Himalayan Spiritual Odyssey

Bhutan - Sikkim, India

December 4-16, 2019

Spiritual Odyssey to Bhutan and Sikkim, India

Join us on a spiritual odyssey into the pristine ecosystems of the land of the thunder dragon in the Bhutanese Himalayas to the magic of Sikkim, India. Bhutan is an enchanted land of myth and legend whose Buddhist spiritual beliefs permeate every aspect of their culture that is rich with history and stories that go back many centuries. Sikkim is the smallest state in northeast India but one of the most beautiful with stunning mountain views and lush forests. Sikkim is also embued with sacred sites in some of the most beautiful and remote areas of the Himalayas. This is an odyssey of the heart or pilgrimage to sacred ground, an inner and outher journey.


Young Bhuddist monks in Bhutan
Kingdom of Happiness

When the Bhutanese speak of happiness, they are perhaps speaking more of the process of creating conditions for contentment. Contentment does not come from GDP.

Happiness- thousands of candles can be lit from one single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened, happiness never decreases by being shared.

The Buddha
Membartso, the Burning Lake, sacred place in Bhutan.
Sacred Landscape

Bhutan has the stunning beauty of the Himalaya mountains with an abundance of rivers, verdant valleys with rice paddies, and jungles in the southern area of the country. Bhutan has a committment to keeping the country with 72% forest cover.

Monk at Buddhist temple, Bhutan
Pilgrimage to Sacred Sites

Pilgrimage to the many sacred sites in the Himalyas incudes the journey as well as the destination. Some are Buddhist temples and others are located in caves or rivers that have a special spiritual significance.

Mind is the sole origin of everything; of cyclic wandering in samsara, of liberation in nirvana.

Mahasiddha Saraha
Sacred art of Bhutan
Buddhist Wisdom

Bhutan has remained loyal to its Buddhist cultural and spiritual practices that were introduced by Guru Rinpoche in 737. There are over 2000 ancient Buddhist monasteries with beautiful Buddhist iconography scattered throughout the country.

The seeker who sets out upon the way shines bright over the world.

Odyssey Details

Odyssey Includes

Cost includes lodging, land transportation, all meals in Bhutan and Sikkim, water, gentle early morning chair yoga and meditation, odyssey guide, local guide and driver, Bhutan visa. Small group experience, max 10 people. Cost does not include: travel insurance, beverages other than water, gratuities to driver and guide, your fight from a departure city such as Bangkok, Delhi or Kolkata into Bhutan on either Drukair or Bhutan Airlines. That flight cost is extra and needs to be arranged by the tour company in Bhutan. Cost does not include flight from Bagdora, India to your next destination at the end of the odyssey. Please contact us for more information.

Odyssey to Bhutan and Sikkim, India

Cost:$4399 per person with a minium of 4 people. Cost is based on double occupancy, with limited single rooms at an additional cost. If you are willing to share but we are unable to pair you with a same-gender roommate, you will not be charged the single supplement fee. Not Included: Flights into Bhutan for an addition cost must be done on either Bhutan Airlines or Drukair and need to be arranged by our Bhutan travel company.

Contact us if interested. A deposit of $500 will hold your place. Credit cards or checks are accepted. Read the terms and conditions and fill out the registration form. Registration/Terms and Conditions

ITINERARY

Be open to your inner and outer intuitions on this odyssey. Quiet contemplative time and meditation will be offered on a daily basis. There will also be an opportunity to witness and participate in chanting at a monastery in Bhutan. Some gentle chair yoga with pranayama will be offered when the setting is appropriate.

Tap or put your cursor over the Day in the itinerary and the box will open with all the information.

