DELHI – DARJEELING
GANGTOK - KALIMPONG
ARRIVE TO THE CAPITAL OF INDIA: NEW DELHI - A PERFECT BLEND OF TRADITION AND MODERNITY
ENCAPSULATE THE ESSENCE OF DELHI IN YOUR HEART: THE WONDERS OF MUGHAL ERA
JOURNEY TO DARJEELING
DARLJEELING - THE FRONT-ROW SEATS FOR HIMALAYAS
WELCOME TO GANGTOK, THE MODERN CAPITAL OF SIKKIM
GANGTOK: IRREVERENT, CHEERFUL AND PLEASANTLY BOISTEROUS
TRAVEL TO KALIMPONG ENJOYING THE SPECTACULAR VIEW OF KHANGCHENDZONGA PEAK
PHUENTSOLING – THIMPHU
AT THE BORDER TOWN OF PHUNTSHOELING
A DRAMATIC DRIVE TO THIMPHU, THE CAPITAL OF BHUTAN THROUGH HIMALAYAN TERRAIN
THIMPHU, THE BEATING HEART OF BHUTAN
PUNAKHA - PARO
ENJOY A CLOSE LOOK INTO BHUTANESE ART FORMS. LATER TRAVEL TO PUNAKHA
AT PUNAKHA, THE BHUTANESE DRAMA UNFOLDS
PARO - THE GATEWAY TO THE LAST HIMALAYAN KINGDOM
TREASURES OF HIMALAYAS - INDIA & BHUTAN
Arrive at Delhi, the hub of tradition and modernity, the capital city of India. Enjoy the unique experience of Delhi for two days – soaking in the historical monuments, and amazing culture. Start for Darjeeling on the third day, one of the most beautiful and exotic Hill Stations of India, and the gateway to North Eastern India, a land so beautiful and so abundant in natural beauty, you will forever cherish it. Enjoy Darjeeling for 2 days, waking up to the Kanchenjunga peak of Himalaya every day and seeing the natural beauty of the place. From there, you will leave for Gangtok on the sixth day, the capital city of Sikkim. Shop for unique handicrafts and enjoy the feeling of Nirvana in the numerous exotic Buddhist monasteries. We will then leave for Kalimpong and then to Phyentsoling, the border of India and Bhutan. Then we will arrive on Thimpu, the city with unique customs and practices. Day 14-15-16 will be spend in seeing the unique places of Punkaha and Paro!
ITINERARY IN DETAIL
Day 1 Arrive Delhi
Arrive at the New Delhi Airport, and here’s where the first leg of your journey start. The capital city of India is an exact mix of tradition and modernity. You will understand and soak in the culture, architecture and human diversity, deep in history, monuments, museums, galleries and gardens.
Our India representative will receive you at the airport and take you to your hotel.
Day 2 Delhi
Have an escorted full day tour to Old and New Delhi. We will begin the day traveling by rickshaw past colorful bazaars, sacred temples, and colonial monuments through the winding streets of Old Delhi, the capital of Muslim India from the 12th through the 19th centuries. You will get to see the sumptuous Red Fort palaces, the symbol of Indian nationhood. Also visit India’s largest mosque, the white marble Jama Masjid.
Other highlights include Humayun's Tomb, which was built by the wife of Mughal Emperor Humayun, Haji Begum in the mid-16th century. This red sandstone structure is considered to be the predecessor of Taj Mahal. The structure is one of the best examples of Mughal architecture. Humayun's wife is also buried in the tomb, which is built of red and white sandstone and black -yellow marble.
End the day with a visit to the Gandhi Museum that showcases the life and principles of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of our Nation.
DAY 03 Delhi – Darjeeling
Darjeeling, today’s destination, was the queen of British colonial hill stations, and is famous for the tea which bears its name. This morning, we fly to Bagdogra, then drive over serpentine roads though the low Himalayas, bright with tea plantations, renowned for Flowery Orange Pekoe; to the delightful Mayfair Hotel, set atop a wooded ridge with commanding views of both the plains and the high mountains. While in Darjeeling, we will take a breathtaking ride on the famous small-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or “Toy Train,” either to Kurseong or Ghoom, (7,999ft) near the high pass.
DAY 04 & 05 Darjeeling
Imagine yourself back in time, the 1880s, looking out from the city to the high peaks of the Kanchenjunga Range – still silent and unchanged. Our plans today include a visit to bazaars filled with people from many lands: Tibetans, Bengalis and Indians to name a few. We’ll visit the Tibetan Refugee Center, where hundreds of workers make Tibetan handicrafts and carpets; and continue to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, at one time under the direction of Senzing Norgay, of Sir Edmund Hillary and Everest fame; then to one of the renowned tea plantations established in the middle of the last century. Tonight, sleep in spring-like air, scented with the fragrance of tea.
DAY 06 Darjeeling – Gangtok
Today morning we drive to Gangtok, Capital of a Sikkim. On arrival check in at HotelBecause of its isolation and steep terrain, Gangtok has no manufacturing industry, but at the Cottage Industries Emporium, you will see a fine array of crafts, including hand-woven carpets, shawls and hand-carved furniture. Valuable manuscripts, brought to Sikkim in 1959, are the focus at the Institute of Tibetology. While here, you’ll notice that Sikkim has one foot in yesterday, one in tomorrow. It’s alive with contemporary Indian-cum-Western rock; plastic bags are banned, and there is ample hydro-electric power. Also note that the city’s main landmark is a 200-foot TV tower. In fact, this state earns considerable revenue from online gambling sites. Yesterday and today. Who knew?
