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Arrive at Kolkata airport, pickup and transfer to hotel.
It is nestle into colonial splendour in the heart of the former capital of British India, ready for a day of exploration tomorrow.
After an enjoyable breakfast, we gear up for another expose of West Bengal’s heady capital. The iconic Howrah Bridge, considered by many as the world’s busiest bridge is similar in size to Sydney Harbour Bridge but with – can you believe it – even more traffic! Braving the Fish Market before lunch, the afternoon takes us to the Indian Museum, a proud bastion of Kolkata’s rich and varied heritage and then braces ourselves for bartering and bedlam at the Hogg Market.
Guwahati- Board M.V. Mahabaahu- Sail Toward Silghat By: Boat Cruise
A morning flight take to Guwahati.
On arrival at the ‘Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi airport’, Guwahati, met at the receiving area by our destination manager. Then board our vehicles with packed lunch and drive through the busy streets to ‘Kamakhya Temple’.
This Temple is devoted to the eternal feminine, the goddess of desire whose name is Kama Khya, granter of desires. The Kamakhya Temple in Assam symbolizes the “fusion of faiths and practices” of Aryan and non-Aryan elements in Assam. Animal sacrifices take place here almost every day.
Walking up to the temple complex, we will see many colourful idols of gods and goddesses in the local market shops.
From here drive to ‘Pandu Port’ where we will be welcomed on board M.V. Mahabaahu in the Assamese tradition.
We check into our cabins and immediately gather in the restaurant for the essential safety briefing and drill followed by a tour of M.V. Mahabaahu.
The tour take to the Donyi Polo Deck to experience the first sail where raise a traditional toast to Goddess Kamakhya to give us a safe passage on the River Brahmaputra that carves the valley of Assam. Relax here sipping Assam tea/coffee or Indian ‘masala chai’, whatever the taste buds crave for and enjoy the snacks. We pass by the smallest river island called the Peacock Island where the Umananda temple is located. Peacock Island is famous for the highly endangered Golden Langur. It would be a good idea to have one’s binoculars and cameras at hand.
Proceed into the evening with a talk on ‘Kamakhya and the occult in Assam’. Soon MV Mahabaahu drops anchor and the evening follows into a ‘Kamrup Swaagat Bhoj’ or welcome dinner in the Mungri Mungram Restaurant with the Chef’s lavish spread of Asian, continental and oriental cuisine that demands a buffet display.
Overnight on board M.V. Mahabaahu.
Morning with Yoga for those who love to pay homage to the forces of nature, the ultimate ‘Sun God’ perhaps on an island or on the deck for an hour. Others scan the river for a fleeting sight of the Gangetic Dolphins and the birders inspect the skies for the winged species.
Move on to breakfast while M.V. Mahabaahu heads on for a full day sail passing by inhabited and deserted islands that may or may not survive the flood season. It is the non-permanency of these islands and the strength of the people to re-establish themselves is what catches ones attention.
This is a day for sunbathing on the Donyi Polo Deck or a dip in the pool or indulging in massages or sitting in the warm waters of the Jacuzzi or enjoying a steam/sauna and getting rid of one’s tiredness from the journey. We indulge in a relaxed lunch and then after tea proceed for a talk on ‘The River Brahmaputra and the tribal life that exists alongside
Dinner and interactions with all on board is a happy come together and take this opportunity to know the crew this evening.
Overnight on board M.V. Mahabaahu.
As indulge in some Yoga, M.V. Mahabaahu sails towards Silghat. We pass by the famous town of Tezpur and under a famous 3 Km 15 m long arched bridge called Kolia Bhomora Setu.
After breakfast indulge in a talk on ‘Kaziranga and wild life in India’ We sail on for the next couple of hours and enjoy a relaxed lunch. We reach Silghat and M.V. Mahabaahu drops anchor.
We return to M.V. Mahabaahu and sail on for the next couple of hours and enjoy a relaxed lunch. We reach Silghat and M.V. Mahabaahu drops anchor.
We check out and take a short drive to a tea estate where we can stretch our legs and enjoy a leisurely walk through the tea estate watching the tribal women picking tea leaves. Here we stop for a talk with the Manager of the tea estate who familiarises us with the essentials of running a tea-estate, the lay of the land and the climate. We proceed to the tea factory to see the process of finally producing Assam Tea and coming to terms with ‘all that goes into preparing a cup-of-tea.
