Druk Wangyal Tshechu is held annually at Druk Wangyal Lhakhang located at Dochula pass during the cold winter month of December. The festival features both traditional and newly choreographed mask dances and folk dances, some of which are dedicated to 4th King of Bhutan and Royal Bhutan Army who fought bravely against the Indian militants camping in the jungles of Bhutan and flushing them out in the year 2003.
Duration : 6 days and 5 nights
Nature of tour : Festival and cultural sightseeing
Festival venue : Dochula pass, Thimphu
Departure date : 11 December 2019
Festival date : 13 December 2019
Places covered : Paro, Thimphu and Punakha
Entry : Paro
Exit : Paro
Representative from See Bhutan Travels will pick you up from Paro International airport and transfer to your hotel. After Lunch we will drive around Paro valley and pay visit to following places:
Paro Ta Dzong: Located on a spur above Rinpung Dzong, five and a half kilometres’ drive from Tshongdu town, the dzong was built in the mid-17th century as a watchtower overlooking Rinpung Dzong by Lanyongpa Tenzin Drukdra and Chogyal Migyur Tenpa. The circular dzong houses the National Museum of Bhutan.
Paro Rinpung Dzong: Located on the bank of Pachu River, Paro Dzong, formally known as Rinchen Pung Dzong (shortened to Rinpung Dzong), was built in 1644 under the command of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is one of the most beautiful and historically important dzongs in the country. Today, it houses both district administration and monastic body.
Overnight: At hotel in Paro
After breakfast, we will drive towards Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. It is located 65 km east of Paro. At Thimphu we will be visiting to following places:
1. Memorial Chorten: Located in the heart of Thimphu city, it was built in 1974 by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Phuntsho Choden in memory of her son, Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The three-storey Chorten houses several relics such as Phurba Lhatshog, Kagay, Khrowo Nampur Gyalwa, Guru Tshengye, and Khenlop Chesum. The Chorten is today the spiritual nerve center of the city.
2. Buddha Statue: Located at Kuenselphodrang, facing Thimphu valley down bellow is the worlds’ largest and tallest Buddha statue standing at the height of 169 feet (52 m). The statue houses one hundred thousand of smaller Buddha statues, the exact replica of the outer Buddha statue. From here one can have a 360 degree view of Thimphu valley.
3. Textile museum: Located near National library at Chubachu, it was established in the year 2001. The museum contains Bhutanese textiles, arts, crafts and more importantly the royal collections which includes first version of the Raven crown worn by first and second King of Bhutan, dresses and accessories worn by royal family and the bedding of his holiness Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji.
4. Tashicho Dzong: Located on the bank of the Wangchu River in the Hejo village, Tashicho Dzong was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and enlarged in 1694 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay. It was entirely rebuilt under the command of Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1962. Today, the dzong is the seat of the central government, His Majesty the King’s office, and the summer residence of the Central Monastic Body.
Overnight: At hotel in Thimphu
After early breakfast at Thimphu we will drive towards Dochula pass, located 23 km east of Thimphu town to witness the festival. We will spend half of our day here, witnessing festival, mingling with locals who have come for the festival and enjoying the spectacular view of snowcapped mountains at the backdrop. Towards afternoon, we will start descending down towards Punakha valley.
Overnight: At hotel in Punakha.
In the morning we will pay visit to Punakha Dzong. From here slowly we will start driving back towards Paro. On the way we will pay visit to Chimi Lhakhang located at Lobesa.
Punakha Dzong: The dzong is situated on a stretch of a land where two rivers – Phochu and Mochu – meet. The dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1937 and named it Pungthang Dewa Chenpai Phodrang, the palace of great bliss. Later it became the final retreat palace for him. The first monarch, King Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned there and it served as the capital of the country until 1955. Today it serves as the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body. The sacred relic Rangjung Kharsapani is also kept in the Machen Temple inside the dzong.
Khemae Lhakhang: Located on a hillock in Lobesa (Punakha), the temple was built in 1499 by Lam Ngawang Chogyal, the cousin of Lam Drukpa Kunley, on the spot where the latter subdued a demon who was running away in the form of a dog. Lam Drukpa Kunley buried the demon and said there was no dog now (khe – dog; mae – no). Hence, the temple came to be known as the “temple of no dog”. Today however it is pronounced as Chimi Lhakhang. The temple contains the bow and arrows of Lam Drukpa Kunley and a phallus to bless the visitor.
