Bhutan Holiday Package | Hotel in Thimphu | Bhutan Travel Agency

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Wedged between the two most populated countries, India and China Bhutan with a population of less than a million exudes uniqueness and charm. Endowed with beautiful natural landscapes, rich biodiversity and age-old living cultural and tradition to match.
Bhutan it’s known by many names – The land of the peaceful Thunder Dragon, The Forbidden Kingdom, Southern valley of Medicinal Herbs. Yet it has remained mostly unknown to the outside world. It is an ancient land, inhabited from as far back as 2000 BC but seemingly untouched by the relentless thrust of western civilization: a proud kingdom that remained in self-imposed isolation for centuries.
The Last Shangri-La or the Land of the Thunder Dragon, as Bhutan is known, is perhaps the last bastion of the Mahayana Buddhism in the Himalayas. Situated in the great Himalayan range, it is bordered by the Tibetan regions of China in the north and the sweltering plains of India in the south. The Kingdom is spread over 47,000 square feet with varied climatic conditions ranging from the sub-tropical to the cold reaches of the almost 25,000 ft snow-capped mountain ranges of the Tibetan border With a population of around 0.6 million, it is thinly populated and a paradise in its real sense. Bhutan follows Mahayana Buddhism. Known for its UN-spoilt ancient cultures and traditions, for Bhutan the past is still the present and its religion still a way of life. The Kingdom opened its doors to tourism only in 1974 by the present King, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, under a careful regulated programmed.
Bhutan is one of the last areas still pristine in all its nature-where nature and people live in harmony. Untainted flora, un-hunted fauna, rare botanical plants, the colorful bird-life and the scenic beauty offers a treat for both young and old colorful festivals with mask dances depicting its rich cultural past and the great Himalayan ranges in the background definitely deserves a visit. Nepal, Tibet and Sikkim are destinations all concentrated in the same belt of the Himalayas. Each country is steeped in culture with their histories dating back as far as 2,500 B.C. Great for the adventurous and a treat for sore eyes
Located in the Heart of the Himalayan mountain range, Bhutan is a land - locked country surrounded by mountains in the north and west. The rugged east, visited by few Western travelers, borders the spare and largely unknown Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The high Himalaya in the northern steppes separates the kingdom from Tibet.
The population of 600,000 is made up primarily of indigenous Bhutanese. Many naturalized citizens came originally from Tibet and India. In the higher reaches in the Kingdom and in some isolated valleys, hill tribes assuming Bhutanese nationality thrive on the land. Some, like those from Merek and Sakteng in the east and Laya on the north, have no contact with Western civilization and trade only in bartered goods.

•        Area ( 38,394
•        Dzongkhags (Districts): 20
•        Geogs (Blocks): 205
•        Currency: Ngultrum
•        National Language: Dzongkha
•        Capital: Thimphu
•        Population: 683,407
          Male: 357,305
          Female: 326,102
•        Best Season: Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, Nov
•        Time Zone: + 6.00

Bhutan has four distinct seasons. Each has its advantage and disadvantages for the visitor. Notice should be taken of the predictable weather patterns before making decisions when to visit. Remember even predictable weather can vary dramatically plains close to the Indian border are warmer and more tropical than higher central valley.

is arguably the most beautiful time of the year in the Kingdom. The fierce cold that characterized the winter months tends to subside towards the end of the February (around Bhutanese New Year, Lhosar). Rhododendron begins to bloom, first in the warmer east. At the height of spring, the end of the march, the whole kingdom comes to life with the spectacular flaming red, pink, and white of the rhododendron blossom.

The annual monsoon from the Bay of Bengal affects the south and central regions. The north is inhabited in the summer months when nomads return to the higher plains to tend to their yak herds.
The end of the monsoon, also a popular time to visit, marks the closing months of summer. The days are filled with glorious cobalt skies and warm weather.

The autumn months of the September to November bring shorter days and cooler evenings. The days remain lovely with crisp clear skies. Views over the high Himalayas are usually only possible from September to March.
Come the end of November and the weather takes on its winter coat. The days remain crisp and the nights turn cold. The southern areas, being much lower, have a more temperate climate and considerably warmer winters.

Clears skies in the winter months bring with cold weather but it's also the best time of the year to view the snow-capped peaks of the high Himalayan Mountains.
The climate varies hot subtropical climate in south to cold alpine slopes in the north. Human settlement is confined mostly to interior river valleys and a swath of southern plains; nomads and other tribes live in the north, raising sheep, cattle and yaks.

•        Spring: March-May
•        Summer: June-August
•        Autumn: September-November
•        Winter: December-February
•        Clothing: Cotton & Light Woolen - Summer; Heavy woollens and jackets - Rest of the year

Entry into Bhutan is possible either by land or by air. It is mandatory for foreigners to travel one way by Druk Air, the national carrier of Bhutan. Druk Air operates regular flights between Paro and Kathmandu, Dhaka, Bangkok, Delhi and Calcutta.
By land, entry into Bhutan is possible from India across West Bengal through Phuntsholing, the Bhutanese border town.

By Air
Bhutan’s National Airline – “Druk Air” is the only airline operating in Bhutan. All Flights to Bhutan fly into Paro which is the Kingdom’s only Airport. Flights to and from Kathmandu and Delhi take place thrice a week there are weekly five flights to and from Kolkata and Bangkok (Thailand).During monsoon unpredictable weather forces can delay flights & travelers are advised to include an extra day in their itinerary.

By Rail
New Jalpaiguri is the closest Indian Railway Station to Bhutan. From NJP Station one enters Bhutan through Phuntsoling - the gateway to Bhutan - by Road. It takes about 4 hours drives.

By Road
Bagdogra is the closest Indian airport to Bhutan. Flights from Kolkata or Delhi to Bagdogra are available. From New Jalpaiguri 3 hrs drive to Phuentsholing, from Bagdogra one enters Bhutan through Phuntsoling. It is a 4 hrs drive from Gangtok to Phuentsholing it takes about 7 hrs by surface. Exit from Bhutan can be made through Samdrup Jonghkar also. This frontier Bhutanese town is approximately 3 hrs drive from Guwahati, the capital town of Indian north eastern state of Assam. Samdrup Jongkhar is the authorize exit point only and an important link for visiting further Indian north eastern states.

Bhutan a Buddhist culture in Himalayas is unsurpassed in its scenic majesty and vibrant culture. It shares with Nepal the world’s greatest concentrations of mountains and a living Buddhist heritage. The short flight from Kathmandu to Paro can fairly be described as fantastic. During the flight you will have close-up view of Mt, Everest, Kanchenjunga and various others famous peaks. Bi-weekly flights are now available between Kathmandu and Paro. Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world that is still largely untouched. It is a paradise for tourists interested in Buddhist culture and Philosophy, flora & Fauna, trekking and mountaineering. Due to the Royal Government’s Policy of controlled selective tourism, Bhutan receives less than 5000 tourists annually.

Bhutanese society is centered around the practice of Tantric Buddhism. Religious beliefs are evidenced in all aspects of life. Prayer flags flutter on hillsides offering up prayers to benefit all nearby sentient beings. Houses each fly a small white flag on the roof indicating the owner has made his offering payments to appease the local god. Each valley or district is dominated by a huge dzong, or high-walled fortress, which serves the religious and administrative center of the district. Approximately one quarter of the population is Hindu. To preserve the indigenous Buddha's Teachings as their long-guarded culture and tradition, Menjong Chöthün Tshogpa, a charitable organization was established in 2002 by The Supreme Dharma King or Trulku Jigme Chöda Rinpoche 70th Je Khenpo of Bhutan. The chairman at present is Trizin Tsering Rimpoche who also happens to be the founder of Buddha Dordenma Image Foundation, another charitable organization in Bhutan.

