Happiness High Bhutan | Bhutan | Guest blog post by Bhuvan Mehta at Pink Escapes. In Bhutan in High Spirits Bhutan to some, is earth’s last Shangri-La; a pristine jewel nestled in the Himalayas, east of Nepal, north of India and south of Tibet. Its landscape is dotted with a myriad of spiritual symbols. Chortens rise high from the hillsides, prayer flags flutter in the breeze, many a smiles turned by the rushing waters of mountain streams, and the colourful prayer wheels stand as sentinels to many monasteries. Known for its culture and spiritual heritage – this is a land where its people are fiercely independent and proud of their traditions. Religious festivals and pilgrimages fuel the spirit of the Bhutanese and provide time for both rest and celebrations.
This enchanting Buddhist kingdom is situated in the Himalayas between India and China. The country was practically untouched by the outside world until very recently. Television and Internet, for example, were only permitted in 1999. Visiting Bhutan can still feel like going back in time and entering another universe. Its residents hold on proudly to their rich cultural heritage and continue to dress in traditional Gho and Kira robes as they have for centuries. Every building follows a charming old-fashioned architectural style, so walking down the streets can feel like entering a child’s fairytale book. Bhutan is a remote Eden like none other on this planet and hopefully it will retain its idyllic charm for a long time to come.
Gross National Happiness The fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, coined the phrase Gross National Happiness (GNH) when he emphasized that progress should not only bring about material development but also social well being and happiness. Today, Gross National Happiness is the yardstick for measuring development in the country rather than Gross Domestic Product. Gross National Happiness as a development philosophy over the years has under gone massive alterations as researchers and scholars have worked to make it practical, measurable and implementable in other parts of the world.
Happiness High Bhutan How many times in life have you longed for tranquil moments away from the chaos? How many times have you wanted to be free? How many times were you actually happy? Find the answer in ‘Pink Escapes’ travel experiences to Bhutan, designed by purely concentrating on happiness and the freedom of mind, to create a tranquil blend!! Feel the Bhutanese hospitality amidst unique culture and undisturbed nature and get lost in a lifetime experience. Travel worry-free and feel the calming silence within!!
Suggested Itinerary 05 nights BHUTAN teaser:
02 Nights in Thimpu
Druk Air Flight brings you to Paro. Request your seats on left side of the aircraft to catch a better view of the Himalayan ranges. As the aircraft enters the Paro valley, look down and you will see the Paro Dzong on the hillside overlooking Paro Chu (river) with Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower and now the National museum, above it.
On arrival you are met with a Pink Escapes Representative. A traditional welcome awaits you with ‘Bhutan Flag’ and ‘Khadar’ – a kind of scarf put around the neck with a silent prayer for your wellbeing. Your tour director meets you and accompanies you for the entire trip.
Start a short and scenic drive to Thimphu. The road runs down through the valley to Chuzom – the confluence of Thimpu River (Wong Chu) & Paro River (Pa Chu). Glimpse the three Chortens on the riverbank at this site, each in different style; mark the meeting of two rivers.
Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will see on your left Tschogang Lhakhang, ‘the temple of the excellent horse’. It is a private temple, built in 15th century, as the result of the visit of Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig – the compassionate Buddha. The road passes along a narrow valley with high, rocky cliffs on the left, and then the valley opens out into farmland on the way to Thimphu.
On arrival in Thimphu, check–in at the hotel and unwind. Later, drive down to visit the biggest Statue of Buddha being erected in Thimphu on a hilltop and soak in the city views!! Visit the Tashichhodzong, seat of the Royal Government and Central Monastic Body; it was rebuilt in the early 1960’s after a fire destroyed most of the building. The amazing thing about this building is that it was built without a single drawing or a single nail!
Proceed to light a butter lamp at the Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the late King in the end of 20th century. In the evening explore the city on your own or unwind at the hotel.
It can be interesting to visit the farmer’s market (only on weekends) which is buzzing with locals going about their shopping for the coming week – an insight into the Bhutanese Culture!!
Next morning after the breakfast, proceed for a full day tour of Thimphu city. Visit the Changgangkha temples – set in tranquil setting and famous amongst the local to name their new born!! Don’t be surprised if you are lucky to see the Archery match at the open air grounds in Thimpu City centre!!
Visit the Institute of Zorig Chusum, where the 13 traditional arts like Thangka painting, sculpting, sewing, etc, are being revived by the government and the student are being trained to take up these as a means of livelihood. Also visit the Traditional Medicine Museum, where herbal medicine, acupuncture and the ancient art of healing that was passed down from Tibet is still being practised today.
