Culture of Bhutan and Bangladesh

This journey introduces you to Bhutanese religion, culture and traditions of western Bhutan and Bangladesh. You will visit the archaeological site of Paharpur Buddhist monastery, the largest Monastery in South Asia and a UNESCO World Heritage.

This tour can start in Bhutan or in Bangladesh and gives you a good insight and experience of Bhutan and Bangladesh. You will get to know religion, culture and traditions, visit the most prominent sights of western Bhutan and Bangladesh, travel over the 3240 m high Dochula Pass where you can enjoy a superb panorama of the highest mountains of Bhutan’s Himalaya, visit the archaeological site of Paharpur Buddhist Monastery, the largest Monastery in South Asia and a UNESCO World Heritage as well as mingle with the friendly people of Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Day 1

Paro to Thimphu

You will start the day with a visit to the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, which means the “13 traditional arts” of Bhutan and which is commonly known as the Painting School.

After arrival in Paro, your guide will receive you and you will start the one-hour drive to Thimphu Town. On the way you will visit Tachogang Lhakhang. Tachogang means “temple on the hill of the excellent horse”, build by the great master architect and Yogi Thangtong Gyalpo.

Thimphu still has no traffic lights but is a vibrant town with many attractions. After refreshing and lunch at your hotel, we will show you Trashi Chhoe Dzong. This magnificent Dzong, located on the north of the city on the west bank of the Wang Chhu River, once housed the National Assembly, but now serves as secretariat, the throne room and offices of His Majesty the King of Bhutan.

The National Memorial Chorten was built in 1974 to honour and in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

Buddha Point at Kuensel Phodrang. The 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma (Vajra Throne) Buddha is symbolising indestructibility. This is a wonderful place to end the day with great views of Thimphu valley next to Buddha Dordenma.

Day 2

Thimphu

You will start the day with a visit to the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, which means the “13 traditional arts” of Bhutan and which is commonly known as the Painting School.

The National Institute of Traditional Medicine, established in 1978, has a day care facility and clinic where traditional doctors diagnose patients and prescribe appropriate medicines or treatments. The traditional herbal medicines, ointments and medicinal teas consist of plants, minerals and animal parts, are manufactured in the production facility and distributed to regional health-care units within the country.

The Royal Textile Academy is worth a visit to experience Bhutan’s living national art of weaving. Techniques and styles of the local costumes and textiles made by man and women across Bhutan are on display.

Changangkha Lhakhang sits Motithang above Thimphu town. It was established in the 12th century and the central statue is Chenresig in an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation.

The National Library collection ranges from traditional books and manuscripts, modern books about any kind of topic, an old printing press and wooden blocks for printing books and prayer flags to a the largest published book in the world, entitled “Bhutan”. You will enjoy the evening with a visit and traditional dinner at the Folk Heritage Museum. The museum replicates a traditional farmhouse and is designed and furnished how many rural Bhutanese still live today.

Day 3

Thimphu to Punakha

Today you will travel from Thimphu to Punakha via Dochula Pass. You will visit the 108 Druk Wangyel Chorten on the pass, which were built by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Assamese militants and to liberate the souls lost during the fighting. From the pass you will get a superb view of the snow-capped peaks of the Himalaya Mountains.

Arriving in Punakha Valley you will visit Chhimi Lhakhang. Perched on the hilltop, overlooking the Punatsang Chhu, Chhimi Lhakhang was build in 1499 by the cousin of Lama Drukpa Kunley (The Divine Madman), in his honour, after he subdued the demoness of the nearby Dochula with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’.

Punakha Dzong was the centre of the government until it was relocated to Thimphu Dzong. It was named Pungthang Dechen Phodrang, which means the Palace of Great Bliss. It continues to be the winter home of the central monk body. The Dzong contains the massive gold statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and the Zhabdrung, dating back to the mid-18th century. Bhutan’s most treasured possession is the Rangjung (Self-Created) Kharsapani, an image of Chenresig that is kept in the Tse Lhakhang of the Dzong.

Day 4

Punakha to Paro

Before travelling back to Paro you will visit Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. Perched high on the hill opposite bank of the river, 30m tall, built by the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck.

