After breakfast, we will indulge in a great day’s sightseeing in Thimphu! First, we will visit the National Memorial Chorten built-in memory of the third King of Bhutan, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The deities depicted inside are from the Nyingmapa tradition of Buddhism and teachings of Vajrayana (or tantric form of) Buddhism and provide a rare insight into Buddhist Philosophy.
We then visit the National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and some of the oldest records of Bhutanese history and religion. We follow this with a visit to the Painting School, famous for carving and freehand art. Here you can see not only paintings, sculpture, clay work and metal work, but also students and artists at work.
This is followed by a visit to the amazing Folk Heritage Museum. The principal exhibit is the museum building itself, a stunningly restored traditional rammed-earth and timber house. The museum is dedicated to connecting people to Bhutan’s rural past through the exhibition of items and artifacts used in rural households, demonstrations of rural customs, traditions, habits, and skills; educational programs for children about rural life in Bhutan, and research and documentation of rural life.
After lunch, we have an excursion to Cheri Monastery which was built in 1620 by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The monastery, which is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu order, is located at the northern end of Thimphu Valley about fifteen kilometers from the capital. Stunningly located on the southern edge of the Jigme Dorji National Park, the monastery is a steep walk uphill from the road head through a delightful forest rich in plant species, animal, and birdlife. The views from the monastery are delightful and a silver chorten inside holds the ashes of the Shabdrung’s father.
In the evening we will visit the Tashichho Dzong (or the ‘Fortress of the Glorious Religion), built-in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and reconstructed in 1961 by the Late King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is regarded as the Father of Modern Bhutan. It is presently the seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan).
We then visit the Handicrafts Emporium to see the exquisite artistry of Bhutan’s traditional crafts and textiles before an evening drive to Paro, ready to explore it tomorrow!
Accommodation: Metta Resort / Gangtey Palace
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Monk © Punap Ugyen Wangchuk