Eastern Bhutan Textile Tour (16 days)

specialBhutan’s weaving of beautiful textiles is one o its most important forms of art. Knowledge and skills have been passed down generations to generations. The weaving tools used are still handmade and the raw materials natural. On this journey, you have the rare opportunity to compare different aspects of Bhutanese textiles including the process of dying and weaving. Try your hand at weaving. Visit museums, temples and monasteries. Explore villages and interact with the locals. Discover the remote region of Eastern Bhutan rarely included on travel itineraries. Eastern Bhutan Textile Tour is for you adventurers who want to participate in Bhutan on a people to people level.

Day 1 – Arrive Paro (2250 mts)
On your journey to Paro, the panoramic views of the Himalayas are sensational, including the Everest and other famous Himalayan Peaks. The approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro becomes more exciting as you enter Bhutan. On arrival, you will be met by your Bhutanese Guide and driven to your hotel.

After lunch sightseeing includes:
Ta Dzong: An ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum of Bhutan.

Paro Rinpung Dzong: Literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646. Some of the scenes in the film Little Buddha (1993) were filmed in this Dzong

In the evening visit the Bhutanese textile and handicraft shops around the Paro and have your first introduction to the Bhutanese textiles. Overnight in Paro

Day 2 – Paro
After breakfast, excursion to Taktshang Monastery.

Taktshang Monastery: The primary lhakhang was built surrounding Guru Rimpoche’s Meditation cave in the 1684 by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. his incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer Rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava flew here on the back of a tigress. It is a two to three hours excursion uphill; however, one feels truly blessed reaching the monastery.

After lunch sightseeing includes:
Ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong: It was here that the Bhutanese finally defeated the invading Tibetans and drove them back. Peak of Jumolhari ‘Mountain of the Goddess’ can be seen on a clear day from here (7,329 mts/24,029 ft.).

Then visit a carpet weaving factory. Interact with the weavers and appreciate the creativity of the weavers whereby threads are put together to form new creations. Overnight in Paro

Day 3 – Paro/Thimphu (2350 mts.)
Driving Distance: 65 Kms
Driving Time: 1.5 to 2 Hours

After breakfast, drive to Thimphu.

On the way visit:
Tamchog lhakhang: built in the 13th century by Thangthong Gyalpo. He is also known as the Iron bridge builder. Situated on a hill top, we have to cross an ancient style bridge to reach the temple. It is owned by the descendants of Thangthong Gyalpo.

After lunch, explore:
Textile Museum: This Textile Museum is operated by the National Commission for Cultural Affairs of Bhutan. The Museum was established in the year 2001 and has a good collection of exclusive and antique Bhutanese textile artifacts. The museum was set up with an objective to promote encourage weavers to continue the weaving of traditional Bhutanese textile, Promote Bhutan in the field of textile art and to preserve and promote the history and tradition of Bhutan.

The Institute for Zorig Chusum: Students are taught the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan in this institute.
National Memorial Chorten: This Chorten was built in the honour of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. This Chorten was built in 1974 in a typical Tibetan style. This Chorten is also a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu and contains many religious paintings and tantric statues.

Kuenselphodrang: A place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha on the top of the Kuenselphodrang. The area also gives a very good view of the Thimphu valley from the west.

In the evening, discover:
Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion): A Doom (Blue Stone) Dzong was built on the hill above Thimphu in 1216 the lama Gyalwa Lhanampa. A few years later Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who brought the Drukpa Kagyu lineage to Bhutan, took over Dohon Dzong. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (The one who unified the country) acquired the Dzong in 1641 from the descendants of lama Phajo and renamed it as Trashi Chhoe Dzong. The Dzong is the seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan) at present. Overnight in Thimphu

Day 4 – Thimphu/Punakha (1310 mts)
Driving Distance: 76 kms
Driving Time: 2.5 – 3 hrs

After breakfast, drive to Punakha.

On the way, visit:
Dochula pass: The most known pass in Bhutan, about 30 km drive from the Capital City Thimphu on the way to Wangduephodrang. It is at around 3150 mts height. On a clear day, spectacular view of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges can be seen. The pass also has 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens which is believed brings multi fold merit to all sentient beings and which make the pass a must visit place.

