Bhutan with Brahmaputra River Cruise

Introduction

Far Horizon takes you on a unique journey through the beautiful and picturesque kingdom of Bhutan - one of the last Shangri-las of the world. This Himalayan kingdom is a preserve of the living history of the Lamaistic Buddhist culture. Immerse yourself in the unique culture of Bhutan – visit Thimphu, Punakha and Paro. See beautiful crafts at the School of Arts and Crafts and the Institute for Zorig Chusum (school of arts and crafts). Temples and monasteries abound in this beautiful land. From Bhutan we go to the glorious state of Assam - Far Horizon gives you the unique experience of exploring Assam as you cruise along the Brahmaputra River, with visits to tea plantations, Kaziranga wild life sanctuary, temples and monasteries. Experience the rich diversity of Assam as you sail down the river on the M.V Mahabaahu and meet the simple folk who inhabit this land.

Tour Highlights

  • Visit the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan
  • Hike to Tiger Nest Monastery in Paro
  • Visit the Buddhist Monasteries
  • Cruising on the Mighty Brahmaputra River in Assam
  • Visit the tribal villages and tea gardens of Assam
  • Amazing Birdlife
  • Jeep safari, Boat Safari and Elephant Safari in the Kaziranga National Park
  • Visit to Majuli island – the Largest River island in the World

Destinations Covered

Detailed Itinerary

  1. Day 1 Arrive Kolkata

    Kolkata

    After clearing immigration and customs, step into the receiving area where our representative will meet you and escort you to your hotel.

    Arrive at your hotel and check-in. Rest of the day is at leisure on own.

    Overnight at the Hotel (No meals)

  2. Day 2 Kolkata

    Kolkata

    After breakfast, proceed to explore the city and visit the Howrah Bridge, this amazing feat of engineering is similar in size to Australia’s Sydney Harbour bridge. It is considered the busiest bridge in the world and everything from pedestrians to bullock carts to push carts to automobiles to bicycles cross every day and the eastern India’s largest flower market with hundreds of stalls and vendors sitting on the ground. Approximately 2000 flower growers from the surrounding areas come daily to sell their flowers and during the wedding season and festivals, that number probably doubles.

    Thereafter visit the Victoria Memorial (Closed on Monday); one of the renowned monuments in Kolkata, Victoria Memorial was built in the loving memory of Queen Victoria in 1921. It is an impressive edifice, which is made in white marble and is a perfect blend of Mughal and European architectural styles. It is also a museum that houses some rare pictures of men and women who played a prominent part in the history of India, queen’s dress, along with several artillery weapons from the Battle of Plassey, the Whispering Gallery in the dome and the famed Rosewood piano. From there we go to visit the St. Paul’s Cathedral, built in the Indo-Gothic style of architecture in the year 1847 by Major W.N. Forbes of the East India Company. The height of the Cathedral is 201 ft. This Cathedral has the rare distinction of being the first Episcopal Church built in this part of the world. The peak of St. Paul's Cathedral has been designed as a replica of the famous Canterbury Cathedral's Henry Tower.

    Visit Indian Museum (Closed on Monday), with the foundation of Indian Museum in 1814, the museum movement started rolling in India and through the years from then, got a new fillip and great momentum. The history of the origin and the growth of the Indian Museum is one of the remarkable events towards the development of heritage and culture of India.

    Thereafter, visit Mother Teresa’s House. Mother Teresa’s great humanitarian work is carried out at this centre.

    Return to the hotel and indulge in Welcome Dinner at the hotel

    Overnight at the Hotel (B, Welcome D)

  3. Day 3 Kolkata - Neamati Ghat / Board MV Mahabaahu

    Jorhat

    Kolkata - Jorhat by flight & transfer to Neamati Ghat / Board MV Mahabaahu

    In time check-out from your hotel and transfer to the airport to board your flight to Jorhat.

    Arrive at Jorhat and transfer to Neamati Ghat where an Assamese welcome aboard the MV Mahabaahu awaits you. After the essential safety briefing you check-in to your cabins.

    On the Donyi Polo Deck, we raise a traditional toast to the mighty Brahmaputra River that carves the valley of Assam. If lucky, you will catch a fleeting glimpse of the Gangetic dolphins and notice the sky flocked with bar headed geese, egrets and cormorants returning to their abodes on deserted islands as the sun lowers itself in the western horizon.

    Enjoy a talk on 'Sibsagar, the seat of Ahom Civilisation' that ruled the north eastern region of India for six centuries. A short talk on 'Tea in Assam' continues over High Tea.

    A relaxed evening in the Soma Lounge followed by a sit down Welcome Dinner completes the day.

    Overnight on-board MV Mahabaahu (B, L, D)

  4. Day 4 Sibsagar/ Home hosted lunch

    Sivasagar

    After an early breakfast, we start our day-excursion to Sibsagar, the ancient city and capital of the Tai-speaking Ahoms who came in the 13th Century AD to the area from the north-east and were essentially of Tibeto-Burman origin.

