Bhutan Culture & Festival Tour

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+-2 Destinations
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Highlights

- Visit some of the important and religious landmarks in Bhutan.
- Immersion in Natural Biodiversity
- Attend Jakar Tsechu
- Explore Gangtey Nature Trail
- Day Hike to ‘Tiger’s Nest’

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Itinerary

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Day 01: Elevation: 2,250m/1,382ft

Paro: It is a broad and beautiful green bowl valley surrounded by jagged Himalayan Mountains and forested hillsides, crossed by beautiful rivers and dotted with medieval fortresses. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 AD and has been the legislative, executive, judicial and religious centre for the people of Paro. Also the nations home of National Museum and International Airport. The flight to Paro is considered one of the most spectacular flight experiences in the world. While flying in and out of Bhutan, one can see Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makula, and other high peaks such as Jumolhari, Jichu Drakey, and Tsrim Gang.

After landing you will be greeted by your tour guide and driver and will be transferred to your hotel for some refreshment.

Evening: Relax at the hotel or leisurely explore Paro town.

Overnight in Paro: 3 star hotel

Day 02: After breakfast visit the following places

National Museum

Ta-Dzong (the watchtower) was built in the 17th century to guard the Paro Rimpong Dzong below. It was said that the future king kept in this tower as a prisoner for a week. It was the third king who restored the Ta-dzong and converted it into a National Museum. The visit to the museum will familiarize you with the Bhutanese way of life and will also acquaint you with the natural and cultural history.

Rimpong Dzong

Regal and imposing, dzongs are arguably among the most distinctive and important structures in Bhutan. This Dzong is the headquarters of Paro district, housing the head administrator and staff, as well as monastic body with about 200 monks. From the dzong, hike down to the bridge and then take a short drive for an opportunity to explore the town of Paro.

Dungtshe Lhakhang

A chorten like temple was built in 1433 by the iron bridge builder Thangtong Gyalpo. It has three floors representing hell, earth and heaven and the painting inside are said to be some of the best on Bhutan. Beyond Dungtshe Lhakhang, to the east of the road, the tiny Pana Lhakhang is quite old and believed to have been built in the seventh century.

Kyichu Lhakhang

It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakhang in Bumthang). The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gyalpo in the 17th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in original pattern.

Evening: Free to explore Paro Town.

Overnight in Paro: 3 Star hotel

Day 03: Bumthang

Distance: 342km (12-13hrs)

Elevation: 2,600mts/8,530ft

After breakfast drive to Paro International Airport to catch a Domestic flight to Bumthang

Bumthang Dzongkhag consists of four main valleys Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. Choekhor is the largest of the four mountain valleys and is widely considered as Bumthang Valley. The valleys are broad and gentle carved by the ancient glaciers.

After landing check into hotel and visit Tamshing Lhakhang

Located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang, this temple was founded in the 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, the re-incarnation of Guru Padsambhava. The monastery has very ancient religious paintings like 1,000 Buddha and 21 Taras (female form of Bodhisattva). The paintings you will see date back to same time period and were painted by him. There is also an iron chain vest forged and used by Pema Lingpa during the construction of temple. The temple was restored at the end of the 19th century.

Evening: Free to explore Bumthang Town.

Overnight in Bumthang:

Day 04: Jakar Dzong

After break witness full day Jakar Festival which is held in Jakar Dzong. The whole district of Jakar or Bumthang remains closed for three days to witness the annual Bumthang Jakar Tshechu Festival. Tshechu are always conducted or ending on the 10th day of Bhutanese Calendar month as the term Tsechu means the tenth, which is widely celebrated as Birth Anniversary of Guru Rimpoche. There will be both mask dance by the monks as well as songs and dance from the local people. It’s an annual event and during Tshechu period all government and private including schools and farmer remains holiday. It is an important event as all related folks from across the country come together and discusses the important issue and prays together for a successful year.

