Bhutan and India

Bhutan is a country with magnificent nature, magnificent culture and deeply rooted spirituality that colors all aspects of the inhabitants’ everyday lives. Bhutan, or the land of the Thunder Dragon as the spiritual kingdom is also called, was for a long time a closed kingdom. But after royal decrees that the country should be modernized carefully and under controlled conditions, the door is open for limited tourism. In Bhutan we visit the capital Thimpu, the ancient capital Punakha and the beautiful Parodal Valley. During the trip you will not only get a chance to visit this fascinating country where the major tourist flows have not yet reached, you will also have the opportunity to visit some of India’s main attractions such as the Taj Mahal during a tour along the famous route Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The journey begins and ends in the Indian capital New Delhi.

Bhutan and India 2

Day 1: Travel to New Delhi
Meals are included on board the long-haul flight.

Day 2: New Delhi
Arrival early in the morning. We do a city tour and visit both old and new Delhi. We visit Qutub Minar, the world’s tallest brick mine, see the beautiful Gate of India, the Houses of Parliament and the embassy areas before continuing to the old parts of the city. Here we see India’s largest mosque Jama Masjid, the bustling bazaar streets around Chandni Chowk and finally Raj Ghat, a memorial site over Mahatma Gandhi. In the evening we gather for a welcome dinner. Overnight in New Delhi. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 3: New Delhi – Thimphu
From New Delhi we now fly to Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon, which for a long time was completely closed to tourists. We land in Paro where the country’s international airport is located and travel through a lush Himalayan landscape to Bhutan’s capital Thimphu. The city is the seat of the Bhutanese monarchy and home to the country’s holiest llamas. Overnight in Thimphu. (Breakfast)

Day 4: Thimphu
Thimphu is admittedly Bhutan’s largest city, but still gives a feeling of small town and exotic charm. For example, Thimphu is the only capital city in the world that lacks traffic lights! After breakfast we visit the King’s Memorial Chorten, a stupa built in 1974 to honor the memory of His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who was the first regent to open the country to the outside world and carefully begin some reforms and modernization projects. Then we also visit the National Library with its huge collections of Buddhist scriptures and then continue to the art school Choki Traditional Art School, famous for its exquisite thangka paintings – a kind of icons commonly found in Tibetan Buddhism. In the morning we also visit the Institute of Traditional Medicine Services for an introduction to Bhutanese medicine. The afternoon is open for exploring the city on your own. Overnight in Thimphu. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 5: Thimphu
After breakfast we visit a paper manufacturer who manufactures his products by hand in the traditional way. Then we see one of the world’s largest Buddha statues, the gilded Buddha Dordenma, which is 51 meters high and is considered to spread happiness and peace. We continue to the majestic Tashichho Dzong (Thimphu Dzong). The monastery complex with its exquisite architecture is today the seat of the King of Bhutan and his government. After lunch we visit a farmers market where people from the villages come to sell their agricultural products. Many of the stalls also sell household items and handicrafts. Overnight in Thimphu. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 6: Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast we travel to the ancient capital Punakha through the beautiful landscape of the Himalayas. We stop for lunch at the Dochu La mountain pass at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters. In clear weather you can get a fantastic view of the landscape from here. The journey continues down to the Punakha Valley through fabulous forest areas with wild rhododendrons and conifers. On the way we visit the Buddhist temple Chimi Lhakhang, known for its phallus symbols used in tantric rituals to bless women who want to have children. Overnight in Punakha. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 7: Punakha
Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until the mid-1950s. The city’s main attraction is the large fortified Punakha Dzong Monastery. This type of fortified monastery complex (dzong) is common in both Bhutan and Tibet and was built as a center for religious practice and civil administration but also served as important trading posts in the Himalayas. Punakha’s dzong is widely considered to be the most beautiful and impressive in all of Bhutan. After visiting the fortified monastery, we go north through the valley. We go for a walk through rural idyll to the stupa Khamsun Yulley Namgyal Chorten, located on a hill with wonderful views of the neighborhood. Overnight in Punakha. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 8: Punakha – Paro
After breakfast we return to Paro where we visit Bhutan’s small national museum housed in an old watchtower from the 17th century. We then take a short walk to the fortified Rinpung Dzong Monastery with its beautiful architecture. Overnight in Paro. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 9: Paro (Taktsangklostret)
After breakfast we make an excursion about 10 km north of Paro to Taktsangklostret (“Tiger Nest”) which is located on a cliff at 3,200 meters altitude. From here you get a magnificent view of the Parodalen below. The monastery, dating from the 17th century, with its spectacular location is one of Bhutan’s main attractions. For those who want to walk all the way up to the monastery, the walk takes about 2-3 hours. The hiking trail is lined with prayer flags and offers fantastic nature experiences. Do not forget comfortable shoes and feel free to bring a hiking stick! Overnight in Paro. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 10: Paro – New Delhi
In the morning we fly back to New Delhi. The rest of the day is free for your own program. Overnight in New Delhi. (Breakfast)

Day 11: Delhi – Jaipur
After breakfast, we travel by bus to Jaipur, the bustling capital of the state of Rajasthan. After arrival free time for your own activities and time for shopping in this ancient trading town where travelers along the Silk Road in the past switched to camels to get through the desert areas of Rajasthan on their journey to today’s Pakistan. Overnight in Jaipur. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 12: Jaipur
After breakfast we visit the famous Amber fortress located just outside Jaipur. The fortress built in red sandstone and marble is a fantastic sight with its mighty retaining walls reflected in Lake Moala below. We go up to the fortress by jeep and go for a walk through the fort and see its beautiful interior, high-class murals, ivory inlays and mosaics. The fortress dates from the 10th century and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We view the fabulous Hawa Mahal (“Palace of the Winds”) in red and pink sandstone and continue to City Palace which is the residence of the current Maharajah. If the flag is raised, he’s home! Parts of the palace have been turned into a museum with collections of art, carpets and weapons. Nearby is the strange Jantar Mantar Observatory where we see, among other things, the 27 meter high sundial. Overnight in Jaipur. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 13: Jaipur – Abhaneri – Agra
After breakfast we go to Fatehpur Sikri (“Victory City”) built in the second half of the 16th century after the great mogul Akbar the Great fortified and expanded his kingdom. Fatehpuri Sikri served as the capital of the great mogul for a period of ten years before the city was finally abandoned. What remained, however, were the magnificent buildings with their magnificent architecture for posterity to view. The “Victory City” with its beautiful palace area and large mosque is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We then head to the city of Agra where we sleep overnight. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 14: Agra
After breakfast, we visit the wonderful Taj Mahal, India’s most famous building on the UNESCO World Heritage List, with the motivation: “A universally admired world heritage masterpiece”. The palace-like mausoleum was completed in 1631 and was erected by order of the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in childbirth. We also take the opportunity to visit Itmad-ud-Daulah’s tomb monument, built in the 1620s, before ending the day with a visit to Agra Fort. The fort is located in Agra’s old town and was built in red sandstone during the latter half of the 16th century. The old fortification is fantastically beautiful and is perhaps more reminiscent of a palace than a fort behind the defensive walls. Overnight in Agra. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 15: Agra – Delhi
After breakfast we leave Agra behind us for an approximately five hour long bus journey through Rajasthan to New Delhi. After arriving in New Delhi, the day is free to discover the city on your own or just take it easy at the hotel. Feel free to ask the local guide about suitable places to visit. Overnight in New Delhi. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Day 16: Return from New Delhi
Transfer to the airport and return to the boarding place. Meals are included on board the long-haul flight. (Breakfast)

Bhutan and India