India Golden Triangle and Bhutan tour perfectly knits the culture and history of these South Asian neighboring nations. The 11-day itinerary is an excellent glimpse of India’s UNESCO world heritage sites, other famous spots and Bhutan’s ancient possessions. Delve into artistic architectures and learn about India’s Indo- Islamic history. Later, gain an insight into the Bhutanese lifestyle and tradition as you explore Bhutan’s prehistoric remains. In India, it includes the famous tourist destinations in three cities; Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. The tour then involves a series of exploration of Bhutan’s Dzongs (fortresses), Buddhist temples, rural scenery and their well-preserved culture in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.
|Day 1||Arrive in Delhi, India|
|Day 2||Delhi Sightseeing|
|Day 3||Drive from Delhi to Jaipur (281 km/ 5-6 hrs) and Jaipur Sightseeing|
|Day 4||Drive from Jaipur to Agra (238 km/ 4- 5 hrs) and Agra Sightseeing|
|Day 5||Agra Sightseeing and drive to Delhi (233 Km / 4- 5 hrs)|
|Day 6||Fly from Delhi to Paro, Bhutan, sightseeing in Paro and drive to Thimphu (55km/1hr 30mins)|
|Day 7||Thimphu sightseeing|
|Day 8||Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (85km/2-3hrs), Visit Dochula Pass (3,100m/10,200ft) en route, Punakha Sightseeing|
|Day 9||Drive from Punakha to Paro (125km/3-4hrs) and Paro Sightseeing|
|Day 10||Hike to Taktsang Monastery (3180m/10433ft/5-6hrs)|
|Day 11||Final Departure from Paro|
The tour to golden triangle cities in India and Bhutan is one of the most profound holiday experiences for any history enthusiast. Whether it is the lavish palaces built by India’ Mughal Emperors, or be it the 7th century-old Bhutanese temples, these riches are sure to amaze you. Travel to classic golden triangle routes in Delhi, Jaipur and Agra and visit the famous sites there. The tour then shifts to the peaceful towns of Bhutan which makes this itinerary a perfect plan.
The journey starts from Delhi, the bustling capital of India and runs around in two more cities Jaipur and Agra. Several attractions in Delhi offer good scopes for self-exploration. Your guided tour will first take place in Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. Also, grab the photo opportunity in India Gate, then visit Akshardham Temple and have a glimpse of Parliament and President House.
Go for sightseeing in the UNESCO world heritage sites, namely Qutub Minar and Humayun’s Tomb. These creative heritages hold historical importance from the Mughal emperor era dating back to the 16th century. Your guided tour in Delhi ends with a visit to the elegant Lotus temple decorated with marble petals. Later, proceed to explore the UNESCO world heritage sites in two beautiful cities; Jaipur and Agra.
Jaipur houses some famous UNESCO world heritage sites. Also, the city was itself inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in July 2019. On the way to Jaipur from Delhi, you visit a UNESCO world heritage site, Amber Fort dating back to the 16th century. Upon reaching Jaipur, visit City Palace, very famous for its mixed architectural design from various corners of the world. City Palace generously accommodates buildings, palaces, courts, temples and many more in its territory.
The next day, head to Agra and en route, take a break at Fatehpur Sikri that offers numerous elements with Indo- Islamic architecture representations. Then visit Agra Fort that is also called walled city. Agra visit would never feel accomplished if you miss the Taj Mahal in the itinerary. Visit this lovely site and amaze yourself with its exquisiteness.
Conclude India’s classic triangle journey with a drive back to Delhi and then fly to Paro, Bhutan. In Bhutan, you will explore three major cities; Paro, Thimphu and Punakha. The charming Bhutanese Dzongs (fortresses) and historical temples with high cultural significance are a magnificent sight to behold.
Right after the arrival in Paro, have a brief outing at Airport Bird’s Eye Viewpoint and Kyichu Temple before driving to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. In Thimphu, enjoy the excursion to the National Library, Folk Heritage Museum, Traditional Handmade Paper Factory and the School of Arts and Crafts. All these sites will give you some understanding of Bhutanese history and their way of life. Your guided tour follows two other important sites; Memorial Chorten and Thimphu Dzong that has many tales to offer on Bhutan’s ancient happenings.
En route to Punakha from Thimphu, you visit Dochula pass. Dochula is a mountain pass, an excellent spot to view Bhutan’s pristine environment and mountains. In Punakha, visit a beautiful architectural piece, Punakha Dzong and be awed with its strategic location. Chimi Lakhang (Temple) is another masterpiece that has earned Bhutanese's faith for its ability to bless an infertile couple with a child.