Afternoon visit the following places:

Jambay Lhakhang

Built in the 7thcentury by the King Songtsen Gyalpo of Tibet. In his effort to propagate Buddhism he had a plan to build a total of 108 temples in Tibet and neighboring kingdoms.

Kujey Lhakhang

The temple to the right is the oldest and was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652. It was built around the cave in which Guru Rimpoche meditated and left his body imprint.

Farmhouse

To experience an authentic Bhutanese lifestyle and unparalleled hospitality of a Bhutanese host. Enjoy a meal with family here (optional)

Overnight in Bumthang

Day 05: Phobjikha

Distance: 188km (6 -7hr)

Elevation: 3,000mts/9,843ft

After breakfast drive to Phobjikha. The Phobjikha valley is a vast U-shaped glacial valley, also known as Gangteng Valley named after the impressive Gangteng Monastery, where the graceful black-necked cranes in Bhutan from the Tibetan Plateau visit the valley during winter season to roost. On arrival in the Phobjikha Valley in the last week of October, the black-necked cranes circle the Gangteng Monastery three times and also repeat the process while returning to Tibet.

En-route visit following places in Trongsa.

Trongsa Dzong

This dzong’s architecture dominates the entire Trongsa horizon dwarfing the surrounding buildings. Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second King ruled the country from this ancient seat. Protected from invaders by an impenetrable valley, Trongsa Dzong is an impregnable fortress. The dzong itself is a labyrinth of temples, corridors and offices holding court over the local community. It is built on many levels into the side of the hill and can be seen from every approach to Trongsa heralding its strength as a defensive stronghold.

Afternoon visit Gangtey Goempa

This monastery was founded in 1613 by Je kuenga Gyaltshen. It’s one of Bhutan’s oldest and recently renovated Monasteries situated atop a hill at an altitude of 2800m, offers a stunning view of Phobjikha valley and winter home to the rare Black Necked Cranes.

Overnight in Phobjikha:

Day 06: Gangtey Natural Trail

Distance: 78km (3hr)

Elevation: 1,200mts/3,900ft

Morning visit Gangtey Natural Trail (1.5hr)

The most beautiful and perpetual nature trails in Bhutan. The trail hike starts from the Mani (like chorten) stone wall to the north of the Gangtey Goempa and ends in Khewa Lhakhang. The hike takes about 1hr 30 minutes through the pine forest and small bamboo plants. So the pristine environment provides best hike places for nature lovers. During the winter months, we can see the endangered species of bird “Black Neck Crane”.

After visiting drive to Punakha and visit the following places:

Chimmi Lhakhang (45 min hike round trip)

Situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humor, songs and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teachings and due to this also known as “Divine Madman”. Commonly known as fertile temple among and is frequented by childless couples and others alike for blessings.

Punakha Dzong

The name means Palace of Great Bliss. This Dzong stands magnificently on the spit of land where two rivers (Phochu and Mochu) meet. Punakha Dzong has special significance in Bhutanese history as the place where Bhutan’s first King, Ugyen Wangchuk, was crowned in 1907.

Suspension Bridge

This bridge is located near Punakha Dzong and is the longest bridge in Bhutan. The bridge connecting the nearby villages and mountains adjacent gives a magnificent view.

Evening: Free to explore Punakha Town.

Overnight in Punakha:

Day 07: Overnight in Thimphu

Distance: 77km (2.5hrs)

Elevation: 2,320mts/7616ft

Thimphu

Is the capital city of Bhutan with a population of about 100,000 and is the nation’s largest city. It depicts strong national character in its architectural style yet it is legislative, executive, judicial and religious centre of the government.

Check into hotel and visit the following places:

Memorial Chorten:

Built in 1974 as a monument for the 3rd King of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. It signifies the “Seat of Faith” otherwise “Mind of Buddha”.

Buddha Point:

Built in 2006, one of world largest sitting Buddha housing over Hundreds of Thousands of small statues inside. It is the center of attraction to all the people radiating its splendor in all directions and harbinger of happiness and peace.

Tashichho Dzong

Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and office of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby.

