Immersion in the Land of the Thundering Dragon
With this exclusive Mindtrek, we will gain an in-depth appreciation of the history, nature and spirituality of Asia's most mysterious country, accompanied by an anthropologist specializing in Himalayan cultures.
Bhutan represents the ideal Mindtrek destination, where we find the most intimate roots of our contemplative practices. The monks themselves will reveal to us the ancient traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, which have remained intact here through the centuries. We will experience the journey immersed in a mountain environment that in the tropical winter is mostly characterized by clear skies and daytime temperatures that are never too cold. As with any Mindtrek, the rhythms will be aimed at releasing the stress accumulated in ordinary life through meditation and walking.
Takeoff from Delhi and arrival at Paro airport (2200m). Meet with Guido Freddi, our guide from Mindtrek. and check into the comfortable hotel with the possibility of hot stone bath and massage.
In the afternoon we will visit the magnificent Ripung Dzong.
Visit the beautiful national museum inside an ancient fortress and the temple of Thangthong a famous 14th-century saint-engineer and particular Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang temple, built in 1421. According to local legend, it was built by Drubthob Thangtong Gyalpo to subdue a chthonic demon.
Transfer to the Punakha valley. After 1h30' drive we will stop at Dochu-la pass (3100m) with spectacular views of the Himalayan range. End of the day at the hotel near Chimi Monastery (1h).
Visit Chimi Monastery, home of the disciples of the "divine madman," a tantric master famous for his provocations and much loved locally.
Visit to Punakha fortress/monastery. Mindtrek in the forest around the Khamsung stupa.
Phobjikha Valley, where the famous black-necked cranes winter, and visit Gangtey Monastery.
We continue the journey to Trongsa where we will visit the mangrove Dzong.
In the evening we will arrive in Jakhar, Bumthang, where we will spend New Year's Eve in a comfortable lodge.
The Bumthang region, little visited by tourism but served by quality lodges, is the geographical and spiritual heart of Bhutan. Buddhism has been practiced here uninterruptedly since the eighth century, when the Indian saint Padmasambhava lived in the region performing countless miracles and hiding many treasures for future generations, treasures that are gradually still being found today by "specialist" saints, the tertön.
Circumambulate around the great monastic complex of Kurje, founded in the 8th century by Padmasambhava. Here the saint performed miracles, hid treasures, some found, and left the imprint of his body in the rock. Monastery tour. Mindtrek to Jampa monastery, also founded in the 8th century by the very powerful Tibetan king Trisong Detsen. After the visit we continue the mindtrek to Pema Sambhava monastery, half-hidden in the forest.
Visit to the sacred pond Pema tsho, where the most important Bhutanese tertön, Pema Lingpa, miraculously found some texts written in the 8th century by Padmasambhava in the language of the dakinis. Next we will do a Mindtrek to Kunzangdrak Monastery, dedicated to Pema Lingpa himself.
Drive up the remote Tang valley to the ancient monastery of Ogyen Choling.
Return by plane to Paro: 30' flight through the majestic Himalayan mountains.
Visit the must-see "Tiger Den," the Taktsang Monastery suspended in a cliff plunging over the jungle. This is an important place of pilgrimage, where Padmasambhava overcame a powerful local demon by riding his tiger-turned companion.
In the evening hot stone bath and massage.
Return flight to Delhi
Bhutan, the vajrayana kingdom.
The Land of Gross Domestic Happiness
Perched between the high Himalayan valleys and squeezed between two giants like India and China, Bhutan (a multi-party constitutional monarchy), almost the size of Switzerland, has a population of about 770,000.
Aware of the disasters caused by last century's ideas of "development," it has made social and environmental sustainability its banner, to the point that it has submitted to the United Nations its own development blueprint, based not on Gross Domestic Product but on Gross Internal Happiness
Gross. Unexpectedly, this futuristic idea has been fully endorsed by the UN and is granting this tiny country a "self-controlled openness" to the rest of the world, ensuring its citizens a significantly higher quality of life than all comparable countries in terms of GDP per capita.
Bhutan has thus managed to keep alive its traditions all centered around Vajrayana Buddhism, introduced in the eighth century and never abandoned since. At the same time, Bhutan has developed a network of Nature Parks and environmental corridors covering 60 percent of the territory and is still expanding, preserving the incredible environmental diversity, from the tropics to the glaciers. Hunting is not practiced in this Buddhist country, making it relatively easy for wild species to coexist with humans.
The climate, despite its tropical latitude, is alpine and strongly affected by the monsoons, becoming especially humid in the summer months. During the rest of the year there are more or less frequent rains especially in the evenings. In winter there is relatively little rainfall, the air is drier and skies are deep, intense blue.
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