Should Darjeeling be merged with Sikkim
Bhutan with Sikkim and Nepal / Kathmandu Valley
Day 1: Vienna / Munich / Frankfurt - Doha. In the evening (around 6 p.m.) scheduled flight with Qatar Airways to Doha.
Day 2: Doha - Delhi - Bagdogra - Darjeeling / West Bengal. Arrival in Doha shortly after midnight (around 12:15 a.m.). At about 02.15 a.m. flight to Delhi - arrival in Delhi in the morning (about 08.40 a.m.). In the late morning flight to Bagdogra and drive to Darjeeling, one of the most popular hill resorts in India at a height of over 2200 m in the middle of the impressive tea plantations of West Bengal.
Day 3: Darjeeling. Early in the morning we go to the sunrise on Tiger Hill (2508 m) to experience the view of the Himalayan mountain range, especially the Kanchendzonga (8586 m). After breakfast at the hotel, we will visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. In the afternoon we get to know the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Darjeeling - the Himalayan Railway - on a short drive to Ghoom, where we visit the Tibetan monastery.
Day 4: Darjeeling - Gangtok / Sikkim. Drive through Sikkim's wonderful nature with an incredible flora in the middle of the Himalayan foothills. On an area of only 7200 square kilometers, the land rises steeply to the Himalayas like a natural staircase. Sikkim was an independent kingdom until 1975 - we find here, among other things, old Buddhist monasteries, witnesses of the Tibetan influence that began in the 15th century. Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is located on a ridge above the Ranipool River. We explore Rumtek Monastery with the head of the Kagyupa School.
Day 5: Gangtok. In the morning visit to the Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology, which is unique in the world - it is used to research the Tibetan language and customs and has a great collection of thangkas (scroll paintings painted on silk). In the afternoon excursion to the beautiful Enchey Monastery.
Day 6: Gangtok - Phuentsholing / Bhutan. After further sightseeing, drive to the border town of Phuentsholing, the "gateway to Bhutan": Indian and Bhutanese merchants meet in the busy markets.
Day 7: Phuentsholing - Paro. A longer drive (approx. 6 - 7 hours) through varied landscapes takes us to Paro, which lies in the middle of the Paro valley (2400 m) with the most fertile fields in the country.
Day 8: Paro - Taktsang / "Tiger's Nest" - Paro. In the morning, visit the Rinpung Dzong (monastery fortress), one of the most beautiful facilities in the Paro Valley, and the Ta Dzong National Museum, a fortress-like rotunda. Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: According to legend, Guru Rinpoche, the founder of the Tibetan branch of Mahayana Buddhism, flew to the Paro Valley on the back of a tigress more than 1000 years ago. He meditated for three months in a cave around which a monastery was later built. A strenuous hike of approx. 1 hour takes us to the lookout point, another hour directly to the monastery. In the afternoon we visit the ruins of the Drukyel Dzong and explore the temple complex Kyichu Lhakhang (7th century), probably the oldest monastery in Bhutan.
Day 9: Paro - Trongsa. Long drive (approx. 8 hours) over magnificent passes with a magnificent view of the mountains of Bhutan to Trongsa, which is located in one of the most beautiful landscapes on the Mande River.
Day 10: Trongsa - Bumthang Valley. In the morning visit of the Trongsa Dzong, the largest and most important of the numerous monastic castles in Bhutan and ancestral seat of the royal family. We also explore the Trongsa Ta Dzong, a former watchtower with its interesting museum. This was designed by an Austrian team that has already received great recognition with the Patan Museum in Nepal. In the afternoon drive to Bumthang, which was converted to Buddhism by the Indian mystic Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century. He succeeded in merging Buddhism with pre-Buddhist ideas.
Day 11: Bumthang Valley (Jambay Lhakhang Festival). Visit the monasteries of Jakar and Wangdichholing. We continue to Thamshing (with wonderful frescoes from the 16th century) and to the important Kurjey temple complex, one of the holiest places in Bhutan. In the afternoon we visit the Jambay Lhakhang monastery festival in memory of the "lotus-born" Padmasambhava.
Day 12: Bumthang - Gangtey - Wangdiphodrang. Return over the Pelala (3670 m) into the beautiful Gangtey Valley - visit the monastery, the only Nyingmapa ("red hats") temple in Western Bhutan.
Day 13: Wangdiphodrang - Punakha - Thimphu. Today we explore Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan and winter residence of Je Khenpo, the Bhutanese grand abbot. On a clear day we enjoy a great panoramic view of the eastern Himalayas with some 7000m peaks dominating the valley. Over the Dochula (3100 m) we finally reach the capital Thimphu.
Day 14: Thimphu. First we go to the Semtokha Dzong from the 17th century, the oldest dzong in the country. The Tashichho Dzong is the seat of the king, the government and the Je Khenpo. During the city tour we also get to know the Memorial Chorten and the national library as well as the painting school, where the making of thangkas (scroll paintings on silk) is taught.
Day 15: Thimphu - Paro - Kathmandu / Nepal - Swayambhunath. Early in the morning transfer to Paro airport - flight to Kathmandu (1400 m) and transfer to the hotel. The Swayambhunath Temple, which is more than 2000 years old, rises majestically above the city. From here there is a first wonderful view over the fertile Kathmandu valley to the snow-capped peaks of the eastern Himalayas. Then walk to the Kathesimbu Stupa and the shops at Asan Tole.
Day 16: Excursion Bhaktapur - Pashupatinath - Bodnath. Drive to Bhaktapur, the most beautiful of the royal cities of the Kathmandu Valley, which could best keep the medieval atmosphere in its alleys and squares. Here was one of the three centers of the Malla kingdoms of Nepal. During our city tour we get to know the Lion Gate, the Picture Gallery, the Golden Gate and the unique Palace of 55 Windows. In the afternoon we visit the most important Hindu temple in Nepal - Pashupatinath, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims and sadhus / ascetics flock here. Even if we are only allowed to visit the outskirts, there are interesting insights. Finally, a visit to Bodnath, the center of the exiled Tibetans, with its Buddhist temples and stupas.
Day 17: Excursion Patan - Kathmandu. Today we visit the royal city of Patan - its old name Lalitpur means "beautiful city", which is impressively reflected in the architecture. During our city tour we get to know Durbar Square, the Mahaboudha as well as the Hirayana Mahabihar Temple (Golden Temple) and the museum in the Patan Palace. Then return to Kathmandu: The city, founded in the 10th century, is famous for its palaces as well as numerous Buddhist and Hindu temples. The Buddhist and Hindu tradition have entered into a very interesting symbiosis here in Nepal. During our city tour, we will be particularly enthusiastic about the impressive art of the Newaris. We visit the heart of the city, Durbar Square, the center of the old town with the temple of the "living goddess" Kumari.
Day 18: Kathmandu - Doha - Vienna / Munich / Frankfurt. On the return flight to Munich or Frankfurt: Shortly after midnight transfer to the airport. At about 02.10 return flight via Doha to Munich or Frankfurt, arrival in the morning. If you fly back to Vienna: After breakfast, transfer to the airport. At around 10.30 a.m. flight back via Doha to Vienna - arrival in the evening (around 8.00 p.m.).
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