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Bhutan often revered as the 'Land of the Peaceful Dragon' is still regarded as one the last 'Shangrilas' in the Himalayan region because of its remoteness, it's spectacular mountain terrain, varied flora and fauna and its unique ancient Buddhist monasteries. It is in the relatively unexplored pockets of Asia and Bhutan allows only limited number of discerning travelers to enter the country in order to protect its fragile environment and culture.

Bhutan a purely Buddhist Himalayan Kingdom is unsurpassed in its scenic majesty and vibrant culture. The kingdom shares with Nepal the world's greatest concentration of mountains and living heritage of Buddhism. The fifty minutes flight from Kathmandu to Paro can truly be described as a flight into fantasy. During the flight a first hand close up view of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and other famous peaks become reality. Biweekly flights between these two kingdoms have made easier travel to the long isolated Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan.


Drukpa Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism is the state religion but the Nyingma school is also well represented in the central and eastern districts.


The monsoons starts in mid June and lasts until the end of September. The climate within the mountains varies greatly according to precipitation and wind conditions. In the Duars plain and upto 1500m the climate is sub-tropical with high humidity and heavy rainfall. The climate of mid-mountain belt varies, such that low-lying parts of Punakha Mongar, Tashigang and Lhuntse have cool winter and hot summers, whereas the higher valleys of Ha, Paro, Thimpu, Tongsa and Bumthang ranging from 2,500 – 4,500m. endure an temperate climate with cold snowy winters and some what cooler summers.

Spring is rhododendron season in Bhutan. The mountain-sides all over the country are ablaze in shades of red and orange. Days are warm but nights are still cold. As the monsoon rises from the Bay of Bengal, spring turns to summer and three months of heavy monsoon rains. Arguably the loveliest time of the year in Bhutan, autumn brings clear skies and warm days.


In 1995, the per capita income was estimated at US$ 500 with the annual growth at 5%. Although these figures places Bhutan among the lease developed nations the country is unlike others within that category as no famine, little malnutrition, good housing, exists. Over 91% of the population depend on agriculture and livestock rearing which together account for some 50% of GDO, despite the fact that only 2% of the land is arable.


The National currency is Ngultrum (Nu) 100 Chetrum = 1 Nu. Exchange rate is approximately USD 1 = Nu. 42.75 (1999) Indian Rupees circulate at par.



Generally visitors enter the Kingdom at Paro by the National Airline, Druk Air. This beautiful valley, if ever a place exists, here nature and man consulted to create their dearest image, it must be the valley of Paro. Mt. Chomolhari 7320m reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial waters plunge through deep gorges to form the Pa – Chu (Paro river). Paro is one of the most fertile valleys in the kingdom producing a bulk of the famous red rice from its terraced fields home to some of Bhutan's oldest temples and monasteries.

Drugyal Dzong: which means victorious fortress was built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, led by Mongolian warlord, Gushri Khan in 1644. Strategically built over the only passage into Paro valley, the dzong helped to repel numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. It so impressed early visitors that in 1914 the dzong featured on the cover of the National Geographic magazine. The dzong was gutted by an accidental fire in 1951. The ruins, as it stands today still attract tourists.

Taktsang Monastery: literally means the Tiger's den. This temple clings precariously to a granite cliff 800m above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the great Guru Padmasambhava flew to this spot on back of a tigress and meditated in a cave during the 8th century. The temple was built around the cave and is a hallowed shrine for Bhutanese pilgrims. A terrible fire in April 1998 destroyed Taktsang's medieval wall paintings and all inner temples. A new construction has already begun by the royal Government.

Rinpung Dzong: meaning the fortress on a heap of Jewels was built during the time of Shabdrung in 1646. The approach to the dzong is through a traditional covered bridge. A walk to the dzong offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the dzong as well as life around it. The dzong now houses the Paro monastic school and the office of the civil administration. It is also the venue of the great Paro Tshechu (festival) held once a yea in spring.

Ta Dzong: looking down upon the Rinpung dzong was built in 1651 as a watch tower. The Ta Dzong is round more like parts of an European castle. Since 1967 the dzong was re established as the national museum and holds a fascinating collections of arts, relics and religious thankha paintings.