The Chorten is dedicated to the present King and serves to protect the country and contains every form of protecting deity. This Chorten is a splendid example of the Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built over eight and a half years and its details have been drawn from religious scripture. It takes about 45 minutes walk uphill to reach the Chorten.

On the way to Paro you will stop and visit Simtokha Dzong. It is often said to be the first Dzong built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1629. It is the oldest Dzong that has survived as a complete structure. Today it is the home of the Institute of Language and Cultural Studies.

Day 5

Paro

Todays visit will take us to Kyichu Lhakhang, which is one of the oldest and most beautiful monasteries in the country built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.

After Kyichu Lhakhang you will see Drukgyel Dzong. The Dzong was named ‘Druk’ (Bhutan) ‘Gyel’ (victory) to commemorate the victory of Bhutan over Tibetan invaders in 1644. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built Drukgyel Dzong in 1649.

Paro Dzong, also known as Rinchen Pung or Rinpung Dzong, which means “fortress on a heap of jewels”, is one of the most impressive and well-known Dzongs in Bhutan. Ta Dzong was built as a watchtower to Paro Dzong. It was renovated in 1968 and converted into the National Museum. The afternoon is free to explore Paro town for some souvenir shopping.

Day 6

Paro

An early start is necessary today to climb to Taktsang Monastery, known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’, which is one of the most famous and venerated places of pilgrimage in the country. It is perched on the side of a steep cliff about 900 metres above the floor of Paro valley. Late afternoon is free for a walk and some souvenir shopping through Paro town.

Day 7

Paro

Departure from Paro to Dhaka, Bangladesh. After arrival in Dhaka, you will check into your hotel.

Day 8

Dhaka Sightseeing

You will visit Old Dhaka, which was a center of major trading route the South West Silk Route and to have a real idea of Bangladesh culture a wooden Boat trip on the Buriganga River will be unique excitement.

After the boat trip we will see the Pink Palace just on the bank of the river. Ahsan Manzil (pink palace), this building is the witness of the Bengal division, the Muslim league & independence of greater India. Ahsan Manzil is now a museum, with 23 galleries decorated with all historical goods & photos.

Curzon Hall means town hall and it was built as a Legislative House of the British Bengal Province. The architectural masterpiece is the redbrick Curzon Hall, a highly impressive example of the European-Mughal style of building erected after the first partition of Bengal in 1905. Parliament House is one of the famous national assembly buildings in the world. It was not belief, not design, not pattern, but the essence from which an institution could emerge. The assembly building received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989.

Kamalapur Railway Station is the central railway station in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The station is the largest in the country and the most important terminal for transportation between Dhaka and the rest of Bangladesh. It is also one of the most modern and striking buildings in Dhaka, that was designed by American architect Robert Boughey.

The railway station situated in the northeast side of Motijheel and was established in early 1960’s. Visit to a Buddhist Monastery near the rail station where we can see a tall sculpture of Buddha.

Day 8

Dhaka Sightseeing

You will visit Old Dhaka, which was a center of major trading route the South West Silk Route and to have a real idea of Bangladesh culture a wooden Boat trip on the Buriganga River will be unique excitement.

After the boat trip we will see the Pink Palace just on the bank of the river. Ahsan Manzil (pink palace), this building is the witness of the Bengal division, the Muslim league & independence of greater India. Ahsan Manzil is now a museum, with 23 galleries decorated with all historical goods & photos.

Curzon Hall means town hall and it was built as a Legislative House of the British Bengal Province. The architectural masterpiece is the redbrick Curzon Hall, a highly impressive example of the European-Mughal style of building erected after the first partition of Bengal in 1905. Parliament House is one of the famous national assembly buildings in the world. It was not belief, not design, not pattern, but the essence from which an institution could emerge. The assembly building received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989.

Kamalapur Railway Station is the central railway station in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The station is the largest in the country and the most important terminal for transportation between Dhaka and the rest of Bangladesh. It is also one of the most modern and striking buildings in Dhaka, that was designed by American architect Robert Boughey.

The railway station situated in the northeast side of Motijheel and was established in early 1960’s. Visit to a Buddhist Monastery near the rail station where we can see a tall sculpture of Buddha.