Overnight: At hotel in Paro
Another interesting program of our tour is hiking to Taktsang monastery. Taktsang monastery to Bhutan has become like an Eifel tower to Paris. The hike on average will take around 6 hours in total. Horse riding facilities are available (own expense) till view point while hiking up towards the monastery.
History tells that, on this very cliff where the monastery stands today, Guru Rimpoche, the great Buddhist saint flew from Kurtoe Singye Dzong (located in eastern Bhutan) on a back of Tigress to subdue the demon who was opposing him from spreading Buddhism in Bhutan. Hence the name Taktsang, Tigers Lair or nest derived.
After subduing, Guru Rimpoche meditated here for 3 years. The monastery was later built in 1694 by 4th Druk Desi (secular head of the country), Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. Tragically, the monastery was gutted down by fire in the year 1998 but soon it was restored to its former glory.
Towards evening, after reaching back from Taktsang monastery, we will visit to Drugyal Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang.
Drugyal Dzong: Located in Phongdey village in Paro, the Dzong was built as one of the principal Dra Dzong (defense dzongs). While some attribute the building of the Dzong to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1649 to commemorate a victory over Tibetan invasion, some attribute it to the second Druk Desi Tenzin Drukdra. But as its name suggests (Druk – Drukpa; gyal – victory), the Dzong was built to celebrate the victory over Tibetans. The Dzong was used as the summer residence of Rinpung Rabdey until 1951 when it was completely burnt down. The Dzong is currently being rebuilt to its former glory to celebrate the birth of crown prince Jigme Namgyel.
Paro Kichu Lhakhang: Located about 10 minutes’ drive from Paro town, the temple is one of the two among 108 temples built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century to subdue a demon that lay supine across Tibet and Bhutan. The temple contains sacred relics dating back to the 7th century like a statue of Lord Buddha and four statues of Chagtong Chentong. It also contains the statues of Guru Nangsi Zilnon, Dolma Kukuli (a manifestation of Tara), Zhabdrung, the bone relic of his Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
Overnight: At hotel in Paro
After breakfast, your guide and drivel will see you off at Paro international airport for your onward destination.
Some may find food in Bhutan monotonous with the same menu being offered in every restaurants and hotels but these foods are true to Bhutan, unique in its own way, different from anywhere else in the world.
Bhutanese people are very fond of spicy foods and chili lies in the center of every cuisine as its main ingredient. A proper meal from the Bhutanese point of view is a plate full of rice with curry prepared either of vegetable or meat items.
Bhutan being cultural destination rather than a culinary, there are not much to choose from but whatever that are offered are authentic and native.
Other than rice and curry, Momo is a popular snack that one will enjoy in Bhutan. Momo is a Tibetan originated dumpling stuffed with cabbages and onions along with beef, pork or cheese.
Other than Bhutanese cuisine, restaurants in Bhutan also serves Chinese and Indian dish such as noodles and Roti. Popular drink one must try while at Bhutan are Suja, the salted butter tea, Ara the locally brewed wine from rice, maize or millet and Bangchang the rice, millet or maize beer. It will be quite a task to get Ara and Bangchang at western parts of Bhutan but are easily available if you are visiting some of the far away villages in eastern parts of Bhutan; they will even offer to you for free as a gesture of hospitability.
Refrain from drinking water directly from tap or streams. Bottled water will be provided everyday by the tour operators.Tour Vehicle
Tour vehicles are prearranged by your respective tour operators and its costs are covered by the minimum daily packages that are paid prior to your arrival in Bhutan. Depending on the size of travelers tour vehicles are arranged as follows:
Tourists to Bhutan are not allowed to travel on their own and it is mandatory to use the service of a professional guide trained and certified by Tourism council of Bhutan. Guides in general speak English but language speaking guides are also available for few languages such as French, German, Chinese and Japanese. Your guide and driver along with tour vehicle will be waiting for you at the port of entry.
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