Bhutana purely Buddhist Himalayan Kingdom is unsurpassed in its scenic majesty and vibrant culture. The kingdom shares with Nepal the world’s greatest concentration of Mountains and living heritage of Buddhism. The fifty minutes flight from Kathmandu to Paro can truly be described as a flight into fantasy. During the flight a firsthand close-up view of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and many other famous Peaks become a reality. Bi-weekly flights between these two Kingdoms have made travel easier to the long-isolated Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan.
About Paro Tshechu Festival
One of the most revered and important events is the Paro Tsechu (11th to 15th day of the 2nd month of the Bhutanese calendar every year). The Tshechu begins (10th day of the 2nd month of the Bhutanese calendar) and ends (16th day of the 2nd month of the Bhutanese calendar) from Dzongdrakha monastery above Bondey. Paro Tshechu is also one of the most popular festivals in the country.
People from all over the country flock into the festival premises in their best dresses to witness and get blessings during the five-day Tshechu. Tourists from far and wide add to both the number and variety of people attending the Tshechu. Various Mask Dances and Folk Dances are performed both by the monks and the laymen from the community.
The main highlight and attraction of the Tsechu is the unfurling of the giant Guru Thongdrel (Liberation by the sight of it) on the 5th day of the Tshechu, is a masterpiece of silver embroidery of Guru Rinpoche’s eight manifestations and two consorts. Even people from other districts travel to Paro to witness and get blessings from the Thongdrel.
The Thongdrel is brought from the Dzong in a religious ceremonial procession to the Tshechu ground at Deyangkha and unfurled at 3 am which covers the entire three storied building. After the completion of rituals and blessings, the Thongdrel is furled and taken back to the Dzong before sunrise.
Upon arrival in Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, meet assist and transfer to the hotel for short refreshment and breakfast.
Later after drive to Bhaktapur City, literally the “City of Devotees”, is renowned for its elegant art, fabulous culture, colorful festivals, traditional dances and the typical Newari lifestyle. Here explore the Royal Palace, the Golden Gate, and the entrance to the Palace of 55 Windows, known as the most significant piece of art in Nepal. Then visit the highest temple in the entire Kathmandu Valley- the Nyatapola Temple. This is also listed on a UNISCO world heritage site.
Later continue to Patan City, this ancient city of Patan also known as the “city of fine arts” or Lalitpur houses the residence of the former Patan royal family. Patan Durbar Square and its surroundings are good specimen of ancient Newari architecture. There are three main courtyards in the palace: Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Mul Chowk, the oldest one, is at the center of Patan square.
Pm: After lunch drive up to Swayambhunath Stupa situated atop a hill from where you could get a bird’s eye view of Kathmandu valley. The Swayambhunath Stupa is also known as the “Monkey Temple”, which is listed UNESCO world heritage Site.
Upon arrival meet assist and proceed to departure terminal of Kathmandu’s International Airport to board the Druk Air Flight to Paro (KB 401 – ETD 09:10 / ETA 10:30). After completion airport formalities transfer to nearby restaurant for some refreshment and lunch.
Later start scenic drive to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, which is home to many attractions. Thimphu became a town in 1961 and grew as the capital of Bhutan. Earlier it was a small settlement and was developed by the King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk. Today the city sprawls across the western slopes of the Wang Chhu River valley, with several government offices located around Tashichoe dzong. It houses the seat of government and the office of His Majesty King Jigme Singey Wangchuk. There are lots of sightseeing attractions of which some of the highlights are the General post office, handicraft centre, national library etc.
Pm: After lunch, check in at hotel for short rest and refreshment. Later visit Buddha Point (giant statue of lord Buddha), where you can meditate and circumambulate the magnificent Buddha statue.
Eve: Visit Tashichhodzong, the beautiful medieval fortress/monastery which houses most of the Government’s office and King’s Throne room. Please note Tashichhodzong is also the summer residence of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot.
