One of Bhutan’s unique art forms is its rich textile weaving tradition that is known for its vibrant use of colour, patterns, dyeing methods and weaving techniques.
It is also the only traditional art dominated by Bhutanese women who are the owners and innovators of this artistic skill, nurtured and developed from generation to generation.
Weaving in Bhutan is a home based skill, practiced and honed by its women using a back strap loom. Most of the designs and patterns are inspired by nature and Buddhist themes although inspiration for some patterns come beyond the national borders such as the Jana Chari or the great wall.
Bhutan’s vibrant textile weaving tradition continues to attract attention of collectors and scholars because of its highly refined aesthetics manifested in intricate patterning unique to Bhutan, all done on a ordinary back strap loom.
The textiles are a cultural storehouse and play a key role in the social and religious life of the Bhutanese. Not long ago woven brocade were a measure of wealth and status. Even today special weave worn on a special occasions and functions to indicate social status. According to some Buddhist scholars the motifs and designs of Bhutanese textiles manifest ancient wisdom and is a source of knowledge.
The Bhutan textile tour package will take you across the country, starting from the emporiums where intricate weaves are displayed to the homes of the most celebrated weavers in the eastern part of the country. To a large extent the refinement in Bhutanese weaving is because of the patronage of the aristocracy and of the royalty in the past century.
Bhutanese weaves are today valued not only for their economic value and aesthetics but as a symbol of Bhutan’s highly refined artistic heritage.
DAY 1: ARRIVE SAMDRUP JONGKHAR
A representative of Bokar Tours will receive you at Guwahati International airport in Assam, India. From here it is a three-hour drive to the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. The small town of Samdrup Jongkhar sits on small strip of land just where the foothills begin and sharply rise up to the mountains.
People from around the country get Machey burey (raw silk fibre) from Indian boarder town close to Samdrup jongkhar to weave traditional dresses. As you enter Bhutan a very different scenery and pace of life will greet you. Breathe the clean air and relax in your hotel room.
Overnight stay in hotel, Samdrup Jongkhar.
DAY 2: SAMDRUP JONGKHAR – TRASHIGANG: APPROX. 180KM/7HR
Today you begin your East to West road journey from Samdrup Jongkhar. You will pass through thick tropical vegetation as you gradually ascend to the small township of Dewathang and pass by small villages.
Lunch will be served at Wamrong, about 100 kms from Samdrup Jongkhar. Here, you can visit the charming little private Gompa (monastery) before continuing to Khaling (1,829m) that is home to the National Hand loom Development project.
After crossing Yonphu La pass (2,500m) you will see the picturesque town of Kanglung, home to the country’s oldest liberal college, set among temperate forests. From Kanglung, it is a 22km drive to Trashigang town, the district headquarters of the eastern district of Trashigang. In the past, it was once center of busy trade with Tibet. Today it is the junction of the east west highway. The Trashigang Dzong, built in 1658, now serves as the administrative seat for the district as well as the district monk body. Overnight stay in hotel, Trashigang.
DAY 3: EXCURSION TO RANGJUNG: APPROX. 26KM/1HR
Today you drive to the small township of Rangjung, which sits at the base of seven villages and is the seat of the well-known Rangjung Yoedselcholing Monastery. From Rangjung, you take a three-hour exploratory walk to Radhi village, one of the rice bowls of the east, which is famous for its raw silk weaves. You will pass through tracts of maize and paddy plantations as you walk to Radhi village where you can observe women weaving on back strap looms. You can also visit the nunnery monastery and meet the nuns. They will be happy to see you.
In the evening drive back to Trashigang town and visit Trashigang Dzong that sits on a rocky spur overlooking the Gamri River. The Dzong commands a remarkable view of the surrounding countryside. Built in 1658 it is practically impregnable, protected on three sides by the river and ravines, and from behind by the mountains. Overnight stay in hotel, Trashigang.
DAY 4: TRASHIGANG – MONGAR : APPROX. 90KM/4HR
Today you drive to the neighboring district of Mongar and stop en-route to visit the Drametse Goempa that was founded in the 16th century by a nun. The Drametse Goempa is the largest and most important monastery in the Eastern Bhutan. Drametse offers beautiful views of the countryside in this part of the region.
The drive to Mongar follows the river and up to the well-known “Yadi loops”, which is a series of ten bends gradually ascending to Yadi village. After reaching Yadi, you will drive past Zalaphangma village from where you can see the striking Sherichhu waterfall.
The highest point on the drive to Mongar is Kori La pass (2,378m), which is marked by fluttering prayers flags and the chortens (stupa). From here you descend through a deep fern-lined forest of rhododendrons and and blue pines filled with exotic orchids to Mongar town (1620m). Overnight stay in hotel, Mongar.
DAY 5: EXCURSION TO LHUENTSE: APPROX. 76KM/3 ½ HR
Today you will drive early morning to Lhuentse, one of the most isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular, with stark cliffs towering above river gorges and dense coniferous forests. The region is famous for its weavers, and their distinctive textiles are generally considered to be the best in the country.
The Kurtoe region of Lhuentse is the ancestral home of the monarchy. A statue of Guru Padmasambhava 148 feet high on a 30 foot high lion throne and 17 foot high lotus seat, in the form of Guru Nangsi Zilnoen, is being built in Takela, Lhuentse, for world peace and harmony. In the evening return to Mongar.
