GANGRI BHUTAN ARCHITECTURAL TOUR
Beyond its breathtaking landscape, Bhutan’s distinctive architectural marvels captivate all who visit. The nation’s architectural style, evolving in the 16th century, is characterized by wood and stone masonry, often constructed without formal blueprints, creating structures that leave a lasting impression. From grand palaces, fortresses, and monasteries to urban edifices and village homes, Bhutan’s architecture is integral to its unique identity.
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TOUR IN BRIEF
Duration: 10 days/9 nights
Entry & exit: Paro, Bhutan
Seasons: throughout year
Places of visit: Paro, Thimphu (the capital), Punakha, Wangdue, Trongsa & Bumthang.
Driving distance: 65km
Driving time: 1.5 hours
Fly into the Kingdom amid a breathtaking vista of the world’s highest mountains like Mt Everest, Kanchenjunga and other peaks revered by the Bhutanese as the “Abode of the Gods”. Finally, land at Paro International airport, an adrenaline- rushing experience as we take a hair-raising descent onto a narrow strip of flatland flanked by the mountains. On arrival, you will be received by your tour guide at the airport. After lunch, you will drive to the capital city, Thimphu. In the evening you can either relax at the hotel or take a stroll around Thimphu City. Overnight stay at Thimphu.
Thimphu provides a rare glimpse of a large mix of culture, customs and traditions around which Bhutan has built its identity as a nation. Today, we begin the day with breakfast before we start visiting historical places in Thimphu. We will visit the Memorial Stupa built in the memory of the Third King, the 12th century Changangkha monastery which blesses every Bhutanese child born in Thimphul valley, and the 17th century Tashichhodzong that serves as the seat of the central government and also houses the office of the King. After lunch to get used to your bike and the altitude, we will go on a leisurely biking trail to Dodina, past small villages, farmlands and dense forests.
Today, we will begin our real biking expedition. We start early after breakfast. The most difficult uphill trail will be the 18km road to Dochula pass (3,150m). The most known pass in Bhutan, you will break to walk around the 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens which is believed to bring multi fold merit to all sentient beings. After that it’s a continuous descent down all the way to Punakha. Overnight stay at Punakha.
Today we will ride along the Mo Chu river towards Tashithang where we will ride through rice fields and villages. Punakha valley has a pleasant climate with warm winters and hot summers. It is located at an average elevation of 1200m above sea level. In the evening you will stroll around Punakha town. Overnight stay in Punakha.
Today we will take a leisurely ride to Punakha Dzong, a huge 17th century monastery-fortress plus ancient capital on whose corridors of power walked Bhutan’s ancient leaders. The monument is spectacularly built between two rivers. A leisurely ride to all the impressive sites the valley has to offer. This will be followed by a visit to Chhimi Lhakhang a temple is located on the way to Punakha. Known as the temple of fertility it was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15 century. Lama Drukpa Kuenley is also known as the Divine Madman. After the visit to the monastery, we will ride towards Wangdue. Overnight stay at Wangdue.
Today will be the toughest ride of the tour. The trail will take you over the Black Mountains, the division between the east and west Bhutan. It is a challenging ride that comes with spectacular views. A gentle downhill roll through bamboo and pine forests takes us to our overnight halt at Phobjikha.
A rest day from the bike in a glacial valley, a great place to explore by foot as the area below is dotted with villages and temples.While in Gangtey, sightseeing includes:
Gangtey Gompa: Founded in 1613, the monastery is a sacred abode of Buddhist master, Ganteng Trulku.
Phobjikha Valley: Phobjikha Valley is one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the Himalayas and the winter place for the endangered Black Necked Cranes. November to February is a good time to see the cranes.
Visit the local carpet weavers and interact with them. Try weaving for yourself! Overnight stay in Phobjikha.
Today is going to be a tough climb. We ride over Lawala Pass all the way up to Pelela Pass. However, all the effort is rewarded by a 27km stretch descend to Chendebji. This is a stupa built in the style of the great Boudhanath Stupa of Nepal after which it is a gentle climb all the way to Trongsa. Overnight stay at Trongsa.
After a visit to Trongsa Dzong, you need to be ready for another climb all the way to Yotongla. On the way, we will see the old trade route running parallel with the pass before heading downhill through fir, pine and bamboo forests, before reaching Zungney. After which, we will face a gradual climb up till Kikila before descending down to Jakar. Overnight stay in Bumthang.
The morning is free to wander around the small yet interestingly unique Jakar town. The whole day will be a leisurely ride whilst visiting temples and monasteries. While in Bumthang,
Jakar Dzong: meaning “Castle of White Bird” built in 1667.
Lamey Goemba: a large palace and monastery built in 18th century.
Jambay Lhakhang: built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet it is the venue of the most spectacular, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup”.
Chakhar Lhakhang: meaning the “Iron Castle” because the original palace was made of iron.
Kurjey Lhakhang: named after body print of Guru Rinpoche. After lunch, sightseeing includes:
Tamshing Lhakhang: meaning the “Temple of the Good Message”, established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa.
Membarstho: means “The Burning Lake”. Overnight stay in Bumthang.
After many days on your bike, today you will make 7 to 8 hours scenic and relaxing bus ride to Wangdue. Overnight stay in Paro.
Today too you will drive to Paro from Wangdue. However, you have a choice to ride your bike from the Dochula pass till Paro. Overnight stay in Paro.
After breakfast, we will hike up to Taktsang Monastery. This monastery edifice is precariously built on a sheer wall of granite cliff some 1,000 metres above the valley floor. Some say, it was built with the help of celestial nymphs in the 17th century. This temple complex houses many caves, one among which is the site where the great Tantric saint – worshipped in the Himalayan Buddhist world as the “Second Buddha” – came riding on a tigress in the 8th century to destroy evil spirits and anoint the grounds to spread the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Overnight stay in Paro.
After breakfast, drive to the Paro international airport and farewell
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