Thimphu Tshechu is a 3 day festival held every year in the capital city of Bhutan; Thimphu. The festival starts on 10th day of the 8th month of Bhutanese (Lunar) calendar. During this 3 day festival, varieties of mask and folk dances are put into show by monks, villagers and national art performers.
It is a perfect time for friends and families to get together. All the schools and offices within Thimphu district remains closed during the festival.
Duration : 6 days and 5 nights
Festival venue : Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu
Nature of tour : Festival and cultural sightseeing
Departure date : 8 October 2019
Festival date : 8 October -10 October 2019
Places covered : Paro, Thimphu and Punakha
Entry : Paro
Exit : Paro
On arrival, our guide and driver will receive you from Paro international airport and transfer to Thimphu (capital). Towards evening pay visit to Memorial Chorten (stupa).
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 centre of the city.
Overnight: At hotel in Thimphu
Today is the highlight of our tour. We will dedicate half of the day for witnessing Tshechu and half for visiting to important tourist sites such as Buddha Statue, Textile Museum and Simtokha Dzong.
The principal focus point of Tshechu traditions in Bhutan are mask dances known as cham in local language. These chams are directly related to Buddhist culture and incidents from the life of Guru Rimpoche, a Buddhist saint who visited Bhutan in 8th century from Nepal. While in Bhutan, it is believed that Guru Rimpoche performed mask dances to subdue local spirits and demons that were bringing chaos in the region. He later turned them into as protector of Buddhism.
Since then these traditions has been followed for centuries, becoming one of the core values of Bhutanese culture and tradition. Some of the mask dances (cham) performed at Thimphu tshechu are Dance of heroes (Pacham), Dance of Stags and Hounds (Shawo shakhi), Dance of drums originated from Dramitse village (Dramitse Ngacham), Dance of judgement after dead (Ragsha Mangcham) and the Dance of 8 manifestations of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Tshengye).
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 (52m). 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.
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.
Overnight: At hotel in Thimphu
Today we will proceed eastward, towards Punakha district. On the way, we will have stopover at Dochula pass (3100m). Located 23 km east of Thimphu city, beautified by hundred and eight (108) stupas, Dochula pass on the clear day can offer an astounding view of snow capped Himalayas. From here the road then descends down till our next stopover at Khemae Lhakhang (monastery).
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.
After arriving Punakha, we will visit to Punakha Dzong and hike to Khamsum Yelley Namgyal Choeten:
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.
Khamsum Yelley Namgyal Choeten: Located in Kabesa Gewog, about 7 km drive from Punakha town; the choeten was built with the sponsorship of her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck between 1992 and 1999 under the guidance of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Lam Sonam Zangpo. The three-storey choeten contains the images of Dorji Phurba on the ground floor, Khrowo Khamsum Namgyal on the first floor, and Khrowo Nampur Gyalwa on the second floor.
Overnight: At hotel in Punakha
Today we will travel back to Paro. At Paro, pay visit to Paro Ta Dzong (museum) and Paro Rinpung Dzong.
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
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 subdueing, 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.
Overnight: At hotel in Paro
Your short and memorable tour of Bhutan comes to an end today. After breakfast, your guide and driver 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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