A travel company with a difference. Bhutan Eka Tours designs your kingdom adventure with careful attention to every aspect of your trip's itinerary and accomodations. With our expert guides at your side, you will experience the amazing sites, sounds, and people of our enchanted kingdom.
Bhutan Eka Tours specializes in almost all sector of tourism in Bhutan like Trekking, Cultural, Festival, Legendary tours and many more with years of experience and has been developing on it to provide the best to our travellers.
Customised festival tours to enable you to experience it up & close and in depth & color the festivals of Bhutan.
Diverse variety of textiles of Bhutan is gaining lot of international attention and we provide exclusive textile tours
Bhutan is a paradise for photography enthusiasts when it comes to street photography or wildlife, landscape or nature
Capturing Bhutan in a nutshell
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten stands on a beautiful ridge above the Punakha Valley. Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, built it. It took nine years to build, and it is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions. This temple has been dedicated to the wellbeing of the kingdom, its people, and all sentient beings.
Chimi Lhakhang can be also regarded as temple of fertility, where couples are blessed with child. People also visit this place to remember how Diving Madman subdued the demon of Dochula by using his flaming vajara. Lama Drukpa Kinley (1455-1529) is regarded as Madman, as his teaching was very unorthodox, with outrageous behavior, indulging in alcohol, women and hunting. Drukpa Kinley is regarded as one highest saddhi parallel to Jetsun Milarepa, where both of them were able to deify the law of nature by understanding the nature in their true sense. His brother Ngawang Choegyal built Chimi Lhakhang in 1499, after Divine Madman blessed the site.
Tango Monastery is unlike any monasteries in Bhutan, its here where masters of Buddhist teaching are trained. Only the top most monks across the country get an opportunity to pursue their higher education in Buddhist philosophy out here. It is considered as one of best Buddhist University in Drukpa Kaygue sects in the world. Some of the most noted student of this monastery is Galyse Tenzin Rabgay (the seventh reincarnation of fourth Druk Desi) His Eminence Galwang Dokhampa and Thuksey Rinpoche, the spiritual sons of Galwang Drukpa Rinpoche. The monastery is around forty minutes walk from the nearest and it was built in 18th century by forth Druk Desi (the temporal ruler of Bhutan from 1680-1694).
Jetsün Milarepa (1052-1135) is one of the greatest Tibetan Dupthop (Siddhi). He comes from school of Kargyutpa (The Oral Transmission), from which the state religion of Bhutan originated. Milarepa was born to Mila Sherab Gyelthsen and Karmo Kyen, in village name Kyanga Tsa under province of Gungthang in Tibet. Milerapa is well known in all the sects of Tibetan Buddhism for committing sins through sorcerer and overcoming all his sins by following the path of Buddha under Marpa Lotsawa. It’s under Marpa the Translator that he was made to build nine stories high temple to overcome his sins. In Bhutan he is revered as greatest yogi ever to visit the country. To honor his contribution to the Buddha Dharma, a meditation act is displayed in Dochula festival during the month of December.
Fortress of the Glorious Religion is the capital building of Bhutan. Each year during the month of September, people all across the western valley gather at Trashi Chhoe Dzong to witness the tree day tshechu (religious festival with mask dance). The Dzong is also the place of king’s throne room and Central Monastery Body’s summer capital. The initial phase of Dzong construction took place in early 13th century under the leadership of Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa. Chhogyal Sherab Wangchuk further enlarged the Dzong in 18th century to accommodate civil official and monk. Today, Trashi Chhoe Dzong is surrounded by three branches of government, judiciary to the north, executive and legislature to the east.
Pungthang Dechen Phodrang or Punakha Dzong as it is popularly known is one of the most iconic fortresses in the Kingdom. The Dzong is built at the confluence of Mo Chu and Pho Chhu. Punakah Dzong is one of few Dzongs that Shabdrung have built himself. Ever since it’s completion (1638), the Dzong withstood as most important place in Bhutan, both in terms of political and religious affairs. It is here that the Bhutanese democracy has its roots, with establishment of dual system of governance (1650) and democratisation of Bhutan with convened of National Assembly in 1952. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan from 1638 till 1962, when the capital was moved to Thimphu, during the reign of Third King. Even today, The Kings of Bhutan have to receive five color scarfs from this Dzong, before they are enthroned.
Men and women sing together or separately, and most of the time, songs are accompanied by dances where both men and women take part, either forming a line or a circle. The choreography is usually quite simple although some of the steps can be tricky like sidesteps and tap dance – like steps. Graceful arm and hand gestures complement the steps while the body usually remains upright.
Atsara, besides unlimited humor, also represents the learned and the saintly beings. Atsara enjoys the liberty to taunt and joke around with the devotees gathered at the Tshechu.
