Punakha Tshechu5 Nights 6 Days
One of the biggest festivals in the Bhutanese calendar, the Punakha Tshechu is held every year, sometime in February or March. The most important display during the five-day festival is the re-enactment of the Tibetan invasion of Bhutan in 1639. In this theatrical display, a mock throwing of a relic to the Mochu River is dramatized along with a group performance by more than a hundred people dressed as warriors, popularly known as “Pazaps.”.This performance tells the story of 17th century Bhutan, when the Bhutanese were under siege by Tibetan forces. Devoid of a standing army of its own, the duty to hold the Fort fell on the local militiamen called “Pazaps”, from the eight great villages (Tshogchens) of Thimphu. The invaders were routed. To celebrate the victory, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal introduced the Punakha Drubchen. The 17th century scene is re-enacted during the Drubchen with local men dressed as “Pazaps”.
In Paro valley, we see the castle-fortress at Rinpung, the ruins of the “Victory Fortress at Drugyel”, the National Museum, and the 7th century temple complex at Kurje. The highlight is the hike to Taktshang monastery (Tiger’s Lair), an edifice on a sheer cliff wall 800 meters above the valley floor, worshipped in the entire Himalayan Buddhist world.
In Thimphu, we visit the magnificent castle-fortress at Tashi Chho Dzong, the seat of power which also houses the palace of the King. Then we go to other places of interest like the Memorial Stupa, traditional paper factory, Folk Heritage Museum, Textile Academy, Handicraft Emporium, the site of the world’s biggest Buddha statue.
Stroll around town and see Bhutanese culture by observing people, dress, language, customs, art and craft, etc.
Arrive at Paro (2280m)
As the plane banks over the mountain slopes, the Paro Valley greet you with luminous paddies rippling in the breeze and tiny houses sprinkled on the bank of the meandering river. The air is crystal clear, light translucent and on horizon, snowcapped mountains frame the idyllic like painting. It does not matter how many times you land in Paro, the bucolic valley unfolds like a dream. If you are lucky, you will have a glorious view of the Snowcapped Himalayas. After visa formalities and collection of baggage, you will meet our representative from Journey To Discover Bhutan. Afternoon visit: National museum and Rimpong dzong. Overnight at hotel.
Excursion to Taktsang
After early breakfast, we will drive up to the Ramthangka (base camp) of Taktsang and then hike to Taktsang, the Tiger’s nest. The five-hour round trip follows an ancient but oft-trodden footpath flanked by water-driven prayer wheels. The temple, precariously perched on a hair-raising ravine about 1,000 metres above the valley floor, is considered sacrosanct as it was in a cave within this temple that the eight century tantric saint, Padmasambhava, subdued the evils who obstructed the teachings of the Buddha. The saint is believed to have come to Taktshang in a fiery wrathful form riding a tigress. Over the years, many Buddhist saints have meditated in and around the temple and discovered numerous hidden treasure teachings. Visit the ruins of Drugyel Dzong enroute. The fortress known as the “Castle of the Victorious Drukpa”, is a symbol of Bhutan’s victory over the Tibetan invasions in the 17th and 18th centuries. We can also get a view of the sacred mountain, Jumolhari, along the way. On the way back to our hotel, we will visit the 7th century Kyichu Temple, believed to have been built on a place that resembled a knee of a giant ogress.
After breakfast, drive to Punakha – approximately 4-hour drive through picturesque valleys and mountain slopes dotted with typical Bhutanese villages.We will pass the famous Dochula pass (3,100m) where on a clear day we can see the entire eastern Himalayan range, teeming with 6,000m to 7,554m snow-capped mountains. The pass also known for its abundant species of extremely beautiful flowers has 108 Buddhist stupas exquisitely built around a mound, adding to the natural splendor of the place. From the pass we descend to the sub-tropical valley of Punakha. Punakha served as the ancient capital of capital and still possesses the country’s main treasures in the form of Buddhist relics. Resembling a gigantic ship on an ocean floor from afar, and girdled by two (Male and Female) rivers, the castle-fortress also represents the best specimen of Bhutanese architecture. En-route visit the Temple of Fertility – Chimi Lhakhang. This temple, built in the 15th century to honour the “Divine Madman”, a saint iconoclast who is also associated with phallus worship, attracts barren couples from all over to receive fertility blessings from an anointed phallus. Halt at hotel.
One of the Kingdom’s most popular Tsechus and held in the Majestic Punakha Dzong (Fortress), the highlight of this festival is the Drubchen, which precedes the Tsechu. Punakha Drubchen tells the story of 17th century Bhutan, when the Bhutanese were under siege by Tibetan forces. Devoid of a standing army of its own, the duty to hold the Fort fell on the local militiamen called “Pazaps”, from the eight great villages (Tshogchens) of Thimphu. The invaders were routed. To celebrate the victory, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal introduced the Punakha Drubchen. The 17th century scene is re-enacted during the Drubchen with local men dressed as “Pazaps”. The Tsechu follows the Drubchen. Overnight at hotel.
After breakfast, we will drive to Thimphu and witness the capital city’s historical and significant places. Thimphu has lots to offer and the pick for you will firstly be the Memorial Chorten, one of Bhutan’s most beautiful stupas, built in memory of the Third King, Late His Majesty Jigmi Dorji Wangchuck, known as the Father of Modern Bhutan. A short drive from there will take you to Buddha Point, where the statue of the World’s largest Future Buddha (Maitreya) will be seen. From there we will move to the Handicraft’s Emporium, Weaving Centre and Changangkha monastery, one built in the 12thcentury. There will also be visits to the Takin zoo, Sangaygang, which offers a view point of Thimphu valley and a Nunnery. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant, after which we visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved and the Wood Craft and Painting school. In the evening, we will visit Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building. This massive structure houses part of the government Ministries, the office of the King and the Throne Room. It also houses the State Monastic Body and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot and the senior monks. Overnight at hotel.
Departure from Bhutan
After breakfast, we will drive to Paro international airport for your onward flight. Our representative will see you off.
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What our clients say
Our ten day trip through Bhutan was a truly amazing experience. Bhutan is a beautiful kingdom and thanks to our excellent guide Tsheten, we could explore it thoroughly.
Tine Raeymaekers & Cis Verbeeck
I visited Bhutan in January/February 2007 for 11 days, and it was an incredible experience. Tsheten took very good care of me and introduced me at easy pace to Bhutan culture, customs, history and people.
It was clear that Bhutan had captured everyone's attention when my fellow taking photos the minute they stepped off the plane - and we hadn't even entered the airport yet! I was met at the airport by Tsheten himself, and from start to finish, he was organized, charming and attentive.