The Wonder of India, Nepal and Bhutan
Group size is limited to 20 and will include a personal guide and driver
Land only $3,490
Prices increase May 10th. New price will be $3,790
DAY 01: ARRIVE DELHI (Saturday – October 21, 2017)
Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to hotel. Delhi, officially the National Capital Territory of Delhi, is the Capital territory of India. It has a population of about 11 million and a metropolitan population of about 16.3 million, making it the second most populous city and second most populous urban agglomeration in India. Such is the nature of urban expansion in Delhi that its growth has expanded beyond the NCT to incorporate towns in neighboring states and at its largest extent can count a population of about 25 million residents as of 2014. Delhi has been continuously inhabited since the 6th century BC. Through most of its history, Delhi has served as a capital of various kingdoms and empires. It has been captured, ransacked and rebuilt several times, particularly during the medieval period, and modern Delhi is a cluster of a number of cities spread across the metropolitan region. Overnight at Hotel Metropolitan (or Similar) D
DAY 02: DELHI (Sunday – October 22, 2017)
Morning will begin by proceeding with a full day sightseeing of Delhi. Visit Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India which was built between the years 1644-1658 AD, during the reign of Emperor Shahjahan. After the visit of Jama Masjid, drive past the magnificent Red Fort – a marvel in red sandstone, built on the banks of River Yamuna by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1648 AD, when he shifted his capital here from Agra. India’s history is also closely linked with this Fort. It was from here the British deposed the last Mughal Ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, marking the end of the three century long Mughal Rule. Later, we will visit Mahatma Gandhi’s Memorial at Raj Ghat where the “Father of the Nation” was cremated. Drive past the India Gate (war memorial dedicated to the lives of laid down by the Indian soldiers), the President’s Residence–formerly the Viceroy’s Palace, the Parliament House and the Secretariat Buildings–an interesting blend of the Victorian and 20th century architecture. Also we visit the Sikh Temple – Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is one of the most prominent Sikh gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship, and known for its association with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan, as well as the pool inside its complex, known as the “Sarovar.” It was first built as a small temple by Sikh General Sardar Bhagel Singh in 1783, who supervised the construction of nine Sikh shrines in Delhi in the same year, during the reign of Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II. Overnight at Hotel Metropolitan BLD*
DAY 03: DELHI – AGRA (Monday – October 23, 2017)
Morning will begin by proceeding with a bit of sightseeing of Delhi. We will then proceed by motor Coach to The City of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal .Agra is a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city was first mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata, where it was called Agrevaṇa (derived from Sanskrit meaning “the border of the forest”). Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king, whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present fort. We will arrive and settle into our hotel and ready ourselves for our home hosted dinner this evening.
DAY 04: AGRA-JAIPUR (Tuesday – October 24, 2017)
This morning we will rise early for one of lifes special moments. The Taj Mahal at Sunrise – Built by Shah Jahan in 1560 in memory of his queen Mumtaz Mahal to enshrine her mortal remains. This architectural marvel is a perfectly proportioned masterpiece fashioned from white marble that stands testimony to the skill of 20,000 craftsmen brought together from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy and who took 17 years to complete this ‘Love Poem in Marble’. Later proceed to visit Agra Fort – built alongside the Yamuna River stretching almost 2.5 km. The fort’s colossal double walls rise 20 m in height and measure 2.5 km in circumference. The fort is surrounded by a moat. The lofty battlements of the Agra Fort cast its protective shadow over the far stretching mansions of nobles and princes built along the riverfront. Finally we will relax in a motor coach for the drive to Jaipur, enjoying the scenery along the way. Arrive in Jaipur, known as the “Pink City” due to its stucco buildings which line the wide streets that were painted its unique color in 1876 to celebrate the visit of the Prince of Wales. Drive by picturesque palaces and forts on the way to a bustling and bargain filled bazaar. Dinner at the hotel . Overnight at Pearl Palace Heritage BLD*
DAY 05: JAPIUR – DELHI (Wednesday – October 25, 2017)
This Morning we will travel to the spectacular Amber Fort, a magnificent medley of Mughal and Hindu styles with its notable Palace of Mirrors. We will ascend the steep hill to the ramparts by jeep, or on the back of an elephant (if available). It’s from here where we will see the panoramic views of Jaipur’s original city walls and the breathtaking beauty of the lake below. After visiting the Amber Fort we will spend some time in town to shop or just admire the vast collections of local artisan wares at Jaipur Handicrafts, offering premium quality handmade carpets, textiles, art work, pashminas, pottery and paintings. The fabrics in a vast variety of colors and textures are available for purchase as well as custom made clothes and design works. We will spend time shopping in this bustling market place, followed by a tour of the well-preserved 18th century Jantar Mantar Observatory and drive past Hawa Mahal, often referred to as the “Palace of Winds” with its ornamental and detailed façade. Later, the tour continues to the City Palace, the former royal residence turned grand museum with a vast collection of miniature paintings, costumes and armory. After Lunch we will head to the airport for our flight back to Delhi. Overnight at Hotel Metropolitan BLD*
DAY 06: DELHI-PARO BY AIR PARO-THIMPU (Thursday – October 26, 2017)
In time transfer to airport for flight to reach Paro. Arrive and proceed to Thimphu. The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in the entire Himalayas. Flying along the Himalayan range, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean, fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representative, and afterwards drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan.