The staple foods of Bhutan are red rice (like brown rice in texture, but with a nutty taste, the only variety of rice that grows at high altitudes), buckwheat, and increasingly maize. The diet in the hills also includes chicken, yak meat, dried beef, pork, pork fat and mutton. Soups and stews of meat, rice, ferns, lentils, and dried vegetables spiced with chilies and cheese are a favorite meal during the cold seasons. Zow shungo is a rice dish mixed with leftover vegetables. Ema datshi, made very spicy with cheese and chilies, akin to chilli con queso, might be called the national dish for its ubiquity and the pride that Bhutanese have for it. Other foods include jasha maru, a chicken dish; phaksha paa and fried rice. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows, are also popular, and indeed almost all milk is turned to butter and cheese. Popular beverages include butter tea, tea, locally brewed rice wine and beer.

Spices include cardamom, ginger, chilies, garlic, turmeric and caraway. When offered food, one says meshu meshu, covering one's mouth with the hands in refusal according to Bhutanese manners, and then gives in on the second or third offer.

Bhutan’s arts and crafts reflect the unique spirit and identity of the Himalayan kingdom. The Art of Zorig Chusum – or the thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan – remains very much alive today. They include carpentry, blacksmithing, weaving, sculpting and many of the crafts described below.
There are two institutes of Zorig Chusum where these traditional arts and crafts are being taught today – one in the capital, Thimphu, and the other in Trashi Yangtze in eastern Bhutan. The arts and crafts continue to thrive despite a small tourist market. Much of this is due to the government’s support and emphasis on the preservation of culture and tradition.

Bhutan’s textiles are an integral part of daily life in this Himalayan kingdom. Gifts of cloth are offered at birth and death, and during auspicious occasions, weddings, and when someone gets promoted to higher level in his/her profession. Textiles are fashioned into clothing, crafts, and various kinds of containers.

Most Bhutanese art, including painting, are religious by nature. And because it is the process of creating the paintings that is important, most traditional painting is anonymous without an artist’s signature.

Bhutanese sculptors are well known in the Himalayan region. Many famous sculptors have been, and still are, making clay statues of Buddhist figures for important monasteries in the region. Clay is the traditional material for local sculpture, known as jinzob. The art is expressed in statues and ritual objects and can be seen in the numerous monasteries throughout Bhutan. Many of Bhutan’s monasteries boast of exceedingly fine central statues that sometimes rise up as high as three floors.

Paper Making
The Bhutanese have always used their own handmade paper called deysho. Made of the bark of the daphne plant, this paper is used for the printing of religious texts, traditional books as well as for wrapping gifts. It is an extremely durable paper that is fairly resistant to insects.

Wood Carving
The carving of wood is an ancient craft that continues to play an important role in modern Bhutan. The numerous prayer flags that flutter across the vast ridges of Bhutan are all printed from carved wooden blocks.

Boot Making
For ceremonial occasions, it is not uncommon to see Bhutanese men wear traditional boots made of cloth that is handstitched, embroided and appliquéd in Bhutanese motifs. The different colours used on the boot signify the rank and status of the person; hence, Ministers wear orange, senior officials wear red and the laity wears white.

Bamboo Craft
The art of working with cane and bamboo is called thazo. Certain regions in Bhutan are famed for its bamboo and cane craft. Rural communities in Zhemgang and Trongsa produce a variety of crafts with these materials. They include the distinctive bamboo hat called the belo that is still popular with the people in the area, and the still popular Bhutanese “Tupperware” basket called the bangchung.

Bow and Arrow Making
With archery as a national sport, the making of bamboo bows and arrows are picking up momentum once again particularly just before the annual national archery competition. Many of the craftsmen look out for specific types of bamboo and mountain reeds to be fashioned into bows and arrows. These are picked at particular seasons, whittled down to size and expertly fashioned into the bow and arrow that has enabled Bhutanese men and youth to play a unique form of archery over the centuries. A well made set of bows and arrows are instrumental to a good game of archery.

Traditional Bhutanese jewelry is usually silver and gold jewelry with intricate motifs. They include heavy bracelets, komas or fasteners for the traditional women’s dress, thekira, loop ear rings set with turquoise, and necklaces of the most valued stones in the Himalayan region – antique turquoise, coral beads and the zhi stone.
The zhi stone is a highly prized stone in Bhutan and among Himalayan Buddhists who believe in its protective powers. The stone is distinguished by its black and white spiral designs called “eyes”. The zhi is believed to be an agate which was made into the zhi bead. There are now many replicas of the ancient zhi stone available in the market.

Markets are held regularly, generally on Saturday and Sunday, and are a rich source of local clothing and jewelry, as well as food. The Handicraft Emporium on the main street in the capital is open daily and offers a magnificent assortment of hand-woven and handcrafted goods. Some hotels have a souvenir shop. Silversmiths and goldsmiths in the Thimphu Valley are able to make handcrafted articles to order. Bhutanese stamps are collectors’ items. Shopping is otherwise limited and bargaining is not customary. Phuentsholing has a small department store, the only one of its kind of Bhutan.

Paro | Thimphu | Punakha | Wangdue Phodrang | Taongsa | Bumthang | Mongar | Trashigang | Trashivangtse | Samdrup Jongkhar | Gasa | Haa | Chhukha / Phuentsholling | Samtse | Sarpang | Pemagtshel | Tsirang | Lhuntse | Dagana | Zhemgang | Geylegphug

The Bhutanese currency is called Ngultrum and is at par with the Indian Rupee. Indian currency is fully convertible into Bhutanese currency. Indian Rupee is also legal tender in Bhutan and is widely accepted. Credit cards are not accepted.

The Bhutanese authorities strictly monitor export of any religious antiquities or antiques of any kind from the kingdom. Personal electronic devices and reasonable amounts of cigarettes and alcohol are permitted into the kingdom.

The Bhutanese delicacies are hot and spicy but are usually tempered to the taste of the guest. However continental and Indian dishes are also served. Hotels normally serve a mixture of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items in buffet style. Pure vegetarian items are served on request.

Exciting, economical and various types of packages are offered to suite all pockets which are available from 3 nights/4 days to 10 nights/11 days. The standard and special packages are applicable both for Indian nationals and foreigners.

Trekking in Bhutan is unlike anywhere else in the Himalayas. Almost all of the designated treks go above 3,000 meters (9000 ft.) and stretch from 3 days to 21 days through crystal air, splendid scenic beauty, lofty mountains and deep valleys untendered by modernization. BCTL takes every precaution to ensure the safety and comfort of the trekkers.

It is mandatory for all tourists to get their visa clearance from the tour operator before departing for Bhutan. The tour operator will apply for the visa which will take a minimum of five working days to process. No visa is entertained on arrival. The visa will be stamped at the port of entry upon payment of the fee of US$ 20; two passport photos are required for the visa. The visa can be extended in Thimpu, for up to six months at a cost of Nu. 510.

This is available upon arrival in Bhutan. The fee is US $20 per person payable directly at the immigration office. But prior to this upon making a reservation we need the following details:

•        Full name as in the Passport
•        Male or Female
•        Nationality Passport No
•        Occupation
•        Permanent Address
•        Date / Place of Birth
•        Date / Place of Issues Passport
•        Expiry date of the Passport

Download Bhutan Visa Application Form

Bumthang or Jakar Valley Altitude 2600-4500 m / 8530-14765 ft
Bumthang has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Comprising of four smaller valleys namely Tang, Ura, Choekhor and Chumey, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Bumthang is also the traditional home to the great Buddhist teacher Pema Linga to whose descendants the present dynasty traces its origin 

Local Tourist Sites

Jambey Lhakhang
The Jambey Lhakhang monastery was built in the 7th century AD by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the one hundred and eight monasteries which the King built to exorcise evil spirits in the Himalayan region.