Day 9

Dhaka to Bogra

See Bangladesh’s most famous Archaeological sites of the Paharpur Buddhist Monastery, the largest Monastery south of the Himalaya, a UNESCO World Heritage and Mahasthan (Great Place) ruin, capital of 3rd century. Mahasthan is one of the earliest urban archaeological sites so far discovered in Bangladesh.

Day 10

Bogra to Rajshahi and back

See Bangladesh’s most famous Archaeological sites of the Paharpur Buddhist Monastery, the largest Monastery south of the Himalaya, a UNESCO World Heritage and Mahasthan (Great Place) ruin, capital of 3rd century. Mahasthan is one of the earliest urban archaeological sites so far discovered in Bangladesh.

Day 11

Bogra to Dinajpur and Rangpur

The district of Dakshin Dinajpur is home to many archeological and temple art sites of great interest to the Vaisnavas. Visit to Kantajes, also known as Kantanagar Temple, an eighteenth century terracotta temple, situated in the peaceful island hamlet of Kantanagar (Kantanagar), about 12 miles north of Dinajpur town. It has gained eminence as an outstanding monument in Bengal for its fabulous terracotta embellishment. See the Dinajpur King Palace and if time permits Tajhat palace of Rangpur.

Day 12

Bogra to Dinajpur and Rangpur

ThToday you will leave Rangpur to return to Dhaka. On route you visit Atiya Mosque. What it lacks in size, this mosque makes up for in craftsmanship. The entire outside of the building is constructed of brick and terracotta, much of the stone carved in traditional floral and geometric designs. Navaratna Temple was built under Muslim rule in 18th century. The terracotta architecture is mysterious to the local people. Visit to a metal and handy craft market and the National Memorial before checking into your hotel.

Day 13

Dhaka

Transfer to the airport and flight to your onward destination.

This itinerary can be extended for a visit to the Sundarban World Heritage Site.

The Sundarban is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage .The Sundarban mangrove dominated ecosystem provides an environment and a rich wildlife habitat.

In 2011, 270 Royal Bengal Tigers have been recorded. But there is much more wildlife here than just the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). Most importantly, mangroves are a transition from the marine to freshwater and terrestrial systems.

They provide critical habitat for numerous species of small fish, crabs, shrimps and other crustaceans to feed and shelter, and reproduce among the tangled mass of roots. Fishing Cats, Macaques, Wild Boar, Common Grey Mongooses, Foxes, Jungle Cats, Flying Foxes, Pangolins, and Spotted Deer are also found in abundance in the Sundarbans. The name Sundarban can be literally translated as “beautiful forest” in Bengali language.

Day 12

Rangpur to Khulna (Sundarbans)

If time allows you will visit the Sixty Dome Mosque (UNESCO World Heritage) on the way to the boat that will bring you into the heard of the Sundarban National Park. The boat will start cruising towards the Sundarbans forest.

En-route at Dhaingmari Forest Station we will collect permission and forest registration and our armed guards. After the formalities, we will move towards Kotka. The boat will be anchor near Kotka. You will spend the night on the boat and enjoy traditional Bangladeshi food.

Day 13

Sundarban

Early morning you will depart for a very quiet boat trip with a local boat through the narrow creeks of the Sundarbans to observe wildlife and specially the most enchanting bird life. Then cruise towards Kochikhali and upon arrival you can jungle walk near forest office in the afternoon.

You will hike searching for the footprints or even a sight of the Royal Bengal Tiger and other wild animals of different kind. One more night on board. Enjoy B-B-Q dinner.

Day 14

Sundarban

Early in the morning you will leave for Katka Wildlife Sanctuary. We will have a jungle walk up to the Sea Beach of the Bay of Bengal and will hike searching for the footprints of the Royal Bengal Tiger. You will back to the boat for lunch. In the afternoon, you will have a pleasant hike through the forest to see wildlife at the opposite site of Katka. Return to the boat in the evening and spend the night on board. Enjoy traditional Bangladeshi food.

Day 15

Sundarban to Dhaka

Departure for Dhaka from the Sundarban in the morning and souvenir shopping in the afternoon.

Day 16

Sundarban to Dhaka

After breakfast transfer to the airport and departure from Dhaka for onward destination.