On arrival in Thimphu, check into the hotel. The capital town of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with an unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. With the population of about 90,000 it is perhaps still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light.
Later in the afternoon visit Trashichhoedzong , “fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the center of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans. Evening, enjoy an exploratory walk around Thimphu Main Street and market area. Overnight in Thimphu at Hotel Kisa or similar BLD*
DAY 07: THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING DRIVE TO PUNAKHA (Friday – October 27, 2017)
After breakfast, sightseeing in Thimphu valley including visit to: the National Library, housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. Later visit Textile and Folk Heritage Museum, a fascinating testimony of the Bhutanese material culture and living traditions. After lunch, visit King’s Memorial Chorten continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who has wished to erect this monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.
Drive to Punakha across Dochula pass (3, O8O m). In Bhutan, the passes are marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flag. Dochula pass offers the most spectacular view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas on a clear day. Arrive and check-in at hotel in Punakha Overnight in Punakha Meri Punasum or similar BLD*
DAY 08: PUNAKHA – PARO (Saturday – October 28, 2017)
Morning visit Punakha Dzong or (Palace of Great Happiness), built at the junction of the Phochu and Mochu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This majestic dzong served as both the religious and the administrative center of Bhutan in the past. It measures some 600 by 240 feet and has a six-story, gold-domed tower. Inside are courtyards and religious statuary that hint at the depth of history and spiritual tradition embodied here. Your guide will illuminate your understanding of this intricate culture that is exotic to us, though long established here. Later in the day excursion to Chimi Lakhang (from hotel it is about 15 minutes’ drive till motorable road and then walk starts through paddy fields and villages. This is total about 1.1/2 hour walk, including both ways). The Chimi Lhakhang situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will give you rare glimpses into the daily life and lifestyle of the villagers. We will then drive back to Paro descending back down from Dochu La; follow the way back up the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys, before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley.
En route visit Simtokha Dzong, the place of profound tantric teaching, this dzong now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language. Later in the day after checking into the hotel, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, (meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala. Overnight in Paro at Hotel Druk, Olethang or Kitsh BLD*
DAY 9: PARO (Sunday – October 29, 2017)
After breakfast excursion to Taktshang Monastery (5hrs hike): It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendor. On the way back to town stop at Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, “mountain of goddess” can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong. Along the way, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. The evening concludes with an exploratory walk around Main Street and the market area. Overnight in Paro at Hotel Druk, Olethang or Kichu Resort BLD*
DAY 10: PARO-KATHMANDU BY AIR (Monday – October 30, 2017)
After Breakfast we head to the airport for a flight to reach Kathmandu. The city of Kathmandu is located on a bluff at the confluence of the Bagmati and Vishnumati Rivers. The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 meters (4,600 ft) in the bowl-shaped Kathmandu Valley of central Nepal. It is surrounded by four major hills: Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. Kathmandu Valley is part of three districts (Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur), has the highest population density in the country, and is home to about a twelfth of Nepal’s population.
Historically, the Kathmandu Valley and adjoining areas were known as Nepal Mandala. Until the 15th century, Bhaktapur was its capital when two other capitals, Kathmandu and Lalitpur, were established. During the Rana and Shah eras, British historians called the valley itself “Nepal Proper”. Today, Kathmandu is not only the capital of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, but also the headquarters of the Bagmati Zone. Arrive and transfer to hotel and rest of day at leisure. Overnight at Hotel Shanker, Dalai La, Gokarna Forest or Shambaling Hotel BLD*
DAY 11: KATHMANDU (Tuesday – October 31, 2017)
Morning half day tour of Kathmandu city and Swayambhunath. Kathmandu Durbar Square: Kathmandu’s number one tourist attraction swarms with life. Though a few of the square’s 50-plus monuments date from the 12th century, most are from the time of the Malla Kings. Probably the most famous building here is the Kumari Bahal, a building richly decorated with beautiful woodcarvings, which is home to the Royal Kumari, the Living Goddess, and a manifestation of the great goddess Durga. Nearby the former Royal Palace is a Mall Dynasty dwelling, once considerably more extensive than today. Within, the courtyard Nassal Chowk, originally hosted dramatic dance performances, now it is the coronation site of the Shah kings and contains some of the finest wood carvings you will see anywhere in the kingdom. The 14th century Jagannath Mandir is the oldest temple in the area, its steps carved with inscriptions in many languages, nearby Telaju Mandir is one of the largest and finest temples in the Valley. It is dedicated to the patron deity of the royal family, Taleju Bhawani, a wrathful form of Durga who once demanded human sacrifices.
