Bhutan


Trip to Bhutan 28. September – 07 October 2017

…please call me to check availability of visas and flights to Paro. 

Bhutan is no ordinary place. It is a Himalayan kingdom with a reputation for mystery and magic, where a traditional Buddhist culture carefully embraces global developments. Its the only country were happiness is a human right and every farmer is growing there fruits & vegetables organic. Bhutan holds many surprises. This is a country where the rice is red and where chillies aren’t just a seasoning but the main ingredient. It’s also a deeply Buddhist land, where monasteries are part of the mainstream, and where giant protective penises are painted beside the entrance to many houses. While it visibly maintains its Buddhist traditions, Bhutan is not a museum. You will find the Bhutanese well educated, fun loving and vibrant.

Buthan2 Buthan3 Buthan1

You will be one of the few who will experience the natural charm of the first country where Gross National Happiness is deemed more important than Gross National Product. By law, at least 60% of the country must remain forested for all future generations.

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Bhutan 2017 flyer 9.2

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Proposed Schedule: subject to change

 

10 days of Yoga and Culture

(28 Sept. – 7 Oct. 2017)

              

Day 1: Sept 28, 2017: Arrival: Paro – Thimphu (65kms/1.5hrs)

Paro (alt. 2200m/7218ft) – The beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates within itself a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and country’s only airport. Mount. Jhomolhari (7,314m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial water plunge through deep gorges to form Pa Chhu (Paro River). Paro is also one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.

The flight to Paro is considered one of the most spectacular flight experiences in the world. While flying in and out of Bhutan, one can see Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makula, and other high peaks such as Jumolhari, Jichu Drakey, and Tsrim Gang. You will be received by representative of Rainbow Tour & Trek at Airport.

Paro Airport

 

Drive to Thimphu, checked into hotel and visit the following places:

Thimphu Altitude: 2320m. Thimphu is a small, charming capital city nestled in the heart of the Himalayas with a population of about 100,000 people. Thimphu is capital town of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce. It is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Although not what one expects from a capital city, Thimphu is still a fitting and lively place. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style.

Memorial Chorten: This stupa was built in 1974 to honor the 3rd King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This religious structure is circumambulated only in a clockwise direction (reciting prayers and whirling the large red prayer wheels).

Buddha Point – In the afternoon visit the world’s largest sitting Buddha, an immense statue housing a monastery and visitors center. Enjoy a stunning view of Thimphu city from this point.

Buddha Point

National Textile Museum: This museum is worth a visit to learn about Bhutan’s living national art of weaving. The ground floor focuses on cham costumes, while the upper floor introduces the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and type of textiles made by women and men. There is usually a small group of weavers working their looms inside the shop, which features work from the renowned weaving centre of Lhuentse in northeastern Bhutan.

School of Thirteen Arts & Crafts: It is the primary center of learning for Bhutanese artists. Depending upon the student’s interest, one can specialize in any of the thirteen arts and crafts, including painting, weaving, sculptures, blacksmithing, embroidery, etc. It is the best place for visitors to learn about traditional Bhutanese arts and crafts. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.

Tashichho Dzong: has been seat of Bhutan’s government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. It also house of the monastic body.

Evening: explore Thimphu Town and handicraft stalls

Evening Yoga session

Overnight in Thimphu; Namgay Heritage Hotel www.nhh.bt

 

Day 2: Sept 29, 2017: Thimphu Sightseeing

 

Cheri Monastery: Morning: Drive to north of Thimphu Valley (15kms) and hike to Cheri Monastery for 30 – 45mins. Cheri Monastery was established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The monastery is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu sect. The Monastery serves as the monastic school for study of Buddhist Philosophy, metaphysics, mathematics, poets and many other Buddhist studies. According to legend or history of Bhutan the place was first visited by Padmasambhava in the 8th century. In the 13th century it was visited by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo the Tibetan Lama who first established the Drukpa Kagyu tradition in Bhutan. Zhabdrung spent three years in strict retreat at the monastery and stayed for many years.

After lunch visit the following places:

Handmade Paper Factory – Although the process of making traditional paper may be simple, a considerable amount of time is required to collect the raw materials, such as the bark of the Daphne plant and certain plant roots for glue. Apart from a small heater to dry the sheets of paper, everything is manually done. Daphne paper is one of the finest papers in the world and is highly recommended for artists.

Zilukha Nunnery: This is the biggest nunnery in Bhutan and is a good place to photograph and interact with the nuns and learn about what it takes and feels like to be a Bhutanese Buddhist Nun. You’ll see many nuns chanting prayers and turning prayer wheels in Zhlukha nunnery. In Bhutan, girls and women are admitted to nunneries for short to long period of time. They are educated in Buddhism here and after their graduation they dedicate their lives in serving the community at large. Spend some time interacting with the nuns and get to know their beliefs and worldview.

