The Punakha Tshechu is one of the most popular Tshechus in the country. It is held right after the popular Punakha Drubchen. The unfurling of the thongdrol (a large tapestry) of Guru Rinpoche is the main attraction of the festival. It is believed that a mere sight of the thongdrol liberates an onlooker and cleanses him of his sins.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU (55 KILOMETERS)
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. A Bhutan Life Exposure Tours and Trek representative will welcome and received you from the airport.
Then, you will be transferred to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, which is located approximately at 55 kilometers from Paro. On arrival at Thimphu, you will visit to the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Then continue to the Buddha Point, where the largest statue of Buddha is standing overlooking the Thimphu Town below. Then proceed to Takin Conservation Center, which is located in the upper part of Thimphu Town.
On return, you will visit to Royal Textile Academy, where they have beautiful and quality textiles of Bhutan on display for the visitors. Then continue to visit Zorig Chusum (Thirteen Arts and Crafts of Bhutan), where you will see student engage in learning arts and crafts of Bhutan. Later in the evening, you will visit Changlimithang, to witness the Archery Match. Archery is the national game of Bhutan. You will also visit weekend Market.
DAY 02: THIMPHU (HIKE TO CHERI MONASTERY)
An uphill hike of 45 minutes leads to Cheri Goemba, Bhutan’s first monastery. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal established the monastery in 1620 with the first monk body. His father’s ashes were interred in a richly decorated silver chorten inside the upper Goemba after the body was smuggled here from Tibet. Cheri is still an important place for meditation retreats, with 30 or so monks here for the standard three years, three months and three days, so don’t disturb anyone.
The goenkhang (chapel dedicated to protective deities) features the two protector deities of Cheri and Tango. From here it’s a steep climb (pilgrims aim to do it without pausing) to the Demon-Subjugating Monastery, built into the cliff where the Zhabdrung overcame the local demons. Look for tame brown goral (mountain goats) grazing the monastery grounds. On return, you will have picnic Lunch by the river side.
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
Transfer to Phobjikha Valley (5.5-6 hrs). Drive by luxury 4WD over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters) which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms.
Continue on through the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang, and up winding mountain roads through mixed forests and over high passes before descending down into the wide and picturesque Phobjikha Valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau.
On arrival, you will visit Gangtey Goenpa, the largest Nyingma Monastery in the western Bhutan. The, proceed to visit the Black Necked Crane Center, before settling in the farm house to enjoy the experience of Bhutanese Living style.
DAY 04: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY – BUMTHANG
Afterwards drive over the Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range towards Trongsa (4.5 hrs). Enroute visit the beautiful 18th century Chendebji Chorten. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty.
Visit Trongsa Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan and the Ta Dzong museum housing a collection of historical artifacts of the Royal Family. Continue driving towards Bumthang (2.5 hrs), the spiritual of the kingdom. Bumthang is home to some of Bhutan’s oldest Palaces, Buddhist temples and monasteries.
DAY 05: BUMTHANG
In the morning visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan’s patron saint Guru Rimpoche meditated and 7th century Jambay Lhakhang. It dates back to the origins of Buddhism in Bhutan and is one of the Kingdoms oldest temples.
After lunch, you will take an excursion to Tang Valley, the most remote valley in the Bumthang district. Activities may include a 45 minute walk uphill to Ugyen Chholing Palace, built in the 16th century by the Trongsa Penlop Tshokey Dorji. The main building in the complex now features a fascinating museum offering a real insight into the lifestyle of a Bhutanese noble family. Highlights include a book of divination, a Dakini dance costume made of bone. You may also visit Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake), where some of Guru Rinpoche’s treasures were found in the 15th century by the famous treasure discover Pema Lingpa. It’s a good location to meditate.
DAY 06: BUMTHANG – PUNAKHA
Depart for Punakha stopping along the way at Trongsa for lunch. Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. Visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned.
DAY 07: PUNAKHA TO THIMPHU (FESTIVAL)
After breakfast, you will depart Punakha to Thimphu to attend the Thimphu Drubchen (Festival). Thimphu Drubchen or Drubchen (popularly known as Thimphu Domchoe) is performed at the Thimphu Tashichhodzong. The sacred masked dance is dedicated to appeasing the protecting deity of Bhutan, Pelden Lhamo.
The dance ceremony was instituted between 1705 and 1709 by Kuenga Gyeltshen, the first reincarnation of Jampel Dorji, son of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. According to legend, Pelden Lhamo appeared before him and performed the dances while he was in meditation. Based on these dances, Kuenga Gyeltshen initiated the dance ceremony.
You will dress in the best Bhutanese dress to attend the Thimphu Drubchen Festival along with Bhutanese. The Festival will showcase, the mask dances, traditional dances and thousands of devotes will gather at Tashichoedzong to witness the festival.
DAY 08: THIMPHU – PARO
After breakfast, you will depart Thimphu for Paro. On the way, you will stop at Tagchogang Lhakhang, which is located across the bridge on the other bank of the Paro Chu. The Bridge is closely associated with the Thangthong Gyelpo, the first iron bridge builder of Bhutan. The bridge is still intact.
Then, proceed to Paro to visit Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide.
DAY 09: PARO – HIKE TO TAKTSHANG
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the viewing point). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments.
In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, the historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.
DAY 10: DEPART PARO
- Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
- All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
- Local English speaking trekking guide/tour leader.
- Cook and camp hand who will take care of camp chores and provide wholesome meals.
- Services of horsemen who will look after the yaks & ponies that transport luggage and camp gear.
- Experienced driver.
- Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard government approved hotels & guesthouses
- All meals in Bhutan.
- All entrance fees and permits.
- All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone.
- Tips to guide and driver.
- Medical / Travel Insurance.
- Adventure and sport fees
- Luxury Hotel cost
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