Farm house: the beauty of Paro valley is embellished by cluster of quaint farm houses. Bhutanese houses are very colourful and traditionally built without the use of a single nail. The house looks very big from outside but is quite simple inside. Its normally three storey. The ground floor is always used for cattle while the attic is used to store hay. The families live in the middle floor. The best room is always kept for the family chapel. A visit to a farm house is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.


The modern capital of Bhutan, lies at an elevation of 2300m in a valley traversed by the Wang Chu (river). Tashichho dzong the main Secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty and a summer residence of the central monk body. Although not what one expects from a capital city, Thimphu is a fitting and lively place. Home to civil servants, expatriates and the monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style. It is also an ideal spot for day walks. Phajoding monastery is a 4 hrs hike form the Motithang area, Tango and Cheri monasteries are alos another ¾ hrs hike from the capital or all the way to the top of telegraph hill where thousands of prayer flags obscure the view over Thimphu.

Memorial Chorten: this stupa was built in 1974 in the memory of late third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. The paintings and images inside the monument provide a rare sight into Buddhist philosophy.

Tashichho Dzong: was initially built in the 17th century, was rebuilt in early 1960s by the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Tashichho Dzong houses the main Secretariat building and the central monk body. It is open to visitors during Thimkphu festival and when the monk body moves to their winter home in Punakha.

Changangkha Temple: built in the 15 century by lama Phajo Drigom lies on a hill top commanding the Thimphu valley. The temple has very old scriptures and Thankhas. The main deity of the temple is Avalokiteshvara, God of compassion.

Simtokha Dzong: the oldest dzong in the country stands on a lofty ridge at the end of valley. It was built in 1627-1629 and now houses the school for Buddhist studies. All the Bhutanese language teachers pass out from this university.

Indigenous hospital: Since Bhutan has its own brand of Himalayan medicine the "Government has given equal emphasis to both allopathic and traditional medicines. The rich herbal medicine is prepared here. The old art healing like acupuncture is still practised.

National Library: the history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts which are preserved at the National library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and ancient texts the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.

Painting school: where young children learn the ancient art of paintings. One can actually see students at work. Education is free for the students since the Government wants to attract more students. These children after passing out they are distributed to different districts to apply the same art of traditional paintings in these areas which is one reason that the Bhutanese houses have almost the same type of colour and design.

Vegetable market: Every Saturday and Sunday most of the Thimphu's population and many valley dwellers congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. This is the only time in the week when fresh vegetable are available and Saturday mornings are a hive of activity.


Punakha Dzong built between two rivers in the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel served as capital of Bhutan until 1955 and is still the winter residence of the central monk body. In spite of four catastrophic fires and an earthquake that destroyed many historic documents, Punakha Dzong houses sacred artifacts and embalmed body of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. Punakha's climate and warmer temperatures make its valley one of the most fertile in Bhutan. Chime Lhakhang located on a hillock among the rice fields is picturesque and is a pilgrimage site for childless couples. The temple is associated with the famous saint Drukpa Kuenlay "The Divine Madman" who has built a chorten on the site during the 14th century.


To the south of Punakha lies Wangdiphodrang Dzong at an elevation of 1300m. It is the last town on the highway before entering central Bhutan. This Dzong built during the 17th century played a critical role in unifying the western, central and southern Bhutanese districts. Further up is Gangtey Gompa, an old monastery dating from the 16th century. It is in fact the only monastery which follows the Pelling Nyingmapa sect of school. This valley of Phobjikha is also a home of the rare Black Necked Crane, an endangered species which migrate from the Tibetan plateau in winter. There are about 450 – 500 cranes residing in Bhutan out of which 250 – 300 live in this beautiful valley.


Trongsa at an altitude of 2200 m. forma the central hub of the nation and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched. The Royal family has strong links with Trongsa. Both His Majesty King Ugyen Wangchuck and his successor, King Jigme Wangchuck ruled the country from this Dzong.

Trongsa Dzong: built in 1648 is an impregnable fortress. The massive structure is built on many levels into the side of the hill that includes countless courtyards, passage ways and corridors in addition to the twenty three temples inside the Dzong. Due to its highly strategic position as the only connecting route between east and west the Trongsa Penlop (Governor) was able to control the whole region effectively for centuries. Above the Dzong a Ta Dzong (watch tower) was built to watch out for invaders and travellers. Now its a temple dedicated to the great hero Ling Gesar.


