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Kolkata and the Kingdom of Bhutan - 14 days | 13 nights

Highlights of the programme :
  • Discovery of Kolkata, the former capital of the British Empire
  • Thimphu, Bhutan's capital
  • Punakha, monasteries and beautiful valley
  • The central Bhutan Trongsa and Bumthang region

ITINERARY

 

Day 01 Kolkata

Arrive at Kolkata International Airport. And transfer to the hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 02 Kolkata
Discover the amazing Bengali metropolis, seat of the Indian Empire until 1812, the former hub of trade tea and opium. Become intellectual capital, Kolkata is looking to the future. Day dedicated to the city tour starting with the British Raj, the headquarters of the British administration. The Victoria Memorial houses a collection of artifacts from the Victorian era and also deals with the history of Bengal. A stroll through the esplanade of BBD Bagh and Fort William, the Writers Building, Town Hall, the Maidan, former imperial parade field. Visit St Paul's Cathedral in the Gothic style with stained glass windows are renowned. Then visit the temple of Kalighat, goddess of destruction and evil. The Botanical Garden is also worth visiting, this is where tea grown today in Assam and Darjeeling was developed first. Under the Howrah Bridge is the picturesque flower market with its stalls covered with colorful garlands for the offerings in the temples. Continue to the neighborhood Kumartuli, where potters specialize in the manufacture of large statues of deities, mainly goddess Durga. Finally, located in the district of Badha Bazaar, Spice Market is a curiosity in which to stroll. Overnight at hotel.
Day 03 Kolkata - Paro
Transfer to the airport and flight to Paro, the second largest city of Bhutan. Visit the National Museum, housed in the former Ta Dzong, ie the Watchtower, which in itself has an excellent summary of the Tibetan culture. Then along a hillside trail ride to Rimpong Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. It has remarkable paintings illustrating the legendary cycles of Buddhism. Overnight at hotel.
Day 04 Paro
Ascension by a steep path up to the assault of the cliff where clings, defying the vacuum, the Monastery of Taksang dubbed the Lair of the Tiger. Perched at 2 800m above sea level, this is one of the most revered shrines in the Himalayan world. It is possible to play a game of Wasps (payable locally) but the descent is not done on foot. Back in the Paro valley and on the way visit the monastery Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in the country reflecting the introduction of Buddhism. Overnight at hotel.
Day 05 Paro - Thimphu
Drive to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital, before arriving, stop at Kuensel Phodrang, the "Buddha Point" overlooking the valley where the country's largest statue of Buddha is located. A Thimphu, visit the mini Takin zoo, which houses the National eponymous animal, exclusively present in Bhutan. The animal, cow body and goat's head, a goat bovine of 350 kg would look more like a gnu. Then walk in Norzim Lam, the main street lined with craft shops. Overnight at hotel.
Day 06 Thimphu
In the morning, visit the National Textile Museum where is preserved a collection of antique fabrics, rich colors and original and varied reasons. Then visit the Folk Heritage Museum which recreates traditional rural life and habitat. Then the Traditional Arts school where young people learn the ancient craft techniques to protect and bequeath the country's cultural heritage for future generations. The National Library, rich in a large collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts is also worth visiting. Visit the Memorial Chorten with beautiful paintings and Tashichhoe Dzong, quadrilateral impressive fortress that houses the splendid administrative buildings of the kingdom. Overnight at hotel. 
Day 07 Thimphu - Punakha
After breakfast, drive to the Punakha valley via the Dochu-the neck at 3100 meters altitude. In good weather, the view of the mountains is spectacular. The former capital of Bhutan from 1637 to 1907, has a remarkable civil architecture of finesse, sobriety and elegance. Visit the dzong built in 1637 to serve as administrative and religious headquarters in the region. It is also the winter home of the spiritual leader of Bhutan. Inside, the magnificent coronation room of all the kings of Bhutan. Then climb to the Temple of Fertility deemed to fulfill the wishes of the couples who come to pray. This 15th century temple is situated on a hill and is surrounded by fields. Overnight at hotel.
Day 08 Punakha - Wangdue - Gangtey
Steering central Bhutan to get to Gangtey. This region rarely visited, is characterized by many ethnicities, clean flora in the region and a different architecture of Western Bhutan. Stop in Wangdue Phodrang to visit the dzong in this charming village that crowns a rocky outcrop. Continue to the National Park of the Black Mountains snowcapped which blanks are covered with thick forests. Then, the road runs through the beautiful Phobjika Valley where the landscape changes and offers a wide and unobstructed view. A Gangtey visit the beautiful monastery founded in 1613, one of the few to teach Nyingma, an ancient Buddhist tradition of Tibetan origin. The surrounding village is inhabited by the families of the descendants of the 140 lay monks who came here in the 17th century. In this valley, hundreds of black-necked cranes come to hibernate from October to escape the wintry weather Tibetan highland. These endemic birds can live up to 5000 meters. There is an information center on cranes. Overnight at hotel.
Day 09 Gangtey - Trongsa - Jakar (Bhumtang)
Drive to Trongsa, the former seat of power in central and eastern Bhutan. This is one of the most beautiful trips through the beautiful forests of oak and rhododendron. The landscape is dotted with stupas, prayer wheels, floating flags flying, yak herds and herders, small villages. After crossing the Pele-la pass at 3350 meters, the road descends to Trongsa dzong and impressive against the mountains and overlooking the entire city. Visit the monastery, built in the 17th century, the largest and most strategic country in which 200 resident monks. Then visit the City Museum, a former monastery, which houses nearly 250 objects from the Wangchuck dynasty which a famous crown, supposed to protect the king in battle. Then head Jakar, capital of the Bumthang region, one of the most spectacular valleys and heart of Buddhism, taking the Yutong-la pass at 3400 meters and stop in the village of Zugne, famous for its weaving wool in bright colors. Overnight at hotel.  
Day 10 Jakar (Bhumtang)
Bumthang, located at 2500 meters is divided into four valleys Chumey, Choekor, Tang and Ura. Jakar Dzong visit to the imposing 17th century monastery, the "White Bird", which lies about sixty monks and where the district administration office. Then the Wangdichholing Palace, summer residence of the first kings. Even if the building is abandoned, the paintings are still beautiful with great detail. Then Jambay Lhakhang monastery, built in the 7th century and considered one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Continuation to that of Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred of the country. In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche came for the first time in Bhutan and he converted the king and the people, to Buddhism. You can see the cave where he meditated and where he left the mark of his body; Kurjey mean body imprint. Going down to the town, visit Tamshing Lhakhang monastery which houses magnificent paintings, the oldest in the country. Overnight at hotel. 
Day 11 Jakar (Bhumtang) - Punakha
Route to return to the Punakha Valley via the Col de Pele it again. Overnight at hotel.  
Day 12 Punakha
The Punakha Valley is conducive to lovely walks. Under its mild subtropical climate coconut trees, rice fields, banana and orange trees grow in abundance. By small paths, one can go on foot to discover rarely visited temples and picturesque villages. Direction village Lobesa to discover a traditional farm of Bhutan. A walk in the village gives a glimpse into the daily life and activities of the villagers. Bhutanese farms are very colorful, very decorative and traditional construction, ie without using a single nail. The lifestyle has changed little over the centuries. Back to Punakha. Overnight at hotel.   