National Takin Reserve: Hike or drive up the National Takin Reserve where a herd of Bhutan’s national animals reside. Legend has it that the Takin is a cross between a goat and a buffalo, but biologists agree that its nearest relative is the arctic musk ox. This bizarre beast looks as if it was assembled from parts of several animals and vaguely resembles an American bison tinged in golden fur. Male Takins have been known to hide by lying spread-eagle on the ground.

Centenary Farmer’s Market: Talk a walk though this market and shop/interact with the local farmers. Thimphu’s new weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan. Farmers come from all over the country to sell their farm products in the market. With its wide assortment of fresh, organic produce, the Farmer’s Market has become a favorite spot for tourists and a recreational place for people from all walks of life. Nearby, across a cantilever footbridge, Kuendeyling Bazaam, to the west bank is a collection of stalls selling clothing, textiles and handicrafts.

Evening Yoga session

Overnight in Thimphu; Namgay Heritage Hotel www.nhh.bt

Day 3: Sept 30, 2017: Thimphu – Community Service will be arranged on this day!

After breakfast, drive 8 km to Babesa Middle secondary School and you attained the daily programme of our students and interact with the principal, teachers & Students.

A Community service will be arranged along with the students of this school or independently in either providing for the needy elderly, cleaning campaign around the village, or doing something special for the disabled children etc. We can plan/discuss this further in the days ahead.

Evening: Visit Royal Botanical Garden, Serbithang (RBGS). It was established in May 1999 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee Celebration of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. The main mandate of the garden is to act as an  ex situ conservation area for the country’s flora and to educate the public on the value of conservation. The initial establishment of the garden was funded by Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC). The RBGS with an area spanning over 28 acres is frequented by coordinated educational visits and is a favourite spot for family outings and picnics as well.

Yoga Session

Overnight in Thimphu; Namgay Heritage Hotel www.nhh.bt

 

Day 04: Oct 01, 2017: Thimphu – Wangdue (77km/3 hrs)

Morning Yoga session

After breakfast at hotel, drive to Punakha Altitude: 1300m/4265ft. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan during the time of Zhabdrun Ngawang Namkgyal, the founder of Bhutan. Today it is the administrative and religious center of the district and the winter home of Bhutan’s Central Monk Body. It is blessed with temperate climate and owing to its natural drainage from Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female) rivers the Punakha valley produces abundant crops and fruits.

Start your morning by enjoying and taking pictures of the Dochula Pass (3150m/10,000ft) with its panoramic views of the Himalayas. The pass is decorated with 108 Druk Wangyel Chorten, which were built to celebrate the stability and progress, brought to Bhutan by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King. Stopping whenever your photographic eye catches a good scene and to interact with locals.

Dorchula Pass

Visit the following places:

Chimmi Lhakhang Hike: take a 45mins hike round trip through the rice field to Chimmi Lhakhang, the 15th-century monastery built by Lam Ngawang Chogyal on the spot where his cousin Lam Drukpa Kuenley (popularly known as “the Divine Madman”) subdued a powerful demon. This monastery is also referred to as the “Abode of Fertility” and believed that any couple who gets blessing from this temple is blessed with a child in the next year or so.

Punakha’s Dzong: The name means Palace of Great Bliss. This dzong stands magnificently on the spit of land where two rivers (Pho chu and Mo chu) meet. Punakha Dzong has special significance in Bhutanese history as the place where Bhutan’s first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned in 1907. It is also the winter residence for the Je Khenpo (spiritual leader) and the entire central monk body.

Punakha suspension bridge: this is an exciting bridge for photography enthusiasts.

Overnight in Punakha: Drubchu Resort / Damchen Resort

Punakha Dzong

 

Day 05: Oct 02, 2017:Wangdue (Attend Wangdue Tshechu/Festival)

Tshechu (festival) are grand events where entire communities come together in their best attires and jewelries to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to the mask dances, Tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment.

The annual Wangduephodrang Tshechu was introduced by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal after the completion of the dzong. The three-day annual Tshechu is attended by people from Punakha/Wangdue and Thimphu and provides the people with an occasion for merrymaking and revelry. The Tshechu is known for the Raksha Mangcham or the Dance of the Ox. It concludes with the unfurling of the Guru Tshengye Thongdrol where people throng to receive blessings.

