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In our modern travel era, no location is unreachable and the most inhospitable and remote places have become commonplace.
‘Impossible’ is a word that is now rarely used in the travel world.
Unless you are on the looking to find a truly unique experience.
Of course, at Rothschild Safaris we often confuse ‘impossible’ with ‘fun challenge’ and we need you to know that there will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to take the trip that none of your friends have even heard of… much less experienced.
In 2020 you can combine West Bengal and Bhutan by attending one of the most enjoyable festivals in Bhutan with an incredibly interesting journey-less-traveled through India.
This is the trip for curious minds and souls that love a little spoiling.
Let’s begin as we travel to West Bengal and spend three nights in Kolkata
The Capital of West Bengal is located on the east bank of the River Hoogly (traditionally known as the Ganga)in Eastern India. The region has been inhabited for over two millennia and Kolkata is a vibrant city filled with breathtaking, historical architecture, traditional markets, and the legendary Bengali hospitality.
The nucleus of the Bengal Renaissance is a hotbed of drama, art, film, theatre, and literature. Your time in Kolkata will be closely tailored to your interests and the places to visit in West Bengal will from culture through science and sports.
There are nine direct flights between Kolkata and Paro every week! Within a couple of hours, you can unpack your bags to spend the next week on holiday in Bhutan.
The Best Places to visit during a Week in Bhutan
Prepare to have your thoroughly well-traveled mind comprehensively blown.
Bhutan is like nothing else on earth – from the people walking around with orange teeth to the highest unclimbed mountains in the world, the images of male genitalia prominently displayed on every surface and a very real commitment to conservation and remarkably feminist culture… you may never feel quite so much a true traveler again.
Read more about Bhutan in our Travel Guide.
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Spend three days in Paro before you discover other places to visit in Bhutan
Paro Tschechu Festival
Paro Tschechu has been celebrated in Bhutan since 1644 when the country’s founder Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyei consecrated the Paro Dzong fortress.
This most divine and deeply symbolic festival begins on the 10th day (Tschechu meaning Tsche- Day and Chu – ten) of the 2nd Bhutanese lunar month. In 2020 it will run between April 4 and 8.
It is an excellent opportunity to witness one of the earth’s richest cultures… and the Tshechu festival comes with the excellent promise of every attendee gaining spiritual merit. In fact, Buddhist Throngdrol art is considered so sacred that merely seeing one of these embroidered paintings will cleanse you of all sin.
Even the sinless will surely not want to miss an opportunity to witness the dance of Heroes, Ging and Tsholing, the Eight Manifestations and the Sixteen Fairies?
During the Paro festival, monks and laypeople dress in elaborate silk brocade costumes and perform festive dances. The narrative is all about good triumphing over evil to the sounds of trumpets, cymbals, and flutes. The festivities have remained entirely unchanged as they are said to have originated from the vision of Bhutan’s greatest Buddhist saints and any alteration would be sacrosanct.
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Hiking to the Tiger’s Nest
The Taktsang Monastery
It takes around 1.5 hours to climb to the viewpoint to spy the famous monastery known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ hanging from the side of a cliff. Another hour’s climbing will take you to the monastery that was built in the spot where Guru Rinpoche was said to have landed after flying on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan and proceeded to meditate in a cave for 3 months during the 8th century.
In its present incarnation, the principal Lhakhang monastery dates back to 1692.
Complete your visit to the city of Paro with a day of immersion in all the wonders of the city and viewing the atmospheric monasteries at night.
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When your visit to Bhutan is complete you can hope on a quick flight to combine your trip with a journey through Nepal OR… and this is what we would like to suggest: you can return to India.
India in the hot season? We hear you gasp!
Yes, we know it is unheard of BUT there is a very sweet secret that few people outside India know about. Because, as the country heats up there is a tradition of escaping to the India Hill stations where the cool mountain air awaits. Where you can immerse yourself in Indian culture in comfort and luxury.
And just before you head for the hills you might want to indulge in the wonders of India’s golden triangle.
Visit Delhi before you go to see the Taj Mahal at Agra and complete the triangle in the desert landscapes of Rajasthan.
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Heading for the Hill Stations
For all their success at colonization, the British were a curiously insipid group of explorers. They suffered in the heat, they worried about cultural degeneration, they succumbed to diseases, everywhere they went they worked harder at nothing than turning other places into England.
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As Lord Lytton stated about Ootacamund ‘such beautiful English rain, such delicious English mud’… and it was to these hill stations that the English colonialists would flock in the 19th century. Here the British Raj could rest and recuperate from what they considered the arduous life in the blistering summer heat and dust on the plains.
There are seven large mountain ranges on the Indian subcontinent with the Himalayas as the most prominent in the north of India. Here, the British developed the hill stations around a central mall and often with a picturesque lake as a focal point for boating activities.
Long after the departure of the Crown, the hill stations remain popular and are very well connected by transportation services. Many are reached via toy train.
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The capital of Sikkim is located along a misty mountain ridge. It was a small independent Buddhist kingdom with its own monarchy until 1975. Today this town has monasteries, a cable car, and a center housing rare animals rescued from traders and poachers.
Welcome to the land of Lakes and Gardens. Here you can stay in a fabulous houseboat and wander through gardens cultivated by the Mughal emperors. A tulip festival is held here every April and golf courses abound.
Framed by views of the Himalayas Manali is bordered by cool pine forests and the effervescent energy of the raging Beas River. This is the perfect pick for guests who love to trek.
The summer capital of the British Raj is the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. Reached by toy train and peppered with splendid landmarks Shimla also has a variety of adventure sports.
Explore one of the British Raj’s favorite hill stations. Take a boat ride on the emerald waters of Naini Lake, explore the area on horseback or enjoy restaurants, shops, and markets of The Mall.
Take a cable car to Gun Hill, stroll along Camel’s Back Road, take a picnic to Kempty Falls or summit the highest peak in Mussoorie by horseback.
Image © Paul Hamilton— flickr creative commons
A beautiful area that is known for extensive tea plantations here you can see how the tea is picked and processed. It is stunningly beautiful from misty hills to exotic forests. Spot unusual plants and wildlife, trek to the highest peak in south India, explore Eravikulam National Park or try your hand at rock climbing.
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The location that excited Lord Lytton is also reached by toy train and features a large Botanical Garden, boating on Ooty Lake and incredible views of the Nilgiri hills from Dodabetta Peak.
The ‘Gift of the Forest’ is filled with pear tree orchards and waterfalls. Take a boat on the lake or purchase some of the herbs and aromatherapy oils from the region.
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Lush tea gardens and the world’s third-highest mountain, Darjeeling also features monasteries, botanical gardens and the longest aerial tramway in Asia. Another station that is reached by a historical toy train!