East India and Bhutan

Stay Locations:
Kolkata, Darjeeling, Phuentsholing, Thimpu, Punakha, Gangtey, Trongsa, Bumthang, Paro
Best Time to Visit:
January to December
Shoulder Season:
January to December
Trip Soul:
Culture, Himalayas, Scenic, Spiritual
15 Nights 16 Days
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Day 1 : Arrive Kolkata

Arrive in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), founded as an East India Company trading post, it was India's capital under the British Raj from 1773–1911. Today it’s known for its grand colonial architecture, art galleries and cultural festivals. It’s also home to Mother House, headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, whose tomb is on site.

Day 2 : Kolkata

Explore “City of Joy”.Visit Victoria Memorial, a museum that’s home to a vast collection of sculptures, manuscripts, paintings and other items from the time of British rule. Also visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tagore House and The Mother House. Evening explore Dalhousie Square in a walking tour

St. Paul’s Cathedral : Built in 1847, this is said to be the largest cathedral in India’s City of Joy. Featuring gothic architecture and stained-glass windows, the pristine-white cathedral was built to tend to Calcutta’s growing European community in the early-19th century.

Tagore House (also known as ‘Jorasanko Thakurbari) : The ancestral home of Rabindranath Tagore has now been turned into a museum, which dedicated to his life and works. Spread on an area of 35000 square m, it was constructed in the year 1785.

The Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity, is the headquarters of the international religious congregation of the Missionaries of Charity. It has been home to Mother Teresa and her sisters from February 1953 to the present day. It is here that Mother lived, prayed, worked, and guided her religious family of sisters spread across the world. It is here that her body was laid to rest

Day 3 : Kolkata - Bagdogra (By Flight), Bagdogra- Darjeeling (by surface)

You will be transferred to airport for your flight to Bagdogra. You will be met on arrival and drive to Darjeeling.

Once a summer resort for the British Raj elite, it remains the terminus of the narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or “Toy Train,” completed in 1881. It's famed for the distinctive black tea grown on plantations that dot its surrounding slopes. Its backdrop is Mt. Kanchenjunga, among the world’s highest peaks.

Day 4 : Darjeeling

Early morning visit Tiger Hill for the spectacular sunrise across the towering slopes of Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain.Returning to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast. Visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Zoological Gardens and the Tibetan Self Help Centre. Also visit a nearby tea estate

Day 5 : Darjeeling

Morning experience a toy train ride from Darjeeling to Ghoom and explore Ghoom monastery. Yiga Choeling Monastery of Ghoom is one of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Darjeeling area built in the year 1850.The Monastery belongs to the Yellow Hat sect also known as the Gelupka. One of the key attractions inside the monastery is the 15-foot model of the Lord Buddha which is known as The Maitreya Buddha or the Gyalwa Shampa which means the Buddha of the future or the Coming Buddha.

Rest of the day is free at leisure

Day 6 : Darjeeling - Phuentsholing

Drive to Phuentsholing.Phuentsholing is a thriving commercial centre on the northern edo plains. Situated directly at the base of the Himalayan foothills, it is a fascinating mixture of India Bhutanese, a perfect example of mingling of people and their culture.

Day 7 : Phuentsholing - Thimphu (180 kma / 07 hrs)

Post breakfast drive to Kharbandi Goemba, founded in 1967 by Royal Grand Mother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron and situated at the altitude of 400m, this beautiful monastery contains paintings on the life of Buddha, statues of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche. From the monastery garden there is a fascinating view of Phuentsholing town and surrounding plains.Continue drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan with enroute stop at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. Three different style of stupas; Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese adorn this confluence.On arrival, in Thimphu check-into the hotel. The capital town of Bhutan and the center of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. With the population of about 90,000 it is perhaps still the world's only capital city without a traffic light.

Evening an exploratory walk around Thimphu Main Street and market area. Also visit the Local Crafts Bazaar, to browse through example of Bhutan's fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, Thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewellery, interesting items made from local materials.

Day 8 : Thimphu

After breakfast, sightseeing in Thimphu valley including visit to the following: The National Library, housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan's 13 traditional arts and crafts. Later visit Textile Museum, which provides insight into Bhutan's one of the most distinct art form. Also visit Simply Bhutan, a living museum and studio encapsulating the cultural heritage of the Bhutanese people.After lunch, take a short drive (15 km) to Pangri Zampa, 16th century one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan located just north of Thimphu. Here is a monastic school where Buddhist student's monks learn Lamaism and astrology based on Buddhist philosophy.

Later visit to Trashichhoedzong: This impressive fortress/monastery houses Secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty, the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot and central monk body.

Day 09 : Thimphu - Punakha (75 Kms / 03 hrs)

Post breakfast drive to Punakha across Dochula pass (3080m). In Bhutan, the passes are marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flag. Dochula pass offers the most spectacular view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas on a clear day.Enroute take a walking excursion to Chimi Lhakhang (from hotel it is about 15 minutes' drive till motorable road and then walk starts through paddy fields and villages. This is total about 112 hour walk, including both way). The Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning 'field'. A walk through the village near the temple will give you rare glimpses into the daily life and lifestyle of the villagers.