Chhimi Lhakhang: This temple is located on the way to Punakha. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility and was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15 century. Lama drukpa Kuenley is also known as the Divine Madman.

After Lunch, explore:
Punakha Dzong: This Dzong was built by the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It is built at the junction the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. The annual Punakha Tsechhu( Festival ) is held here. The monk body resides in this dzong in winter.

In the evening free time to walk around Punakha town and valley. Overnight in Punakha.

Day 5 – Punakha/Phobjikha (2900 mts)
Driving distance: 70 Kms
Drivinf time: 2.5 hrs

After breakfast, drive to Wangdue. While in Wangdue view the ruins of the Wangduephodrang Dzong.

Then continue discovering:
Rinchengang Village: A small clusterd village in Wangduephodrang, on a hill opposite to where Wangduephodrang Dzong was built before. It is about 20 minutes hike uphill from the nearest road.

Drive to Gangtey.

While in Gangtey, sightseeing includes:
Gangtey Gompa: Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation.

Phobjikha Valley: the Phobjikha Valley is one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the Himalayas and the winter place for the endangered Black Necked Cranes. Travelling November through February shall give you the rare opportunity to see the black necked cranes.

Visit the local weavers and interact with them. Try weaving for yourself! Overnight in Phobjikha

Day 6 – Phobjikha/Trongsa (2300 mts)
Driving Distance: 120 kms
Driving Time: 4.5 – 5 hrs

After breakfast, drive to Trongsa. On the way stop at Pelela Pass (3300 mts.) and then the Chendebji Chorten built by Tshering Wangchuk in the style of the great Boudhanath Stupa of Nepal.

Lunch at Chendebji and then drive further to Trongsa.

While in Trongsa, visit:
Trongsa Dzong: The most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Zhabdrung to unify Eastern Bhutan. It was enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family. The first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong.

Ta Dzong: an ancient watch tower. The chapel inside the is said to be dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal.

Overnight in Trongsa.

Day 7 – Trongsa/Bumthang (2600 mts)
Driving Distance: 68 kms
Driving time: 2.5 – 3 hrs

After breakfast, drive to Bumthang. While in Chumey Valley in Bumthang, visit the Yathra weaving factory.

Yathra: is the most famous textile product of Bumthang. The Chumey Valley is known for the beautiful yathra woven by the locals. Yathra is a hand woven fabric made from the wool of sheep or Yak. The wool is first spun into threads and then dyed before they are woven into Yathra with beautiful flower patterns and colours. The Yathra cloth is made into scrafs, jackets, table cloths and bags. Most of the women in this valley, especially in Zungye village, earn their lively hood by weaving yathra which is supplied to various towns in Bhutan.

Overnight in Bumthang

Day 8 – Bumthang
After breakfast, sightseeing includes:
Jakar Dzong: literally means the “Castle of White Bird”. The current structure was built in 1667.

Lamey Goemba: a large palace and monastery built in 18th century by Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi.

Jambay Lhakhang: built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet. In October one of the most spectacular festivals, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.

Chakhar Lhakhang: literally means the “Iron Castle” because the original palace was made of iron and hence the name “Chakhar”.

Kurjey Lhakhang: named after body print of Guru Rimpoche.

After lunch, signtseeing includes:
Tamshing Lhakhang: literally means the “Temple of the Good Message”, established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa.

Membarstho: literally means “The Burning Lake”.

The evening ends with visit to a local handloom weaving house and opportunity to interact with the weavers. Overnight in Bumthang

Day 9 – Bumthang/Mongar (1600 mts)
Driving Distance: 190 kms
Driving time; 7 – 8 hrs

After breakfast, drive to Mongar. Stop at places to view scenery and for photography. The drive from Bumthang to Mongar shall take you across the highest point in Bhutan’s motorable road. The point is known as the Thrumsingla Pass at an altitude of 4000 mts.

Picnic lunch on the way. The evening ends exploring the Mongar town. Overnight in Mongar

Day 10 – Mongar/Lhuntse (1460 mts)
Driving Distance: 78 Kms
Driving time: 3 – 3.5 hrs

After breakfast, visit the Mongar Dzong.

