LDV India

Nepal, Darjeeling, Sikkim & Bhutan Tour

Duration: Long Duration
Route: Nepal, Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan

Tour Description:

Set amidst sprawling Himalayas, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Darjeeling offers views of the amazing mountain landscape alongside rich cultural heritage. On our 25-day journey we tour numerous landmarks scattered around these picturesque towns and cities. In Kathmandu Valley (Nepal) we visit several UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Buddhist stupas of Bouddhanath and Swayambhunath, Medieval durbar (Palace) squares and one of the most important places of pilgrimage for Hindus, the Pashupatinath Temple. Then we also visit a number of towns in Bhutan and admire the beautiful dzongs (fortresses), monasteries and other landmarks like the very famous Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery. In Sikkim and West Bengal region of India, we visit beautiful towns often referred to as hill stations that act as retreats for steamy Indian summers. Here, we tour quite a number of landmarks like the Ghoom Monastery, Institute of cottage industries, Tashi view point, Lepcha heritage museum and others.

Itinerary

Day 01 - Arrive Kathmandu

Flower garlands reception at the airport and transfer to hotel.PM:Free for orientation.

Day 02 - Kathmandu

Breakfast at hotel.This morning begin a visit of the city which includes Durbar Square, the historic centre of Kathmandu in which the Temple of the Living Goddess is located. In this temple a small girl is selected from a particular clan of craftspeople after extensive ritual, and is declared a goddess. She lives in the temple until puberty, after which she is given a life pension and a new goddess is found. The central courtyard of the temple is superbly crafted, with extensive carving on windows and balconies and an elaborate shrine. Also visit Hanuman Dhoka, a restored palace and temple complex, devoted to the famous monkey-god Hanuman. By the main entrance to the palace complex is a statue of Hanuman. The figure is shielded by a golden umbrella and his face has been covered with red paste by devotees so that his features are now completely obscured. Inside this large compound are many different courtyards and buildings, both religious and secular.

After lunch visit Patan, the second largest city in the Kathmandu Valley. Patan was once an independent Malla kingdom, its origins dating back 2,000 years. The city houses the fantastic 12th century Buddhist Monastery, Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, which is among the finest in the country. Its gold-plated roof, courtyard with many prayer wheels and richly decorated three-storied temple are superb. The elaborately-decorated buildings, statues, temples, palaces and shrines found in the Durbar Square here, mostly date from the 17th century, when the artistic patronage of the Malla kings was at its most inspired.

The visit concludes at Swayambunath, a Buddhist temple complex housing a superb stupa set high up on a hill with spectacular views over the Kathmandu valley. B,L

Day 03 - Kathmandu/Bhadrapur

Breakfast at the hotel.Transfer to Domestic terminal for flight to Bhadrapur.Arrive Bhadrapur and drive to Darjeeling.We will pass through more tea estates, and small villages, climbing steadily to 2143 m, and reaching Darjeeling by late evening. En-route we have a chance to see the Darjeeling Railway heritage toy train, which was opened in 1881, primarily for the tea traffic. The railway line is laid alongside the road, and to see the tiny steam engine huffing and puffing, uphill with just three carriages, is an unusual sight. The highest point on this line is at Ghoom, at an elevation of 2225 m, where the ascent is achieved through a double loop.

Overnight: Darjeeling

Day 04 - Darjeeling

Early morning drive to Tiger Hill, 14 km. From an altitude of 2650 m, get a magnificent view of sunrise over Mt Kanchenjunga, and other peaks of the Eastern Himalayas. (Weather permitting). Return to the hotel for breakfast. En-route visit the Ghoom Monastery built in 1857. After breakfast take a tour of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (Mount Everest Museum), and Zoological Park. After lunch at the hotel explore the exotic bazaar for bargains. Overnight: Darjeeling

Day 05 - Darjeeling ~ Pelling (Sikkim)

After breakfast drive down to the Rangit Valley, along picture postcard countryside, of tea gardens and small hamlets, mountain streams and rivers. We take 1½ hrs to drive 21 km, to the Sikkim border at Naya Bazaar. After entry formalities (keep passports handy, along with Sikkim Entry endorsement on visa), continue the drive along the scenic Rangit Valley, with terraced cultivation, variety of flora, quaint villages and smiling folks, for 26 km, in another 1½ hrs. Thereafter we climb through hairpin bends to attain the summit of the Pemayangtse-Pelling ridge at 2085 m, in 1½ hrs, covering 28 km. We check in at Hotel Phamrong, at Pelling in time for lunch. The hotel has direct views of the Mt Kanchenjunga. In the afternoon take a conducted tour of the famous Pemayangtse Monastery.

Overnight: Peling

Day 06 - Pemayangtse [excursion to Tashiding Monastery]

Wake up early to see the sunrise on the great peaks of the Kanchenjunga group. It is an unforgettable sight as the great mountain, changes various colors and hues. After early breakfast we will drive for 40 km in 1½ hrs, down to the Rangit River Valley and then walk up 02 km to the Tashiding Monastery. After a tour of the monastery and picnic lunch return to the hotel at Pelling (40 km / 02 hrs).