After checking into hotel, proceed to 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.

Evening can be spent exploring Punakha village located right on the bank of river.

Day 10 : Punakha - Gangtey (85 Kms / 03 hrs)

Drive to Gangtey via Wangdue Phodrang. In the mountains east of Wangdue Phodrang lies the beautiful Phobjikha valley, on the slopes of which is situated the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17th century. The village of Phobjikha lies a few km, down from the monastery, on the valley floor. This quite, remote valley is the winter home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate.

Upon arrival; check in to the hotel. The approach to Phobjikha valley is through a forest of oak and rhododendron. Phobjikha is one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan and chosen home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the central Asiatic Plateau to escape its harsh winters.

After lunch, take a walk around Gangtey village and visit Gangtey Goenpa. Perched on a small hill that rises from the valley floor, the Gangtey Monastery is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountain's Gangtey valley, Bhutan and also the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens who take care of the Monastery.

Day 11 : Gangtey – Trongsa (85 Kms / 04 hrs)

After breakfast explore the Phobjikha Valley. This place is the winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. Phobjikha, at an altitude of 2900 m, falls under the district of Wangduephodrang and lies on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park.Also visit Black Neck Crane Information Centre. Situated on the edge of the forest and wetland along the main road of Phobjikha valley, the black-necked crane information Centre has an observation room equipped with high power telescope and spotting scopes for catching the best view of the cranes. The centre also offers display information that outline the natural and cultural history of the area. There is a small gift shop, which sells handicrafts produced by the local people.Then continue on to Trongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830 ft), the traditional boundary between east and west. The pass is marked by a large white chorten prayer flags. There is an abrupt change in vegetation at this point, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo.

Drive further and stopping en route at Chendbji Chorten, patterned on Kathmandu's Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes panted at four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida from to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. Upon arrival; check into the hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure.

Day 12 : Trongsa - Bumthang (68 kms / 3 ½ hrs)

After breakfast visit Trongsa Dzong, ancestral abode of Bhutan's royal family. Built in 1648 as the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat. All four kings were invested as Trongsa Penlop ('governer') prior to ascending the throne. The Dzong is a massive structure with many levels, sloping down the contours of the ridge on which it is built and then visit the Ta Dzong, standing on the side of the mountain and built to guard Trongsa.Then proceed on to Bumthang across Yutong la pass (3,400m). Enroute visit Chumey valley and Yathra (woollen fabric) weaving center and villages.

Upon arrival; check into the hotel. Bumthang is the general name given to combination of four valleys - Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. It is home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries.

Day 13 : Bumthang

After breakfast proceed for the tour of Bumthang valley: visit Kurje Lhakhang, where the saint Padma Sambhava subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock, the Jambey Lhakhang (7th century temple), Tamshing Lhakhang (housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan) and Jakar Dzong (administrative center of the region). Stroll in the village, visit the little handicrafts shop at the entrance to the town, and perhaps take refreshments at a local restaurant.Afternoon take a short hike to Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery: Located above the main town, about 3 km from Chamkhar town, the monastery was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 1984 who was recognized at a very young age by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H. 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama.

The monastery has become part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalize Tibetan culture. The monks regular curriculum include reading, memorizing the daily prayers, learning dharma dances, drawing mandalas, learning the melodies of sacred rituals, learning the use of ceremonial instruments and the art of making sacrificial objects, grammar, poerty, karika along with the basics of contemplation and instruction on the different stages of tantra.

Day 14 : Bumthang - Paro by flight

Drive to Bumthang airport to board your flight to Paro. It will be a short & best 35 mins' recap of the tour till Bumthang.

On arrival at Paro; you will be met & transferred to your hotel. After lunch visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique Thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.

Afterwards, walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, which has a long and fascinating history. in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon Pidae) of Paro district. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called Na žam. A walk through the bridge, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural the Dzong as well as life around it.

It is also the venue of Paro Tshechu, held once a year in the spring

(OPTIONAL) Evening, enjoy the visit to Traditional farm house. The beauty of Bhutan is embellished cluster of quaint farm houses, Bhutanese farm houses are very colorful, decorative and traditionally built with mud and stones and without the use of single nail. All houses follow the same architectural pattern. A visit to Farm House & interaction with locals is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of village folks. Tea / Coffee with local family, during this visit is also provided.

Day 15 : Paro

Today will be a full day excursion to Taktshang Lhakhang or Tiger's Nest (approx 5 hrs walk / optional - Pony ride from parking till 1st view point of Taktshang monastery) perched on the side of a cliff 900 m above the Paro Valley floor, it is undoubtedly one of the most famous of Bhutan's monasteries. Lore has it that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery thus the name 'Tiger's Nest'. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and visited by ShabdrungNgawangNamgyal 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 splendor.Afternoon drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, "mountain of goddess" can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong. Enroute visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. Later return to the hotel.

Day 16 : Depart Paro

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for your flight to your onward destination.