Tshechus are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. . In addition to the mask dances, tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment. It is believed that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Every mask dance performed during a Tshechu has a special meaning or a story behind it, and many are based on incidents from as long ago as the 8th century, during the life of Guru Padmasambhava. In monasteries the mask dances are performed by monks, and in remote villages they are performed jointly by monks and village men.
A massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world in seating posture. It is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the southern entrance to Thimphu Valley.
Archery was declared the national sport in 1971, when Bhutan became a member of the United Nations. Since then, the popularity of Bhutanese archery has steadily increased as a result of ongoing government promotion and the country's passion for the sport.Bhutan proudly maintains an Olympic archery team.
Trekking in Bhutan are generally categorize in two groups, cultural trek and natural trekking. Both the treks offer a visitor to discovery Bhutan in their own sense, for culture enthuse, this treks gives visitor a true sense of Bhutanese culture, identity and it’s beliefs in it’s true form. For the nature fan, you are in right country, as Bhutan has lots to offer, with breathtaking views, to most pristine environment, from flora and fauna, to most varieties of birds and wild animals. Trekking in Bhutan offer, a unique kind of experience, as you pass through different layer of environment within couple of hours, from sub-tropical to alpine. The most popular trekking route is Drukpath, Chomolhari, Laya & Lingshi and Snow Man Trek.
Bhutan Eka Tours was founded by a group of travel management professionals who believe in pursuing excellence in every detail of each tour. Our goal is to provide our clients with an extraordinary travel experience, a unique and memorable journey inside our truly inspiring country.
Words & photographs by Dan Oko
Central Bhutan’s Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park teems with wildlife, yet is also home to remote villages that cling to distinct cultural traditions. For a family with a keen interest in both these elements, a trek through the mountains proves the perfect adventure On a rocky trail dappled by light filtering through a canopy of rhododendron and walnut trees, I stop to catch my breath and wipe the sweat from my eyes. Below me, the mighty Mangde Chhu river plays peekaboo as it cuts a jagged scar through the rolling foothills of the Himalayas. It’s a mesmerizing sight, until a clatter of stones draws my attention uphill to the dark forest. I lift my binoculars and scan the underbrush, eager to catch a glimpse of something wild. Then it dawns on me: despite Bhutan’s reputation as the happiest place on earth, it’s home to some pretty ferocious animals. Along with musk deer and hundreds of bird species, Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park’s 173,000 thickly forested hectares harbor Himalayan black bears, clouded and common leopards, and the occasional Bengal tiger. My shoulders tense with a mix of exhilaration and terror as I realize that my wife and five-yearold daughter, Ursula, are now out of sight on the trail ahead of me. Since first opening to tourists in the 1970s, Switzerland-size Bhutan has emerged as a top-tier destination for travelers drawn to the Buddhist kingdom’s Shangri-la image. Many visitors liken it to Nepal as it was 40 years ago, before the hippies took over Kathmandu, and trekkers swarmed the teahouses—to say nothing of Maoist insurgencies. What’s more, along with its high passes and fabled alpine treks, Bhutan boasts some of South Asia’s most diverse wildlife, thanks to a national conservation policy that has preserved about two-thirds of the country’s woodlands. Hiking the Himalayas may not be every-one’s idea of family fun, but as a mountain-loving dad I was keen to see what level of Bhu-tanese adventure we could approximate with our daughter, and how much backcountry access we might find in such a mystical, mysterious, and animal-friendly place. Which led to me holding my breath, straining my eyes for predators, and wondering what exactly my family had gotten into. Truth be told, our Bhutan journey was never intended to be all fun and games. We are here not only for the wildlife, but also to explore longstanding communities that predate the relatively recent unification of Bhutan a century ago. This type of anthropological quest is what drives my wife’s life work. By training, Dr. Christina Willis Oko is a professional linguist. Before we became parents, she spent years in northern India studying endangered languages, though lately she had shifted her focus to the Tibeto- Burman dialects spoken in Bhutan. In addition to her field research, Christina works as an assistant professor at Rice University in Houston, Texas. In short, Christina’s professional program revolves around what she and other linguistic researchers consider to be a pressing need to identify and document the indigenous languages spoken in this remote corner of South Asia. “There are 19 identified languages in Bhutan,” she explained before our trip, “but because the country only opened up to outsiders 40 or so years ago, researchers haven’t had a chance to look deeply at them.” I may be a fan of colorful birds and ancient Buddhist temples, but Christina is here to record interviews with speakers of a little-known language called Khengkha. Like many tribal languages around the globe, Khengkha faces a profoundly uncertain future; indeed, the United Nations estimates that half the world’s 6,000-plus languages are in danger of disappearing before the end of this century. Linguists, including Christina, argue that in the developing world, rates of language extinction are compounded by the fact that many dialects have never been recorded. Khengkha, as an oral language with no writing system, is highly susceptible to pressures such as globalization, warfare, and compulsory schooling in Bhutan’s national language, Dzongkha. Christina’s recordings will form a first line of defense for Khengkha speakers—of whom there are perhaps 40,000—to maintain their linguistic traditions. Though we’re traveling with a commercial tour operator called Bhutan Eka Tours (Enchanted Kingdom Adventure), our guide, Ratu Drukpa, also serves as the in-country project manager for the U.S.