Coming back to Paro, your guided tour again continues to sightsee at two major fortresses; Paro Dzong and Drukgyel Dzong. These Dzongs are of great cultural and archaeological value. Hike to Taktsang Monastery in Paro probably would the most exciting activity for you of all. An uphill walk of about three hours from the base to the top of the cliff, then there you are to enjoy the Paro valley view from Tiger's Nest.
After the hike, you may walk around the Paro market and find if you would like something to take with you to your home. A traditional hot stone bath would feel great to wipe away all your tiredness accumulated from the past ten days. Your tour then ends as you depart back to your destination from Paro Airport on the 11th day.
A representative from Third Rock Adventures will welcome your arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport. Then, you will be driven to the hotel. Today is a free day for self-exploration. As per the time availability as per your arrival schedule, you can stroll around the hotel street or visit some nearby places from the hotel.
Delhi has an abundance of history, culture, street commerce and cuisine, with many places to visit and activities to do. Probably you may take a rickshaw ride around the streets of Delhi. Overnight in Delhi.
Firstly, you visit the largest Islamic mosque, Jama Masjid that was built in the 17th century that has two towering minarets and some small domes. The upper floor is such large that it can adjust 25,000 people. Visit 42 m tall India Gate that is a memorial monument of soldiers who demised in the First World War. Then drive through Parliament and President House to visit Akshardham Temple that has a mind-blowing interior.
Again, you head to other historical sites like Qutub Minar, looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and a red sandstone Mughal fortress Red Fort (Lal Qila) built-in the 16th century. Also, go to Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi and located in his cremation area.
Go for sightseeing to a UNESCO world heritage site, Humayun’s Tomb, a Persian design monument where the Mughal emperor stayed. Then, observe a Bahai faith monument, Lotus Temple whose design looks like a lotus flower. The temple structure has 27 flower petals made of marble. Overnight in Delhi.
Today you drive from Delhi to Jaipur, a graceful city connected with culture and courage. Jaipur’s warmth lures many domestic and foreign tourists from all over. En route, visit a UNESCO world heritage site, Amber Fort.
The lavish 16th-century Rajput’s palace is an exceptional example of Mughal style architecture. You can also enjoy an elephant ride in the fort. Once you reach Jaipur, you get to visit the City Palace designed with a unique combination of Rajput, Mughal and European architectures. King Sawai Jai Singh II moved his court to Jaipur from Amber and then built the City Palace.
The City Palace houses various buildings, courtyards, pavilions, gardens, galleries, temples, restaurants and Museum Trust. The former Rajput rulers still live in the residential buildings inside the palace. Also, take a look at Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar that stand beside the palace walls and signify the rich culture and heritage of Jaipur. Overnight in Jaipur.
On the way to Agra, take a stroll at the 16th-century Fatehpur Sikri, a UNESCO world heritage site. The royal fortress built by the Mughal Empire represents Indo-Islamic architecture. Fatehpur Sikri has several attractions to offer inside its territory. To name a few are Buland Darwaza (The Gate of Victory), Panch Mahal- a five-story palace, Elephant Tower and Birbal’s House, the residence of King Akbar’s favorite minister.
Then, you visit Agra Fort- a UNESCO world heritage site, popularly known as a walled city. The fort served as the residence of the Mughal Dynasty emperors until 1638. It replicates Islamic architectural design, but King Akbar allotted a separate space for Hindu temples as well. As Akbar's wife, Jodha Bai was a Hindu, he made the fort accessible to Hindus with due respect. You can also get a glimpse of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort. Overnight in Agra.
Start your Agra sightseeing with a visit to the Taj Mahal- the epitome of love. Taj Mahal falling under one of the Seven Wonders of the World also is enlisted in UNESCO world heritage sites. Many domestic and foreign tourists travel to Agra just for one glance at the Taj Mahal. The sunrise and sunset from the Mahal appear stunning while it brightens up the sky.
In 1630, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan ordered its construction in remembrance of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The impressive carvings decorate the white marble mausoleum. The architecture of this heritage combines designs from various countries; India, Persia, Otto and Turkey.
Enjoy a smooth road ride back to Delhi again in the afternoon. You may spend your evening thereby tasting some Delhi delicacies or doing some exciting street shopping.
Overnight in Delhi.
Today is your departure from Delhi to Paro, Bhutan. You will be dropped at Indira Gandhi International Airport by our Delhi representative. Soak in the stunning sight as you land at tiny Paro airport. Our Bhutanese guide will receive you there and take you to Thimphu.
Upon exiting the Paro airport, visit Airport Bird’s Eye Viewpoint, one of the famous locations for Paro sightseeing. The viewpoint offers a lovely view of the vistas making you excited for your Bhutan tour.
