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Tour of Punakha & Thimphu

Trip Duration
3 Days
Grading
Activity Level
Easy
Ascent & Descent
1,368 m
Max Elevation
3,114 m

Summary

Enjoy a spectacular descent from Docuhla along the “Divine Madman Trail” and spend the night in Toeb Chandana, following in the footsteps of Lama Drukpa Kuenley. Descend into the scenic Punakha Valley and then continue up and over into the Lingmukha Valley, known locally as the “Golden Bowl”.


Itinerary

You will begin your three day adventure early in the morning from Dochula Pass. The best seasons to capture the perfect morning sunrise and enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan range would be between the beginning of winter and spring seasons. After breakfast, you begin descending down into the valley. From this point to Tangsiji in Trongsa the trail joins the “Divine Madman Trail”. This Trail follows the footsteps of Lama Drukpa Kuenley as he spread the dharma teachings, suppressed evil energies and fulfilled his legacy. Over the coming days you will experience many important cultural sites and extraordinary stories associated with the Drukpa Kuenley.

You can preorder lunch at Lumitsawa and Thinleygang but carrying a simple packed lunch is highly recommended as there are many picnic spots deep in nature. After lunch, the descent will continue until Toeb Chandana. We recommend you to spend the night at the Famous House of Toeb Chandana regaling in the famous folktales around how The Divine Madman fulfilled his legacy.

Toeb Chandana Lhakhang

Lam Drukpa Kuenley’s arrs (8.39 miles)
Estimated Trek Duration: 9 hours
Elevation Gain: 50 metres (164 feet)
Starting Elevation: 3,114 metres (10,217 feet)
Ending Elevation: 1,560 metres (5,118 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 3,114 metres (10,217 feet)

Ideal Lunch Spot: Lumitsawa or Thinleygang

Accommodation Recommendation: Homestay or camp service provider

Meals Included: ZEN_HOLIDAY_NO_MEALS

As you begin your day, the trail will gradually ascend from Toeb Chandana until Sew Drangsa offering you scenic views throughout the Trail. The central monastic body used this route while migrating between their winter residence in Punakha and summer residence in Thimphu. Sew Drangsa is the exact spot where the monk body rested and stopped for their lunch during their migration. Make a quick stop at the café at Sew Drangsa for some refreshments if you aren’t carrying any. From there on, the trail takes you straight to the Punakha Dzong. The entire course of the trail offers scenic views of the valley and Punatsangchu.

We recommend you to carry a simple packed lunch. If not, the best place to have your lunch would be at the restaurants located across Punakha Dzong or Mendelgang.  For a quick visit at the Punakha Dzong, we also recommend you take your gho and kira along with your Kabneys and Rachus. Formal dress is required for all Bhutanese citizens to cross at the Bazam. If you do not have formal dress, you may be required to take a 3 kilometres detour along the motor road to cross the Mochhu. After the visit, walk over the Pochhu suspension bridge to Mendelgang where you will be spending your night.

Punakha Dzong

It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal around 1637 at the confluence of two rivers Phochhu (male river) and Mochhu (female river), houses Bhutan’s most treasured relic, the Rangjung Kharsapani. Guru Rinpoche had prophesied about this Dzong which would be built by a man named Namgyal who would arrive at a hill resembling an elephant. So, when Zhabdrung arrived at Punakha, he chose the tip of the trunk of the sleeping elephant where the current Dzong is, as the perfect site to build. Despite withstanding Tibetan invasions, it has suffered numerous fires, floods and glacial lake bursts.

Pungthang Dechen Phodrang now popularly referred to as Punakha Dzong served as the capital and seat of the Government until early 1950s. The coronation of His Majesty the First Druk Gyalpo Ugyen Wangchuck took place in this very majestic Dzong. It currently serves as the winter residence for the monk body.

Trek Distance: 13.5 kilometres (8.39 miles)
Estimated Duration: 9 hours
Elevation Gain: 195 metres (640 feet)
Starting Elevation: 1,560 metres (5,118 feet)
Ending Elevation: 1,225 metres (4,019 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 1,778 metres (5,834 feet)

Ideal Lunch Spot: Punakha Dzong or Mendelgang

Accommodation Recommendation: Homestay or Hotel

 

Meals Included: ZEN_HOLIDAY_NO_MEALS

Today the trail will lead you through rice fields and then gradually ascend until Laptsakha. At Laptsakha, a Chorten marks the highest point on this Trail. It is recommended that you take simple packed lunches such as sandwiches for this trail as there aren’t any shops or human settlements until the point of the destination. Do make sure to stock up with supplies for this part of the trail. The trail provides a scenic sight of the valleys on the north end. The traditional route through this section has been further developed by our friends from the Punakha Mountain Bike Club. Please watch for descending riders.

Towards afternoon you will reach the beautiful valley of Lingmukha after walking on the feeder road for about an hour for the last section of this trail. There are camping options in this valley but we recommend you to spend the night in the local farmhouse or homestay. We would recommend you experience the walk between the rice fields right in the heart of the valley surrounded by the ridges. The valley is known as Lingmup Sher giZhom (which translates to as the golden bowl). The golden rice fields right before the harvest season is a sight not to be missed. You should also stop for a quick visit to Lingmukha Lhakhang which according to legend was built by the Treasure Revealer Terton Dorjee Lingpa.

Lingmukha Lhakhang

The locals believe that the Lhakhang is the seat of the great Treasure Discoverer, Terton Dorjee Lingpa and his lineage. Oral history explains that Dorjee Lingpa arrived in Lingmukha in the 14th century, built the Lhakhang and settled there along with his disciples. The Great Master is said to have discovered many ters (Treasures) in the village. According to some historical records, King Gesar of Ling is also believed to have visited Lingmukha. The current structure was renovated in 2014 by the local community.

Trek Distance: 12.25 kilometres (7.61 miles)
Estimated Duration: 7 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,123 metres (3,685 feet)
Starting Elevation: 1,225 metres (4,019 feet)
Ending Elevation: 2,144 metres (7,034 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 2,190 metres (7,185 feet)

Ideal Lunch Spot: Laptsakha

Accommodation Recommendation: Homestay or camp service providers

Meals Included: ZEN_HOLIDAY_NO_MEALS

Additional Activities

Looking for something more? These activities are examples of excursions or activities that are available to travellers that are not included in this trip fee. These activities can be subject to availability. Contact us with any questions regarding these additional activities.

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