-based Bhutan Oral Literature and Documentation Project. A charming, humorous fellow who once led mountaineer Jim Whittaker—the first American to summit Mount Everest— across Bhutan, Drukpa proves invaluable as a fixer and translator, helping Christina communicate with the folks we encounter during our weeklong, community-based trek between Nabji and Korphu, two of several villages in this obscure corner of Jigme Singye Wang-chuck National Park. Along the way, we get to learn about everything from the seasonal crops to animist deities worshipped in the mountains of Bhutan. “Language and culture are intrinsically related,” Christina reminds one night when I ask her if the day has been productive. “You can’t really get at the nuances of a language unless you are familiar with the culture.” While the trek is beautiful and filled with wildlife, most adventure travelers, with the ex-ception of hardcore birders, head for the high passes. But our six-day excursion, supported by porters and sturdy ponies, offers a great family alternative to the country’s more challenging alpine treks. We have plenty of fun wandering the rudimentary roads and rocky footpaths that traverse this rolling patchwork of dense, broadleaf jungle. Our route sticks between 1,000 and 2,000 meters above sea level, where we also encounter terraced rice and buckwheat fields and the odd citrus grove. We carry our own sleeping bags, pads, and water, but Drukpa’s crew handles the tents, setting them up at basic village campsites before we arrive. The villagers charge campers a nominal nightly fee that includes use of mud-hut kitchens, thatched-roof dining areas, and water spigots. This gives Christina easy access to the local women, who wear Bhutan’s traditional woven dresses (kira) and cut their hair in blunt pageboy dos. Only rarely do we encounter men, who have either moved to larger communities for economic opportunity, or are out working in the surrounding fields. The women, though, happily discuss Khengkha vocabulary as well as their community traditions, including gambling games and religious rituals. Some mornings in camp, we get an additional dose of culture as the sound of trilling young voices penetrates our tent walls— kids setting off on the long hike to the nearest school. Dark clouds obscure the sun over the Nâbji Valley as we ready ourselves for a final research day with a big breakfast of toast and eggs, milk tea, and chocolaty Horlicks. It’s a cool morning and the school kids’ chatter has long faded. Christina tests her electronic gear, and I help Ursula lace up her hiking boots for a last tour. Later, as Christina wraps up her interviews, a man with a shorn head and the now familiar ocher robes of a Buddhist monk appears, smiling slyly. After listening quietly, he invites us for a sip of the local moonshine, âra, made from fermented grain. Soon he shares with us a novel theory about the origins of Khengkha: that Guru Rinpoche, the revered saint credited with bringing Buddhism from Tibet to Bhutan in the eighth century, introduced the language as a series of religious mantras. Ratu Drukpa, acting as translator, tells us that outsiders (including himself) can’t understand Khengkha because it derives from these ancient songs. Christina is skeptical, but she adds the story to her growing compendium of local lore. As the bottle gets passed around yet one more time, it turns out the holy man doesn’t drink ara, but keeps it as a repellent for venomous snakes found in the nearby fields. Drukpa says the villages’ schoolchildren carry canteens of alcohol for the same reason—to keep the vipers and cobras at bay. Each of these factoids gets duly recorded—in Khengkha, in Dzongkha, and lastly in English as part of a first-of-its-kind Khengkha archive in this concealed Himalayan valley. And then, as the day winds down, evening brings a sort of proof that such folk wisdom, like the languages, is worth preserving. It’s the sound of carefree kids heading home from school, no snakes in sight. Ultimately, for me, even without encountering any serpents, Bhutan’s wildlife proves as exciting as its village life. We see giant black squirrels, watch a troop of shaggy, terrier-size Assamese macaques scamper across a clearing, and spot endangered rufous-necked hornbills. And so, riveted to my spot on the trail by a clatter of stones from the dark forest above, I begin to imagine a leopard or tiger might be stalking me, ready to pounce. Still I see nothing. Then with a hoot, a golden langur—a globally endangered primate that is common in Bhutan—breaks through the forest canopy, swinging with muscular grace. “That was awesome!” Ursula exclaims when I catch up to her on the trail. No need to convince her that Bhutan—for all the struggles that development brings—remains the happiest place on earth. It’s an assessment that’s hard to resist. www.bhutanekatours.com (975-17222444) runs eight-day portered Nâbji– Korphu treks from September through March, priced at US$1,960 per person, including three nights of hotel accommodation en route.
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