    Sibsagar town literally means 'the ocean of Lord Shiva’ as it is built around a huge man made water tank ordered by the Ahom Queen. The Shiva Dol, constructed in the year 1734 is believed to be the highest Shiva temple in India.

    Visit the Talatal or Kareng Ghar, the palace of the Ahom Kings and the Rang Ghar, an amphitheatre, a place of entertainment or important meetings for the Royals and their guests.

    Thereafter, take a drive to a Tea Estate for a relaxed afternoon and a traditional Assamese lunch with the Tea-estate family who have been involved in the tea business for over a century.

    We return to MV Mahabaahu by sunset and enjoy a relaxed evening before proceeding for dinner.

    Overnight on-board MV Mahabaahu (B, L, D)

  5. Day 5 Majuli island visit/ Mishing village visit

    Majuli

    We start the day with Yoga or go for a walk along the swamps to catch a sight of owls, orioles, changeable eagles, adjutant storks, sea gulls, kingfishers, swallows and many more.

    As we have our breakfast, we sail towards Majuli, a cosmos of Assamese culture where various philosophies co-exist and thrive.

    After breakfast, enjoy a talk on 'Majuli, the seat of Vaishnav culture’ and proceed in the excursion boats to the mainland where a drive takes us to a scenic corner of a ‘Satra’ (monastery) for an interesting cultural performance by Satriya singers and dancers.

    Next, we proceed to Kamlabari Satra to witness the Vaishnavite priests dancing to the rhythm of cymbals, drums and chanting in the temple premise.

    We enjoy hot lunch on MV Mahabaahu and sail towards the closest Mishing Village.

    The Mishings live on the bank of river in 'Chang Ghars', houses with raised platforms. All Mishing women are expert weavers. We can buy ethnic colourful cotton weaves and indulge in a dhoti tying and Mekhela Chaadar wearing demonstration.

    After the Mishing Village visit, MV Mahabaahu heads towards Dhansiri Mukh where the waters of Brahmaputra and Dhansiri meet, while we enjoy a talk on ‘Assam, its geographical location & importance’.

    We later enjoy the evening under the stars on a deserted island and proceed for dinner.

    NOTE: (Bonfire may be avoided if a suitable sandbank cannot be found or if we experience inclement weather conditions)

    Overnight on-board MV Mahabaahu (B, L, D)

  6. Day 6 Boat safari

    Kaziranga National Park

    After Yoga/early morning walk on a deserted island, MV Mahabaahu sails towards the Eastern Range of Kaziranga. We enjoy breakfast and a talk on ‘The River Brahmaputra and the life that exists alongside’.

    We later proceed for the boat safari. The shores are high but one can see roof turtles on protruding drift wood, water lizards, otters, elephants, wild buffaloes, rhinos, darters, herons, pied kingfishers, white throated kingfishers, serpent eagles and many more. (The sightings are always determined by the weather conditions.)

    We return to the ship for lunch. This evening we enjoy the Chef’s Cooking Demonstration followed by a talk on ‘Tea, Silk and Jute in Assam.’

    An evening on a deserted island with bonfire is always exclusive. We enjoy dinner on MV Mahabaahu.

    NOTE: (Bonfire may be avoided if a suitable sandbank cannot be found or if we experience inclement weather conditions)

    Overnight on-board MV Mahabaahu (B, L, D)

  7. Day 7 Weaver’s village at Bishwanath Ghat/ Sail to Silghat/ Tea Estate visit and/or Jute Mill

    Kaziranga National Park

    After Yoga/walk on the deserted island and breakfast on MV Mahabaahu, we enjoy an interesting talk on ‘Kaziranga and the wild life in India’. Then we step into our excursion boats to go to the shores of Bishwanath Ghat.

    We walk through the village and are struck by the simplicity of life while the weaver women surround us with their silk and cotton weaves. We enjoy some happy interaction with them.

    We sail on for the next couple of hours and enjoy a relaxed lunch and reach Silghat. Take a short drive to the Kaliabore tea estate, which is a vast undulating expanse of land with tea bushes. We proceed to the tea factory to see the processing of the Assam Tea and getting an insight into all that goes into preparing a cup-of-tea.

    (The tea factory is not operational from mid-December to mid-February as it is time for pruning the tea bushes)

    We return to the ship. Close by a co-operative Jute Mill is an interesting place to understand how the Jute fibre takes the form of very eco-friendly gunny bags. At sunset, we enjoy a cultural evening on the ship followed by an early dinner.

    Overnight on-board MV Mahabaahu (B, L, D)

  8. Day 8 Kaziranga National Park/ Sail towards a Deserted Island

    Kaziranga National Park

    Early morning wakeup call and after a hot cup of tea/coffee, drive out towards the Kaziranga National Park.

    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, Asiatic wild buffalo and a rich variety of birds. We reach the Kohora Mihimukh range of the National Park and are ready to start our morning adventure; an elephant-backed safari is an experience to search for the elusive rhinoceros, tigers, swamp deer and hog deer and more and a large number of very interesting birds. The park never ceases to surprise its visitors!

