The Tshechu (festival) is a religious event celebrated on the tenth of a month (lunar calendar), corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche. However the exact month of the Tshechu varies from place to place and temple to temple. Tshechus are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to the mask dances, Tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment. It is believed that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Every mask dance performed during a Tshechu has a special meaning or a story behind it and many are based on stories and incidents from as long ago as the 8th century, during the life of Guru Rimpoche. In monasteries the mask dances are performed. The most popular festivals are Thimphu Festival, Paro Festival, Punakha Festival, and Bumthang Jamba Lhakhang Drup Festival.
The flight to Bhutan provides the most spectacular view of The Himalayas. As the plane approaches Paro, you will see the beautiful snow peaks of Himalaya range. The first gift from Bhutan will be cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. Our representative will meet you and drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan at 2320m, also the only capital in the world that does not use traffic lights.
On arrival in Thimphu, check in the hotel. After a brief rest we will head to the National Memorial Chorten, which was the idea of Bhutan’s Third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who had wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his Majesty’s untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace. You will see a lot of Bhutanese people circumambulating, reading mantras in murmuring and spinning their prayer wheels the chorten throughout the day.
Then we visit the Buddha Point, the massive statue of Shakyamuni Buddha measures at a height of 51,5 meters is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park .You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in Bhutan and then walk around to enjoy the great view of Thimphu valley .
In the late afternoon, take a walk around to explore Thimphu town and soak in the atmosphere of this charming capital with crowded shops, bazaars and hospitality local in national dress.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
The National Library of Bhutan, was established in 1967 to preserve the rich cultural and religious heritage of Bhutan and The Himalayas. It holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and historic manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion.
The Folk Heritage Museum, restored three-storey, rammed mud and timber house replicates a rural household and is furnished as it would have been in the mid-19th century to provide an interesting glimpse into rural Bhutanese life.
The National Textile Museum, is the place to learn about Bhutan’s living national art of thagzo (weaving). Weaving is an integral component of the culture and tradition of Bhutan. It displays Royal ghos and Kiras and introduces the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and type of textiles made by women and men.
The Jungshi Handmade Paper factory, a small factory produces traditional Bhutanese paper from the bark of two tree species, the Daphne and Dhekap tree. You can observe the entire process of producing handmade paper. It is named Deh sho paper, was originally used by monasteries for woodblock and manuscript books and also for writing prayer books.
In the afternoon we will visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, commonly known as the Arts And Crafts School or the Painting School, operates four to six- year courses on the thirteen traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. You will be able to see students doing painting (thangkas- painted religious pictures, walls, and statues to the decorations on furniture and window-frames), embroidery (hangings, boots, clothes) or clay arts (religious statues, pottery), wood carving (masks, statues).
In the late afternoon visit the Tashichho Dzong, fortress of The Glorious Religion. It has been the seat of the government since 1952, after the Third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorje Wangchuck made this dzong to be a symbol of the new capital of Bhutan. It houses secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty, the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot and central monk body.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Today we will drive to Punakha. On the way we stop and take a short hike to the Hongtsho Goemba, a monastery built in 1525 by Lam Ngawang Chogyal, the older brother of Drukpa Kuenlay. The trail leads up passing farm lands Apple orchards, potato fields, and vegetable gardens. The Hungtsho Goemba stands overlooking the village below and serves as the Buddhist community centre.
The journey continues to Dochula pass which high on top of a mountain (3050 metres), overlooking the Himalayas with 108 chortens (stupas) known as “Druk Wangyal Chortens” and Druk Wangyal Lhakhang, built in memory of Bhutanese soldiers killed in the 2003 battle against Assamese insurgents from India. The Queen Mother, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, commissioned the monument the Fourth King, His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was victorious in the struggle to dislodge the rebels who were using Bhutan as a base to raid India. We will stop for lunch and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges here.
Along the way, we will take a pleasant hike to across hillock fields to the Chimi Lhakhang, the Temple of Fertility and built in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kuenley –“Divine Madman”.
