Festival : Thimphu Tshechu
Date : 19 - 28 September 2018
Witness the grand festival of Bhutan, which is also the summer resident for the central monastic body. The original fortress where the festival held was built in 1216 but later extended in 1642 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.
19 September - Paro International Airport- your first glimpse of Bhutan
The Himalayan Kingdom welcomes you to have a glimpse of first valley which greets you with beautiful views and geographical terrain, your enthusiastic Guide and professional driver will be waiting you outside. After a quick brief and introduction you will be heading towards Thimphu along the Pachu the glacier river flowing from the 2nd highest peak of Bhutan. The drive from Paro airport to Thimphu is approximately an hours’ drive. Thimphu is the capital city and the Stop on the way to witness the iron bridge built by the Tibetan Ascetic named Drubthob Thangthong Gyalpo and the temple up on the knoll which is taken care by his descendents.
Check into hotel after arriving.
After your lunch, we will take you to the first tour of the capital visiting the famous memorial Chorten built in honor of the 3rd king of Bhutan. As the name denotes this National Memorial Chorten was consecrated on July 28, 1974 in memory of the 3rd King. Chorten/stupa literally means Mind of Buddha; Treat you with the extraordinary depiction of Buddhist teachings in the form of paintings and sculptures.
After that you will visit the most magnificent 51.5m statue of Buddha from where panoramic view of Thimphu could be seen. Walk around farmer’s market or take a stroll through the main street to visit some handicraft stores.
Dinner and overnight halt at your hotel.
20 September : Thimphu Tshechu – the festival coloring the atmosphere (19 - 21 September)
After breakfast with formal attire you will be visiting the Fortress of the Auspicious Religion to witness the grand festival/tshechu of Thimphu valley with the locals.
Tshechu which literally mean religious festival is similar as carnival fest but the fact is that the wrathful mask dance has an important significance in the life of all Buddhist. Thimphu Tshechu is one of the grand festivals conducted every tenth day, 8 month of Bhutanese calendar, for three consecutive days.
The festival is always colored by the beautiful mask and folk dances, the dance and music play the vital role which makes it possible for the ordinary people to have access to the Buddhist teaching. In Bhutan, the traditional values have always been largely shaped by Buddhist concepts. The dances are performed on auspicious days and are part of festivals, which have different name according to the place.
If you are fashion freak, you can compete with the local people by wearing traditional attire which is colorful and mesmerizing. And today you will be watching different types of mask dances, which are Zhana Cham (Dance of the Black Hats) it is believed Guru Rinpoche performed this dance in 8th century to subdue the evil spirits disrupting the establishment of Samye monastery in Tibet. Later in 9th century, Tantric master Lhalung Palgyi Dorje subdued the anti-Buddhist King Langdarma by means of performing this dance.
Another beautiful and entertaining dance is Kyecham Phole Mole (Dance of Noblemen and Ladies) this dance is based on an Indian myth and throws love and burning jealously-various emotion that afflict people of all kinds. The moral is that love can bring happiness but it also sows seeds of jealousy and brews feud and hatred among couples, friends and neighbors. You will also witness Dramitse Nga Cham (Dance of the Drummers from Dramitse) this unique sacred dance was introduced at Dramitse in the 16th century by Khedrub Kunga Wangpo the son of treasure revealer, Pema Lingpa. After two visions in which he visited the divine palace of Guru Rinpoche, he enacted the dances he sawthere and taught it to the people of Dramitse.
You can walk around the Fortress to see the majestic architecture and the office of the Dragon King. After that your guide will take you to one of the finest restaurants for lunch. After lunch you can either come back to festival where Royal Dancer will show their beautiful traditional folk dance.
Dinner will served in your respective hotel or you can have a choice in other restaurant.
Over night at Thimphu
21 September : Thimphu – Cheri monastery Hike
After breakfast, drive up to base camp of Cheri monastery. The one hour hike uphill will filled you with the smell of different types of plants, splashing of glacier water below the cantilever bridge and chirping of Himalayan birds will make you lost into the nature of Rhododendron flowers which will bloom during spring season. The Himalayan Ghoral can be spotted grazing on the cliff beside the monastery. Enjoy the splendor view from the top of the monastery.
