Mystic Bhutan
Combine a visit to Bhutan, one of the most isolated nations in the world, with a trip to Kolkata, home to five Nobel laureates – Ronald Ross, Sir C.V. Raman, Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa and Amartya Sen–and the nursery of many modern movements in art, cinema and theatre, science and industry, as well as political and social change. Visits to Bhutan are carefully regulated by its government, to control foreign influences and tourism to preserve the nation's traditional culture, identity and the environment.

  • Code: Bespoke
  • Duration: 9 Nights
  • Destinations: Kolkata (2), Thimpu (2), Punakha (2) &, Paro (3)
  • Theme: Heritage, Culture, Religion & Adventure
  • Experience Highlights:
    1. View the Government buildings in Kolkata, Victoria Memorial and the Indian Museum.
    2. Visit the Howrah Bridge and the flower market.
    3. View a giant banyan tree at Kolkata’s Botanical Gardens—it has the second largest canopy in the world.
    4. An hour-long massage by a Gay massage therapist.
    5. Enjoy scenic drives and see several monasteries / fortresses / memorials in Bhutan.
    6. Visit the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums in Thimpu.
    7. Spend time browsing in Bhutan’s National Library.
    8. Enjoy day excursions and sink in the nature’s lap.
    9. Learn about the arts, crafts and cuisine of this unusual nation.
    10. Enjoy a view of the mountains from Dochu-la Pass and Chele-la Pass.
    11. Visit a traditional farm house of a local Bhutanese family and experience their traditions and way of life.
  • Contact us for reservations & more details. All Experiences can be tailor-made to suit your interests and travel preferences…
Day 1: Arrive Kolkata 
Upon arrival at Kolkata International Airport, you will be met by a pinkEscapes representative, who will help you get to your hotel and assist with the check in.

At one time, the proud capital of the British Raj, Kolkata grew from its trading post beginnings in 1690 to become the biggest colonial trade center in Asia With its splendid Victorian buildings, ornamental pools, stone-paved footpaths, figured lampposts, and sweeping esplanade, Kolkata’s layout and architecture were European in nature. But the Bengalis' prominence in the struggle for independence finally persuaded the British to transfer the capital and in 1911 they left for Delhi.

Spend two nights in Kolkata.

 
 
Day 2: In Chennai 
You will spend the day sightseeing with your guide. Begin with the Howrah Bridge, built on the river Hooghly to connect Kolkata with the industrial town of Howrah. Visit the local flower market to get a glimpse of everyday life and then drive past Dalhousie Square, to view various government buildings, such as Writers Building or the State Secretariat; Raj Bhawan, the Governor’s residence; the General Post Office Building; the Kolkata High Court, the Kolkata Town Hall and St. John's Church, to stop off at the Botanical Gardens situated on the west bank of the Hooghly, covering an area of 273 acres. The Botanical Gardens has a giant banyan tree that is said to have the second largest canopy in the world. It also contains a plethora of beautiful orchids and other colorful flowers.

Visit the Victoria Memorial immediately after lunch. It is a massive domed building of white marble from Rajasthan. It was inaugurated in 1921 by the Prince of Wales and houses a collection of Victorian memorabilia, historical artifacts and documents on Bengal. The park in which the memorial stands contains statues of Queen Victoria, Lord Curzon and other figures of the Raj. This is where the residents of Kolkata come for a picnic and meet other families for matchmaking. Those going on a pilgrimage often bring flowers for the statue of “Maharani Victoria”.

Visit one of the largest and most impressive museums in India, the Indian Museum, founded in 1814 to display the collection of the Asiatic Society. Its widely varied exhibits include such oddities as a roomful of meteorites and a number of (stuffed) man-eating crocodiles. It has an impressive archaeology and sculpture department with a superb collection of Gandharan Buddhist art, as well as works from Khajuraho, Bhairat and many other important sites.

On you return to the hotel, enjoy the services of a pleasant gay massage therapist for a relaxing in-room, hour-long massage at the hotel.

Meals :: B L D
 
 
Day 3: Kolkata – Paro – Thimphu 
Go to the airport in the morning, to catch the Druk Air flight for Paro (operates , on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only).

In clear weather, Druk Air’s flight to Bhutan provides a wonderful view of Himalayan scenery. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata, it is a fascinating journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the kingdom.

On arrival you will be met by a pinkEscapes representative and travel to Thimphu by road—this could be an interesting 2-hour-long drive.

Enjoy an accompanying guide throughout your stay in Bhutan.

This evening, visit the National Memorial Chorten, which was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”), who wanted to erect a 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. If there is time in the evening, you can attend a cooking demonstration conducted by a local chef, to learn about Bhutanese delicacies and their preparation.

Thimphu, perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, is the seat of government. This bustling town is home to Bhutan’s royal family, the civil servants, and foreign missions with representation in Bhutan. It is also the headquarters for a number of internationally funded development projects.

Spend two nights in Thimpu.

Meals :: B L D
 
 
Day 4: In Thimphu 
Visit 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 (Painting School), which is closed on Sundays and government holidays, where a six-year course is given in the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.

Drive towards the city, to visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and privately owned crafts shops, which offer a wide range of handcrafted products, including splendid thangkhas, paintings and exquisitely woven textiles, for which Bhutan is famous. Also visit the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums, a fascinating testimony of Bhutan’s living traditions.

Conclude the tour for the day by visiting Trashichhodzong, the beautiful medieval fortress/monastery, which houses most of Government offices and the King's Throne Room. It is also the summer residence of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot.