Kurje Lhakhang
Located further along the valley, Kurje Lhakhang comprises three temples. The one on the left was built in 1652 AD against the rock face where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century AD. The middle temple is built on the site of a cave which contains a rock with the imprint of the Guru's body. It is therefore considered to be the most holy. The temple on the left was constructed in the 1990s by H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother. These three temples which form the temple trio are surrounded by a 108 chorten wall.

Tamshing Lhakhang
Tamshing Lhakhang is located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang. The temple monument was erected in 1501 AD by Terton Pema Lingpa who was considered a re-incarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. There are various religious paintings on the inner walls of the temple which was renovated at the end of the 19th century.

Jakar Dzong
Jakar Dzong was built in 1549 by the great grandfather of the first Shabdrung. The dzong was initially constructed as a monastery. It was upgraded in 1646 AD once the Shabdrung had firmly established his power in the region. Jakar Dzong is currently being used as the administrative center for the Bumthang valley. It also houses the regional monk body.


Tangbi Goemba
A walk of half an hour north of Kurje Lhahang leads to this monastery, founded in 1470 by Shamar Rinpoche of the Kagyupa religious school. The temple has two sanctuaries and a temple of terrifying deities. The sanctuary on the ground floor contains statues of past, present and future Buddha and three clay statues probably dating end of the 15th century. On the upper floor, the vestibule contains two remarkable paintings of Guru Rinpoche's heaven and the Buddha
Amitabh's heaven.

Ngang Lhakhang
 A few hours walk from the Tangbi Goemba is the small region of Ngang Yul (Swan Land) and this temple here is 100 m above the valley floor. The site was visited by Guru Rinpoche and present temple was built in the 15th century by Lama Namkha Samdup, a contemporary of Pema Lingpa. A three days festival is held here each winter with masked dances in honor of the founder of the temple.

Ura Valley
Jakar to Ura is 48 km, about one and a half hour drive. To reach here, the road climbs to Jakar valley Bhutan amazingly open countryside, only occasionally running into forest. Large sheep pastures line the road up to 20 km behind the southern tip of the Tang valley. The route crosses Ura la pass (3,600m) with a magnificent view of Mount. Gangkhar Puensum. Villages in Ura have clustered houses, which is quite unusual in Bhutan. Above Ura village (3,100m) is a new temple dedicated to Guru Rinpoche. Inaugurated in 1986, it contains a huge statue of the master and remarkable paintings of the cycle of his teachings. Since last 25 years Ura has been transformed from a marginal community to prosperous valley.

Tang Valley
 Terton (treasure discoverer) Pema Lingpa, the famous saint, was born in the Tang valley of Bumthang. The people of this valley raise sheep and at higher elevation, yaks as the soil in this region is not so rich for agricultural activities. From Bumthang central, it is a short drive past the Dechenpelrithang sheep farm to an unpaved road that leads to the north. Just under a kilometer ahead, there is a rough track on the left and another kilometer ahead, there is junction where vehicle can be parked. From parking, it is a short walk down to the river. The path is lined with prayer flags and ends up above a gorge where the river forms a pool before it rushes on. Images of Pema Lingpa and his two sons are carved on a rock here.

Membartsho (The Burning Lake)
Membartsho in Tang valley is a wide spot on the Tang Chhu (chhu - water / river) and is considered to be one of the greatest pilgrimage sites of Bhutan. Pema Linga found several of Guru Rinpoche's hidden treasures here. The importance of this site is indicated by the extensive array of prayer flags and the small clay offerings called 'Tse Tsa' in rock niches.

Ugyenchholing Palace
It’s another attraction in Tang valley. Restored in 19th century, it is now housing the Family Museum, a place that will transport visitors to another world and time. The visitors will view permanent exhibits recreated to capture the ambience of the lifestyle of the Trongsa Penelop (Governor) Tshokey Dorji and his household. It also serves as retreat for those engaged in religious history. Bhutan's history truly unfolds here.

Tang Rimochen Lhakhang
It’s is a sacred place of Guru Rimpoche in the valley. A rock in front of temple bears a body print of the Guru and two khandroms (female celestial being). The site is named after the tiger stripe markings on the cliff. Footprints of the Guru and his consorts Mandarava and Yeshe Chhogyal are found below the lhakhang. Two large boulders nearby are said to be male and female jachungs (garudas).

Kunzangdrak Goemba
Its two hours walk above Chel Tang Valley. It is one of the most important sites related to Pemalingpa the great treasure discoverer in Bhutan, who also constructed the Goemba in 1488. Most of his sacred relics are kept here including the gilded stone bearing his footprint.

Pelseling Goempa
Pelseling Goempa is a sacred monastery with rich historic values. Situated on a steep mountain, it is a half day trek (3-4 hours) from the area of Jakar. The trek starts off at a mild pace but later gains momentum. Along the trek route, travelers are gifted with breathtaking views of the valley and large species of flora and fauna. About two thirds of the way, there is a beautiful meadow which is the perfect picnic spot. The last part of the hike requires more uphill trek until eventually the destination is on sight.

Konchogsum Lhakhang
 It was built in the 6th century but was renovated in 1995, which accounts for its fresh look. It contained a large bell and it is said that when this bell was rung it could be heard all the way in Lhasa in Tibet. During the 17th century a Tibetan Army tried to steal this bell but was too heavy and they dropped it and cracked it. It is now displayed at the National Museum in Paro.

Chankhar Lhakhang
 Beyond Jambay Lhakhang is Changkhar Lhakhang, the site of the palace of the Indian King Sindhu Raja. Because of its simplicity it looks like an ordinary village house. The original palace was built of iron and this is why it was named Chankhar, meaning iron castle. It was rebuilt in the 14th century by a Saint called - Dorji Lingpa.

Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery
Located above the main town, about 3 km from Chamkhar town, the monastery was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 1984 who was recognized at a very young age by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H. 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama whose spiritual lineage dates back to the nearest disciples of the great 9th century master. Since then the monastery has developed considerably with increase in number of monks to almost four hundred. The monastery has become part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalize Tibetan culture. The monks regular curriculum include reading, memorizing the daily prayers, learning dharma dances, drawing mandalas, learning the melodies of sacred rituals, learning the use of ceremonial instruments and the art of making sacrificial objects, grammar, poetry, karika along with the basics of contemplation and instruction on the different stages of tantra.

Mongar Altitude 1600 m/5250 ft

Lhuntse Altitude 2323 m/7621 ft

The trip from Bumthang to Mongar crosses over the 4,000 m high Thrumsing-la pass and is vividly spectacular from just about any perspective as you will find out when you go on the trip. Mongar marks the beginning of eastern Bhutan. Mongar is the second largest town in the subtropical east. It is built high on a gently sloping hillside.

Local Tourist Sites

Mongar Dzong
Although Mongar Dzong was built in the 1930s and is one of Bhutan's newest dzongs, it is constructed in the same fashion as all earlier dzongs without wooden planks or iron nails. A visit to Mongar Dzong demonstrates how traditional Bhutanese architecture has continued to thrive through the centuries.

Yakang Lhakhang
Located at about 20 minutes walk from Mongar town, this privately owned monastery was founded by Lama Sangdag, the sixth son of Terton Pema Lingpa. It is of great cultural significance and a repository of a wide range of spiritual treasures and other sacred objects known to have been revealed by Terton Pema Lingpa.

Drametse Lhakhang
Dramtse Lhakhang means, ‘the peak without enemy’, is one of the largest and most important monastery in eastern Bhutan, situated about 18 km away from Trashigang to Monger highway. The lhakhang was founded by a highly accomplished Ani (nun) named Choten Zangmo in the 16th century, the granddaughter of the famous religious master Terton Pema Lingpa (the Treasure Discoverer). The lhakhang is deeply associated with Terton Pema Lingpa and the Peling tradition of Buddhism. It houses a full range of spiritual treasures and other sacred objects and is the source of spiritual inspiration to the people of Drametse and neighbouring communities.
The local people from Mongar and Trashigang gather at Drametse Lhakhang to witness the annual religious festival, celebrated every year on the 10th day of Bhutanese calendar and locally known as Kaggsol Chenmo, Trel Da Tshechu and Daw Drugpai Choep. The Drametse Ngacham (Dance of the drums of Drametse) was established by Lam Kuenga Gyeltshen, Ani Chhoeten Zangmo’s brother.