 

Day 13 Punakha - Paro
Drive to Paro and free time for the past walks. Overnight at hotel. 
Day 14 Paro - Kolkata
Transfer to Paro airport and flight to Kolkata.
 

SUGGESTED HOTELS

You will find below our suggestion for activities to do throughout your journey. Do not hesitate to contact an advisor Aryavrit Travels for any specific request.

Fairlawn Hotel - Kolkata

A somewhat legendary address in Kolkata near the Indian Museum. Old friendly building that makes you feel a bit at home. A place in a bit British atmosphere.

Tashi Namgay Resort - Paro

Tashi Namgay Resort

Gangtey Palace - Paro

Bhutanese traditional hotel located in a beautiful spot overlooking the Paro valley. Large rooms with traditional décor. Very nice welcome.

Uma by COMO - Punakha

Spacious rooms with an exceptional view of the Punakha valley and the river. Warm, attentive staff. The hotel has a spa.

Dewachen - Gangtey

A jewel in the Phobijika valley in the middle of nowhere. Charming hotel whose rooms are beautifully decorated in the traditional style of Bhutan. Spectacular view of the valley.

Suggested Activities

You will find below our suggestion for activities to do throughout your journey. Do not hesitate to contact an advisor Aryavrit Travels for any specific request.

Ayurveda massage

Ayurveda invites us to stay in harmony with nature, in touch with the elements of nature by practicing yoga and meditation which help us to purify and nourish our body and mind. A massage  on the eye  helps to rebalance the body and its functions. Enjoy your visit to the birthplace of Ayurveda to experience a massage in the purest tradition.

Cooking lessons

You fell for tandoori chicken, Kerala fish curry, samosas, the thali, the dal, biryani? Do not leave without having learned to cook these dishes. We offer courses in vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine. At the end of the session, you are invited to examine and taste your own the prepared dishes.

Yoga

Immerse yourself in the practice of Yoga and meditation which helps you to know your body and mind. An experienced yoga teacher will teach you the various techniques of "pranayama" (breathing), "asanas" (positions) and 'dhyana' (meditation). A unique opportunity in the purest tradition.

Local family

What could be more authentic than sharing a moment with a local family? An opportunity to understand the Indianess from very close which is worth reading several books on India. A unique opportunity to  learn about the customs of your hosts, with whom you share a traditional meal. A moment of conviviality, memorable exchanges that will only add magic to your stay.

Rafting

A whitewater adventure, or Rishikesh to Haridwar? Accompanied by a qualified guide, you will live a unique experience down the rapids of Ganga. Several levels of difficulty make this activity accessible to everyone.

Bike ride

We invite you to immerse in unusual: a bike ride on the roads of India, Nepal and Bhutan. Cycling is a way to meet people, a tool to reach out to the population, which allows you to be closer than at the window of an air conditioned car. Let yourself drift along with your meetings, you will appreciate the paths which reserve surprises, all more enjoyable than the other.

Motorcycle ride

Wander through India or Nepal aboard the legendary Royal Enfield. This breakaway motorcycle delight lovers of nature and you will discover the diversity of landscapes.

Trekking

Trekking lovers will be amazed by browsing through the valleys of the Himalayas, with fantastic views of the highest mountain in the world and a dive in the Buddhist culture, monasteries preserved villages and several levels of difficulty.

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