This trip is planned to coincide with the spectacular and colourful Thimphu Festival, which offers ample opportunity to take pictures of the various masked dances, and processions during this annual event! It brings all the local community with their family members, dressed in their best outfit to attend the big gathering, as they seek to get blessings from Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the eighth century. A unforgettable experience as we combine this with the beauty of Sikkim, India.
Day 01: Singapore Kolkata.
Arrive Kolkata airport by Singapore Airlines. On arrival transfer to Hotel.
Day 02: Kolkata Bagdogra Gangtok (130 km, 4 hours hrs drive) (B/L/D)
After breakfast transfer to airport to board on your domestic flight to Bagdogra. Arrive Bagdogra airport and welcome by your Odyssey Manager at the airport and then drive to Gangtok. Tucked away in the clouds, Gangtok is spread out on a ridge 1520m above sea level, and looks something out of a fairy tale with houses precariously balanced on the slopes of steep hills. Apart from the gorgeous view of deep valleys, waterfalls and snow-capped mountain ranges that separate from neighbouring Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal.
Day 03: Gangtok (B/L/D)
After breakfast drive to Tibetogy and then ride on ropeway to Namnam View point and meet our transport and proceed to visit Sikkim Flower Exhibition Centre, where a wide range of rare species of orchids display (Seasonal) an finally drive to visit Inchey monastery. On completion drive back to the town for lunch. Afternoon relax and shop in the market.
Day 04: GANGTOK RUMTEK KALIMPONG (4-hr drive) (BLD)
After breakfast, we leave for Kalimpong (1,780m), visiting Rumtek Monastery on the way, originally built by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje in 16th century, at the same time when Phodong Monastery and Ralang Monastery were built. When 16th Karmapa arrived in Sikkim in 1959, after fleeing Tibet, the monastery was in ruins. Despite being offered other sites, the Karmapa decided to rebuild Rumtek. To him, the site possessed many auspicious qualities and was surrounded by the most favorable attributes. For example, flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow range in front, and a river below. With the generosity and help of the Sikkim royal family and the Indian government, it was built by the 16th Karmapa as his main seat in exile.
On arrival, drive to Deolo Garden for some viewing of the far horizon of the Himalayas, the Tharpa Choling Monastery and St. Theresa Catholic Church and one of the famous Pradhan Nurseries where great varieties of cactus, orchids and other exotic plants can be found here.
Day 05: KALIMPONG PHUENTSHOLING (B/L/D)
After breakfast drive 7 hours to Phuentsholing and met by Your Bhutan representative, after clearing immigration formalities, END OF OUR SERVICES AT THE BORDER.
Day 06: Phuentsholing Thimphu (180 km, 6 hours drive) (B/L/D)
After breakfast drive to Thimphu. 4 km ahead of Phuentsholing, visit Kharbandi Gompa, the beautiful monastery situated in garden of tropical plants and flowers. The monastery contains paintings depicting scenes from the life of Buddha and statues of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rimpoche. From the monastery garden there is a splendid view of Phuentsholing and plains of West Bengal and their tea gardens beyond.
Proceed further to Thimphu. This entire drive is very pleasant with numerous scenic spots en route. Lunch would be served at Bunakha cafeteria, Fives miles, before Thimphu, visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom which now houses the School for religious and cultural studies.
After checking into hotel proceed on to visit Trashichhodzong, the beautiful medieval fortress/monastery which houses most of the Government’s office and King’s Throne room It is also the summer residence of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot. Later visit National Memorial Chorten. The building of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who has wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.
Day 07: Thimphu Festival ( B/L/D).
One day that we dedicate to attending the Thimphu Festival, with great opportunity to take pictures of the various masked dancers.
Day 08: Thimphu sightseeing & drive to Punakha ( 75 Km, 3 hours drive) (B/L/D)
Proceed to the National Library which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, with some works dating back several hundred years. Visit the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School), where a six year training course is given in the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Visit the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School), where a six year training course is given in the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Also visit Textile and Folk Heritage Museum: These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life. Later continue on to Handicrafts Emporium that displays wide assortment of beautifully handwoven and crafted products.
Afternoon drive to Punakha across Dochu-la pass (3,088m/ 10,130 ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m ), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7, 060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana – finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
Day 09: Punakha Paro ( 125 km, 4.1/2 hours drive) (B/L/D)
Morning visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. It was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and still serves as the winter residence of the monk body. The first King, Ugyen Wangchuck was crowned here in 1907. The fortress has withstood several damages from fire, earthquake and flood. The latest flood of Oct’ 1994 caused great damages to the fortress but miraculously spared the statue of Buddha Jojampa. Followed by visit to local market.
Day 10: Paro
In the Morning, we have our breakfast before making the hike up to Taktshang Monastery (5hrs hike) : It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognised as a most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour.
Afternoon: Visit Drukgyel Dzong : This Dzong, with a delightful village nestling at its foot, was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Historically and strategically this Dzong withstood all its glory and was featured in 1914 vide National Geographic magazine. The glory of Drukgyel Dzong remained even when it was destroyed by fire in 1951. On a clear day, one can see the commanding view of Mount. Chomolhari from the village, below the Dzong.
Kyichu Lakhang : It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang). The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in same original pattern.
Day 11: Paro – Kolkata – Fly Home (B/L/D)
Transfer to the Airport and fly to Kolkata. On arrival, visit Indian Museum housing over sixty galleries of Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Botany sections, spreading over ten thousand square feet area. Many rare specimens both Indian and Trans – Indian origin relating to Humanities and Natural Science are preserved and displayed in the galleries of these sections. On completion visit Mother Teresa, Missionaries of Charity funded in 1950 at Calcutta. Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship. For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. Following her death, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta”. In time transfer to airport to board on your scheduled flight Home, arriving Singapore on the 21Sep morning.
HOTELS ENVISAGED – STANDARD HOTELS or Similar
Kolkata: Pride Hotel
Gangtok: Hidden Forest Resorts
Kalimpong : Hotel Hulumba Haven
Thimphu : Riverview Hotel
Punakha : Meri Puensum
Paro: Taktsang View Hotel
Full Board Tour
International Flight SINGAPORE- KOLKATA – SINGAPORE
Domestic Flight KOLKATA – BAGDOGRA
International Flight PARO – KOLKATA
All taxes for the flights
Bhutan, and India Visa
All accommodation, all meals
English Speaking Guide
Led by Wilson Wong – tips and guidance for better photography during the trip
Pre Tour Photography Class
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL – $4235 ( UP – $4500)
Please sign up early, and submit your names. We are organizing a session for the introduction for this particular trip towards the end of Jan2013. Do indicate your interest, and we will send you the email to confirm.
To Confirm for a place for Trip Presentation, please email Olevia at email@example.com
The trip is organised by Singapore Photography Interest Network.Travel (http://www.facebook.com/groups/SPIN.Travel), EU Holidays and WilzWorkz Photography