Tashiyangtse is a rapidly growing town and an administrative hub for the entire district. Tashiyangtse is located in a small river valley. It is a lovely spot from which to take walks in the surrounding countryside. The dzong overlooking the town was built in the late 1990s when the new district was created. Tashiyangtse is famous for its wooden containers and bowls, which you can purchase as mementos during your visit to this rather remote region. They are extremely well-crafted and very inexpensive. While you are there, be sure to visit the Institute for Zorig Chusum, where students study the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.

Chorten Kora
Chorten Kora is a must-see dazzling white stupa situated on the river bank below the town of Tashiyangtse. It is a rapidly growing town and an administrative hub for the entire district. Tashiyangtse is located in a narrow river valley. It is a lovely spot from which to take long walks in the vicinity. Constructed in 1740 AD by Lama Ngawang Loday, it is built in the same tradition as Bodnath Stupa in Nepal, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. During the second month of the lunar calendar there is an interesting celebration here known as the "Kora."

Bomdeling is a pleasant three-hour walk from Chorten Kora. It is an annual destination for winter migration for black necked cranes which arrive from nearby Tibet in the north to pass the winter months in a relatively warmer climate. If you are able to time your trip to this area in sync with the migration, you are in for not just a bunch of sights but a bundle of experiences. Watch the cranes frolicking in their natural habitat and feeding their young ones as they wait for spring to arrive.


Lhuntse is 77 km from Mongar (3 hours drive) and is one of the most isolated districts in the country. The landscape here is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges and dense coniferous forests. The region is notably famed for its weavers and their special textiles generally considered being the best in the country. The Kurtoe region of Lhuntse is also the ancestral home of royal dynasty.

All visitors are required to enter the Kingdom at Paro by the national airline, Druk-Air. It may be more convenient for some visitors to leave the kingdom via the southern outlets of Samdrup Jongkhar in the east or Phuntsholing in the west. Twenty-five years ago all visitors would have had to walk five days across the mountains to reach Paro from the Indian border, now the Journey by air is only 45 minutes from Calcutta, Kathmandu or Dhaka.
The mythical dream like kingdom comes into view as Druck- Air's BAE-146 aircraft swings in giant arcs and descends onto Bhutan's only airstrip at Paro. Once on the Ground, the dexterity of the international flight crew can be fully appreciated as a glance in any direction provides an awe-inspiring view at very close range of the Himalayan Mountains.
An official at Bhutan's now defunct government tourism authority described the Paro valley in poetic terms: if ever a place exist where a nature and man consulted to create their dearest image, it must be the valley of Paro. To the north, mount Jhomolhari (mountain of the Goddess Jhomo) reign in sacred glory. The glacier waterways from its five sister peaks plunge through deep gorges, finally converging to form the Paro River that nourishes the rice fields land the apple and peach orchards of its own valley.'
Paro valley is one of the most populated areas of the whole country. Because of its proximity to the airport, there are hotels and tourist facilities close to the airstrips the hotel Olathang is located on the southern face of the valley in the heart of the pine forest. The Druk hotel and the Paro hotel have opened closer to Paro Town.
The valley of the Paro contains a wealth of attractions and requires a few days to be properly explored. Casting a shadow across the town of the Paro and controlling all the secular and religious activities in its valley is the elegant and perfectly symmetrical Rinpung Dzong. Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzongs houses the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (Judge) of Paro District.
Behind Rinpung Dzongs, on the high hillside, is the Castile -shaped Ta Dzong. One time watch tower built it defend Rinpung Dzongs during the inter valley wars of the 17th century; Ta dzong has housed the nation's heritage in Bhutan's national Museum since1976. The museum's circular shape augments its varied collection displayed over the several floors.
Form a Buddhist point of view; Paro was the first stop for Guru Rimpoche on his crusade from Tibet to Bhutan over one thousand years ago. Guru Rimpoche is said to have arrived on the back of the tigress and meditated at a monastery is now a hallowed shrine for Bhutanese pilgrims who travel from all over the land to pray at its temple. Tourists are usually not allowed into the temple itself but they can climb the mountains that leads top spectacular look out onto Tiger's Nest. The trail from the road takes a good walker about half that time to descend. A café at the lookout provides well-earned tea and snacks. For those unable o walk up the mountain (and it's a tough walk even when acclimatized), local tour operators can arrange ponies who ably trot up the mountain in a couple of hours.
Eighteen kilometres from Paro town on the south side of the valley are the burnt ruins of Drugyel Dzongs (victorious fortress). It was from this monastery that the Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan armies during the 17th century.
A sprinkling of shops decorates the high street that marks Paro Town. This is a good place to buy a packet of biscuit and some drinks before a journey.

Quick Facts

•        Area: 2,458 sq. kms
•        Population: 39,800
•        Temperature: Min-1ºC; Max-25º C
•        Latitude: 7ºN
•        Longitude: 89ºE
•        Language: Dzongkha
•        Religion: Buddhism


By Air
Paro International Airport is the gateway to the country of Bhutan. Paro can be easily reached by air. It is connected by national carrier Druk Air with New Delhi, Dhaka, Bangkok, Kolkata and Kathmandu.

By Road
Paro is connected to Thimphu, the capital, with an all weather road.

Local Tourist Sites

National Museum
At the top of the hill above the Rinpung Dzong or Paro Dzong, is an old stracture that was renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum. The National Museum is the main tourist attraction in Paro. This national museum is housed in Ta dzong which is an ancient watchtower. The white and brown ringed fortress, built in 1657 was made as the National Museum in 1967. This museum is the country’s only archive. The museum has the collection of old coins, stamps, birds and mammals and the costumes of the people of Bhutan at various times of its history. The ancient weapons including the bows used in archery, brass and copper house wares and a good display of ancient Bhutanese art and artefacts a fragment of moon’s surface brought by Neil Armstrong in July 1969 is also displayed in the museum.

Paro Dzong or Rinpung Dzong means ‘fortress on a heap of jewels’ in 1646 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal ordered its construction on the old foundation of monastery built by Guru Rimpoche. It has always been one of Bhutan’s strongest and most important fortresses and on numerous occasions was used to defend the paro valley from invasions by Tibet. The Dzong was formerly the meeting hall for the National Assembly and now houses the Paro Monastic School and government offices.

Taktsang Monastery
Taktsang is the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the floor of Paro valley where the only sounds of murmurs of wind and water and the chanting of monks. Taktsang Monastery is the place where Guru Rimponche meditated over thousand years ago. Guru Rimponche had arrived here from Tibet. The monastery suffered a terrible fire in 1998 which damaged the monastery's medieval wall painting and intter temple. The monastery campus also has cafetria.

This temple is said to have been built in 1659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. It holds down the left foot of an ogress that is so large that it covers Bhutan and most of eastern Tibet.

The Dzong was built in 1649 by Shabdrung Nagawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory of Bhutan over Tibetan invaders in 1644. One of the features of the dzong was a false entrance that was designed to lure invaders into an enclosed country yard. This is said to have worked successfully during the second attack by Tibetan invaders in 1648. The building was used as an administrative centre until 1951, when the fire caused by a butter lamp destroyed it. Now the Dzong is in ruins and is closed for all visitors.


