6 DAYS PARO TSHECHU (FESTIVAL)
Kindly be at the check-in counter at least 2 hours ahead of your flight departure time. Your check-in luggage limit is 30kg on Economy Class / 40kg on Business Class, and hand luggage must not exceed 5kg.
DAY 1: PARO – THIMPHU (B/L/D) (65km, 1 hour)
On arrival at Paro international airport you will be received by a representative of Bhutan Raewa Travels who will be waiting outside the arrival terminal of the Airport holding a placard with your name on it. The representative will be your guide for the duration of the tour and will welcome you in a traditional manner by offering a khadar (greeting scarf).
Drive to see the Rinpung dzong, built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now used as an administration center and school for monks.
Get a glimpse of the Ugyen Pelri Palace in a secluded wooden compound south of the river which was built by the Paro Penlop, Tshering Penjor, in the early 1900s. It is designed after the Second Buddha’s celestial paradise, Zangtopelri and one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture.
Visit The National Museum: rated as one of the finest natural history museums in South Asia which is a repository of not only precious work of art but also costumes, armor and other hand crafted objects of daily life that provide a good snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. Of special interest is the gallery of thangkhas which exhibits exquisite pieces of different vintages – those depicting Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first Je Khempo and first Druk desi are of particular significance.
Then drive to Thimphu valley, at an elevation of 2,350 m / 7700 ft. Urbanization began here when Thimphu was proclaimed as a national capital in 1952 and the Dechenchoeling Palace was built at this time. Even today the city retains its ethnic architectural style and is the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Yet unlike other capital cities in the world, Thimphu remains essentially pastoral in character and changes its demeanor with the seasons.
Check into hotel.
After lunch begin local sightseeing of the following places:
- Walk around Memorial Chhorten in Thimphu built in 1974 in memory of the Third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. The Memorial Chhorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, and for many people it is the focus of their daily worship.
- Drive to see the Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal, the Takin.
- Further, drive up to BBS tower to get a view of the Thimphu valley.
- The Changangkha temple, built in the 15 century by Lama Phajo Drigom. It lies on a hilltop commanding the Thimpu valley. The temple has very old scriptures and Thankas. The main deity of the temple is Avalokiteshvara, God of compassion.
Evening: Visit Tashichhodzong, whose history dates back to the 13th century, wherein houses His Majesty’s Throne Room and is the summer home to the Monastic Body.
Overnight at hotel – Thimphu.
DAY 2: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (77km, about 3 hours)
Morning before you drive to Punakha visit the following places;
- Visit the National Library, a treasure trove of priceless Buddhist manuscripts. The National Library of Bhutan (NLB) was established in 1967 with the primary objective of collecting and preserving mainly ancient Bhutanese written and printed resources. The multi-functional library can now pride itself on being a modern library with a number of service and research facilities. It accommodates a large and steadily growing collection of manuscripts, books, scriptures and written documents as well as a large number of hand carved wooden blocks for printing traditional religious books.
- Then move to The National Folk Heritage Museum to get an insight into the typical Bhutanese way of life. Folk Heritage Museum at Thimphu provides you a glimpse of the lifestyle, items and artifacts of Bhutanese villages and rural households. Besides the display, the museum also organizes demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs, educational programs for children and research and documentation on the rural life of Bhutan. The museum building itself is one of the star exhibits of the library. It is a restored three-storey traditional rammed mud and timber house that resembles the average rural household in the Wang area during the mid-19th century, complete with typical household objects, domestic tools and equipments that were used by rural families of that period.
After that drive toward Punakha valley (the old capital of the country) via the Dochula Mountain pass (3,140 m). On a clear day Dochu La offers a stunning view of the snow capped Himalayan ranges:
- Kang Bum (6,526 m)
- Gangchhenta (6,840 m)
- Masang Gang (7,165 m)
- Tsenda Gang (7,100 m)
- Teri Gang (7,300 m)
- Jejekangphu Gang (7,100 m)
- Zongophu Gang ( Table Mt ) (7,100 m)
- Gangkhar Puensum (7,541 m)
There is a powerful binocular telescope in the cafeteria from where these peaks can be viewed and contains information on their elevation.
Visit Druk Wangyel Chhorten, built by the Queen Mother for the peace and stability of the country. The 108 Khangzang Namgyal Chhortens are a new landmark for travellers as they cross Dochula, the first mountain pass into the interior of the country.