Then drive ahead for about 20 minutes to reach Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the most pleasant spots of Paro. Kyichu dating back to the 7th century is a beautiful temple carrying rich history and elaborate wall paintings of former Kings. There is a belief that there was a giant female monster that prevented the spread of Buddhism across Tibet. Therefore, to stop the monster from doing so, the Bhutanese made Kyichu temple.
Then drive to Thimphu, where you may probably spend the evening wandering around the Thimphu markets and also tasting the Bhutanese cuisines. Overnight in Thimphu.
Thimphu is Bhutan's capital town, so it is busier than Paro. Firstly you visit the National Library that displays a significant set of Buddhist manuscripts. Also, observe Folk Heritage Museum with a showcase of day-to-day typical Bhutanese farmers' lifestyle and their ornaments during the medieval period.
Memorial Chorten is another site to visit in Thimphu this day. The temple is a memorial monument built in 1974 in the remembrance of the late King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. What makes this stupa a unique one from others is because it is not dome-shaped like stupas generally are. The round outer part is in a pyramid shape.
Traditional Handmade Paper Factory and the School of Arts and Crafts are other places where you gain some knowledge about Bhutanese history and the traditional handicraft production methods. Lastly, visit the majestic Tashichho Dzong (Thimphu Dzong), a fortress that houses the Bhutan government offices and National Handicraft Emporium at present. Overnight in Thimphu.
Your guided tour today will take place in Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. En route, stop at a mountain pass, Dochula. It was built in 2005 under the command of Bhutan’s Queen Mother to pay honor to the soldiers who lost their life in 2003. The pass offers a spectacular view of the Himalayas, including Gangkhar Puensum, the highest peak of Bhutan.
Have a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of divine madman also called the fertility temple. It is fascinating to walk through villages and the local rice fields. Bhutanese believed that couples having child bearing issues are blessed with fertility if they visit this sacred site.
Visit Bhutan’s second oldest and the second largest fortress, Punakha Dzong, placed at the junction of two rivers; Pho Chu and Mo Chu. The fortress is also called Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong, which means ‘the palace of great happiness or bliss.’ It looks artistic with conquered walls, timber wood windows and a six-story central tower. A tall gold Buddha statue, Sakyamuni statue and one thousand Buddha paintings decorate the fortress. Overnight in Punakha.
As soon as you arrive at Paro today, you visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Fortress), also renowned as Fortress of the Heap of Jewels. The 17th-century fortress situated at the elevation of 2200 m (7218 ft) was constructed to protect Bhutan from foreign invasions. It offers you a beautiful panoramic view of the Paro valley. The fortress that serves as the monastic body and the Bhutan government offices is a perfect example of Bhutanese architecture and craftsmanship.
Also, visit another fortress, Drukgyel Dzong that translates to 'Fortress of Victory' in English. The fort with immense historical and archaeological importance is on a tentative list for enlisting as a UNESCO world heritage site. The beautiful fort has served as a defense place many times in history. Bhutanese soldiers used the secret tunnels under the hill as a way to fetch river water during wars.
Walk around the Paro Town filled with unique Bhutanese houses, antique handicraft shops and cafes. Watch the display of several collections and buy some souvenirs for yourself or loved ones. Some famous handicrafts found in the Craft market are lanterns, handbags, traditional Bhutanese clothes and wall decorations. You can have a taste of herbal teas and pastries in the small cafes there. Overnight in Paro.
Your hike to the Taktsang Monastery starts in the morning. The 7th-century monastery is also known as Paro Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest. Being one of the sacred sites of Bhutan, Taktsang monastery falls under the top 20 places to visit in the world.
Taktsang stands on a granite cliff at an altitude of about 900 meters (2953 ft) above the Paro valley. From the beginning point, the monastery is about 6 km uphill. Taktsang, the most iconic heritage of Bhutan, offers stunning views of the nearby mountains and Paro valley from the peak point. The monastery has intricate architecture and paintings. According to the history records, Buddhist Guru Rinpoche had flown to Paro on a tigress’s back to mediate there.
After you get back from the hike, you can get rid of the tiredness with a therapeutic hot stone bath. The bath is a combination of water heated with hot stones, stone minerals and medicinal herbs. Bhutanese consider this traditional hot stone bath to promote overall well being. Overnight in Paro.
Today is your departure day. Our guide will drop you at the Paro Airport as per your return flight schedule. If you want to extend your tour, please do not hesitate to request us for it. We carry out multi-country trips in four countries; Nepal, Bhutan, India and Tibet.
If you are interested, it is also possible to follow this itinerary in reverse, starting the tour from Bhutan and ending in India. Also, we have other itineraries combining Bhutan and India’s other places that might suit your need.