Rinpung Dzong
Overlooking Paro town is Rinpung Dzong, an elegant and harmonious structure. Rinpung Dzong provides fascinating view of Paro valley. The fortress is located on a knoll across the Paro Chu River. All type of religious and social activities in the valley are controlled by Rinpung Dzong.

Ta Dzong
Castle shaped Ta Dzong is located on the high hillside in the vicinity of Rinpung Dzong. Ta Dzong hosts Bhutan's national museum which houses invaluable national heritage. The museum is very intriguing for the people interested in the nation's heritage. During the inter-valley wars in the 17th century, the place was a watch tower erected to defend Rinpung Dzong.

Druguel Dzong
Druguel Dzong, which could be translated in English the Victorious Fortress, is located on the northern part of the valley. During the 17th century, several Tibetan armies on victory march were repelled by the Bhutanese.

Samdrup Jongkhar
The road from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar was completed in the early 1960s and enables the eastern parts of the kingdom to access and benefit from trade with the south as well as across the border into India. It is possible to drive from Samdrup Jongkhar to Phuentsholing, the eastern border town, via Assam and West Bengal of India. From Trashigang the road descends through thick jungle before arriving at the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. The town is no more than a frontier post with a couple of hotels and restaurants. Visitors can exit Bhutan from Samdrup Jongkhar, instead to driving back all the way back to Paro or Phuentsholing. Guwahati airport in India is located about 100 km from the border and from there there are daily flights to Calcutta and Delhi.

Fair & Festivals
Paro Tshechu, celebrated in the spring season at Paro Dzong is perhaps most famous event that takes place in Bhutan. Celebrated in remembrance of Guru Rimpoche's arrival in Paro Valley in the 8th century AD, the festival is one of the purest manifestations of traditional Bhutanese traditions. Main attractions of the festival are mask dance and music performances of lamas enacting the events of the past.

Weekend bazaars and small shops sell precious stones brought from Tibet and India, local weaving products, local vegetables and fruits, antique silverware, and old Tibetan coins.

The frontier town, it is a thriving commercial centre, situated directly at the base of Himalayan foothills. It is a fascinating place where different ethnic groups mingle prominently Indian, Bhutanese and Nepalese. Being the border town, Phuentsholling serves as the convenient entry/exit point for Bhutan and also the important link to visit the Indian state of West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam.

Quick Facts

Population: 20,537 (2005 census)
Longitude: 26.852
Longitude: 88.388

Local Tourist Sites

Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang
Situated in the city centre, this small temple Zhangtho Pelri represents the heaven of Guru Rinpoche. On ground floor there are statues of eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche and paintings on Buddha's life while the next floor contains eight Bodhisattavas and statues of Avalokiteshvara and Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. On top floor, there is a main statue of Amitabha.

Kharbandi Goemba
Founded in 1967 by Royal Grand Mother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron and situated at the altitude of 400m, this beautiful monastery contains paintings on the life of Buddha, statues of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche. From the monastery garden there is a fascinating view of Phuentsholing town and surrounding plains.

The road winds from Simtokha Dzong into pine forest and through small villages for 20 kms and then opens miraculously on to the Northern Ridges of the mountains. The view over the Himalayan panoply at Dorchula Pass at 10,500 ft is one the most spectacular in all Bhutan. Punakha lies about 2 hours drive from Dorchula down low in its valley. Commanding a sparse population, Punakha Dzong is home to the central monk body and the Je Khenpo during the milder winter month’s temperate climate and natural drainage from the Phochu (male) and Mochu (female) rivers, the fertile Punakha Valley produces abandoned crops and fruits. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955.
Punakha Dzong was strategically built at the junction of the two rivers in the 17th century by the first Shabdrung to serve as the religious and the administrative center. In spite of four catastrophic fires and a devastating earthquake that destroyed many historic documents, Punakha Dzong houses sacred temples including the Mercheng where the embalmed body of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal lies in the state.
The Dzong has been fully restored by the present king. In 1993 the largest Thongdrel, religious embroidery compose entirely of appliqué on silk brocade. That has ever been created was dedicated to the Dzong and the people of the Punakha valley by his majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and the Je khenpo at a three day consecration which brought to the Bhutan's nobility.

Quick Facts

•        Area: 1,096 Sq. Kms
•        Population: 17,715
•        Altitude: 4,430 feet above sea level
•        Temperature: Max-26ºC; Min-3ºC
•        Best Time to Visit: March to May & September to December
•        Rainfall: 500 mm to 1500 mm


By Air
Paro International airport is just 143 kms from Punakha.

By Road
Punakha is connected with all the major cities of Bhutan Wangdue 36 kms, Paro 143 Kms.

Local Tourist Sites

Chhimi Lhakhang Temple
Chhimi Lhakhang, it's a 20 minutes walk across fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. Ngawang Chogyel built the temple in 15th century after the 'divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. It is a pilgrim site for barren women.

Punakha Dzong
Punakha Dzong, "palace of great happiness" was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal after Simtokha Dzong and is located strategically between the confluence of Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. The Dzong, which was damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, has been fully restored by the present King. Punakha served as the capital of the country until second king who moved the capital to Bumthang as summer and Trongsa as the winter. It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan's first king, Sir Ugyen Wangchuk was crowned as the first hereditary ruler of Bhutan. It is also the venue for Punakha Festival held in February or March.

Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal
Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal, a three-storey chorten built by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon in 1999 for the protection of the country, stands on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang, and is about 6 miles from Punakha. It presents an incredibly complex iconography, which belongs to the Nyingmapa tradition.

Samtengang Winter Trek
Samtengang Winter Trek, this three day low altitude cultural trek not exceeding an elevation of 8500 feet connects you to Wangdue District. The trek offers great scenic views of snowcapped mountains and pristine forest. There are various places for day hike, bird watching and trekking in Punakha.


Drive to the Punakha Dzong and walk across the suspension bridge. Follow the farmhouses gradually climbing towards Dompola Hills. The view of the Dzong, Phochu, Mochu Rivers and the surrounding village is superb amidst chirpine forest. The climb is another two and half hours to the Limbhukha. Limbhukha is also known for its love of peace and tranquility. The legend says that during the medieval wars the “limpus” or the people of Limbhukha always volunteered as peace negotiators. This is depicted during the yearly festival called “Serda” when the men are found carrying a peace flags instead of swords and fireworks.

Gangtey Gompa Monastery
Gangtey Gompa monastery sits atop a hillock that overlooks the Phobjikha valley. It is headed by the ninth Gangtey Trulku and is the largest Nyingma monastery in western Bhutan. Gyalse Pema Thinlay built a small temple in 1613, which was later built into larger Goemba by the 2nd reincarnation Tenzin Legpai Dhendup.

Phobjikha is a wide, beautiful valley and thought to have been created by glacier instead of river. Later take a walk and watch the rare and endangered Black-necked cranes that migrate here in the winter from Tibet and Siberia. These birds have very interesting mating dances and they hold special place in Bhutanese folklore, songs and paintings. The valley is a designated conservation area and borders the Black Mountains national park. Because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that winters here. , it is one of the most important wild life reserves in the country.

Punakha is awfully compact and most distances can be covered on foot. While the city is uniformly charming in a modest way, the Bhutan Arts & Crafts Centre is at the very hub of things not least because of its location next to the popular Swiss Bakery, a favourite hangout for foreigners and locals alike. Here, culture-shocked expats can pick up a reassuring Swiss roll for a few rupees. The place is awash with “what’s on” notices and it’s a good spot to acclimatize in before starting out.

The road from Tashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar was completed in the 1960s. It is also known as the Indian Corridor as it connects Bhutan with India. It enables the eastern half of the country to access and benefit from trade with the south as well as across the border with India. There is little to see in this area, other than the busy market which straddles the Indo-Bhutan border. Samdrup Jongkhar is a convenient exit town for tourists who have arranged to visit the neighboring Indian state of Assam.