From here drive to Kaziranga and on arrival, check into the Hotel.
Overnight at the Hotel.
Rise really early and set off for the Kaziranga National Park’s Kohora Gate and a once-in-a-lifetime elephant-backed safari where search for the elusive rhinoceros. Designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Kaziranga National Park is located in the flood plains on both sides of the Brahmaputra. The most prized inhabitant of Kaziranga is the Greater One-Horned Indian Rhinoceros, but the Park is home to as many as 180 different mammals including wild elephants, tiger, deer, bison, and a rich variety of birds. Kaziranga means the “Land of red goats (Deer)”, as the word Kazi in the Karbi language means “goat”, and Rangai means “red”.
After breakfast at the resort in Kaziranga, drive on to Bagori, the Western Range of Kaziranga and get into the open jeeps that are lined up to take us for some more wild life adventure and an extensive coverage of this magnificent park dotted with large water bodies called ‘beels’ in the local language.
We then return to the resort and after a quick lunch, check out and drive to Guwahati. Visit tea plantation at Guwahati.
Overnight stay at hotel.
After breakfast in time you will be transferred to Guwahati airport to take flight to Paro.
On arrival drive to Thimphu past the cross-legged icons of Buddha Point on way to regal splendour at the Taj Tashi hotel, our opulent home for the next three nights. Exhale and relax – this is Bhutan.
On a clear day the panoramic views of the Himalaya are sensational, including Everest, but particularly exciting is the approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro. In Paro you will be received by your Bhutanese guide just outside Paro International Airport and transferred to Thimphu that takes an hour.
There are a good many things to see in the capital which has a very relaxed, laid-back feel about it. Thimphu is relatively small having a population of approximately 90,000 people and the streets are wide and tree lined.
Thimphu, (at 2300m) is Bhutan’s capital city and center of government, religion and commerce. About two hours’ drive east from Paro is this a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style. It was a wooded farming valley until 1961, when it became Bhutan’s official national capital. The massive Tashicho Dzong, about 700 years old, was carefully revamped in the 1960s by the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk to house the royal and main government offices. Even today, it still only has a few streets and no traffic lights with estimated population of 70,000 people. Thimphu has many places and sights to visit, in addition to several day excursion possibilities. It has relatively more choice in terms of the accommodations.
Tashichho Dzong, This fortress serves as the office of the King, ministers and various government organizations. It also is the headquarters for central monastic body of Bhutan. Bhutan’s spiritual leader Je-Khenpo and the monks of both Thimphu and Punakha reside here during summer. It is also the venue for Thimphu Festival in the fall season.
Memorial Chorten, This white and tall landmark of Thimphu was built in 1974 in the memory of third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of Modern Bhutan. It is a four-storey tall white building, containing statues and iconography of deities from complex tantric teachings and serves as an important place of worship for Thimphu residents, as well as from other parts of the country.
Zilukha Nunnery is housed in Drubthob Goemba (monastery). There are about 70 nuns who live and pray every day in the monastery. There are good views of Tashicho Dzong, Golf course and upper Thimphu.
Sangaygang View Point (Telecom Tower), there’s a wonderful view of Thimphu valley from the hillside below the telecommunications tower (elevation 2685m), high above the town at the end of a road that branches off from the approach to the youth center. The complex also houses the broadcasting studios of Bhutan television. Don’t photograph the telecommunications installation, but the valley is worth a few snaps. The area is known as Sangaygang and it becomes a lover’s lane late at night.
Overnight at Hotel, Thimphu.
In the morning drive to Punakha, an old winter capital of Bhutan. En-route stop at Dochu La Pass 10,000ft/3,048m to view the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan’s highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770ft/7,550m. The road then drops down through varied –ever changing forest, finally emerging into the highly cultivated Punakha valley.
Afternoon visit one of the most impressive Punakha Dzong and later hike to the Chimi Lhakhang – the fertility temple.
