. Its gentle sloping hills offer plenty of walking opportunities to the many temples that dot this valley. The valley is also famous for its production of honey, cheese, apples and the yathra- a woolen material that has multiple uses. It also has some famous villages that boast of ancient history and hikes. Horse ride, naked festival, treks, hikes and camping are some of the activities we can do here.

Visit, Trongsa Dzong: Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat, Trongsa Museum: Situated strategically above the Trongsa dzong, the Ta Dzong served as the watch tower for centuries. It was built in 1652, On the way visit Chumey village where you will find collection of textiles made out of sheep wools. Kurjey Monastery:Means body print. It dates back to 8th century when Guru Rimpoche first visited Bhutan, Tamzing Monastery: “Temple of good message”. It was built by Terton Pema Lingpa (Treasure Discoverer) in 1501AD.

DAY 11                        BUMTHANG

Drive to Ogyenchholing Palace: The village of Ogyen choling is located in the upper part of Tang valley in the Bumthang district in the central part of Bhutan. Burning Lake: This is a sacred lake for Bhutanese who believe that Pema Lingpa discovered religious treasures from this lake in the 12th century, Visit Jakar Fortress. Overnight at Bumthang

DAY 12            BUMTHANG – PUNAKHA/WANGDUE (8hrs) Alt 1350/4455ft)

Punakha narrates lots on the histories of Bhutan. It served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1907  and the first national assembly was hosted here in 1953. It has the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of the most majestic structures in the country. On October 13, 2011, the wedding of the 5th King of Bhutan, was held at the Punakha Dzong. This place boasts of low altitude trek, rafting, kayaks, camping, bicycling and bird-watching. Overnight at Punakha.

DAY 13                        PUNAKHA / WANGDUE TO PARO (4hrs) 2280m/7524 ft

This beautiful valley is home to many Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and temples. The country’s only airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to Mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley. This is also the home to some of the famous Treks such as Jumolhari and Druk Path trek. It is also a destination for bicycling, motorbiking and birdwatching.

 

Morning hike to, Kham Sum Yule Lhakhang (Monastey), Talo Village: The village of Talo (alt. 2,800m/9240ft) which is scattered along the hill slopes, known for its cleanliness and hygiene among Punakha villages, Punakha Dzong(Fortress): Built in 1637 this majestic fortress is built in-between two rivers. The fortress also boasts about displaying itself of unique Bhutanese architecture, Punakha Nunnery: Perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang, gleams the magnificent structures of Nunnery Temple.

 

Early morning short hike to Fertility temple across paddy fields and villages: This Temple was built by lam Drukpa Kuenley (The Divine Madman) in 1499. Its also a great p[lace to take a snap of the sunrise across the village and its paddy fields. Overnight at Paro.

DAY 14                        PARO

Sightseeing: Hike to Tiger’s Nest (This is Bhutan’s most recognizable cultural icon perched 800m/2640ft up a seemingly sheer cliff.) and visit Farm House visit (Picturesque farm houses dot the valley amongst fields and hillsides. We welcome you to enjoy the hospitality of the Paro farmers.), Archery Practice: Archery is the Bhutan’s national game and the distance of the target is around 150 meters. Overnight at Paro

 

DAY 15                        PARO – HAA VALLEY (3hrs) – 2712m/8895ft) PARO

Haa District is one of the smallest among 20 Districts Haa District has an area of 1,706.8 sq.km. It is characterized by a rugged and mountainous terrain, which makes access and delivery of development services difficult as well as expensive. The 57.6 km of Haa-Chunzom and the Haa-Paro highway passes through the district but with only about 44.10 km of internal road connections most of the settlements are not connected with feeder and farm roads. The district has a good network of mule tracks and suspension bridges.

Today morning you will drive to Haa valley via Chelila Pass: Its one of the highest motorable road at 3988m above sea level, At Chelila Pass visit to Kila Nunnery, later continue your drive and visit the Haa Town and its monasteries. Later drive back to Paro. Overnight in Paro.

DAY 16                        PARO – DEPARTURE

Breakfast at hotel.  Later transfer to airport to board flight back home

 

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