Evening: Free to explore Thimphu town and Bhutanese Authentic Local Craft Bazaar

 Overnight in Thimphu:

 

Day 08: Cheri Monastery

Morning: Hike to Cheri Monastery 15km (30-45)

It was established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The monastery is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kadgyu sect. The monastery serves as the monastic school for study of Buddhist Philosophy, metaphysics, mathematics, poets and many other Buddhist studies. According to legend or history of Bhutan the place was first visited by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. In the 13th century it was visited by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo the Tibetan Lama who first established the Drukpa Kadgyu tradition in Bhutan. Zhabdrung spent three years in strict retreat at the monastery and stayed for many years.

Picnic lunch will be arranged by the riverside. After lunch drive back to Thimphu city and visit:

National Takin Reserve

Hike or drive up the National Takin Reserve where a herd of Bhutan’s national animal reside. Legend has it that the Takin is a cross between a goat and a buffalo, but biologists agree that its nearest relative is the Arctic Musk Ox. This bizarre beast looks as if it was assembled from parts of several animals and vaguely resembles an American bison tinged in golden fur. Male Takin has been known to hide by lying spread-eagle on the ground.

Centenary Farmer’s Market (open Thursday to Sunday)

Take a walk through this market and shop/interact with the local farmers. Thimphu’s new weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan. Farmers come from all over the country to sell their farm products in the market. With its wide assortment of fresh, organic produce, the Farmer’s Market has become a favorite spot for tourists and a recreational place for people from all walks of life.

Overnight in Thimphu:

Day 09: Overnight in Paro

Distance: 65km (1.5hrs)

After breakfast drive to Paro. En-route, visit the following places:

Semtokha Dzong

The name Semtokha means “atop a Demon” and legend associated with the Dzong’s construction tells us that it was built in order to subdue an evil spirit that was harassing travelers in the region. The dzong houses countless statue and paintings of various Buddha, deities and religious figures including the eight manifestations of Guru Rimpoche, Jampelyang (the Buddha of Wisdom), Shakya Gyalpo (the Buddha of compassion) and many more, all carved and painted in exquisite. Another interesting aspect of the dzong is that is contains the bed chambers of both Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Jigme Namgyel two of the most important figures in Bhutanese history.

Ta-chog Lhakhang & Iron Bridge

Ta-chog Lhakhang is located on the way to Paro valley, and one must actually cross one of Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo bridges to get to the Lhakhang. He was the man who built the iron chain bridge in Bhutan in the late 1300s, and is said to have built 108 of these bridges around Tibet and Bhutan. Many of them are still in use today, showing how strong and durable the bridges are.

After lunch visit Sangchokhor Buddhist college

30 minute drive from the town on the top of the hill north-west at Paro town, Sangchokhor catches your eye. This beautifully situated temple is a teaching institution for about 100 monks (aged 15-30 years old). The grassy area next to the stupa outside the temple is a nice spot for a picnic lunch. It was originally built in the 18th century, but was rebuilt 30 years ago after a horrible fire. The original temple was built by the first speech reincarnation of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The lower alter room has a striking statue of Guru Rimpoche and unique 30-year old wall paintings created under the supervision of the Chief Abbot. The upper alter room is dedicated to Zhabdrung lineage.

Evening: Relax at the hotel or free to explore further.

Overnight in Paro:

Day 10: Takshang (Tiger Nest)

Bhutan’s most picturesque landmark, Takshang (Tiger Nest) clings to the side of a steep cliff 300 meters above the Paro valley. The place was first visited by Guru Rimpoche, founder of tantric form of Buddhism in the Himalayan countries, in the 8th century. It was said the he meditated there for about three months. The original temple was built in the 17th century, but tragically, it was consumed by fire in 1998. Like a phoenix, the temple was rebuilt to its fullest glory in 2003. Takshang is considered to be the 10th holiest site in Buddhist world.

Evening: Relax at the hotel or free to explore further.

Overnight in Paro:

Day 11: Paro International Airport

After breakfast, transfer to Paro International Airport for your onward journey.

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