Thimphu Tshechu is held over a span of 3 days and it is usually held in either September or October corresponding to the eight month of Bhutanese Calendar. It is one of the most festive event celebrated by the capital dwellers. Besides witnessing the scares mask dances, it is also an opportunity for the families, friends and relatives to come together and enjoy the festival. People, both young and old, dressed in their finest clothes come out to celebrated this rare occasion with feast and joy.
Besides locals, the event is equally witness and enjoyed by tourist and foreigner alike. It is one of the important itinerary for tourist and foreign visitors. Different mask dances are performed by both ordained monk and lay men. In addition, there is folk dances by the Royal Academy of Performing Arts and other locals.
Detail Itinerary – (10 Days/9 Nights)
Day 01- Arrive at Paro
Upon arrival,our representative from Bhutan Sotphel Tours and Treks will receive you at the Paro International airport and drive you to the hotel. After lunch, visit the visit the Drukgyel dzong, now in ruins . It was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in1644; the dzong name’s means ” victorious Druk “. The Dzong was used as an administrative center until 1951 when a fire caused by butter lamp destroyed it.
Driving back to paro on the way visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest and most sacred monasteries dating from the introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century. Legends has it that a great Tibetean saint has built 108 such monasteries overnight and two of them are in Bhutan, One is Kyichu Lhakhang and the other is Jampa Lakhang in Bumthang.
Dinner and overnight halt at the hotel in Paro
Day 02- Sight Seeing at Paro and drive to Thimphhu in the evening
After breakfast, Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: A short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten, the trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery.
The legend has it that Guru Rimpoche who is revered to be the second Buddha and who is also credited have brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD arrived here on the back of flying tigress and meditated here. Latter on the present structure was built and many facelift were provided. This incredible monastery clings to the
edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below.
After lunch, visit the Ta dzong, an ancient watchtower, which has been, since 1967, the National Museum of Bhutan then visit Rimpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Dzong presently houses administrative offices.
In the evening, drive to Thimphu.
Day 03 – Sightseeing in and around Thimphu
Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan and offers a mix of urban as well as rural Bhutan. After breakfast visit the Memorial Chorten (stupa). This gigantic stupa is built in the memory of late his Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third king of Bhutan. He was known as the father of modern Bhutan. Then visit the National Library, which houses a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts followed by visit to Painting School, famous for carving and free hand art and Folk Heritage Museum followed by a visit Sangay gang view point, Takin Preserve centre, Changangkha Monastery and Zulukha Nunnery.
After lunch visit the Semtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong in the country. This Dzong was built by Zhandrung Ngawang Namyel in 1629 and today it houses monk body and Institute of Language and Cultural studies till it moved to Trongsa.
Then drive toward the Kuenselphodrang to have a glimpse of the tallest Buddha statue in the world. Towards the evening, visit Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion), built in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and reconstructed in 1961 by the Late King, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wang chuck, who is regarded as Father of Modern Bhutan.
Day 04 – Thimphu-Punakha-Thimphu
After breakfast drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. This pass served as an important trade route in olden days. Today it dotted with beautiful 108 mall chortens and beautiful Lakhang. If weather is clear and favorable, we stop for a while at Dochula. From this Dochula pass, it provide a clear view of Himalayas and a Gasa Dzongkhag, one of the remotest Dzongkhag in the Country.
Enroute stop a while to view Chimi Lhakhang also called the “Temple of Fertility” built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley who is popularly known as “The Devine Mad Man” in 15th centuryAfter lunch, visit Puna Dewachenpoi Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Dzong is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government
The construction of the Dzong was prophesied by Guru Rimpoche that, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like the tusk of a sleeping elephant”. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping; the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri (Paradise) and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). Punakha is the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and the central monastic body. In the evening, drive to Thimphu. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 05-Punakha-Gangtey Valley
After breakfast, drive to the beautiful valley of Gangtey. Enroute visit Wnagduephodrang Dzong. Built in 1638, this Dzong lies on the ridge overlooking the Puna Tsangchu and Dangchu river and is one of the oldest Dzong in the country. Legend has it that while Zhangdrung Ngawang Namgyel was looking for a site to build the Dzong, he came across a little boy playing. Upon asking what his name was and what he is doing, the boy replied that his name is Wangdue and he is building a palace. Hence the name Wangdue Phodrang literally meaning palace of unification, Wangdue means unification and phodrang means palace. However, a devastating fire on June 24, 2012 completely destroyed the dzong and now it remains in ruin. Efforts are underway to rebuilt the 374 year old Dzong.
Visit Gangtey Gompa Monastery. It was established in 1613 by the first Peling Gyaltse Rimpoche or Gangtey Trulku Rigzen Pema Thinley (1564 – 1642) who was the grandson of great Bhutanese Treasure revealer Pema Lingpa. The ninth re-incarnation Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the present Abbot. He has taken great initiative to rebuilt the Monastery and uphold the lineage of Pemal Lingpa. The Explore Phobjikha valley which is famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter. Dinner and overnight at the Guest House.
Day 06. Gangtey – Trongsa – Bumthang
After breakfast, drive to Trongsa via Pele La pass (3420 m). A Tibetan style chorten and prayer flags adorns this pass and is considered to be a boundary between eastern and western Bhutan. It offers a beautiful view of snow-capped mountains on a clear day. Visit Trongsa Dzong built in its present form in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan and enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay.
Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong and even to this day a crown prince assumes the post of Trongsa Penlop before ascending the Golden Throne. Then Visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower. The chapel inside the Ta Dzong is said to be dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. This watch tower has received major facelift in 2008. After Lunch, drive to Bumthang. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 07. Bumthang Sightseeing
After breakfast, visit Jakar Dzong, which literally means “The Castle of White Bird”. The current structure was built in 1667. Visit Jambay Lhakhang, built by King Songsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659. Jambay Lhakhang is one of the 108 Lhakhang built by King Songsen Gompo on the same night as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. It is believed that there is a lake under the temple in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.
After lunch, we visit Kurjey Lhakhang. Guru Rimpoche while meditating in the cave left his ody print on the rock and thus it is known as ‘Kuje Lhakhang’ meaning body imprint lakhan Visit followed by a visit to Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of the good message), established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom.
Towards the evening, visit Membarstho which literally means, “The burning Lake”. It is a few minutes drive from main Bumthang town. It is believed that Pema Lingpa, the great Bhutanese treasure revealer jumped into the lake holding a burning butter lamp can came back with treasure in his hand and the lamp still burning. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 08. Bumthang – Thimphu
Early breakfast, drive to Thimphu. One the way have a beautiful view of magnificent Trongsa Dzong. A traditional Bhutanese style lunch on the way. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 8, Day 9, Day 10
After breakfast, witness the Thimphu festival amongst Bhutanese and other tourist alike. You will get to witness some of the spectacular mask dances. You will have an opportunity to photograph the local people and the mask dances. Bhutanese young and old will come out once in a year in their finest wear and witness the festival. In the evening visit the town and some of the gift shop and take photograph. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 12. Depart Paro
Drive to Paro air port and see off
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