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Royal Heritage Trail

Trekking is by far one of the most popular tourism activities in Bhutan. The diversity in nature and the range of exotic culture makes the country ideal for trekking.
The Royal Heritage Trek is yet another tourism product developed to commemorate the past 100 years of the Monarchy’s royal heritage and historic travel route between the Bumthang and Trongsa Dzongkhags. Except for a few herders and the locals around, the trail has not been used for so many years as Bhutan moved into the modern era and so many roads were built throughout the country. It has now been rediscovered as a potential trekking route offering an invigorating adventure with every section of the trail contributing its own attractions.

The trail boasts of a blend of valued history, traditional mores and royal anecdotes which date back to as early as the 1950s. The trek traces the historical route King Jigme Wangchuck, the 2nd King of Bhutan, used when moving from his summer residence, Wangdicholing Palace in Bumthang, to his winter residence, Kuenga Rabten Palace in Trongsa. It was the first King who shifted the government seat from the old winter capitals in Punakha and Thimphu to Wangdicholing palace in Bumthang. In 1928, after the death of the first King, his successor built a new palace in Kuenga Rabten. With its warmer, more temperate climate the valley provided a welcome relief from the harsh winters of Bumthang. The Royal Family and its entourage moved in a majestic procession with hundreds of followers and riding horses trekking over the mountains. The journey took just three days then.

The second King died at his palace of Kuenga Rabten in 1952, after which his son King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk took over. The third King shifted the centre of government back to the old summer capital in Thimphu. The Royal Heritage Trail presents the visitors a look at the history of monarchy with an opportunity to explore it first hand after the royal family treaded the same route more than 50 years ago.

In addition to the rich and the unambiguous historical experience it offers, the trail has an abundance of flora and fauna. Over 40 species of birds have been identified including the Yellow and Black Billed Magpies and the Spotted Nut Cracker. Along the trail, you’ll also enjoy the splendor of violet primula and other beautiful wild flowers.

The trail is a 4-day moderate hiking, which starts from Wangdicholing, Bumthang and ends in Kuenga Rabten, Trongsa or vice versa.

Location:                 Jakar and Chumey Geog, Bumthang Drakten Geog, Trongsa
Season:                    April-May and October-November
Duration:                4 days; start at Wangdicholing Palace and end at Kuenga Rabten Palace (or vice versa)
Tourist Profile:    healthy / fit; young or old; enjoys moderate hiking/walking combined with sites and stories on history and culture

Itinerary
Day 1:   Wangdichholing Palace - Domkar Tashichholing Palace

Route description:
The trek starts from Wangdichholing Palace (2600m), climbing up to Jakar Dzong, and then ascending towards Kikila pass (3948m). Depending on time, one can make the historical tour of the Wangdichholing Palace and visit the Jakar Dzong. The Lunch spot (Seou Zheysa) is 4 ½ hrs walk from Wangdichholing Palace. This was the actual lunch spot used by the Royal family. The campsite (Makhagthang) on the bank of Duegang Chhu is 3 hrs downhill from Kikila and stands at an elevation of 2908 m, about ½ a km away from Domkhar Tashichholing Palace.

Details


 Starting Point
Wangdichholing Palace (2600 m)
Lunch site
Seou Zheysa
Distance to lunch site
4 hrs 35 min (3470 m)
Campsite
Domkar - alongside stream (Duegang chhu) about ½ km away from the palace
Time from lunch site to  campsite
2 hrs 52 min (2908 m)

Total time Taken

7hrs 27 min
Total distance
16.40 km
Difficulty
Moderate
Highest Altitude Reached
3948m, Kikila Pass
Season
Year round; (assess severity likely in monsoon)
Attractions
Heritage Trail with remnants and stories of historical use; Wangdichholing Palace, Jakar Dzong, Domkar Village, Domkhar Palace; view of Tharpaling Monestary; scenic view of Bumthang valley; walking in bamboo groves; begins and ends at palaces


Day 2:  Domkar - Jamsapang

Route description
The hike begins with the crossing of the Duegang chhu. The trail is mostly uphill and after climbing for about 3½ hrs you reach a place called Dungmai Jab at an altitude of 3678m which can be used as the lunch spot.
The campsite (Jamsapang) is about 2hrs ascend from the lunch spot and stands at an elevation of 4019m. Tungli La (pass) is just a few minutes away from the campsite

Details


Starting Point Domkhar, ½ km away from Domkhar Palace (2908 m)
Lunch site Dungmai Jab
Distance to lunch site 6.60 km
Time to lunch site 3 hrs 30 min (3678 m)
Campsite Jamsapang; privately owned land with a cattle herder hut
Time from lunch site to  campsite 2 hrs 05 min (4019 m)
2 hrs 05 min (4019 m) 5 hrs 40 min
Total distance 8.80 km
Difficulty Moderate
High altitude reached 4019 m (Jamsapang)
Season April– May; October-November
Attractions Heritage trail with remnants and stories of historical use; natural beauty

Day 3: Jamsapang – Bjobshisa

Route description
The day begins with a slight ascend towards Tungli La which is about 1hr walk away from the campsite. One can enjoy the majestic view on the snow peaked Black Mountains sandwiched between Bhutan’s southern foothills at the left and the greater Himalayan range at the right. Tungli La stands at an elevation of 4039m from where the trail descends and takes about 2hrs to reach the lunch spot. Another 2 hours brings you to the third campsite, Bjobshisa. During the summer/monsoon season, this place is used by the local cattle herders.

Details


Starting Point Jamsapang (4019 m)
Lunch site Zangropang
Distance to lunch site 5 km
Campsite Bjobshisa
Time from lunch site to  campsite 2 hrs
Total Time Taken 5 hrs
Total distance 10 km
Difficulty Moderate; difficult sections
High altitude reached 4039 m
Season April- May; October-November
Attractions Tungli La with stunning views of Bumthang and Trongsa (the Black Mountain range); the distinct variation in foliage from Bumthang side and Trongsa side; an ideal area for birding


Day 4:   Bjobshisa - Kuenga Rabten Palace

Route description:
The trail from Jobshisa descends on its way to Kuenga Rabten Palace, the royal winter residence of the 2nd King and his junior consort. It takes about 4hrs from the campsite and stands at an elevation of 1774m. There is an ideal camping ground at the back of the palace overlooking the valley and Mangdue River.

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