Rediscovering Bhutan: New Perspectives on the Last Buddhist Kingdom

Adding to its already extensive experience guide, in the year ahead Paro lodge will offer an insight into one the world’s rarest teas. Originating from the Camelia Sinensis trees planted by the former King of Bhutan, Thunder Dragon Tea is gifted to the villagers of Samcholing where the tea trees are grown by the community and gently nurtured by mists from the verdant gorge, Himalayan spring water and the valley’s organic, fertile soil. 

Guests of both Paro and Thimphu lodge are invited to discover the nuances of this unique green brew with Thunder Dragon High Tea, where its delicately aromatic flavour is paired with  sweet and savoury treats created by the culinary team. With every sip, guests are transported to the  Kingdom’s mountains, springs and skies. 

Punakha – Unveiling gastronomic traditions 

Amankora Punakha lies east of the dramatic Dochu La Pass and just north of the resplendent Punakha Dzong that dominates the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu rivers. Surrounded by rice paddies and fruit plantations, the lodge occupies a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse with twelve guest suites set in an orange orchard near the 30-metre infinity swimming pool.

Discovering culture through cuisine is central to the Amankora experience. At Punakha the lodge provides torma making classes, offering an insight into one of the most sacred Buddhist celebration cakes. Made with butter and barley flour, torma cakes are used to adorn altars during traditional Buddhist ceremonies and created primarily by monks as offerings during holy rituals and festivals.

Dyed with colourful pigments, shaped by hand, blessed and finally offered in accordance with its specific creation – whether to represent a deity, consumed partially as part of a ritual in a feast, as a healing, medicinal symbol or even as a vessel to obstruct spirits – partake in this unique heritage practiced all over the Buddhist realms of the Himalayas. Classes are to be held during auspicious dates and festivals and hosted by a monk, with private classes available on request. 

Gangtey – Experience Bhutan’s wild frontiers on horseback 

Providing a restful base with eight suites, Amankora Gangtey is located in the seldom-visited valley of Phobjikha near the quaint village of Gangtey. From its forested knoll, the lodge boasts panoramic views across the gorge to the regal Gangtey Goemba, a 16th-century monastery, and easy access to the winter habitat of the rare, black-necked crane. 

A new way to explore Gangtey’ s pristine corners and relive the early days of Bhutan’s wild frontiers, is on Yuta horseback. A distinct Himalayan breed known for their mild temperament and impeccable sense of balance, begin the expedition from the lodge grounds, passing through scenic traditional farming villages, wooden bridges and charming farmhouses before completing the hour-long loop passing through fields littered with prayer poles gently flowing with the breeze. 

Bumthang – A naming ceremony in the Choekhor Valley The eastern-most lodge, 16-suite Amankora Bumthang rests adjacent to the First and Second King’s palace, Wangdichholing, in the Choekhor Valley. This region of sloping pine forests, apple orchards and fertile farmland is known for its cottage industries that produce the sought-after Bumthang butter, cheese, honey and a variety of fruit spirits and brandies. 

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