1 day. Kathmandu. Arrival. Boudhanath Stupa
Arrival in Kathmandu, hotel accommodation within walking distance of the famous Boudha Stupa. Rest, meet the guide, dinner. Stupa bypass.
Day 2. Kathmandu – Patan – Swayambhunath
Excursion to Patan, Sanskrit name Lalitpur, located in the southern part of Kathmandu, on the banks of the Baghmati River. One of the oldest cities in Nepal, founded in the 3rd century BC. Today it is a center of art and culture, a city of Masters and artisans.
Here we will visit the most important Buddhist sites. Golden Temple, Bodhi Temple (a miniature of the famous Temple and Stupa at Bodhgaya, the site of Buddha’s enlightenment), Tara Temple. Also, we will take you to sacred places that are hidden among residential areas and are not known to tourists.
Lunch at a traditional Nevar restaurant.
Afterwards, we will head to Swayambhunath Stupa, the oldest, said to be the self-built Stupa of Kathmandu Valley. With it begins the story of the development of civilization in the Valley.
Return to the hotel.
Day 3. Kathmandu. Namo Buddha
In the morning we will make a bark around Bouda. After his we will go to Namo Buddha, one of the 3 central Buddhist Stupas of Nepal. It is famous for being the site where, according to legend, Buddha in one of his incarnations gave his body to a tigress. Today it is a monastery where tourists and pilgrims come for meditation and spiritual practices. Nepal is the birthplace of the founder of Buddhism, Prince Siddhartha Gautama.
Lunch at the cafe at the Stupa, walk through the neighboring village.
Return to Boudou.
Day 4. Kathmandu – Parping
A walk around the Tawda Lake, where the history of Kathmandu Valley began. Parping is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Here we will visit the cave where Tara self-proclaimed. Next is the cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated and left a palm mark on the stone. The Vajrayogini (Red Tara) temple is also located here.
Return to the hotel.
Day 5. Flight to Paro. Transfer to Thimphu
Arrival in Paro. The transfer to Thimphu town will take 1.5-2 hours. On the way, we will stop at Tamchog Lhakang Monastery.
Hotel Accommodation. Lunch. Vacation.
Today we will climb up to Asia’s tallest Buddha statue, Kunzang Phodrang, which offers a magnificent view of Thimphu. It commemorates the 60th anniversary of the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuk. The statue contains more than a hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues, each of which, as the main statue, is made of bronze and covered with gold.
We’ll be spending the evening downtown. We’ll stroll the main streets, and at sunset we’ll join people heading to the Memorial Stupa, built in honor of the third King in 1974 by his mother. We will do a “kora” (circumambulation around the stupa) and recite mantras.
Dinner at the hotel.
Day 6. Thimphu Tsechu Festival. Transfer to Punakha
In the morning, we will combine a visit to the colorful Tsechu Festival with sightseeing in Thimphu. The festival is held at Tashicho-dzong, the city’s main monastery and royal secretariat. Tashicho Dzong is picturesquely located near Thimphu town on the banks of the Wang Chu River. It is an imposing, massive and very photogenic structure surrounded by neat lawns and idyllic gardens.
After lunch, we will head to Punakha valley.
Tonight we’re spending the night at the farmhouse. We will meet the kind-hearted hostess and she will show us around the house and farm. Ama Wangmo was born in this house and several generations of her family have grown up here. The main house is about 300 years old and has been added on and changed. There are 5 acres of land surrounding the house, the lot is adjacent to a river with wooden tubs on the bank. It’s a Bhutanese bath. Those who wish will be able to take baths and take a dip in a small waterfall here. Or just to be secluded in nature, there is plenty of space in the estate.
We have a dinner waiting for us at the house with the family.
Day 7. Punakha to Gangtey
Two major Bhutanese rivers, the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu, meet in the Punakha valley. Where they merge, and stands the famous Punakha dzong. It is a very picturesque place, especially on clear days, when the sun, reflecting off the water surface, illuminates the whitewashed walls of the ancient monastery. Punakha dzong was built in 1637 thanks to Ngawang Namgyal Shabdrung. Punakha was the capital of the kingdom until 1955, and is now the winter residence of the country’s supreme clergy.
We will also visit Chimi Lhakhang. This monastery is built in honor of Drukpa Kyunle, who is also known as the Divine Fool. Chimi-lhakang is believed to have miraculous powers – curing infertility. Many childless couples come to Chimi for a blessing.
Today we will be moving on to the Phobjikha valley. In the evening a walk around the village.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8. Gangtey Tsechu Festival. Transfer to Paro
Today we will be traveling to Gangtey gompa, where the sacred festival of Gangtey Tsechu, dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, will be held!
On a small hill in the Phobjikha valley sits Gangtey gompa. It is the largest Nyingma monastery in Bhutan and the only monastery of this school lying west of the Black mountains range. The monastery is surrounded by a large village and is home to 140 gomchens who take care of the monastery as well as their families. We will visit the monastery as well as the village.
Long transfer to Paro (about 6 hours), during which we will stop at scenic spots for rest and photos.
Walk around the center, optional souvenir shops.
Dinner at the hotel.
Day 9. Paro. Paro Taksang
Paro Taktsang is a legendary place that many people travel to Bhutan for! This monastery is located north of the town of Paro at a dizzying altitude of 3120 meters. To reach the monastery, we will make a 2-3 hour trek through shady pine forests.
It seems incredible, but Taktsang Lhakang is located on sheer cliffs 900 meters above the Paro Valley. The name “taktsang” translates to “tigress’ nest” and there is an explanation for this. The monastery was built in 1692 in a cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated in the 7th century. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche came here riding a tigress and meditated for 3 years 3 months 3 days and 3 hours to defeat the demons living in the cave. Since then, the cave has been considered sacred, and many famous Buddhist practitioners have traveled quite a distance to be able to meditate in it.
If we have enough time and energy, we will visit Kichhu Lhakang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It was founded in the 7th century by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo, through whom Buddhism spread in the Himalayas. According to legend, Songtsen Gampo, with the help of Kichu, exorcised a demoness who had settled in the Himalayas and was terrifying people.
Day 10. Departing from Paro
Transfer to the airport. Flight from Paro (there is a direct flight from Paro to Delhi or Kathmandu).