Overnight: Peling

Day 07 - Pelling ~ Martam

After breakfast, drive 120 km to Martam, a scenic village, near the Rumtek Monastery. The journey will take 5-6 hrs, with a halt for picnic lunch en-route. It is a fascinating ride, passing through river valleys, and crossing the Rabalgla Pass. We pass through scenic countryside, see exotic flora, and isolated homesteads, and explore a bon Monastery. Upon arrival check in at the Martam Village Resort.

Overnight: Martam

Day 08 - Martam ~ Rumtek ~ Gangtok

After breakfast drive 06 km to Rumtek Monastery. After a tour of this world famous monastery, continue the tour to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Driving through picture post card country, as the road winds down through terraced fields and smiling hamlets, we get a full view of Gangtok, and marvel at the multistoried structures, dotting the hillsides. The 24 km journey takes 2 hrs with a visit to the Tibetology Institute, with its large collection of Buddhist, icons, religious paintings and literature. Check in at Hotel Chumbi Residency or Tibet Hotel, in time for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handlooms, which is keeping the local handicrafts alive. Here you see skilled teachers and trainees working at various handicrafts. There is also a sales outlet, where you can buy handicrafts at reasonable prices. Later a walking tour of the bazaar. Explore for bargains.

Overnight: Gangtok

Day 09 - Gantok ~ Phuntsholing

After breakfast drive in 05 hrs to Phuntsholing, the border town in Bhutan. We will first descend down to the Valley of the River Teesta and then drive along the rolling foothills and North Bengal flat lands, interspersed with Tea gardens, forests, rivers and cultivation.

Overnight: Phuentsholing

ADVICE: Entry permits for Sikkim is mandatory. It should be endorsed on India Visa.

Day 10 - Phuntsholing ~ Thimphu (6-7 HOURS DRIVE)

After breakfast, process visa formalities and drive to Thimphu. Lunch in Bunakha.
Evening: dinner hosted by Rainbow Tours and Treks
Overnight: Thimphu

Day 11 - Thimphu (capital town)

In the morning visit the following places:

  • Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan)
  • The Textile Museum
  • The Arts and Crafts School
  • The National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved Lunch in local restaurant.

After lunch visit:Semtokha Dzong. This is the oldest fortress and it now houses some monks and is also the centre for Cultural and language Study.Trashichho Dzong. This is the Secretariat building, which houses the Chief Abbot and central monastic body. It also houses the Throne Room.

Evening: free to stroll through Thimphu town.Overnight: Thimphu

Day 12 - Thimphu ~ Punakha/Wangdue

After breakfast transfer to Punakha/Wangdue. En-route stop at Dochula Pass (3150 m), 30 km from Thimphu, for tea and biscuits and enjoy a view of the Eastern Himalayan Mountains. From Dochula to Wangdue, it’s another two hours drive. After lunch in Lobesa, visit the Punakha Dzong. This is the winter residence of Bhutan’s spiritual leader, the Head Abbot, and the Central Monastic Body. The Dzong is built between two rivers known as “Phochu” (Male River) and “Mochu” (Female River). After Punakha take a short hike to Chhi-Med Lhakhang in the picturesque Lobesa valley, to visit the temple of one of Bhutan’s foremost saints, Lama Drukpa Kunley, also known as the “Divine Madman.”Overnight: Wangdue

Day 13 - Day Excursion to Gangtey Valley

Phobjikha Valley is the winter habitat for endangered black-neck cranes (mid October to early March). This area is known for its natural beauty and is quite remote--photo ops are abundant. The gravel road to Gangtey descends through fields of bamboo, emptying into a lowland valley of grass that falls within the borders of the Black Mountain Natural Park. To the Bhutanese, going to Gangtey is like going back in time, an interesting perspective given that they themselves live in a country right out of the pages of King Arthur’s Court. In Gangtey visit the carpet-weaving centre and roam the village of Gangtey, perched atop a hill surrounding the 17th century Gangtey Gompa monastery. Most of the residents of this village are the families of 140 Gomchens (Laya Monks) who take care of the Monastery.Overnight: Wangdue

Day 14 - Wangdue ~ Paro

Drive to Paro via Thimphu for lunch. Take some time for shopping in Thimphu before going to Paro.Overnight: Paro

Day 15 - Paro

In the morning take a hike to Taktsang Monastery. The name Taktsang means "Tiger's Nest'. The monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 800 m. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambbava alighted here upon the back of a tigress. Picnic Lunch at Taktsang cafeteria. The round trip hike takes about 4 hrs. After Tiger’s Nest, visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong). The Museum was the former watchtower for the Rinpong Dzong. It was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory.

In the evening visit a farmhouse for traditional hot stone bath and local hospitality.Overnight: Paro

Day 16 -

Drive to Paro Airport for departure to Delhi.

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