On arrival in Punakha, we will visit the Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. It is an imposing structure and was built in 1637 at the confluence of two rivers, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu. It served as the capital and seat of government until the early 1950s. The dzong is still the winter residence of the monk body.
In the evening we will take a stroll exploring Punakha village, located right on the bank of river.
Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Today after breakfast we take a hike to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, stands majestically on a strategic ridge above the Punakha valley. After crossing a suspension bridge, it is a pleasant hike through beautiful fields of rice and pine trees. It takes about an hour from the road point to hike up to the temple, and 30 minutes downhill. After lunch at local restaurant, we head to the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang, a temple plus nunnery perched on a ridge overlooking the valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang, comprises a double storied temple, a chorten resembling Nepal’s boudhanath stupa and a nunnery complex.
Afterwards we hike to charming Talo village via Norbugang village to see a great views of Punakha valley. It takes you 3 hours to hike.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Today we return back to Paro. On the way we visit the Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan, built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The dzong houses statues and paintings of various Buddhas, deities and religious figures including The Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, Jampelyang the Bodhisattava of Wisdom, Shakya Gyalpo the Buddha of Compassion and others.
In The Afternoon we will join Paro festival, one of the most popular spiritual festivals in Bhutan which is festival in honour of Guru Rinpoche, commemoration his great deeds. In the early morning hundreds of local people dressed in their finest clothes and jewellery who have walked from another region around to attend the festival. You will have opportunity to see a story about victories of Guru Rinpoche to drive out evil spirits and purify the ground with their footsteps or the story of the assassination of the anti – Buddhist Tibetan king Langdarma, in the year AD 842 by a monk,…. by the performance of monks, laymen or gomchens with masks, dances and religious music. It is also an occasion for prayer and blessings.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
On the last day of festival the monks display a gigantic thangkha (embroidered painting), the Guru Throngdel, inside the dzong. Thongdrols are especially impressive examples of Buddhist art and never fail to amaze viewers. They are considered so sacred that simply seeing a Thongdrol is said to cleanse the viewer of sin.
After the Thongdrel Ceremony, we take a hike to the Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest. It is one of the most holy sites in Bhutan, clings to a cliff more than 3000 metres above sea level and 900 metres above The Paro valley floor. The legend says that Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) arrived here on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. Subsequently, he meditated here for three months. Every Bhutanese person is expected to complete the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. You will have lunch at Taktshang cafeteria from where you get a spectacular view of the monastery. Then we will visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in The Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. This temples marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. In the 8th century the temple was visited by Guru Padmasambhava.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Druk Air or Bhutan Air departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions so after breakfast, your transfer to the airport will be arranged for between 5am and 12 Noon depending on the flight schedule
It is strongly recommended that you be insured against medical and personal accident risks (including repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue services) and that you also take out cancellation insurance. You should be aware that some policies restrict coverage or do not cover travel to Bhutan and may not cover activities such as trekking (and mountain bike). Please ensure that your policy provides a sufficient level of protection and covers you for the activities involved. You must carry proof of insurance (e.g. your insurance certificate) with you to Bhutan.
This itinerary is intended as a guide only. Local conditions and weather may necessitate variations to the programmed which can affect the availability of views and panoramas described. Please be aware that all times stated are approximate, and may vary with individual and group fitness and interest levels.
Beyond The Sky Adventures provides complimentary drinking water for all guided itineraries. If you have any special dietary requests, please let us know in advance. Where stated, trips include lunchtime picnics. Please place your picnic order the day before departure via your Guide. Throughout your stay you have the option to participate in a range of extra outdoor activities at an additional charge.
Beyond The Sky Adventures handles the whole booking process on your behalf, including Druk Air or Bhutan Air flights. However, the price of Air fare is not included in the package and it is therefore advisable to book well in advance to secure seats. We also handle visa application processing (included in the package). It normally takes 2 to 3 weeks to process the visa but under some circumstances, we can accelerate the process.
Please read this document in conjunction with your confirmation letter and pre-departure information.
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