Proceed to the Folk Heritage Museum and after a short tour about the traditional Bhutanese way of living, proceed for a cooking demonstration and Bhutanese lunch. After lunch, spend time at the Drubthob Goemba Monastery, which houses the Zilukha Nunnery and enjoy the sunset view from Zilukha as you descend down. Return to the hotel for leisure time or shop at the local markets.
Dochula Pass & overnight in PunakhaAfter an early breakfast, take a scenic drive on the mountain route to Dochula pass. As soon as you reach Dochula Pass at 10,000 feet, a large Chorten and a forest of prayer flags greet you. On a clear day you can view an endless chain of Himalayan Peaks such as Gangar Punsum (24,000 ft) – the highest unclimbed peak in the world, Ganchenta, Teri gang, Table Mountain among others, all above 20,000 ft. From here you descend 5500 ft through temperate forests coloured with rhododendrons and magnolias down to the semitropical zone of oranges, banana and cactuses.
Time permitting stop at Dochula pass for a cup of tea / coffee! On a clear day your eyes can feast on the mountain peaks – making it an experience to remember!!
Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens located below the pass and gaze at the distinct flora and fauna of the land. Continue to Punakha and en route hike through the paddy fields to Chimi Lhakhang (about 30 minutes) situated near the river on a small plateau. It was built by the famous ‘divine madman – Drukpa Kuenley’; a famous pilgrim site for infertile women who wish to bear children. You will spot many child Monks memorizing their scripture as they are partially amused by your visit – an amazing blend of nature, spirituality, innocence and purity. Return to enjoy a lunch at the Chilmi Lhakhang Cafeteria – offering mesmerising vistas.
On arrival in Punakha, the capital of the kingdom in olden times, visit the Punakha Dzong, the winter residence of the Je Khenpo and the monks of Tashichhodzong. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of two mighty glacial rivers, the Mo Chu and Pa Chu, which descend from the lofty heights of the Himalayas. Early evening check–in at the resort and spend leisure time at your scenic hilltop resort.
02 Nights in Paro
After an early breakfast and drive to Paro. On arrival, check in at the hotel and proceed to hike up to the Taktsang monastery (The Tiger’s Nest). For people unaccustomed to the altitude, it takes about three hours at an average walking speed to reach the temples (Pony ride is available only for uphill – recommended). En-route, make a stop at a teahouse for a refreshing drink and have an excellent view of the monastery. The path may at times appear to be somewhat hair-raising but it is well defined and there is no danger of falling off the path. Taktsang monastery is one of the most venerated pilgrim sites of the Himalayan world and it contains 13 holy places. Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Lair”, gets its name from the story of its foundation. In the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche came to Taktsang in a miraculous manner, flying on the back of a tigress from Khenpajong in the region of Kurteop. According to Bhutanese tradition, the tigress was a form taken by one of the Master’s consorts for the occasion. Guru Rinpoche meditated for three months in a cave at Taktsang and converted the Paro valley to Buddhism.
On the way down, enjoy lunch at Takstang cafeteria. Return walk is all downhill and takes about an hour and a half. Return to the city for leisure time. Enjoy optional SPA activities or a traditional stone bath or venture out shopping.
Next day, take a short drive to northern part of the valley to visit to Drukgyel Dzong ruins that was once a strategic post to withhold invading Tibetan forces from the north. Also visit Drugyel School which houses a special training institute for children with special abilities. Proceed to see the Kichu Lhakhang temples, some of the oldest temples built in Bhutan. In the afternoon, visit a Bhutanese farm where you meet a monk, light a lamp in the private temple and receive the blessings. Enjoy a tour of the farm followed by Ara – a local alcoholic drink made from rice & Bhutanese tea (salted), served with puffed rice. Savor traditional lunch before making headway to explore more wonders of Paro.
Visit Paro Dzong, one of Bhutan’s most magnificent and grand ones, the finest example of Bhutanese architecture. Its massive walls that tower over the town are visible throughout the valley. Located inside the renovated Ta-dzong building in Paro, National Museum of Bhutan is a cultural museum that displays the antiques gathered from several parts of Bhutan. The exhibits include bronze statues, paintings and handicrafts that include history and cultural heritage of around 1500 years.
Walk across the colorful handicraft bazaars of Paro and stop by at the Khachodling Temple, a small tranquil temple, ideal for meditation.
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