To the east of Trongsa lies the Bumthang valley at an altitude of 2,600m, has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Comprised of four smaller valleys, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Here tales of Guru Padmasambhava and his reincarnation known as Tertons still linger in most nooks and corners. The town of Jakar is the largest between Thimphu in the west and Trashigang in the east. Jakar is famous for its honey production, cheese, apple juice and apricots. Visitors to Bumthang should plan to spend a few days taking advantage of the valley's relatively gentle slopes to walk nearby medieval temples and glimpse Bhutan's mostly rural population. It is also known for its wooklen material (yathra) which can be seen hung outside of houses for sale. Further east there is the Ura valley with the village of Ura in its centre. A small but old dzong and cobblestone paths give the village a medieval feel. Many excursions can be done at this valley like Tharpaling monastery, Kunzangdra, Tang Mebartso and many more...

Jambey Lhakhang: built in the 7th century by a Tibetan King Songtsen Gempo believed to be the reincarnation of the Buddha of compassion. This temple is one of the 108 temples built by him to subdue a large demon which was stopping the spread of Buddhism.

Kurje Lhakhang: located above Jambey Lhakhang consists of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 on the rock face where Guru mediated in the 8th century. Second temple is built on the site of a cave where Guru Padmasambhava left his body imprint on the rock. The cave is not visible as it is concealed by a large statue of the Guru Rinpoche. The 3rd temple was recently built by the present Royal Queen mother and these three temples are surrounded by 108 stupa wall symbolic of each joint of the Human body.

Tamshing Lhakhang: located opposite Kurje Lhakhang on the other side of the river was founded in the beginning of the16th century by Terton Pema Lingpa, the reincarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. The monastery has very interesting religious painting like 1,000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female form of Buddhisatawa). The temple was restored at the end of the 19th century.

Jakar Dzong: founded by the great grandfather of Shabdrung. The dzong was initially built as a monastery in 1549 but was upgraded after the Shabdrung had firmly established his power in 1646. The Dzong is now used as the administration centre for Bumthang valley.


Arriving in Mongar is a great relief from the turns and heights of the journey over the pass. The town is small with a sprinkling of shops. Mongar Dzong is modern compared to others in the Kingdom. It was reconstructed by the order of the Third King. No drawings and nails have been used. A visit to the dzong gives visitors an impression of how traditional Bhutanese architecture has continued to thrive through the centuries. A hydroelectric project is under way and after completion it will have the capacity to output 60 megawatts of hydroelectricity which will change the industrial emphasis of the eastern area.

Lhuentse: is 77 kilometers from Mongar and is one of the most isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges and dense coniferous forests. The region is notably famed for its weavers and special textiles and fabrics, generally considered to be the best in the country. The Kurtoe region of Lhuentse is also the ancestral home of the Royal dynasty.


Trashigang lies above the Gumri river and is the largest district in Bhutan. It is much busier than other Bhutanese towns due to its proximity to Samdrup Jongkhar in the south has enabled it to grow as a centre of commerce. Trashigang is used as the market place for the hill people from Merak & Sakteng who are known for their exceptional features and for their costume made of Sheep skin and Yak wool. The hat that they wear is unusual but has a significance of its own. It is very different from customary Bhutanese clothing. The 17th century Dzong is built on top of a cliff and serves as an administrative centre.

Tashi Yangtse: formerly a subdivision of Trashigang is one of the new districts. Yangtse Dzong is half an hour walk from the road. A town has developed around Chorten Kora, one of only two chortens built in a Nepalese style and a spot where Guru Padmasambhava is believed to have had a vision that a temple and a chorten would be built. The area is also known for its exceptional woodcraft. Another temple lies on the banks of the Gumri river known as the Gom Kora dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava where he supposed to have subdued a demon in form of a Garuda. A festival takes place every year at this temple.


The road from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar was completed in the early 1960s. This town is small and bustling and acts as a commercial hub and entry and exit point in the south east.


Phuentsoling, a border town to the south bordering the Indian state of West Bengalis a hub of commercial activity. Jaigaon, a small Indian town is located near Phuentsoling and you can make road connections from Jaigaon or Phuentsoling to the airport in Bagdogra or the railway station in Siliguri, both in the state of West Bengal (169 kms. a drive of about 4 – 5 hours) of India. There are also convenient connections to the Nepal border at Kakarvitta or the hill Indian stations of Kalimpong, Gangtok and Darjeeling.