Phuentsholing is known as the gateway to the south of Bhutan. The town is a vibrant economic centre on the northern Indian plains. It is situated directly at the base of the Himalayan foothills. Phuentsholing is a fascinating mixture of Indian and Bhutanese cultures and a perfect specimen of the mingling of the people and cultures of two neighboring countries. Since it is a border town, Phuentsholing is a convenient entry/exit point for visiting Bhutan and also the neighboring Indian states of West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam.

Kharbandi Gompa
Kharbandi Gompa is an impressive looking monastery which is situated in a garden of tropical plants and flowers at an altitude of 400 meters or 1,300 ft above the town. It was founded in 1967 by the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron. The monastery contains incredibly artistic paintings which depict scenes from the life of the Buddha and statues of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche. From the garden of the monastery, there is a mesmerizing view of Phuentsholing and the plains of West Bengal.

Zangtho Pelri
The Zangtho Pelri temple was built in the middle of Phuentsholing town and represents the heaven of Guru Rinpoche. At ground level, there are statues of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche and paintings which depict scenes from the life of the Buddha. The floor above the main floor features wall paintings of the eight Bodhisattvas and statues of Avalokiteshvara and Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The main statue is of Amitabha and adorns the top floor.

Tashigang is located in the far east corner of the country. It is the country's largest district. Tashigang town, on the hillside above the Gamri Chu, the river, was once the center for a thriving trade with neighboring Tibet in the north. It is the junction of the east-west highway, one of the major arteries of the country, with road connections to Samdrup Jongkhar and then into the northeastern Indian state of Assam. The town is also the primary marketplace for the semi-nomadic people of Merak and Sakteng, who are known for their attractive costumes and their way of dressing up beautifully.


Tashigang Dzong
Tashigang Dzong was built in 1659 and serves as the administrative seat for the district as well as the home of the monk body. The dzong commands a remarkable view over the surrounding countryside.

Gom Kora
Gom Kora is located approximately 24 kilometers from Tashigang. The temple of Gom Kora is set on a small alluvial plateau overlooking the river. Gom Kora is surrounded by rice fields and clumps of lush banana trees. It resembles an oasis in an arid landscape. It is one of the famous places where Guru Rinpoche meditated in order to subdue a demon which dwelt in a huge black rock.

Thimphu, perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, Capital city in the world, is a bustling town on the banks of its own river and set gloriously in the hills of its own valley. A regal town, Thimpu is home to the revered Bhutanese Royal family and to several Foreign mission and development projects.
On the bank of the river lies Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building which houses the throne room of his majesty the king of Bhutan. The national Assembly Hall is housed in a modern building on the other side of the river From the Dzong. During the warmer summer months the monk body headed by his holiness, the JeKhenpo, makes its home in the Dzong. Visitors are strictly prohibited from entering the government building at all times during an active session. Next to the Dzong is Bhutan's only golf course. A nine-hole circuit that is far more picturesque than it is testing. The Thangka painting school in the heart of Thimpu is well worth visiting. With sun streaming through the windowpanes casting long shadows across the wooden slates, student monks in burgundy robes sit in the classroom for hours at time learning from saffron -robed elder Bhutan's National Library is located to the close to the painting school and is also worth a look in. Housed in the library are the some of the oldest records of Bhutanese history and religion. A wonderful Day's outing from Thimpu is a visit to Cheri and Tango Monasteries to the north of the Town. They cab be reached by road but many Thimpu residents go up to the Monasteries for a day trip by foot. Thimpu charm is not an embedded in its wealth of galleries, museums or places of historic interest. Visitors must wander along the main street and into shops, all of which are decorated in traditional style. Thimphu's shopkeepers are delightfully helpful and will do their best to oblige even the smallest request. Bhutan's famous stamp collection can be viewed and purchased in the capital's main post office.
Every Saturday and Sunday most of Thimphu's scant population and many valley dwellers congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. The field adjacent to the market is reserved on weekends for basket ball and archery players. The later, if dressed with full costumes are a lovely sight.Five miles from Thimpu stands the 17th century Simtokha Dzong on a lofty ridge. Built in 1627, the oldest Dzong in the land houses the school from Buddhist studies. The road to Dorchula Pass and on to Easter Bhutan winds its way upwards from Simtokha Dzong.

Quick Facts

•        Area: 2,067
•        Population: 78,195
•        Latitude: 27ºN
•        Longitude: 89ºE
•        Language: Dzongkha
•        Temperature: Max-30ºC; Min-4ºC
•        Religion: Mahayan Buddhism


By Air
Thimphu does not have an airport. However, it is served by the only international airport of Bhutan at Paro, which is about 54 kilometers (34 mi) away by road. Druk Air had its headquarters in Thimphu but now there is only a branch office. Druk Air is the only airline flying into Bhutan and is a lifeline with the outside world for the Bhutanese people, also supports emerging inbound tourism and export markets.

By Road
The layout and position of the city roads in Thimpu are dictated by its unique topography. Most premier roads, typically wide, are aligned in a north-south direction, parallel to the river; the most important artery is the Norzin Lam (Lam - road/street).

Local Tourist Sites

Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion)
First built in 1661, the Dzong dominates the town of Thimphu. Except the central keep, the entire structure was rebuilt in 1961-62 and now houses the main government departments, the National Assembly, the throne room of the king, and summer headquarters of the Central Monastic Body.

Simtokha Dzong
Built in 1627, this Dzong is oldest in Thimphu and gateway to the Thimphu Valley. The Dzong houses Rigney School for Dzongkha and monastic studies. There are beautiful frescos and slate carvings in Simtokha.

Streets of Thimphu
The most enjoyable experience of being in Thimphu is to taking strolls around the streets here. Weekend markets of Thimphu sell everything under the sun that is being created in Bhutan. Hordes of villagers sell vegetables, newspapers, red chillies, traditional Bhutanese masks, and carpets.


National Library
The National Library was established in 1967 to preserve many ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan Texts. The traditional books are kept on the upper floor. These books are Tibetan-Style, printed or written on long strips of hand make paper stacked between peaces of wood and wrapped in silicon cloth. In another section of some wooden blocks that are used for printing books and Prayer Flags.
There is a collection of English language books and small collection of modern academic texts on the ground floor.Most of these is Buddhism and Himalayan History. An altar on the ground floor, with statues of Bhutan’s most important historic figures, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Pema Lingpa and Guru Rimpoche also contributes to the buildings sacred importance.

School of Arts & Crafts
The school of Arts & Crafts Commonly known as painting school offers an eight year course which provide instruction of many of Bhutan tradition arts to Boy throughout the countries whose aptitude is more artistic than academic. Its offers courses ranging from Painting, Wood carving, slate carving, Sculpture (Statue making), weaving to embroidery Recently the admission for girls too had been accepted and these are around 20 girls is learning the crafts of weaving, embroidery, sculpture and painting. Besides these artistic works they are thought to read and write English and Dzongkha language. All of them live in the Boarding House. There is a small showroom at the school that sells some of the student’s works.

This private chapel built in the 1990s by Dasho Aku Tongmi, a musician who composed Bhutan’s National Anthem is just south of the weekend market. It is the replica of the Guru Rimpoche’s celestial abode and Bhutan Tallest Lhakhang that houses many statues including a 4 meter high image of Guru Rimpoche. It is the only monastery which allows entry inside the Lhakhang. The individuals can donate any amount of money in the donation box for the well being all sentient beings.

Memorial Chorten
left in the centre of the Thimpu city stand this colorful Chorten (Stupa) This large Tibetan style Chorten was built in 1974 to honour the memory of third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. There are numerous religious paintings and complex tantric statue inside reflecting both peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist deities. The memorial Chorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimpu and for many people it is the focused of their daily worship. Throughout the day people circumambulate the Chorten and worship at a small shrine just inside the gate.