Punakha: (sometimes Wangdue) are two separate districts, but they are located in one valley (20km – 1½ hr drive apart). The accommodations may be in either one of these two towns but sightseeing generally include visit to both places. Punakha and Wangdue are located at a lower elevation (approx. 1,250m above sea level) and they have pleasant winters. Cactuses, Oranges, bananas and sub-tropical plants are found here. Farmers are able to grow more than one crop in a year. Punakha was once the winter capital of Bhutan, the tradition that is still held by the Central Monks and Jekhenpo, who reside here in Punakha Dzong during the winters and return to Thimphu, which is their summer capital. In Wangdue, there is a small town on the ridge and large Wangdue Phodrang Dzong.
Punakha Dzong: or Pungthang Dechen Phodrang “Palace of Great Happiness” is located on the confluence of two rivers (Phochu and Mochu). It was built in 1637 by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal and following the ancient traditions, it serves as winter residence for chief abbot (Je-khenpo) and the monks of Central Monastic Body, who returns to Thimphu in the summer. The building was damaged and rebuilt several times, due to flooding, fire and earth quake. It is one exemplary masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture.
Chimi Lhakhang: was built by Lama Drukpa Kunley in 1499. He subdued the demoness of the Dochu la with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom.’ A wooden effigy of the Lama’s thunderbolt is preserved in the Lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a wang (blessing) from the saint.
It’s a 20-minute walk across the rice fields from the road at Sopsokha to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana. There are very few monks at the temple, which is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and some very beautiful slate carvings. Overnight at hotel, Punakha.
After breakfast drive west via Dochula pass 3080 m, weather permitting enjoy the Bhutan Himalaya peaks above 7000 mt. Enroute visit:Institute of Traditional Medicine: The Institute of Traditional Medicine Services is situated in Thimphu, located on a hilltop above the Traditional Arts Center and the National Library. The Institute supplies traditional medicines and medical services, trains doctors, and conducts research on traditional medicinal plants to identify the ingredients and develop new products. The Institute has a library dating back to around 1616, when Tibetan Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan. The books and recipes were collected from monasteries where scholars had preserved the medical lore.
After lunch in Thimphu, we continue driving to Paro for another 1hrs and visit below monuments / monasteries:
Ta Dzong: Originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. This museum was destroyed in 2011 earthquake and is now operational with only 02 rooms with limited collection.
Drukgyel Dzong: Drukgyal Dzong ruin is located 14kms north of Paro town, near the end of the paved road. Drukgyal Dzong (victories fortress) was built around 1644-49 to commemorate the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetan-Mongol forces. It was later burnt in fire accident in 1951. On a clear day, Mt. Jumolhari, Bhutan’s holy peak is seen against its backdrop.
Paro Rinpung Dzong: Rinphung Dzong was consecrated in 1645 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal on the site of smaller fort. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries it served as a bastion against invasion from the north. It is regarded as one of the finest Bhutanese architecture – with intricate wood work, large beams slotted into each other and held together without nails. In it houses the giant 30m X 45m Thangka (Thongdrol), commissioned in mid-18th century, displayed on the last day of Paro.
Tsechu festival. Rinphung Dzong is the district headquarters of Paro and residence of state monks under Paro rabdey.Overnight is at hotel, Paro.
After early breakfast at the hotel drive to Paro airport for your sensational take-off and scenic Himalayan flight past Chomolhari, Bhutan’s second highest peak for onwards journey.
Our trip to South India was fabulous. The beautiful temples and serene beaches were enchanting. We will never be able to forget such a warm welcome from your company. You took care of our every requirement. The hotels were perfect, staff was friendly, guide, vehicles were the best. You did a wonderful job for us.
Thank you and for assistance of all your representatives, it was a great tour. Special thanks for our driver, he was excellent. Surly I will recommend your services to others when they interested to make tour in India, and I am quite sure that it was not our last visit in your country.
I want to thank the company "Minar travel" for the great organized tour of the Golden Triangle! All hotels on the tour were great, transportation is very convenient and comfortable! The organization of the tour was at the highest level, starting with a meeting at the airport and checking into the hotel and ending with the landing on the flight to Goa at the end of the tour. All tours were very informative and interesting. We do not have to be bored and time flew by! India remained in the memories of a bright and wonderful country! Many thanks for the great time! I look forward to continued cooperation in the future.
We had a very nice trip and we enjoyed of what the company arranged for us. The sightseeining of city and shopping all Minar guiders were kind and warm & sympathies like most Indian people that are met during last week. The driver that took us to Agra and Delhi also had Very patience. We are thankful of every thing. We were going to miss India and hope to come back again. We also invite you to come to Iran and we do also our best for enjoyment.