Swayambhunath: The most ancient and enigmatic of the Valley’s holy shrines the golden-spired stupa of Swayambhunath tops a wooded hillock. Records of its history date as far as the 5th century, but its origin is believed to be older. It is the Kathmandu Valley’s most sacred Buddhist shrine and whilst its worshipers include the Vajrayana Buddhists of northern Nepal and Tibet, Newari Buddhists are the most fervent devotees. Afternoon excursion to Patan and Handicraft center
Patan, the ancient city, once a kingdom in itself, is situated across the Bagmati River to the south of Kathmandu. Patan Durbar Square offers the finest display of Newari urban architecture in Nepal. There are temples devoted to Shiva, Krishna, Ganesh and Vishnu all actively visited by residents and visitors. At the northern end of the square the ancient sunken water tap has been restored and is still in use with young girls filling huge jugs from the carved stone waterspouts. The courtyards of the Royal Palace with their ornamented windows, columned arcades, shrines and sunken royal bath are amongst the loveliest in all Kathmandu. Overnight at Hotel Shanker, Dalai La, Gokarna Forest or Shambaling Hotel BLD*
DAY 12: KATHMANDU (Wednesday– November 1, 2017)
Morning proceed for the visit of Pashupatinath: This is Nepal’s most sacred Hindu shrine and one of the subcontinent’s great Shiva sites. The Supreme holiness of the site stems from the Shiva linga enshrined in its main temple and its location. It expresses the very essence of Hinduism as pilgrims, priests, devotes, temples, ashrams, images, inscriptions and cremation ghats intermingle with the rituals of daily life, all sprawled along the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. The temple’s origins are obscure, an inscription dates from 477, but a shrine may have stood here for 1000 years before that. We will then proceed to Bouddhanath: This great stupa is one of Nepal’s most distinctive monuments and one of the most important Buddhist sites in Nepal and, with a diameter of over 100 meters, amongst the largest in the world. There are a number of legends accounting for the stupa’s construction, but it is generally believed to date from the 5th century. All stupas contain holy relics and Boudha is said to contain the remains of the past Buddha Kasyapa. Boudha is a particular focus for Kathmandu’s Tibetan community and throughout the day there is a constant stream of people circling the stupa spinning prayer wheels and reciting mantras. Surrounding the stupa are six major monasteries and a host of smaller ones as well as cafes, restaurants and shops selling Tibetan carpets and Newari silversmiths.
Afternoon visit of Bhaktapur city: Bhaktapur literally translates to Place of devotees. Also known as Bhadgaon or Khwopa, it is an ancient Newar city in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, about 8 miles (13 km) from the capital city, Kathmandu. It is located in Bhaktapur District in the Bagmati Zone.
Bhaktapur was the largest of the three Newar kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley, and was the capital of Nepal during the great ‘Malla Kingdom’ until the second half of the 15th century. Today it is the third largest city in the Kathmandu Valley, with a population of more than 80,000, of which the vast majority are still Newars. Historically more isolated than the other two kingdoms, Kathmandu and Patan, Bhaktapur has a distinctly different form of Nepal Bhasa language. Overnight at Hotel Shanker, Dalai La, Gokarna Forest or Shambaling Hotel BLD*
DAY 13: DEPARTURE (Thursday – November 2, 2017)
In time transfer to airport for flight back home or for the onward destination.
*BLD – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Breakfast – Breakfast will be provided by our hotels daily, however, there will be some days in which we depart very early in the morning and breakfast may not yet be available.
Lunch – Lunch may be a fascinating and wonderful restaurant experience, it may be a quick bite to eat and it may be a very light snack on the bus. Please understand that we will do our very best to provide you with a wonderful lunch each and every day. To do this however, we must keep your safety as our utmost concern. Depending on our location and timing, combined with reservations and potential delays we cannot guarantee on a daily basis which type of lunch you will be receiving.
Dinner – We have several special dinners planned for you during this trip. Many dinners may be at the wonderful hotel restaurants where we will be staying.
Traveling in India Nepal and Bhutan
Life and tourism is very different these parts of the world. We will do and see everything as listed in this Itinerary. However, we may need to shift the order of things to accommodate the nature of the countries we are traveling through, so we do ask you for your understanding, patience and flexibility with this. Please also know that our chosen hotels in these countries are well-rated, but may not be of standards similar to those in the U.S. or even Europe. We ask that you view the differences as part of your overall experience of these unique destinations.
Should you have any questions please call Kim with 3rd Rock Adventures at 678-608-2012 or Email Kim@3rdrockadventures.com Starting as Low as $3,490
- Limited to 20 People
- Prices are per person based on double occupancy
- Single supplement $650. usd