Changlimithang Stadium
The National stadium occupies the field where in 1885; a battle took place that helped the supremacy of Ugyen Wangchuck, Bhutans first King. It is now the site of the national archery ground a large football stadium cum Parade ground basketball, tennis and squash courts, as well as the headquarters of the Bhutan Olympic Committee.

Mini Zoo
Above the way to BBS tower, stop by to see a large fenced area that was originally established as a mini zoo The king decided that such a facility was not keeping the Bhutan’s environmental and religious convictions, and it was disbanded some time ago, the animal were released into the wild but the taking were so tame that they wandered around the streets of Thimphu looking for food, and the only solution was to put them back into captivity. Enclosed “The Takin-Bhutan’s National animal”.

BBS Towers – Sangaygang
There is wonderful view of Thimphu valley from this point, which is at an elevation of 2685m high above the town.

Dochula Pass
Dochula pass at 3150m is marked by a large array of prayer flags and a Chorten. On the hill above the pass is a cafeteria that affords (on a clear day) a close-up view of the Bhutan Himalaya. There is a powerful binocular telescope in the cafeteria. A photograph on the wall above the telescope has the peaks labeled.

Thimphu offers a wide range of products to the tourists to take back home as souvenirs. Handicrafts Emporium in Thimphu has the best range of handicraft products in town though the prices are somewhat higher than in the local market. Look for papier-mâché masks, prayer wheels, decorative motifs, silk-screened handmade paper, rings and ornaments for clothing, and woven wool or silk clothe. Other important items that you can look for in the markets are precious stones and postage stamps (available at the General Post Office).

Situated on a rather steep slope above a river gorge, Trongsa forms the central hub of Bhutan. It is the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched in former times. The landscape around Tongsa is very scenic and breath-taking. The dzong stretches along the ridge above the ravine. The dzong comes into view about an hour before the winding mountain road and leads you into Trongsa. Be sure to put Trongsa on your map. It isn't worth missing at any price.

Local Tourist Sites

Chendebji Chorten
Chendebji Chorten is located on route to Tongsa. Chendebji Chorten resembles Kathmandu's Swayambhunath Stupa to some degree with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century AD by a Lama from Tibet named Lama Shida to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. The experience may border the occult but the architectural beauty of the monument is certainly worthy of a visit.

Tongsa Dzong
The Tongsa dzong was constructed in 1648 AD and was the seat of power to exercise control over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient and strategically situated seat of power. The kings assumed power as Tongsa Penlop or the governor, before ascending the throne. The present Crown Prince currently holds the title. The dzong is a solid structure and has many levels sloping down the sides of the ridge on which it is built.
Surprising as it may sound, Tongsa dzong is the only connecting route between the east and the west of Bhutan. Hence it’s extremely strategic and critical location. It has been described by several historians as a dzong that was able to control effectively the entire central and eastern regions of the country from a single location.

Ta Dzong
As you may well expect, this watchtower of a dzong that once guarded Tongsa Dzong from an uprising stands on a steep slope above the town with the primary mission to protect not merely the Dzong but also the surrounding region. You should go up the path toward Ta Dzong which now houses a shrine dedicated to the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling. This majestic watch tower provides the visitors with an insight into the significance of Tongsa in Bhutan's history.


Kuenga Rabten
The 23 km drive from Trongsa to Kuenga Rabten takes about an hour and passes through open countryside high above a river gorge. The land slopes quite gently in this region, and farming is well developed, so there is much of interest to observe in the field and in the villages as one speed along. As one approaches Kuenga Rabten, the Palace is clearly visible just below the main road on the left. It was the winter palace of the second King and is now looked after by the National Commission for Cultural Affairs. This pleasant afternoon excursion from trongsa offers further insights into the early days of Bhutan’s monarch.

Wangdue Phodrang Dzong was founded by the Shabdrung in 1638.It site atop a high ridge between the Punak Chhu and Dang Chhu. It is obvious that the site was selected for its commanding view of the valley below. Legend relates another reason for choosing this spot as people searched for a site for a Dzong four raven were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered an auspicious sign, representing the spreading of religion to the four points of the compass. Wangdue is important to the history of Bhutan, because in early day it was the country secondry capital. After Trongsa Dzong was established in 1644 the Wangdue Phodrang penlop (ruler) became the third most powerful ruler, after the penlops of Paro and Trongsa. The dzong’s position gave the penlop a controle of the routes of Trongsa, Punakha, Dagana, and Thimphu.
Located at same elevation as Punakha, it's about 30 minutes of drive from Punakha. It is the last town of western Bhutan before you enter into the central part of Bhutan. Known for fine bamboo work and its slate carvings Wangdue Dzong, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1638 had built this massive fortress sitting on a hilltop at the confluence of Punakha Chu and Tang Chu Rivers. Wangdue Festival is celebrated here in the fall.

Quick Facts

•        Area: 3,000 sq. kms
•        Population: 31,135
•        Altitude: 1832 m
•        Rainfall: 1000 mm
•        Temperature: Max-30ºC; Min-1.1ºC
•        Best Time to Visit: March to May & September to December


By Air
Nearly all visitors arrive by plane from Paro, the country's sole airport. Wangdue Phodrang is 2 hour drive from the capital, and about a 2hrs 45 minute journey from the airport.

By Road
Wangdue Phodrang is the meeting place of three major Highways. There are daily Buses form Phuentsholing, Thimphu and Paro. Wangdue Phodrang also lies on the route from the capital to Jakar, Samdrup Jongkhar, Mongar, Damphu and Gelephu.

Local Tourist Sites

Rinchengang Village
Rinchengang Village, a small clustered village facing the Wangdue Dzong is known for its skill in traditional method of stone masonry. It is about 20 minutes hike uphill with great view of the Dzong, valley and the river.

Phobjikha Valley
Phobjikha Valley, (altitude 9600 feet), takes about two hours of drive from Wangdue Phodrang, a glacial valley located on the western slopes of the Black Mountain at an altitude of 9840 feet above the sea level. There is no telephone or electricity and is the winter homes to the rare black-necked crane that migrate from high plateaus of Tibet in late fall to escape harsh winters. There are also muntjak (barking deer), wild boar, sambar, Himalayan black bear, leopard and red fox. The valley is a designated conservation area and borders Black Mountain National Park.

Gangtey Goenpa
A place to see is Gangtey Goenpa, the largest Nyingma monastery in Bhutan. Gyalse Pema Thinlay built a small temple in 1613, which was later built into larger Goenpa by the 2nd reincarnation Tenzin Legpai Dhendup. Villages, you can take a day hike around the valley visiting villages and observing the cranes during November - March. It is very scenic and mind soothing hike that would provide you with rewarding surprises.

Roosting Ground
Roosting Ground, it is about 20 minutes walk from the bridge crossing the swamp on rough wooden slabs. The best time is at dawn and dusk when all the birds in the valley congregate for the night (only possible during November - March).

Crane Observation and Education Centre
Visit to the Crane Observation and Education Centre, activities within the Centre is; early morning crane observation and counting/ crane study using nature trails. The centre was established by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), the only NGO in the country.


Langdra Nye
Langdra Nye (The Red Bull Sacred Site), near Bai Village. Guru Rinpoche meditated here and the cave is considered one of Bhutan's most sacred sites. Among the relics on display is a thumb print of Guru Rinpoche embedded in rock. The name of the site is derived from an incident where Guru Rinpoche subdued a charging red bull.

The Black Hat Dance (Shanag)
The black hat dancers assume the role of yogis with the power to subdue and create life. The dancers wear brocade robes, wide brimmed black hats and aprons with the face of a protective deity. This is an important dance that is also used in purification ceremonies during the construction of dzongs, temples, and chortens.

There are few itens to buy in Bhutan and part of it looks like they are made in India or Nepal. Weavering is a national handcraft and everyhouse you pass by there is someone doing this work. Beautiful but very expensive.