After breakfast, start drive eastwards to the Punakha Valley. Continue ascending to Dochu La (pass) to view the 108 Stupas, commissioned by a former Queen as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the low intensity conflict in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutan – Indian border. On a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalaya and depending on the time of the year the vista can vary from alpine snow (November – March)
After visiting 108 Stupas, continue drive to Punakh Valley en-route stop at Labessa for lunch. After lunch short drive and walk through the farmland to Visit famous Chimmi Lakhang Temple which was built in 1944 in the Memory of Lama Drukpa Kunley(1455 – 1570) was an enlightened Buddhist master who practiced the Vajrayana form of Buddhism. He followed a non-conventional and outrageous style of teaching. Drukpa Kunley roamed around the countryside and indulged in song and dance, alcohol and women. In short, he meant to go beyond the norms and conventions set by the society. Hence he is also known as divine madman. He had also tamed the fierce demon of Dochu La pass. He imprisoned her and buried her in the main chorten where Chimi Lhakhang was built. Lama Drukpa Kunley’s phallus is also known as the ‘flaming thunderbolt’ and is essentially worshipped here. Lamas inside the monastery distribute sacred threads among the pilgrims as a part of the offering. It is believed that childless women who visit the temple will conceive after receiving a “wang” (blessing) from the resident monk.
Later after visiting Chimmi Lakhang drive to magnificent Punakha Dzong for sightseeing tour. It was built strategically at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung NgawangNamgyal to serve as the religious and strative centre of the region; Punakha Dzong has played an important role in Bhutan’s history. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the present King. After sightseeing tour transfer to hotel for room check in and rest.
Am: After breakfasr drive to Gangtey Gompa valley at an altitude of 2800 meters. The only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan is located here.
This beautiful valley is also home to the rare Black Necked Cranes migrating from the Tibetan plateau to escape the harsh winter. Black Necked Cranes arrive Bhutan by 1st or 2nd week on November every year. The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) is taking every measure to ensure the safety of the Cranes. While the cranes reside in the winter valley for 4/5 months the village folks are not allowed to make loud noises or fish in the river that runs through the valley. After lunch hike around the stroll around the beautiful Phobjica Valley.
We will walk or drive to nearby remote villages to experience the Bhutanese lifestyle of Mountain people. Later after lunch continue drive back to Punakha.
Eve: Time permitting drive to beautiful Wolakha Nunnery on top of Punakha Valley to participate on Evening rituals with Nuns who will offer blessings to the people who participate with them for rituals.
We start early today to witness greatThanka Ceremony(Thongdral) at Ringpung Dzong. After this festival return back to hotel for breakfast and refreshment.
Am:After breakfast, proceed for a sightseeing tour of ruined fortress of Drugyel dzong which still attracts visitors due to the strategic location of the fort. En-route to Drukyal Dzong you have a distance view of beautiful Taksang Monastery which is also known as “Tiger’s nest”
Eve: Visit Kychu Lakhang, where you can witness people offer butter lamp in the memory of departed soul from their family.
After early breakfast transfer to Paro International Airport to board the Druk Air flight to Kathmandu (Flight no: KB 400 ETD 07:10 / ETA 08:10).
Upon arrival proceed proceed to Pashupatinath Temple, with its astonishing architectural beauty, stands as a symbol of faith, religion, culture and tradition. Regarded as the most sacred temple of Hindu Lord Shiva in the world, Pashupatinath Temple’s existence dates back to 400 A.D. The richly-ornamented pagoda houses the sacred linga or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this temple that is also known as ‘The Temple of Living Beings’, which is listed UNESCO world heritage Site.
Later transfer to hotel for room check in and refreshment. Later continue to Bouddhanath Stupa, the biggest stupa in Nepal. This is also called by many as Khasti Chitya, is one of the oldest stupas in the country. The stupa, a well-known Buddhist pilgrimage site, is included in World Heritage Cultural site list by UNESCO. With diameter of about 100m and 40m height, Buddhanath holds its place among the largest stupa in the world.
After lunch in Bouddhanath, proceed for sightseeing tour of Kathmandu Durbar Square. Listed as one of the eight Cultural World Heritage site by UNESCO, Kathmandu Durbar Square is a cluster of ancient temples, palaces, courtyards and streets that date back to the 12th and 18th centuries. The square is known to be the social, religious and urban focal point of the Capital City. The Palace Complex was the royal Nepalese residence until the 19th century and was the site of important ceremonies, such as the coronation of the Nepalese monarch. We can also visit Templeof Living Goddess “Kumari”, and the Kasthamandap Temple, which is believed to be constructed from the wood of a single tree from which Kathmandu derives its name.