Winner of National Tourism Award 2010-11 & 2011-12
Darjeeling Sikkim Bhutan

Day 1: Arrive Delhi
Arrive in Delhi and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or for individual sightseeing.

Day 2: Flight Delhi / Bagdogra - Darjeeling - 90 Kms / 4-5 Hrs
Transfer in the early morning to the domestic airport terminal for the flight to Bagdogra. On landing at Bagdogra we join our vehicles, and take a beautiful drive from the heat of the plains through jungle, tea estates and pleasant hillside villages to the coolness of Darjeeling. This road largely follows the route of the famous Darjeeling Toy Train, once the normal mode of transport to the famous hill station. We should arrive by late afternoon.

Day 3: In Darjeeling
A full day to explore the town and its surroundings. A visit is arranged to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. Further out of town is the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre, where many Tibetan handicrafts are made. All around are the world famous tea estates and there are several monasteries nearby, of which the most famous is at Ghoom (when the railway is working, it is possible to take the toy train to Ghoom and return by taxi). There are the bazaars and markets, and plenty of good restaurants and little eating stalls to tempt you.

Day 4: Darjeeling - Pemyangtse
In the early morning we will get up before dawn and make the short drive to Tiger Hill to see the sunrise on Kanchenjunga. After breakfast, we leave by road to descend through impressive scenery to the Teesta River. We follow this and then climb steadily to our hotel in Pelling.

Day 5: Pemyangtse - Gangtok
Morning we visit famous Pemyangtse Monastery and later in the morning drive to Gangtok.

Day 6: In Gangtok
We make a morning trip to the little visited Phodang and Labrang monasteries to the north of Gangtok, reached through beautiful countryside. In the afternoon you may like to visit the Cottage Industries Institute where local handicrafts are made and the Institute of Tibetology; a fine library decorated withthankas (Buddhist religious paintings).

Day 7: Gangtok - Kalimpong -80 Kms / 3-4 Hrs
Leaving Sikkim and drive to Kalimpong en route visiting famous Rumtek Monastery. We climb up through vast tea plantations to the scenic hill station of Kalimpong. We will explore this tiny picturesque town, visit a small monastery. Botanists may like to visit one of the local orchid and cactus nurseries.

Day 8: Kalimpong - Phuntsholing - 185 Kms / 5-6 Hrs
After an early breakfast we return to the plains, and turn east along the main road through the extensive tea plantations of lower Assam, to reach the Bhutan frontier at Phuntsholing. Rapidly becoming the commercial centre of Bhutan, Phuntsoling is a bustling border town but has many traditional chortens and the Kharbandi monastery. Overnight in Phuntsoling.

Day 9: Phuntsholing - Thimpu - 180 Kms / 7-8 Hrs
An early start today for the magnificent drive through forest and over the hills to Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. Thimpu is a fairly small town, with a population of around 30,000, and is easy to get around. There is a certain quaintness to it and traffic lights and town clocks are painted in traditional Buddhist styles. Today is a long day of driving and we will reach Thimpu in the late afternoon. We take plenty of rest stops en route to break the journey.

Day 10: In Thimpu
We spend today exploring Thimpu. We also visit the impressive golden spired Memorial Chorten, built in 1974 by the Royal Grandmother in memory of the Third King, H M Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who died in 1972, and the magnificent Tashichoe dzong (fort), the main secretariat building which houses the National Assembly. There are amazing Buddhist paintings, beautiful buildings and a grand courtyard. There are plenty of shops and a government emporium to buy excellent Bhutanese souvenirs: the Post Office has collections of Bhutan's famous stamps.

Day 11: Thimpu - Punakha - 80 Kms / 4-5 Hrs
In the morning we set off to Punakha, until 1955 the capital of Bhutan. Punakha dzong lies at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Po Chu, the mother and father rivers, and houses many sacred temples. Depending on the season, we shall either be able to visit the monastery in Punakha dzong or the one in the Tashichho dzong as the monks commute between the two, and visiting is normally only allowed when they are not in residence. The Kyulrena, a large meeting hall, holds some interesting pictures of Milarepa, perhaps the most famous of the Buddhist saints. We continue through a rather drier landscape to Wangdiphrodang, which also has a fine dzong, situated on a ridge above the Tsang Chu in a very spectacular and commanding position guarding the surrounding countryside. After a good look around Wangdiphrodang and lunch at our hotel, we drive back over the Dochu La and continue to the broad, fertile Paro valley, with its massive dzong overlooking the rice fields and scattered houses. We should arrive Punakha by late afternoon.

Day 12/13: Punakha - Paro - 130 Kms / 4-5 Hrs
The next two days are spent driving to and exploring magnificent Paro. We drive to the beautiful broad, fertile Paro valley, with its massive dzong (monastery / fort) overlooking the rice fields and scattered houses. We spend these days exploring the Paro valley, considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, with blue pine-covered hills and attractive solidly built houses among the paddy fields. We look around the outside of the Kyichu Lhakhang, and visit the National Museum. This is housed in an ancient watchtower with a superb view over the valley, and contains many interesting historic and religious objects, as well as a fine collection of Bhutanese stamps: Bhutan is a prolific producer of special issues. A little below the museum is the Rimpung, or Paro, dzong, the political and religious centre for the Paro district, which we should be able to visit. We visit Dzongdrakha and Drukyel dzong, commanding the route to Tibet, which was destroyed by fire in the 1950s, and on which restoration has been started. On the way there we can see high on a cliff face the famous monastery of Taktsang, which was burned and destroyed in February 1998. The monastery, whose name means 'flying tiger', is only accessible on foot. It is possible for the energetic to climb most of the way to the monastery. Hundreds gather to see the monks dressed in colourful brocade, silk costumes and wearing painted masks re-enact the story of the gompa's particular divinity though music and dance. For several days there are masked dances, prayer meetings and a general carnival atmosphere as many villagers arrive to meet old friends and catch up with the mountain gossip. The festival culminates with the unfurling of a giant Thanka, three stories high, which has to be carefully folded away before the rays of the morning sun catch it. For those on the October and December trips there will be some additional free time in Paro as the festival does not run at these times. However it is still a wonderful place to visit.

Day 14: Flight Paro / Delhi
Morning transfer to the airport to check in for your flight to Delhi. The rest of the day is free to explore the city or stock up on Indian souvenirs.

Day 15: Departure Delhi
Transfer to the airport for your flight back to home, arriving in the late afternoon

 
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Some Cultural tours are as below
Golden Triangle
Royal Rajasthan
Highlights of North India
Darjeeling- Sikkim - Bhutan
Cultural
Spiritual
Adventure
Coastal Retreats
Wild Life
Spa & Ayurveda
 
 
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