A trip to India and Bhutan is an experience that is likely to figure in your list of unforgettable journeys. Located in South Asia these two countries have a rich cultural heritage as well as natural beauty. While India is known as the land of diversity, Bhutan is the last Shangri La - a mystical hidden kingdom.
Visiting India is like visiting a mini continent. Divided into states and union territories, Indian states are like countries with their own distinct language, culture, and cuisine. The geographical diversity of the country is also mind-boggling.
India is one of the few countries in the world with a diverse geographical landscape. The north and the north-eastern parts are covered by the Himalayan mountains. The western and southern territories are bounded by the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The north-western part of the country is covered by the vast Thar Desert and the great salt marsh known as the Rann of Kutch.
The country has a long history that dates back to 2500 BC. Home to ancient architectural wonders, scientific wisdom and spiritual philosophies, a journey to this diverse and vast country is a soul-stirring experience.
Contrary to India, Bhutan is a small landlocked country nestled under the gigantic Himalayan peaks. It has only been a couple of decades since the country opened its doors to visitors from other countries. Known as the 'Land of Thunder Dragon,' Bhutan is one of the least traveled destinations in Asia. To preserve its traditions and cultural heritage, the Bhutanese government monitors the movement of tourists. One of the few countries in the world which have preserved its ancient traditions and culture, Bhutan is like a living museum where life seems to be suspended in a forgotten time.
The landscape is dotted with traditional wooden houses with rich and intricate decorations, Buddhist monasteries, and ancient castles are known as dzongs. With more than half of its surface area covered by forests, Bhutan is the only country in the world that is carbon negative.
The best time to visit these two countries are spring, autumn, and winter. During spring and autumn, the weather remains pleasant and warm. There is hardly any precipitation which makes touring comfortable. Mid and late winter can be a bit harsh and freezing in Bhutan and the hilly parts of India.
Summer is not a good season to travel as both India and Bhutan are battered by the torrential monsoon rains. The heavy rainfall results in floods, landslides and other natural disasters which makes traveling risky. The temperatures also rise to an extreme level in the Indian plains during summer.
Spring festivals in India include Holi, Spring Festival (known as Lohri, Bihu, Uttarayan or Kite Festival, etc.), Pongal, Goa Carnival and Mahashivratri. Autumn celebrations include Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Navratri, Dussehra, Onam and Diwali. During winter you get to participate in the Hornbill Festival, Orange Festival, Wine Festival and the Kutch Festival.
Punakha Drubchhen, Punakha Tshechhu and Rhoddendron Festival are some of the popular spring festivals in Bhutan. Autumn festivals include the Thimphu Tshechhu, Wangdue Tshechhu, Gangtey Tshechhu, Jomolhari Mountain Festival, Royal Highland festival, etc. Some of the winter festivals are Black Necked Crane Festival, Jambay Lakhang Singye Cham and Druk Wangyel Tshechhu.
You can take a cultural tour and visit the ancient heritage sites. India has a rich history and there are many historical monuments all over India. The ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization in the north and north-west India, Mughal architectural masterpieces (Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Agra Fort, Humayun's Tom, Jama Masjid, etc.), Rajputana forts, ancient Hindu temples and palaces, Buddhist monasteries and colonial architecture built by the British, Portuguese, Dutch and French settlers, all showcase the rich history and culture of the Indian peninsula.
You can also enjoy a beach holiday in Goa, trekking in Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim, wildlife tours in Kaziranga park, Gir Forest and Corbett National Park, temple tours in South India and Orissa ride on a toy train to Darjeeling, motorbike tour across the length and breadth of the country, snorkeling and deep-sea diving in Lakshadweep and the Andaman Nicobar Islands. India also has several holy pilgrimage sites for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Muslims. Adventure activities like paragliding, rafting, kayaking, bungy jumping, rock climbing, skiing, etc., are offered at different tourist spots in the country.
In Bhutan, you can take a cultural tour and visit all the ancient Buddhist monasteries and palaces. The best way to experience Bhutan is by taking a ride on a mountain bike or motorbike and riding through its villages, towns and high mountain passes. Trekking across the Bhutanese mountain trails will let you enjoy the pristine nature and snow-clad Himalayan peaks. Rafting down the Himalayan rivers also makes up for an exciting adventure. Village tours and homestays will allow you to immerse yourself in Bhutanese culture.
If you are planning to visit both India and Bhutan a week or two would give you ample time to visit the major tourist highlights. India offers a variety of destinations and experiences. The duration of your holiday depends on where you want to go and the sort of activities you would like to engage in.
Browse through our itineraries for some exciting India and Bhutan multi-country holiday ideas.
I am Werner Berger and my "claim to fame" is probably best defined as being in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person in the world to have climbed the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, including Mt. Everest.
Little did I know my life was to change forever on my first trek into the Himalaya in 1992 at age 55. It was the beginning and just a matter time before I realized I could combine my leadership and climbing skills to create a program in which people could explore their own possibilities.
So, in 2010, I began leading Transformational Life Experiences, treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp and other high places.
One of the earliest keys to success is to find a company with the right mix of professionalism, support, and, of course, experience. I have used Naba Amgai and his teams on all my Nepal trekking adventures.
Naba's caring and climber support, is second to none. In my estimation, Third Rock Adventures is one of the very best in the business, in or outside of Nepal. They know the mountains. So you can relax, enjoy and transform.
- Werner Berger