12/4/19 Wednesday - Arrival in Paro, Bhutan. Paro is the only international airport in Bhutan and entry into it is magnificent. From Paro, we will take a 1 hour drive to Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. After lunch, we will go to view the world’s largest Buddha overlooking the beautiful Thimphu Valley. The National Memorial Chorten was built in memory of third king of Bhutan and is dedicated to World Peace. Local people can be seen circumabulating it while saying prayers. Overnight Thimphu. L,D
Paro Valley, Bhutan
12/5/19 Thursday - We will drive for 2 hours to visit TSELUNG NYE- Tshelung nye is known for its 29 different Guru nyes surrounding the main lhakhang  AND it is also a place where Guru Rinpoche spent 4 months meditating. Amongst many secret places blessed by Guru Padmasambhava in the country Bhutan, Tshe Lung Nye is one of the most auspicious pilgrim sites. It is the place where Guru Padhmasambhava mediated for four months, entrusting his hidden treasures to local guardians and dharma protectors. It is said that after meditating there for four months, Guru Rinpoche met Tsepamey (god of longevity). It’s believed that Tsepamey offered the tshey gi bumpa (vase of longevity) to Guru Rinpoche. After lunch, We will visit Tandin Nye, It is one of the most sacred spots discovered by Khandro Yeshe Tshogyal as per the prophetic instruction of Guru Rinpoche. According to a local account, Khandro Yeshe Tshogyal spent 13 years in meditation at this place. Several imprints of Khandro Yeshe Tshogyal and other celestial beings seen on the rocks bear witness to this. Later, Guru Rinpoche blessed this place and concealed many ter (spiritual treasures). Tandin Ney is rich and sacred as a pilgrimage place. Overnight in Thimphu B, L, D
Sacred site near Thimphu, Bhutan
12/6/19 Friday - Depart Thimphu for Punakha, a 3-4 hour drive over Dochula Pass which offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range.  After lunch, we will visit Chimi L'hakhang Temple or the Fertility Temple built in 1499 and blessed by Buddhist leader Drukpa Kunley, also known as the “Divine Madman.” Drukpa Kunley, had an active bacchanal lifestyle full of women, poetry and sex. The phallus became Drupa Kunley’s symbol, indicating both fertility and the power to bring enlightenment. The Punakha Dzong or fortress, located at the confluence of 2 major rivers, is the second largest and oldest in Bhutan and is a magnificent example of Bhutanese architecture. Day off visiting longest suspension Bridge. Overnight Punaka B, L, D
Prayer wheels at Chimi Temple, Bhutan
12/7/19 Saturday - Punakha to to Gangtey to Paro. We will drive through the Phobjikha Valley and walk in the villages, visiting the local villages of Rinchengang at Wangdue before going to Gangtey. The valley is environmentally protected because of the rare black necked cranes (Grus nigricollis), winter visitors during late October to mid February to the  Phobjikha Valley.  They arrive from the Tibetan Plateau, where they breed in the summer. We will go to the Black Necked Crane Information Center and get our best views of this rare and beautiful bird. On arrival in Phobhjikha they are seen to circle Gangteng Monastery three times as if practicing kora ("circumambulation"), and repeat this act as they begin their return to the Tibet in early spring. We will also take an easy nature walk at the Gantey Nature Trail, about 2 hours. We will wander through meadows, a village and beautiful forests. The trail ends at a local community school, after passing a shorten and Khewal Lakhang. Overnight in Paro B, L, D
Rice fields and flowers in Bhutan
12/8/19 Sunday - You will hike up to Taksang Monastery, also known as Tiger's Nest. Built in the 1600's, it hangs on a cliff with amazing views of the valley below. Your guide will explain that Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century, flew on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where the monastery now stands. The hiking is on a dirt path with some stairs that wanders through a forest with waterfalls along the way. The increase in elevation is about 2000 feet. It is about a 2.5 hour walk up and back. It is possible for you to ride a mule there for a small additional charge. The walk is not difficult and the monastery has a cafe to get refreshments and food. Overnight in Paro, B, L, D
Taktsang Temple, Bhutan
12/9/19 Monday -We will drive from Paro to Bagdogra, India today. This is a beautiful drive that goes through Phuentsholing, a lovely border town between Bhutan and India. This drive is 4 hours. From there we would drive to Bagdogra. Overnight in Bagdogra, B,L,D
12/10/19 Tuesday - We will continue on in a 4 hr drive to Gangtok, Sikkim. Gangtok rests on a ridge at around 5,480 ft with the Himalaya mountains surrounding it. Multiple cultures, religions and languages are seen and heard here. It is one of the cleanest cities in India with smoking and plastic bags banned. Overnight in Gangtok, 5,480 ft. B,L,D
12/11/19 Wednesday - Gangtok has multiple religions represented there, although Buddhism is the primary one. We start the day by going to Ganesh Tok and Hanuman Tok, Hindu temples with dramatic panoramic views of Gangtok and snow capped Himalayan peaks. It is a peaceful area with gardens and walking trails. From there we will go to several well known monasteries, including the Rumtek Monastery. The monastery was founded by Wangchuk Dorje, 9th Karmapa in the 16th century. Originally called the Dharma Chakra Centre, Dharma Chakra Centre or Rumtek Monastery is the main seat of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, second only to Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet. It has rare Buddhist art and mural paintings. Next, we will go to the Ranka or Lingdum Monastery; a Buddhist pilgrimage center following the Zurmang Kagyu sect of the ancient school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is under the spiritual direction of H. E. Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche, who is the 12th successive successor of the Kagyu sect. There will be an interesting break with a great ride on a 1km cable car across three stations from Deorali to Tashiling. We will have the opportunity to go to the Institute of Tibetology, founded by the 14th Dalai Lama in 1957 for research on everything practiced in Tibet. It has a great museum and library and has one of the largest collections of Tibetan works in the world.  The museum has rare statues, religious relics, ritual objects and ancient manuscripts in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese and Lepcha. In the evening, we will visit the M G Marg, a busy market of Gangtok, for shopping and having Sikkimese delicacy at the local restaurant.   Overnight Gangtok, B,L,D
12/12/19 Thursday - We will have a 55 km excursion to Tsomgo Lake (12,400 ft.) and Baba Mandir (13,200 ft.). The lake has been created by a glacier and is surrounded by snow covered mountains. Baba Mandir is a pilgrimage site. An Indian soldier died there and it is said that his soul wanders in the area, protecting others. Overnight in Gangtok B, L, D
12/13/19 Friday - We will drive to Lachen (9,400 ft, 118 km). Lachen is a distant village in North Sikkim and the winter home for Tibetan nomadic tribes. Lachung is also a high altitude village of Tibetan and Bhutia people in North Sikkim. On the way, we will visit the Seven Sister Waterfalls. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant on the way. Overnight in Lachen, B, L, D
12/14/19 Saturday - We will drive towards Gurudongmar Lake (17,000ft). Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest situated lakes in North Sikkim. We will not be walking around very much due to the altitude but will take in the beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains. Overnight in Lachung. B, L, D
12/15/19 Sunday - You will see Yumthang Valley which is also known as the Valley of Flowers (11800 Ft / 3598 Mts / 25 Kms / 1 ½ hours one way). On the way back, we will visit the hot spring which is considered to have medicinal properties. We will then begin the drive back to Gangtok. Overnight in Gangtok. B, L, D
12/16/19 Monday - Depart from Gangtok to Bagdogra airport for late afternoon flights to your next destination or home.