Meals :: B L D
 
 
Day 5: Thimphu - Punakha 
After a leisurely breakfast and a short stroll around the town, continue on a 3 hour-long scenic drive to Punakha through the Dochu-la pass (3,088 m / 10,130 ft), stopping briefly to take in the view and admire the Chorten, Mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road.

If the skies are clear, you can see the following peaks from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158 m), Tsendagang (6,960 m), Terigang (7,060 m ), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7, 060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana - finally Gangkarpuensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497 m.

After checking into the hotel, proceed on a short excursion to Chimi Lhakhang (a 15-min-long drive and a 1.5-hr-long walk through paddy fields and villages). The Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kenley, who in the late 15th century used humor, songs and outrageous behaviour to dramatize his teachings and due to this also known as the Divine Madman. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that childless couples who want children should pray at this temple. It is a 30-minute walk across the field from the road to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. It then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang.

Spend two nights at Punakha.

Meals :: B L D
 
 
Day 6: Punakha 
After a leisurely breakfast, hike through fields of chilies, cabbages and rice along the banks of the Mo Chhu to the upper end of the valley and the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning monument recently built by the Queens and consecrated in 1999.

On the way back, visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, home to the remains of Bhutan’s first ruler, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, and the winter residence of the monastic order’s leader and his entourage of monks.

Meals :: B L D
 
 
Day 7: Punakha - Paro 
After descending from Dochu La, follow the way back up the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys, before crossing through Paro towards the north end of the valley. Take the opportunity for a quick stroll to the nearby ruins, a visit to some of the valley’s oldest and holiest religious monuments or a stroll down Paro’s main street. The drive to Paro from Punakha is approximately 4 hours.

Upon arrival, check in at the hotel and proceed to visit Ta Dzong (closed on Sundays, Mondays and government holidays). Ta Dzong was once a watchtower, built to defend Rinpung Dzong during the inter-valley wars of the 17th century. It was inaugurated as Bhutan's National Museum in 1968. It holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan's exquisite postage stamps. The building’s circular shape augments its varied collection displayed over several floors.

Later, walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, which has a long and fascinating history. Built 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 (judge) of Paro district. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called Nemi Zam. A walk through the bridge, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong and the life around it. It is also the venue of Paro Tshechu, held once a year in the spring.

Visit a traditional farm house in Paro, so that you get an opportunity to interact with a local Bhutanese family and experience their traditions and way of life.

Spend three nights in Paro.

Meals :: B L D
 
 
Day 8: In Paro 
After a leisurely breakfast, go on an excursion to Taktshang Monastery. This is a 5-hr-long hike.Taktshang is a famous monastery, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche travelled here to meditate riding a tigress; hence it is called Tiger’s Nest. This site has been recognized as a sacred place and was visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and is now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of the building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendor.

On the way back into town, visit Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Historically and strategically, this Dzong withstood all invasions and was featured in a 1914 edition of the National Geographic magazine. It too, was damaged by fire in 1951. On a clear day, one can see the commanding view of Mount Chomolhari from the village, below the Dzong.

Drive a little further down the Dzong to visit Kyichu Lhakhang. It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the kingdom, dating back to the 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang).The Lhakhang complex consists of two temples. The first temple was built by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo, in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple to the same design.

Meals :: B L D
 
 
Day 9: In Paro 
Begin the day early today, to visit Haa via the Chele-la pass. A short distance before Bondey, the road to Haa turns right and the ascension towards the Chele-la pass begins.

After driving through blue pine and rhododendron forests for more than an hour, you reach Chele-la pass, which is at a height of 4200 meters. Here, you can view Mt. Chomolhari and Jichu Drakey. This is a very good place to walk around for a few minutes, enjoying the view.

Drive on to Haa, descending all the way for another 22 km (under an hour’s drive), finally reaching Haa. The Haa Dzong is presently occupied by the army, but the view from the outside is stunning. After a picnic lunch, visit the famous Monastery of Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) followed by a visit to Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple).

Drive back later in the afternoon (approx. 3 hours) to Paro on the same road.

Meals :: B L D
 
 
Day 10: Paro – Kolkata 
After breakfast, go to the airport to board your Druk Air flight to Kolkata. On arrival, you will be met by a pinkEscapes representative and taken for a farewell lunch / dinner (time permitting) before being transferred to board your flight back home.

Depending on the time of your onward flight connection, you may request a hotel room for day use or a short city tour. It will be our pleasure to make suggestions.

Meals :: B L D
 
 
Contact us for reservations & more details. All Experiences can be tailor-made to suit your interests and travel preferences…
Day City Luxury Deluxe Superior
1KolkataOberoi GrandHotel Floatal
2KolkataOberoi GrandHotel Floatal
3ThimpuTaj TashiHotel Migmar / Kisa Hotel
4ThimpuTaj TashiHotel Migmar / Kisa Hotel
5PunakhaDamchen ResortMari Phunsum
6PunakhaDamchen ResortMari Phunsum
7ParoUma ParoTashi Namgey / Hotel Olathang
8ParoUma ParoTashi Namgey / Hotel Olathang
9ParoUma ParoTashi Namgey / Hotel Olathang
10KolkataRoom for Wash & Change
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Contact us for reservations & more details. All Experiences can be tailor-made to suit your interests and travel preferences…
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Contact us for reservations & more details. All Experiences can be tailor-made to suit your interests and travel preferences…
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