On the way visit Chimi Lhakhang, located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. There is a short 20 minute walk through the village of Sopsokha en-route to the temple wherein you will cross paddy fields and get a feel for rural Bhutan. The temple was built by Ngawang Chogyel in the 15th century after the ‘divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. The temple is believed to bless couples unable to have children and many people from around the world visit this holly site to seek its blessings.
Drive to see the impressive Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful dzongs of Bhutan. For many years until the time of the second King, it served as the seat of the government. It is the winter residence of the monastic body, and was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Inside the Dzong is the set of the 108 volumes of Kanjur – holy book of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, written in gold. The Dzong also safe guards Bhutan’s most treasured possession: the Rangjung Kharsapani, a self created image of Chenrigzig which is described by Shabdrung as a treasure as vast as the sky.
Check into hotel.
Overnight at hotel – Punakha
DAY 3: PUNAKHA – PARO (B/L/D) (142km, about 4 hours)
The day in Punakha valley begins with a drive through the town of Khuruthang and continues along the banks of the Mo Chu River, passing the Phuntsho Pelri Palace and several other winter homes of the Royal Family. At the upper end of the valley, a hike across a footbridge through terraces of rice, chillies and cabbage.
Then walk to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chhorten (50 minutes) – a three-storey chhorten built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck in 1999 for the protection of the country, stands on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang, and is located about 6 miles from Punakha. It presents an incredibly complex iconography, which belongs to the Nyingmapa tradition.
After that drive back to Paro.
On arrival, check into the hotel.
Evening visit Farmhouse: The visit to a Farmhouse is very interesting to get an idea of how Bhutanese people live. The Farmhouses are very decorative, built and painted in a classical style. The houses are normally three stories; the ground floor is used for cattle, the top floor is used for drying hay while the family live in middle one.
Try a hot stone bath.
Overnight at hotel – Punakha
DAY 4: PARO – FESTIVAL (B/L/D)
Today after breakfast we will witness Paro Tshechu for whole day. Paro Tshechu is a festival honouring Guru Padmasambhava – “one who was born from a lotus flower.” This Indian saint contributes enormously to the diffusion of Trantric Buddhism in Himalayan regions of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan etc. around 800 AD. He is the founder of the Nyingmapa sect, the “old school” of Lamaism which still has numerous followers.
The biography of Guru is highlighted by 12 episodes of the model of the Buddha Shakyamuni’s life. Each episode is commemorated around the year on the 10th day of the month by “Tshechu.”The dates and the duration of the festival vary from one district to another, but they always take place on or around the 10th day of the month according to the Bhutanese calendar. During Tshechu, monks and laymen perform the dances. The Tshechu is a religious festival and by attending it, one gain merits. It is also an annual event where the people, dressed in all their finery, come together to rejoice.
Overnight at hotel – Paro.
DAY 5: PARO DAY EXCURSION – FESTIVAL (B/L/D)
After an early breakfast take a short drive to road point from where the hike begins to the famous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) which clings precariously to a cliff 800 m / 2,600 ft above the Paro valley.
The climb up to the view point will take around three hours (depending on one’s fitness). In the second half of the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, alighted here upon the back of a tigress, and upon meditating for three months in a cave, assumed the form of Dorje Droloe, the Terrifying Thunderbolt and subjugated the Eight Evil Spirits who hindered the propagation of Buddhism. Thereafter, the Buddhist Dharma was introduced to Paro valley and soon spread to the rest of Bhutan. Taktsang is one of the holiest sites in the country and one of the most venerated Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas.
Lunch will be served during the return hike back to the road point.
Visit Drugyal Dzong, now in ruins, was built in 1646 by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, led by Mongolian Warlord, Gushri Khan. Strategically built over the only passage into Paro valley, the Dzong helped to repel numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. It so impressed the early English visitors in 1914 that the Dzong was featured on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine. In fine weather, the towering peak of Mount Jumolhari 7314 m high appears as a backdrop. This mountain which marks the frontier with Tibet is sacred and the dwelling place of goddess Jomo.
In the afternoon we will again witness the Paro festival.
The evening has been kept free for leisurely visit to Paro town.
Overnight at hotel – Paro.
DAY 6: PARO – DEPARTURE (B/-/-)
After breakfast your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight onward.