Mongar Dzong: This dzong was rebuilt in 1953 and it is unique as it has two entrances. There are about 60 young monks residing in this dzong. You will see the images of the Buddha of long life, as well as Guru Rinpoche and the Zhabdrung.

The drive to Lhuntse. Lhuntse is one of the most isolated and rural settlements in Bhutan. It is mostly covered by beautiful conifer and pine forests. One of the most picturesque sights in Lhuntse is the Lhuntse Dzong. The Kurtoe region is the ancestral home of the Royal family of Bhutan.

Lhuntse Dzong: the dzong lies on the eastern side of the the Kuri Chhu (River), perched on a hill top. Originally a monastery was established by Kunga Wangpo in the year 1943. The formal dzong was built in 1654 by the Trongsa Penlop Minjur Tenpa after winning a battle. The dzong was named Lhuentse Rinchentse.

Overnight in a guesthouse in Lhuntse
Note: Accommodation will be extremely basic in Lhuntse due to its remoteness.

Day 11 – Lhuntse
After breakfast, hike to Khoma village (1-2 hour walk). Khoma Village is most known for the most famous and expensive hand woven Bhutanese textile, “Kishuthara”.

Kishuthara weaving: is the main source of income for the people in this place. Kishuthara is fabric made by silk on silk weaving with intricate hand laced patterns. This is highly regarded and most expensive textiles in Bhutan. Today is a special day for textile lovers because you see this famous textile at its originating place. You view the weaving technique as well as have the opportunity to interact with the different weavers in the village to better understand and study their weaving techniques, process and tools. You can try weaving with the weavers.

Walk back to Lhuntse. Overnight in a guesthouse in Lhuntse

Day 12 – Lhuntse/Ranjung (1120 mts)
Driving Distance: 218 kms
Driving Time: 8 – 8.5 hrs

After breakfast, drive to Ranjung. In the evening, explore Ranjung Valley. Overnight in a guesthouse in Ranjung

Day 13 – Ranjung
Today is another special day for textile lovers. After breakfast, visit Radhi village where another famous textile is produced, “Bura”.

Bura: is a Bhutanese textile woven from raw silk. Explore the village meeting different Bura weavers. Interact with the weavers, study and enjoy the techniques, process, tools and materials used for this famous Bhutanese textile.

Overnight in a guesthouse in Ranjung

Day 14 – Ranjung/Khaling/Trashigang (1620 mts)
Driving distance: 125 kms
Driving time: 4.5 -5 hrs

After breakfast, drive to Khaling and visit the National Institute for the Visually Impaired (NIVI).

NIVI: this institute was started in the year 1973 with its first three students. The first principal of the institute was Mr. Einar Kippenes, a Norwegian. The establishment of the institute was the personal initiative of His Royal Highness Prince Namgyel Wangchuck, the then honorable minister of Trade Industry and Forests. Today the institute produces a number of intelligent, talented, hardworking and dedicated citizens every year, who serve the nation in different capacities and ways.

See the Khaling textile weaving center which is operated by the National Women’s Association of Bhutan.
Drive to Trashigang. Overnight in Trashigang

Day 15 – Trashigang/Mongar/SamdrupJongkhar (180 mts)
Driving Distance: 92/180 kms
Driving Times: 3 – 3.5 hrs/7- 8 hrs

After breakfast, visit the Trashigang Dzong.

Trashigang Dzong: lies on the headland of the dzongkhag that gives us the confluence of the Drangme Chhu and the Gamri Chhuit. It was built by Minjur Tempa, Bhutan’s third Desi in the year 1667. It was once destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in only three years. On the Gorikha (Veranda) are the paintings of the kings and guardians of the four directions.

After lunch, continue onward to Mongar and Samdrupjongkhar. Overnight in Samdrupjongkhar

Day 16 – Depart Samdrupjongkhar
After breakfast, meet your Indian guide at the border gate which divides Bhutan and India and drive onward to Guwahati, India.
You can also return to Paro.

Note: We can also arrange your tour onward in India

CALL for more DETAILS 415-331-3791

Cost from $3495, per person, land only
Based on twin share, number of travelers & season

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