    After breakfast at a resort in Kaziranga, we drive on to Bagori, the Western Range of Kaziranga and get into the open jeeps for some more wild life adventure and an extensive coverage of this magnificent park.

    We return to MV Mahabaahu for a leisurely lunch and a relaxed afternoon. In the evening, we proceed for a traditional Assamese Theme Dinner.

    Overnight on-board MV Mahabaahu (B, L, D)

  9. Day 9 A village visit/ Full day sail/Peacock Island

    Guwahati

    We catch up on Yoga on an island or on the deck for an hour and move on to breakfast while MV Mahabaahu lifts anchor and heads on towards an island that is occupied predominantly by a ‘Bangla’ speaking Muslim community who are involved in extensive farming.

    After a visit to this village, we return to the ship for lunch and sail towards the Peacock Island- famous for the highly endangered Golden Langur. It would be a good idea to have one’s binoculars and cameras at hand.

    After lunch, we enjoy a talk on ‘Kamakhya and the Occult and Peacock Island’.

    We later sail towards Pandu Port.

    Get ready for the Farewell Dinner ‘Alvida Bhoj’ and enjoy a relaxed evening.

    Overnight on-board MV Mahabaahu (B, L, D)

  10. Day 10 Guwahati fly to Paro by flight & Drive to Thimphu (51 Km. / 32 Miles / 2 Hrs)

    Thimphu

    After an early breakfast, disembark and transfer to Guwahati airport to connect with flight to Paro.

    The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in the entire Himalayas and offers one of the greatest arrivals anywhere during the descent to Paro Airport.

    Stepping out of the aircraft, the first impressions of Bhutan are the cool fresh air and deep blue skies. As you exit the airport, you will be met by English-speaking tour guide at the airport holding a placard of “Inspiring Vacations” who will escort you to your hotel. Enroute lunch at the local restaurant. 

    Then drive to Thimphu (1.5 hours’ drive).

    On arrival in Thimphu, check-in to the hotel.

    In the evening you may go for an exploratory walk around Thimphu Main Street and market area.

    Dinner at the hotel.

    Overnight at the Hotel (B, L, D)

  11. Day 11 Thimphu

    Thimphu

    After breakfast, proceed for the guided tour of city’s main attractions that include:

    Textile Museum: is worth a visit to get to know the living national art of weaving. Exhibitions introduce the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and textiles made by women and men.

    National Library: The history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts, which are preserved at the National Library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and ancient texts, the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.

    Institute for Zorig Chusum: Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.

    Simply Bhutan Museum: The newly commissioned museum depicts the ancient Bhutanese architecture which is being lost to modernization. The uniqueness of the structure is in its composition of the materials used. The structure is built reusing old timber, window and door frames and other items from traditional and old demolished houses. The best part is the portrayal of the age-old life styles of the Bhutanese people.

    Lunch followed by city tour that includes:

    Memorial Chorten: The stupa built in the memory of Bhutan's third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

    Conclude the tour of the day with a visit of Trashichhoedzong, “fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the center of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.

    Overnight at the Hotel (B, L, D)

  12. Day 12 Thimphu – Punakha

    Punakha

    Thimphu – Punakha by road: Approx. 80 km / 50 miles/ 3½ hour drive (Altitude 1300 m)

    Today morning drive to Punakha across Dochu La (3,088m/ 10,130 ft.) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the Chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road.

    En-route, take a short excursion to Chimi Lakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humour, songs and outrageous behaviour to dramatize his teachings and due to this also known as “Divine Madman.” This temple is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. It is about 30 minute walk across field from the road to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning “field.” It then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang.

    Thereafter visit the majestic Punakha Dzong built strategically at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region; Punakha Dzong has played an important role in Bhutan’s history. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the present King.

    Overnight at the Hotel (B, L, D)

  13. Day 13 Punakha – Paro

    Paro

    Punakha – Paro by road: Approx. 125km/ 79 miles/ 4½ hours’ drive) (Altitude 2200m)

    After breakfast depart to Paro, the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (3,080 m). This pass often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. After stopping for tea and the view, we descend along a series of hairpin bends to river valley.

    En route visit Simtokha Dzong, the place of profound tantric teaching, this dzong now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language.

    On arrival, check-in to the hotel.

    Visit Ta Dzong, originally built as a watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artefacts.

    Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala.

    Dinner at the hotel

    Overnight at the Hotel (B, L, D)

  14. Day 14 Paro

    Paro

    After breakfast go for an excursion to Taktsang Monastery (5hrs hike): It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as the most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour.

    On the way back to the town, stop at Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, "mountain of goddess'' can be seen in all her glory from the road approaching the Dzong.

    Along the way, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.

    Overnight at the Hotel (B, L, D)

  15. Day 15 Paro –Kolkata

    Kolkata

    After breakfast, drive to Paro airport to connect with your flight to Kolkata.

    On arrival in Kolkata connect with International flight back home.

    (B)

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