DAY 07 Gangtok
A scenic drive today takes us through steep mountain roads and wooded hills to the India-Bhutan border, with a stop on the outskirts of Gangtok at the Rumtek Monastery, one of Buddhism’s holiest places. Rebuilt in the 1960s following an earthquake, it is the seat of the Gyalwa Karmapa, head of a leading sect. On arrival at the border, we clear immigration and customs, and then cross under an impressive arch which marks the formal entry-exit point to the Kingdom of Bhutan, where we are greeted by our Bhutan guides. Because of government efforts to sustain the culture, Bhutan has been referred to as “The Last Shangri-La.” Literally, Bhutan, Druk Yul, means “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” and to this day, it remains a mysterious country hidden away in the Eastern Himalayas, with dense forest, snow-fed rivers and abundant wildlife. In 2008, Bhutan celebrates 100 years of monarchy and also its transition to a Parliamentary Democracy, with many celebrations being planned. It is one of the least populated countries in Asia, and because of its isolation has maintained its culture and traditions, as seen in traditional garments usually worn in public.
DAY 08 Gangtok – Kalimpong
After breakfast you will travel to Kalimpong, a bustling bazaar town which sprawls along a saddle-shaped mountain ridge overlooking the roaring Teesta River and lorded over by the summit of Khangchendzonga.
DAY 09 Kalimpong – Phuentsoling
Today you will travel to the border town of Phuntshoeling. After completing the immigration formalities you will cross under the impressive archway that marks the formal access to the Kingdom of Bhutan. Druk Yul or Land of the Thunder Dragon, as Bhutan is known, is a mysterious country hidden away in the Eastern Himalayas. A limited number of people are allowed to visit each year and this has preserved the unique character of this fascinating Himalayan kingdom.
Day 10 Phuentsoling – Thimphu
After and early breakfast, you will depart on a dramatic drive throught the Himalayas to Thimpu, the Bhutanese capital. It is situated at an altitude of 2300 metres, in a broad green valley surrounded by terraced rice fields. This evening travel to the top of Kuensel Phodrang Hill to see the impressive fifty metre high bronze statue of Sakyamuni Buddha.
DAY 11 Thimphu
Yes, this place is different. In Bhutan the national sport is archery; the sale of tobacco is banned (the only place in the world where this is so); and, while love marriages are the norm, inheritance normally goes to the female line. Enjoy the strangeness. A memorial chorten (stupa) dominates the skyline of Thimpu, and is dedicated to the third King of Bhutan, who reigned from 1952-1972. After a visit, we will continue on to the National Library to see ancient manuscripts; next, to the Institute of Arts and Crafts; then the Institute of Traditional Medicine, with its laboratories of herbs and plants. This afternoon, visit the Folk Heritage Museum with displays of traditional Bhutanese ways of life, including a typical house filled with indigenous household items; stop at the National Textile Museum, featuring a vast collection of old and rare Bhutanese textiles and traditional garments such as the kira worn by women, and the gho, by men.
Day 12 Thimphu – Punakha
This morning, take a close look today at the Bhutanese art forms that continue to flourish in everyday life ‐ weavings, woodcarvings and the traditional art of painting Thangkhas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). Explore the folk heritage museum and National Textile Museum before departing for the drive to Punakha.
En route, traverse Dochula Pass (10,500 ft.) and see one of Bhutanʹs most breathtaking views – a plethora of colorful rhododendron blossoms and soft green wild herbs and forest trees dot a canvas of alpine snow. Enjoy panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, and the fertile valley of Punakha (4,430 feet).
DAY 13 Punkaha
This morning enjoy an excursion to Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the temple of fertility, situated on a hillock in the center of the valley. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children should pray at this temple, and are usually blessed with a child very soon.
Later explore the Monastery of Chorten Nebu, built in the eighteenth century, is known for its magnificent statue of Maitreya (the future Buddha). In 2005 the Monastery began providing free primary education for the most underprivileged families in the Chorten Nebu village through traditional monastic training combined with a comprehensive western curriculum. Here, we will participate in environmental restoration projects as well as engage with local children.
DAY 14 Punkaha – Paro
This morning, take a short morning drive through the valley, then a trek up to the majestic Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple. Enjoy the grand views of the Mo Chu River Valley, before your meandering walk down through terraced rice fields and small villages.
Next, your guide drives you to the Punakha Dzong, a magnificent monastery built at the confluence between the mighty Phochu and Mochu Rivers. It built in 1637 as both the religious and the administrative center of the country. From this spectacular setting you can look back to see the Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple perched on the hillside far in the distance. Then depart Punakha for the scenic drive to Paro, arriving at your hotel in the afternoon.
Later in the day, visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore.
Day 15 Paro
This morning, your guide leads you on a hike to the enchanting ʺTigerʹs Nest” the Taktsang Monastery viewpoint. Built around a cave where the Guru Rinpoche meditated, this monastery impossibly seems to cling to a cliff of rock 3,000 feet above the valley floor.
The Taktsang Monastery is one of the most venerated pilgrim sites of the Himalayan world, containing 13 holy places. Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Lair”, gets its name from the Bhutanese legend. In the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche came to Taktsang in a miraculous manner, flying on the back of a tigress from Khenpajong in the region of Kurteop.
The hike takes about 5 hours roundtrip, and is challenging, but unforgettably thrilling and mystical. (Transport by pony is available on the ascent, if you do not wish to hike. Walking is mandatory on the descent).
Afternoon visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique Thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armor, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Day 16 Departure
Today you will take your flight back home.