FromToApprox. DistanceApprox. Driving Time

BumthangPhobjhika (Gangtey)188 kms05-06 hrs
BumthangMongar198 kms07-08 hrs
MongarLhuentse76 kms03 hrs
MongarTrashigang91 kms03-04 hrs
ParoThimphu65 kms01 hr
ParoHaa65 kms1.5-02 hrs
Phobjhika (Gangtey)Wangdue Phodrang65 kms2.5-03 hrs
Phobjhika (Gangtey)Trongsa120 kms4.1 / 02-05 hrs
PhuentsholingDooars (Chalsa) (West Bengal, India)110 kms2.1 / 02 hrs
PhuentsholingSiliguri (West Bengal, India)155 kms04 hrs
PhuentsholingBagdogra (West Bengal, India)165 kms4.1 / 02 hrs
PhuentsholingKalimpong (West Bengal, India)185 kms05 hrs
PhuentsholingDarjeeling (West Bengal, India)200 kms06 hrs
PhuentsholingGangtok (Sikkim, India)220 kms07 hrs
Punakha Wangdue Phodrang13 kms45 mins
PunakhaPhobjhika (Gangtey)78 kms03 hrs
PunakhaBumthang212 kms08 hrs
Samdrup JongkharGuwahati (Assam, India)110 kms03 hrs
Samdrup JongkharPhuentsholing400 kms10 hrs
ThimphuWangduephodrang70 kms03 hrs
ThimphuPunakha77 kms03 hrs
ThimphuHaa115 kms03-04 hrs
ThimphuPhobjhika (Gangtey)135 kms5.5-06 hrs
ThimphuPhuentsholing176 kms07-08 hrs
TrashigangChorten Kora52 kms02 hrs
TrashigangTrashiyangtshe55 kms02 hrs
TrashigangSamdrup Jongkhar180 kms07 hrs
TrongsaBumthang68 kms02 hrs
TrongsaWangdue Phodrang129 kms4.5-05 hrs
TrongsaPunakha142 kms06 hrs

Many visitors come to Bhutan to witness religious festivals held annually in Dzongs throughout the country. The most popular for tourists are those held in Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang. They mark the busiest time of the year for tourism and reservations (particularly for hotels) are frequently difficult to come by.
The Dzong come to life with color, music and dancing as valley dwellers and town folk dress in their best clothes and join together to exorcise all spirits and rejoice in a new harvest. Rare masked and sword dances and other rituals are performed in the Dzong's courtyard and temples. Tourists are allowed into the Dzongs to watch the spectacle but they are not allowed inside temples.
Photography should always be discreet. It is generally allowed to take photographs at stenches but not at drenches.
Most of the dances date back to beyond the Middle Ages and are only performed once or twice each year. Each dance has its own spiritual importance and can be performed by monks or lay village leaders dressed in bleft costume. Certain festivals end with the unveiling and worship of huge religious appliqués or thongdrels. The moment of the unveiling is shrouded in secrecy and creates great excitement amongst all the participants.
Thimphu and Paro festivals are the most popular for tourists as they are the most accessible. Visitors who come to Bhutan at other times of the year should find out if other regional dromchos or tsechus are taking place as they can be equally fascinating. The tsechus at Bumthang is well known for taking place.

The Trongsa festival usually takes place in December or January, depending on the Bhutanese calendar held at Trongsa. This festival is less congested than the more popular ones, providing visitors with a better opportunity to experience and photograph the events on a more intimate level.

Lhuntsi Festival held at Lhuntsi in month of January.

This festival celebrated at Punakha in month of February. Between 1616 AD and 1651 AD, Zhabdrung had to wage around five major against the major wars against the invading forces of Desi Tsangpa Phuntsho Namgyel and his successors. The Bhutanese militia under the table guidance of Zhabdrung himself was able to defeat the invaders. During those wars, Lam Zhabdrung also sought the support of the guardian Deities, particularly Palden Lhamo and Pal Yeshey Goenbo.

Punakha Drubchen therefore celebrates two important events:
•        Worship of the guardian deities and presentation of the deities to the public through mask dances performed by the monks.
•        Enactment of ancient military scenes by Pazaps.

Totally different than other Festivals in the Kingdom, the Domchey depicts the events of the 17thn century -- specifically, how the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel came to Bhutan from Tibet. When he came to Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel brought valuable treasure from Tibet with him. The Tibetan Army came to Punakha Dzong to retrieve the treasure and fought a battle with the Bhutanese defenders. In this festival, four different villages participate, each representing a different army that fought in this historic battle.

There is an annual Dakpa Kora (circumambulation of the Chorten by the Dakpas) festival held on the 15th of the first lunar month, and a Drukpa Kora (circumambulation of the Chorten by the Bhutanese) festival held at the end of the first lunar month which celebrates the stupa. These festivals are attended by Dakpa people of the neighbouring Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh in India, and Bhutanese from Tashiyangtse, Tashigang, and Kurtoe. A popular belief is that when the stupa was constructed, a pious Dakini princess from neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh in India entombed herself within, as the Yeshe Semba, to meditate on behalf of all beings. A popular Bhutanese (Dzongkha language) film "Chorten Kora" is based on this legend.

Gom Kora Festival held at Tashiyangtse in month of March.

Chukha festival held at Chimakoti in month of March.

This festival celebrated at Paro in month of March. All religious and lay people of Paro and neighbourhood areas, dressed and adorned in their finest attend the festivals, with a belief that they will get their sins washed away and will accumulate merits. This is also an occasion of social gatherings. There will be a series of mask dance performances mainly by monks with some folk singing and dancing as well.

Ura Yakochoe festival held at Bhumthang in month of April.

Kurjey Festival held at Bhumthang in month of July.

This is another one of the great festivals of Bhutan celebrated at Thimpu. Like the Paro festival, its timing depends upon the Bhutanese lunar calendar, but usually occurs in September or October. Because it is held in the populated capital of Bhutan, the Thimphu festival can be congested. This can make picture-taking challenging. One has to come early to secure a place to sit and watch the Festival. The Thimphu festival takes place inside the capital-building courtyard. The capital building also houses the offices for the King, Ministry of Home Affairs, as well as summer residences for the monks when they move to the capital from their Punakha winter residence.

The Tshechu is a festival honouring Guru Padma Sambhava, “one who was born from a lotus flower.” This Indian saint contributed enormously to the diffusion of Tartaric Buddhism in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan etc. around 800 AD. He is the founder of the Nyingmapa, the “old school” of Lamaism which still has numerous followers. The biography of Guru is highlighted by 12 episodes of the model of the Buddha Shakyamuniâ’s life. Each episode is commemorated around the year on the 10th day of the month by “the Tshechu“. The dates and the duration of the festivals vary from one district to another but they always take place on or around the 10th day of the month according to the Bhutanese calendar. During Tshechu, the dances are performed by monks as well as by laymen. The Tshechu is a religious festival and by attending it, it is believed one gains merit. It is also a yearly social gathering where the people, dressed in all their finery, come together to rejoice. Detailed explanation on the meaning of each dance performed during the Tshechu will be provided to guests by our tour guides.

Wangdi Tshechu festival held at Wangdi in month of October.

Tamshing Phala Chodpa festival held at Bumthang in month of October.

Tangbi Mani festival held at Bumthang in month of October.

This festival celebrated at Bumthang in month of November. This festival held in the picturesque valley of Bumthang gained its popularity from the visits of tourist in the recent years. In addition to the mask dances, Jambay Lhakhang Temple built in the year 659 host the "Mewang" (Fire blessing) and "Tercham" (Dance of Treasure). It is believed that the Tercham can bless the infertile women with children, and is only performed during the night.

Trashigang festival held at Tashigang in month of December.

Mongar Tshechu Festival held at Mongar in month of December.

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