At arrival we will visit Khoma Village where some of the most famous and expensive textiles are woven in silk and cotton. Khoma village is famous for distinctive ‘Kishuthara’ weaving and it is the main income source of the villagers. Kishuthara is a silk on silk weaving technique with intricate hand laced patterns. It is the most expensive textile in Bhutan and highly sought after by collectors. It is a full day excursion where you can see the technique of weaving from local villagers and as well as a good opportunity to interview and try your hand at weaving. The other famous weaving area is Gonpa Karpo (four hours walk from the bridge), a remote village clustered around a sacred monastery. The weavers of this village feel that their weaving is superior because of the special blessing from the deities of this sacred site. Evening drive back to Mongar. Overnight stay in hotel, Mongar.
DAY 6: MONGAR – BUMTHANG: APPROX 198KM/8HR
After an early breakfast and a brief visit to Mongar Dzong you will start your journey to Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan.As you descend to Lingmithang you will see the ruins of 12th century Zhongkhar Dzong, once the residence of most powerful of eastern Bhutan’s feudal lords. At Lingmithang (770m), the vegetation changes to semi-tropical and temperatures could be feel like the Indian plains. From here you start to ascend gradually passing through the clumps of bamboo and large cultivated fields of corn as well as of rice. Picnic lunch will be served at Namgling Dra (cliff) above the Namling waterfall. You ascend sharply from here and enter a forest stretch were the road clings precariously to a sheer mountain until you reach a plateau at Sengor (2957m). From Sengor you will drive to the high point of the day, Thrumshing La pass (3780m). Then it is a descent to Ura village through conifer and rhododendron forests, over Sherteng La (3596m), and then to Bumthang valley. Overnight stay in hotel, Bumthang.
DAY 7: EXPLORE BUMTHANG
Explore Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. Bumthang loosely means the valley of 100,000 spirits. The visit to sacred places and monuments will include Jambay Lhakhang, built in 7th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo followed by Kurjey Lhakhang, which consists of three temples surrounded by 108 chortens (stupa) symbolically representing the joints of the human body. A short hike across the suspension bridge will lead you to Tamshing Lhakhang built in 1501 and known for its ancient religious paintings of One Thousand Buddhas and Twenty One Taras (female form of Bodhisattvas). After lunch visit Jakar Dzong, known as the ‘Castle of the White Bird’. Later drive to Chumey valley to visit Yathra textile weaving hand loom centre. The yathra weave are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang. You can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. Overnight stay in hotel, Bumthang.
DAY 8: FLY TO PARO
Flight into Paro with Drukair, crosses the Himalayan Mountains.On arrival you will be greeted by Bokar Tours & Treks and we go around to some of the beautiful temple and ancient fortress.
Visit Ta-Dzong (watch tower) the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck housed it into the National museum in the 1960s. The seven-floor museum highlights various aspects of Bhutanese culture and history dating back to the 7th century.
Later visit majestic Rinpung Dzong built in 1646, which serves as the administrative center and school for monks and visit Dungtse Lhakhang is little three stored round temple built in 1421 by Tibetan saint to subdue the demon distracting peace of people around. Temple is unique in Bhutan as its paintings show the progressive stages of tantric Buddhist philosophy as well as most important deities and figure of the Drukpa Kagye School. Overnight stay in hotel, Paro.
DAY 9: EXCURSION TO THIMPHU. (2320M)
Early morning drive to Thimphu first stop will allow you to view the magnificent Tachocho Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder and further drive you will reach to Chuzom marks by the confluence of Paro Chu (river) and the Wang Chu. Opposite of you, at the confluence, are three protecting chortens each built in a different style.
On arrival visit to National Institute of Zorig Chusum where students undergo training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. 13 traditional arts and crafts are weaving, embroidery, painting, carpentry, carving, sculpture, casting, blacksmithing, bamboo work, gold & silversmithing, masonry, leather work and paper work. This institute not only helps preserving beautiful heritage but also shows example for new future generations to learn skillful and knowledge full lessons to keep heritage alive.
Visit the textile museum it has opened its exhibition on six major themes – warp pattern weaves, weft pattern weaves, role of textiles in religion, achievements in textile arts, textiles from indigenous fibers and the royal collection. The crowns of Bhutan’s Kings, namzas (dresses), the first version of Royal Crown and other accessories used by members of Royal family can be found in the museum.
After lunch visit Changangkha Lhakhang, a fortress like temple, which lies perched on a ridge above Thimphu; Taken Preserve to see the rare national animal of Bhutan.
This animal is chosen as the national animal of Bhutan for its uniqueness and its association with the country’s religious history and mythology.
Visit to Buddha point – the Buddha Dordenma Project is the construction of a 138.6-foot-tall Shakyamuni Buddha statue (inclusive of lotus) seated on a 62-foot-tall throne in the Kingdom of Bhutan, symbolizes peerless virility to bestow blessings, peace, and happiness on the whole world. From there we will get the stunning view of Thimphu valley. Evening drive back to Paro. Overnight stay in hotel, Paro.
DAY 10: HIKE TO TIGER NEST
Hike on foot to visit the Taktsang monastery. Your hike to Taktsang from the road point will take through the well-maintained path, which is quite uphill, and it takes around 3-4 hours at an average walking speed. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees adorned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang cafeteria. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger Dorji Drolo, said to be his consort. Overnight stay in hotel, Paro.
DAY 11: DEPARTURE
After breakfast you will be drop to Airport by our representative your onward journey.