We had a wonderful time here in India, with your perfect coordination, choice of hotels, meals at restaurants and transport. The guides were knowledgeable. Everything was just perfect!
We are grateful for this wonderful trip! Though I travelled a lot, it's my first trip to India, and we enjoyed it very much :) Exceed expectations!Your country is very special, and most of all we appreciated your ancient culture and were deeply touched by kindness and hospitality of Indian people. Special thanks to your representative Mr. Jagdeep Singh, who helped us so much and took special care of my mother ... We were really lucky to be accompained by excellent driver and guide - Mr Soni Ajay. He made our trip unforgettable. Also many many thanks to our guide. He is very professional and knows a lot! His language is very good and considers his job very seriously :). Thank you very much ! We will recommend your esteemed company to our friends and hope to come again...
Dear Colleagues,On behalf of a group of 14 pax we express you gratitude for perfectly organizing trip from 13/02 to 27/02 to Golden Triangle + Nanu Beach Resort, Goa, for your personalized attention and excellent professionalism of all employees of Minar Travels. The tourists express special gratitude to the accompanying guide. The tour leader have expressed desire to arrive next year with the group once again through Minar. Thank you.
Minar is the best! We travelled from Moscow to Delhi in a group of five and travelled to Delhi, Agra & Jaipur from 06.03.2011 on 10.03.2011. We are Very grateful for these excursions to Agra and Jaipur with guide Deepak Sharma. We are thankful to him for a good and friendly attitude towards tourists. Minar is a truly professional organization. We are happy to travel with your firm. With gratitude, Tutachkova L, Rakhmatullina R, Hasyanova R, Lee, T
Dear Minar People,
I Wanted To Let You Know How Much Fun My Family And I Had At Your Country,You Were A Fabulous Hostess.Your Welcoming For Us In Both Your Beautiful Place Of Mumbai & Goa Were Awesome Also You Made Us Feel So Welcome.It Was Worthy For Us That You Answer All Of My Question Honestly And Made Us Comfortable
Hi, Just a quick note to share our appreciation for the outstanding support, that we receive from all MINAR staff, during our stay in India.From the arrival till departure hour, we were fully supported and attended, with a great level of service.Keep on the good work and have a great 2012.
I extend to you our most profound appreciation for making our trip to India a remembrance one, we wish particularly to thank team of Delhi office for the accommodation, and our wishes also and appreciation to your representatives in New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra for receiving us graciously and making our stay enjoying.
Last but not least, I wish to express heart-full thanks to the driver you organized for us; Who has been accompanying us throughout the trip; his profession and great humour made a lasting impressing on my wife and myself.
Thank you for organizing our tour to India. My husband liked it very much and we thank you for such an interesting program. At all cities we got the best Russian-speaking guides. On this tour, starting from: New Delhi, Jaipur, Fatehpur, Khajuraho and Varanasi , everything was included. With the Indian company Minar, you can send people who absolutely do not speak English, meeting and subsequent transfer of us walked out of "hands", the tour was organized in excellent way. All the meetings, wires, landing on the train and tour all went right on schedule. Everything was clear and understandable to us. Thanks for a good trip, look forward to working with you.
I want to thank you for arranging our norooz tour on the behalf of all group. We had a very good start at the airport, our hotel on Cochin was very good and had beautiful garden & nice pool. We enjoyed the city tour & water fall and loved folk dance. Our driver and his aid & our tour leader were very helpful & nice people. I believe Zuri hotel is the best hotel that we visited in this trip and also house boat tour was really good. Leela hotel was realy the high end hotel in kerala with nice view and pool and the room also was excellent with arabian see view . We all realy enjoy our visit elephant camp& jungle. Again we end our trip to india with great memories!
All at Minar Travels India,
I was booked on a travel itinerary from Delhi-Kullu-Manali-Shimla-
My family and myself enjoyed the exceptional service provided by the Minar Travels team on each and every stop along the way. I now do understand why Minar Travels is considered to be the best in it's class.
Special thanks to Sunder (Delhi), Satish (Goa), Ali (Goa) and Aquef (Goa) for rendering assistance when required.
Once again, thanks for making our holiday a pleasant one.