Festivals :

Festivals (Tshechus) are held in Bhutan throughout the year at different locations. There festivals are celebrations of faith, legends, myths and history of Bhutan in ancient rituals of colourful dance and music. The most popular for tourists are those held in Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang. They mark the busiest time of the year for tourism and reservation are difficult to come by. Festival time is one of the only periods during a year when tourists are permitted inside the courtyard of the dzongs. The dzongs come to life with colour, music and dancing as valley dwellers and townsfolk dress in their best clothes and join together to exorcise evil spirits and rejoice in a new harvest. Rate masked and sword dances and other rituals are performed in the dzong's courtyards and temples. Each dance has its own significance and can be performed by monks or lay men dressed in bring costumes. Certain festivals end with the unveiling and worship of huge religious appliques or T hongdrels. the moment of the unveiling is shrouded in secrecy and creates great excitement amongst all the participants.


Tour: For booking during the months of March/April/May and September/October/November full passport particulars of all participants should be provided minimum 60 days in advance for us to hold all services on confirmed basis.

Visa Formalities: Visa is required for travelling to Bhutan and it is processed and arranged by ....................... No foreign mission grants Bhutan tourist Visa.

All Passport details (full name, nationality, date of birth, passport no. issued & expiry date, address & profession) should be forwarded at least 3 weeks prior to the date of arrival and can be mailed or faxed. Actual visa is stamped on arrival in Bhutan while it is cleared in advance and a visa clearance number is issued.

For all travellers entering Bhutan by Druk Air, the Visa clearance number is forwarded to the concerned overseas Druk Air stations and without clearance number passengers are not allowed to board the flight.

Visa clearance number is also required while issuing Druk Air tickets. For travellers entering into the country by surface through Phuntsholing (Border in South Bhutan) the visa clearance number is forwarded to Foreign Ministry's office in Phuntsholing for reference.


Three copies of original passport size photographs are required on arrival. Visa fee of US$ 20 for 14 days visa and US$ 10 as Tourism development must be paid on arrival. Visa can be further extended with an additional fee of US$ 15.


Bhutan is a remote independent kingdom in the eastern Himalaya and the last bastion of the Tibetan Buddhist culture and religion in its purest form. Despite opening up to tourism in the late '70's it has managed to minimise the effect of outside influences and the country is virtually untouched, in terms of the environment, religion, architecture and lifestyle. Bhutan has the youngest reigning monarch in the world, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who guards Bhutan's culture and national identity fiercely.

It is a remarkable country and Snow Leopard Trek offers the opportunity to see not only Bhutan's exquisite Himalayan scenery but to experience its rich and ancient traditions in Thimphu, the capital and Paro, its second largest town. Few people have the privilege of experiencing Bhutan and in the light of the fragility of such a small nation and traditional culture in this age of superpowers this slice of an old world may, in the future, be denied us.



Bhutan boasts of a variety of high quality arts and crafts and carpentry, blacksmithing, weaving, painting, sculpture, casting, bamboo works, embroidery, masonry, leather works, paper works and textiles from different ethnic groups.


The most common fish in Bhutan is the Rainbow trout and salmon are found in fresh water lakes and river.


Bhutan is a Buddhist country and offers plenty of holy places and shrines.

Dating back to the 7th century, the Kichu Temple in Paro and Jambay Temple in Bumthang are a few of the many to see.


There are about 675 species of birds in Bhutan and the list grows longer each year. Geven the density of forest cover and the steep vertical descents, the road is often the best place from which to watch the birds, as there is very less vehicular traffic. Recommended sites include the stretch of road down from Dochu la to Wangduephodrang, from Wangduephodrang,to Nobding and before Trongsa. For those who go east, the 2000 m. descent between Sungar and Limithang is spectacular for bird watching. Trekking will provide you with a greater chance of seeing high altitude birds at close range.


60% of Bhutan is covered in forests of fir, conifers, temperate and broadleaf species. It is also known as the land of medicinal herbs and over 5000 species of plants are found in Bhutan. Some alpine flowers include lichens, mosses, tiny rhododendrons, nivale, edelweiss and varieties of primula. At he end of winter, the high altitude grazing lands are carpeted with a multitude of wild flowers and during monsoons, even more vibrantly coloured flowers are found. During early September, some varieties include anemones, forge-me-nots, dwarf irises, dwarf rhododendrons, primulas, delphiniums and ramunculus.

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