Thimphu festival is one of the most popular festivals in the country. During the mask dances known as cham are performed to bless onlookers, to teach them the Buddhist dharma, to protect them from misfortune and to exorcise all evil. It is believed that merit is gained by attending the tsechus. The dances invoke the deities to wipe out misfortunes, increase luck and grant personal wishes.
A group of ladies perform traditional Bhutanese dances during the intervals between masked dances. Apart from its religious implications, the Tshechu is also an annual social gathering where people dress in their finest clothing and jewelleries.Bring you a closer contact with the people and give you an insight into the Bhutanese lives, beliefs and more.
Distance: 54 km
Estimated travel time: 1 hour
Arrive at Paro.You will be welcomed by your travel guide at the Paro Airport.
After the refreshment, visit the Ta Dzong rated as one of the finest natural Museum in South Asia, and is filled with antique thanka paintings, textiles, weapons and Armor. Then visit Rinpung Dzong (in the same location) built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now used as an administrative center and school for monastic body. Then walk down to Rimpung Dzong Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Bhutan.
In the evening drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
After breakfast, you may choose to visit some of the places given below in Thimphu:
Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Attend first day Thimphu Festival. Venue- Tendrelthang-outside of Tashicho Dzong. This is the perfect occasions to witness the Bhutanese unique culture, religion and history. Also visit Tashichhoedzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body.
Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
After breakfast, drive about 30 minutes to the base camp of Cheri Monastery and hike up to the Monastery. The walk up to the Monastery is through the forest filled with Rhododendron flower trees which will be in full bloom during April month. This is the place where monks undergo meditation with duration ranging from 4 months to 3 years. You will experience complete peace and serenity in this area. In this undisturbed environment, musk deer are spotted often. The hike up will take approximately 50 minutes. The view from Cheri Monastery is breathtaking. Walk down and rest for a packed picnic lunch. Then hike up to Tango Monastery. Tango Monastery is the center for higher studies for monks. The hike up will take approximately 50 minutes. The view from Tango Monastery is breathtaking.
Drive back to Thimphu and evening free to relax / stroll around Thimphu town. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Estimated travel time: 2 1/2 hours
After breakfast, drive to Punakha through Dochula Pass (3,088m/10,130ft). In the clear spring sky; enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountain ranges. Then pass by the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo (Queen Mother of Bhutan) for the well being of His Majesty the King, Country and People of Bhutan. And visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang. The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple) was built to honor His Majesty the fourth DrukGyalpo, JigmeSingyeWangchuck. The past and future appear to merge in the details of the lhakhang (temple) that tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distant future.
Then drive further onto Punakha, on the wayt, visit the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing.
Afternoon visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho – Chu (male river) and the Mochu(female river). The dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century enthroned the first King Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck in 1907. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in the recent years by the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the dzong, you can see the highest standards in woodwork. Also visit the massive Kuenray, the Coronation Hall of all Bhutanese kings, the Dzongchung at the entrance to the dzong and the cantilever bridge over the Mochu that has been recently renovated.
In the evening visit local markets in Punakha. Night halt at a hotel in Punakha or Wangdue.
Distance: 125 km
Estimated travel time: 3 1/2 hours
After breakfast, drive through upper Punakha valley passing through farmhouses and take a leisure walk through farmhouses and then through nature to the beautiful Khamsum Yugyel Namgyal Chorten built by the Queen mother of Bhutan for peace and stability in this ever-changing world. This temple is situated on the hilltop overlooking the valley below. The leisurely walk up to the temple would take about 1 hour. Visit the temple and also enjoy the breathtaking view from there.
Then drive to Paro with lunch enroute. On arrival at Paro, check into your hotel and after a refreshment visit Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. It is also known as the Rinpung Dzong which means a “fortress that sits on a heap of jewels”. This imposing dzong located above the Paro River is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture with its inward sloping walls that rise to an impressive height. The dzong was built in the 16th century on the foundation of a monastery built by Guru Rinpoche (who is regarded as the “second Buddha.”) .From the dzong, walk further down to Nemey Zampa, an oldest traditional cantilever bridge in Bhutan.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, hike to Taktsang Goenpa (Tiger’s Nest Monastery). The hike up to the viewpoint will take about 1 1/2 hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. You will stop here for refreshments and then hike further up to the monastery which should take another hour.
It was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three months in the 8th century. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) flew to this location from eastern Bhutan on the back of a tigress and subdued a demon. He then performed meditation in one of the caves here and emerged in eight incarnated forms (manifestations) and blessed the place. Subsequently, the place came to be known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. Guru Padmasambhava is known for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen caves in which he meditated.
After visiting the monastery, walk back downhill to the road with lunch at the viewpoint cafeteria. Then drive back to your hotel after visiting Kichu Lhakhang on the way. Kichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demon.
In the evening relax and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, your tour guide will see you off at the Paro International Airport for your onward journey.