Overnight in Punakha: Drubchu Resort / Damchen Resort

Yoga session

 

Day 06: Oct 03, 2017: Wangdue – Phobjikha (64 kms/3hrs)

Morning Tao Yoga Practice

After breakfast, drive to Phobjikha. Nestled in the inner Himalayas at about 3000 meters above sea level, Phobjikha is a wide alpine wetland valley that is considered the largest and the most significant wetland in the country. It is often cited for the harmonious co-existence of its inhabitants with nature and the valley also holds great cultural significance.

The valley is the most significant wintering ground of the rare and endangered Black-necked cranes in Bhutan and has been protected since time immemorial by the local people’s traditional respect for all living beings. Every year, over 300 of the estimated 500 cranes that migrate to Bhutan spend their winter months in this valley.

Visit the following places:

Gangtey Monastery: Situated atop a hill at an altitude of 2800m, Gangtey Monaster (also known as Gangtey Sanga Choeling Goemba) offers a stunning view of Phobjikha valley, winter home to the rare Black Necked Cranes. This venerable monastery was founded in 1613 by Je Kuenga Gyaltshen.
The Black Necked Cranes

Hike to Khewa Lhakhang and farmhouse: Through the nature trail and visit local villages and interact with the local people. Hike starts bellow Gangtey Gompa; first part of the walk is downhill for about 30 minutes to the Khewa Chu stream that meanders through Phobjikha valley. From Khewa village the trail leads through open meadows to the Khewa Lhakhang built in 13th century by the decedents of Saints Khuenkhen Longchen Rabjampa. Temple houses about 30 young monks in Khewa temple meet with Khenpo head of monastery and enjoy the cup of tea.

Time: 1hours hike

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Farm House: visit a local farm house and experience authentic Bhutanese life style and enjoy the local hospitality.

Overnight in Phojikha: Hotel Dewachen www.dewachenhotel.com

Evening Yin Yoga Practice

 

Day 07: Oct 04, 2017: Phobjikha – Paro (214kms/7hrs)

 

Drive to Paro after breakfast. En-route visit Lamperi Botanical Gardens: The garden is located in the center of a 47 sq. mile botanical park (35km from Thimphu) and has over 46 species of rhododendrons.

Evening: Explore Paro town

Overnight in Paro: Nak-sel Boutique Hotel and Spa www.naksel.com

Yoga session

 

Day 08: Oct 05, 2017: Paro Sightseeing

After breakfast visit following place

Rinpung Dzong: Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called Nemi Zam. A walk through the bridge, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it. It is also the venue of Paro Tshechu, held once a year in the spring.

National Museum: Ta- Dzong (the watchtower) one time watch tower built to defend Rinpung Dozng during inter-valley wars of the 17th century, since 1967 Ta Dzong is serving as the National Museum of the country. It holds fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps. The museum circular shape augments its varied collection displayed over several floors.

Kyichu Lhakhang: It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang). The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in original pattern.

Drukgyel Dzong: This Dzong, with a delightful village nestling at its foot, was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Historically and strategically this Dzong withstood all its glory and was featured in 1914 vide National Geographic magazine. The glory of Drukgyel Dzong remained even when it was destroyed by fire in 1951.
Evening: Explore Paro Town

Overnight in Paro: Naksel Boutique Hotel & Spa www.naksel.bt

Evening Yoga session

 

Day 09: Oct 06, 2017: Paro – Hike to Taktshang, Tiger’s Nest (3-4hrs)

 Bhutan’s most scenic icon or the most important landmark, Taktshang the Tiger’s nest clings to the side of a steep cliff 300 meters above the Paro valley. The place was first visited by Guru Rimpoche, founder of the tantric form of Buddhism in Himalayan countries, in the 8th century. It was said that he meditated there for about three months. The original temple was built in the 17th century, but tragically, it was consumed by fire in 1998. Like a phoenix, the temple was rebuilt to its fullest glory in 2003. Takshang is considered to be the 10th-holiest site in the Buddhist world. You can visit three different temples inside the main Takshang complex. Riding Ponies provided upon request.

Tiger’s Nest

Afternoon: relax at the hotel and enjoy Menchu Spa or explore the neighboring villages.

Overnight in Paro: Nak-sel Boutique Hotel and Spa www.naksel.com

Day 10: Oct 07, 2017: Departure: Paro

After breakfast, transfer to Paro Airport for departure.

Yoga practice at Airport

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We will meet in Singapore and fly together to/from Paro.

Flight fares are excluded, because some are on staff travel and we have Yogis from Europe coming too.

Price: AUD$ 4,500.-

 

It will be moderate hiking and walking, some Yoga and meditation and lots of culture.

 

 

I will need your bookings as soon as possible.
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