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Temples & Dragons of Bhutan and Darjeeling (11 days)
Delhi - Thimphu - Paro - Phuntsholing - Darjeeling - Delhi
For thousands of years, the cultures that flourished in the remote valleys and mountain plateaus of the Himalaya were cut off from the “outside.” Landlocked by mighty mountain peaks, it has been doubly protected from external influences and the traditional way of life has survived intact. On this unique opportunity, discover the cultures of Bhutan, and Darjeeling, one of the British Raj's favourite summer gateways.
Kingdoms of the Sky — Sikkim and Bhutan (12 days)
Delhi - Bagdogra - Darjeeling - Gangtok - Rumtek - Kalimpong - Phuntsholing - Thimphu - Paro - Delhi
Bhutan is the most fascinating of the Himalayan kingdoms, because entry was forbidden to visitors until very recently — and even then the numbers allowed in were minimal. Come along with us and discover the cultures of Bhutan, Sikkim and India's northernmost provinces when you meet members of the “Yellow Hat” Buddhist sect, join a Bhutanese family for dinner in their home, attend an archery demonstration in Thimphu and participate in a puja (prayer ceremony) at a monastery in Paro.
Bhutan: Essential Facts
Bhutan is the most fascinating of the Himalayan kingdoms, because entry was forbidden to visitors until very recently — and even then the numbers allowed in were minimal.
Landlocked by mighty mountain peaks, it has been doubly protected from external influences and the traditional way of life has survived intact.
The scenery is magnificent; hermitages hang over precipitous drops, often wreathed in mist, there are forests, fertile valleys, rugged mountain passes and high plateaux, making Bhutan varied and demanding trekking country.
The cultural life is also rich — villagers assemble for vibrant local festivals in the dzongs, or monasteries, there is mask-dancing in the temples, archery is the national sport and the gracious, gentle Bhutanese still wear elegant wraparound skirts or kira for the women and checked, floor-length belted robes for the men.
The “Land of the Thunder Dragon” is one of the last remaining strongholds of Buddhism and its rich cultural heritage is visible in the white-walled dzongs with their communities of studying monks, the décor of people's homes and the ornately painted wall motifs.
The national airline, Druk Air, flies in and out of Paro from Nepal, India, Thailand and Bangladesh. It is also possible to cross the border by car from India to Phuntsholing.
Best Time to Visit
Bhutan sits on the southern slope of the Himalayas and the further north you go, the higher the terrain and the drier the climate. It is very cold in winter and many mountain passes are blocked by snow. The south is hotter and more tropical, with heavy rains during the monsoon, from June to September. In the western part of the country, which is most popular with tourists, temperatures can range from -10 ºC to 30 ºC.
All visitors require a visa for travel to Bhutan, it is processed and arranged locally in Bhutan and cannot be processed outside of Bhutan.
To Paro: Short flights from Delhi (2 hours via Kathmandu), Kolkata (40 minutes), Kathmandu (50 minutes) and Bangkok (3 hours via Kolkata).