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Kaze Travels shows you Bhutan in many ways to suit both the time-constrained busy executive as well as the leisurely wanderer. We have tailored programs ranging from four days to a fortnight, within which you can visit places of cultural interest or wandering with the Bhutan’s rich and pristine wild world, or simply seize the opportunity to enjoy both. Our short tours take you to the main cultural and social hubs, while the longer programs take you a little beyond. In any event, a visit to any place in Bhutan is a rare beat, an experience worth your time, and certainly one you will cherish for long. A sense of timelessness, and the social and cultural aroma that is distinctly Bhutanese, has never failed to nourish and inspire the spirit of a visitor.
Kaze Travels generally conducts its tour to Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Trongsa, Bumthang and Trashigang. These districts share many common features: they are all situated in the cultural heart-land; each sports a dzong’ (castle fort) which serves as the seat of focal administration and a center for religious learning; and each has an emerging modern town-ship which provides every basic modern consumer goods.
Paro is the visitor’s entry point into the kingdom when arriving by air. The country’s only airport lies amidst the terraced fields and farmhouses of this picturesque valley. Similarly, the national museum is also here, housed in an ancient watchtower by a hillside, overlooking the Paro Dzong, the Ugyen Pelri Palace and the valley. Paro also boasts of the 7th century Kychu Monastery and the famed Taktsang, the tiger’s nest’ monastery which clings precariously by the side of high mountain cliff. On the way to Taktsang lies the ancient fort of Drugyel, now in ruins. The annual festival of Paro Tsechu, which takes place in April, is a major attraction. It is a religious, cultural and social event lasting for a week. The people of the valley dress in their finery and gather at the Paro Dzong to watch religious and cultural dances and other performances, day after day. The festive spirit is strong and pervasive and leaves many a visitor enchanted.
Thimpu is the capital of Bhutan and is the seat of the royal government, housed in the mammoth Tashichho Dzong. The Tashichho Dzong is also the residence for the country’s head abbot and his central monastic body during the summer. Like all the other valleys, Thimpu is essentially a farming valley, but now a young bustling downtown is growing modern by the day, alongside deeply rooted spiritual and cultural traditions. Thimpu has its share of historic sites, such as the Semtokha Dzong, the first fort built by the Shabdrung, Bhutan’s first spiritual and temporal ruler. Thimpu Domchey, the festival of this valley usually takes place in the month of September when the valley floor is colored gold with ripening paddy. It is only a 90 minutes drive from the airport in Paro.
Punakha was the old capital of the kingdom. The Punakha Dzong built in 1637 sits massively at the confluence of the Phochhu and Mochhu rivers. In Bhutan’s past, this dzong has been the scene of many a fierce and victorious battle with invading Tibetan armies, as well as the signing of peace treaties with British India. The three-hour drive to Punakha, eastward from Thimpu, over the Dochu La pass, provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the Bhutanese Himalayan range. For the winter months the central monastic body moves their quarters from the Tashichho Dzong in Thimpu to this dzong.
Trongsa is situated in the central part of the country and the ‘dzong’ here is, perhaps, the most interesting. The first view of the ‘dzong’ on the drive from Punakha is dramatic : the ‘dzong’ rides the steep green slopes of a ridge with multiple elevations built at various times in history. The Trongsa Dzong has been the seat of power for the eastern region and attained national significance, as in 1907 it was the Trongsa Penlop (Governer) who was throned as the first hereditary ruler of the kingdom.
Bumthang lies at a higher altitude in central Bhutan. It is a two-hour drive from Trongsa, and standing watch over the valley’s pink fields of buckwheat is the Jakar Dzong. The sparsely populated valley of Bumthang is noted for the two monasteries of Kurjey and Jampey Lhakhang, and is therefore, the destination for many pilgrims. Bumthang is well known for its ‘yatha’ weaving. Out of local wool from yak and sheep, local weavers produce thick and colorful fabrics popularly used in jackets and wall hangings.
Trashigang represents one of the eastern most and populated districts. Traditionally most of Bhutan’s colorful and finest weavings come from this area. Echoing the government’s policy of balanced development, the nation’s only college is located here at Kanglung. The drive to Trashigang from Brumthang is one of the longest, lasting for 10 hours and crossing the highest point from motorable roads in Bhutan.