Overnight at Thimphu
22 September : Thimphu – Punakha- the Old Capital of Bhutan
After early breakfast, drive to Punakha through Dochula Pass which is 3100m above sea level. If the weather is very calm and clear, the breathtaking Himalayan ranges could be floating above the dancing cloud and the majestic 108 stupa on the knoll built for the well being of our Majesty. And get yourself relax and warm with hot cup of tea. Continue your drive to Punakha which lies on the altitude of 1200m above sea level, the place is very rich in organic farming and it is the leading rice producer in Bhutan.
Hike to Chimi Lhakhang the temple of Fertility which was built on top of a ridge where the Divine Mad Man had subdued an evil in 15th century. Stop to see the local organic vegetable market in Lobesa .
Check into hotel
23 September : Punakha Excursion
After sumptuous breakfast drive up to upper Punakha valley passing through paddy field along the Mochu River and hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten which will take almost an hour but the beautiful valley of Yebisa will make your eye to peek every beauty in it. Have a wonderful panoramic view of country side from the Chorten.
Visit Punakha Dzong- the Fortress of Great Bliss, which is also the winter resident for the monastic body and the important historical place for the monarch, where crowning of 1st king and royal wedding was conducted. It was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel- unifier of Bhutan to defend from Tibetan Invasion. Also experience a walk on the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan over the Phochu River.
Lunch and drive to Nunnery where you can communicate with a English speaking nun and feel the breeze of beautiful ridge flanked by two valley, Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang.
Overnight in Punakha.
24 September : Punakha – Phobjikha- the Glacier Valley
After a healthy breakfast check out from your hotel and drive about 3 hours to the serene and untouched regions in Bhutan, drive through the dense evergreen oak forest to fir and hemlock forest.
Phobjikha is a glacier valley where as Gangtey lies on the top of hill which showcase its beauty to the entire surrounding village.
Phobjikha valley is also a winter habitat for endangered bird called Black Necked Crane, which have a spiritual relation with Buddhism.
Lunch will be served on the way.
Check into hotel/farm house
25 September : Phobjikha-Wangdue/Punakha
After your breakfast you will start your day with a short nature hike exploring the valley and also visit the Black Necked Crane center where you will know more about the bird and the other species living in Phobjikha valley.
Visit the most magnificent 16th century Nyingma monastery in Bhutan, the jaw dropping finest architecture and the beautiful traditional house surrounds the temple.
Drive back to Wangdue/Punakha
26 September : Wangdue/Punakha-Paro
After breakfast drive to Paro via Thimphu and upon reaching there you will visit the most sacred and oldest temple in Bhutan which exactly was built in 7th century by Tibetan king Songtsen Gonpo the legend has it that he built 108 temples around the Himalayan ranges which two falls in Bhutan.
Visit National Museum Housed in a 17th century watch tower, it has a unique character and a beautiful bird eye view of Paro valley. Opened in 1968, its collections date back to 2000BC.
Located below is the Rinpung Dzong the Fortress of the Heap of Jewels built in 1645 by the unifier of the country Zhabdrung. Some scene of Hollywood movie little Buddha was filmed here in the court yard of the Fortress.
Check into hotel and overnignt at the hotel in Paro.
27 September : Hike to Taktshang - A Walk to Remember
After your breakfast drive early to the base of the tiger nest. It is one of the highlight of your tour.
“Taktsang” the Tiger nest is one of the most important Buddhist monuments in the Himalayan Buddhist world and it is also preserved as world heritage site by UNICEF. The monastery clings to the rock towering 800m above the valley, and is located 2950m above sea level. It takes 2 hours walk to reach monastery from the base. The history of this monastery dates back to 8th century when Guru Rinpoche flew on a tigress transforming himself into a terrifying form of Guru Dorji Dorlo to subdue the evil who were thwarting Buddhist doctrine.
Your guide will have many hidden stories to be share with you and entertain you throughout the hike.
After the refreshing hike, you will retrace toward waiting vehicle.
We will visit the ruin of Drugyel Dzong the fortress of the victorious Drukpa, was built in ( 1649 ) to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan armies, in (1950s ) it caught fire and was never repaired.
On the clear day, the peak of Mt. Jomolhari (7314m) stand out behind its rampart. This mountain also revered as a powerful goddess forms to border with Tibet and provides magnificent back ground to the ruined Drugyel Dzong and Village.
In the evening you will visit a traditional farm house and experience the hot stone bath and Bhutanese cuisine.
Overnight at Paro
28 September : Departure
Transfer to airport after your breakfast/lunch. Your guide and driver will bid you farewell on behalf of Bhutan Swallowtail Travel with fond memories of the Last Himalayan Kingdom.