Paro Taktshang or the Tiger Nest Monastery is regarded as one of Bhutan’s most sacred and religious sites and is the most visited and popular Buddhist pilgrimage site. It is located on a cliff 900m above the Paro valley. Taktshang was mainly incepted because it is believed that the Guru Rinpoche (A Buddhist master who brought Buddhism to Bhutan) with his magical powers flew to this cliff on the back of a tigress in order to suppress a devil in the area in the 8th century. Chen-Ray Travel & Tours is an eminent travel agency that provides Paro Taktshang Tour to our valuable clients. So, experience an Adventure in Paro Taktshang with us.
Gomkora Tshechu: 24th to 26th March 2018
Paro Tshechu: 27th to 31st March 2018
Paro Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals in Bhutan as it is held in spring and is conveniently located in Paro valley. Gomkora Tshechu is unlike other festivals in Bhutan. It includes circumambulation around the Chorten (Stupa) chanting prayers. Locals from Eastern Bhutan often use this occasion to meet a date that often lead to marriage.
Day 1 – Arrival in Paro- Thimphu
On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be warmly received by a friendly, traditionally dressed Chen-Ray Travel & Tours’ (Bhutan Travel Company) representative with a traditional white welcome scarf (called Khadhar) with eight auspicious symbols printed on it. Drive to Thimphu which is about 1 hour drive from airport with sightseeing en route. Check in to your hotel and relax with a cup of welcome tea.
National Memorial Chorten: This Chorten (stupa) was built (1974) in honor of the late 3rd King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. Built in a typical Tibetan style outside and with three shrines inside represents the mainspritual themes of the Nyingma School. The paintings inside depict tantric Buddhismin all its complexity. The complex is visited by people from all walks throughout the day and is one of the most public religious places in the capital.
Buddha Point: Kuenselphodrang now popularly known as Buddha point since the construction of the world’s tallest Buddha (Dhordenma) Statue (169 feet) started. You can also enjoy the spectacular view of Thimphu valley below.
- Evening free
- Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 2 – Thimphu-Sightseeing
- Folk Heritage Museum: The Museum offers a glimpse of not only the past but also depicts the present reality of rural Bhutanese people.
- Royal Textile Academy: Was instituted in May 2005 under the patronage of Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck as a non-government, non-profit organization with the aim to educate, promote and preserve Bhutanese Textiles. It showcases the traditional methods of weaving and has large collection of of dresses from the Royal family.
- Centenary Farmers’ Market- Initially started as a week end market where the local villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products used to be open on Saturdays and Sundays. But now the market opens from Thursday to Sunday.
- Visit craft bazaar where one can find all kinds of authentic handmade Bhutanese handicrafts including the national dress of Bhutan, Gho and Kira. Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
- Tashichho Dzong: The present form this Dzong was consecrated as late as 1969 and it is a visual delight. The history of this Dzong dates back to thirteenth century but the original dzong was not at the present site that offers no defensive merit. The old one was built in 1216 or so by the founder of the Lhapa School and was located on a spur to the North-East of the present one. This Dzong was badly damaged during a subsequent struggle with the drukpas and later became the property of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal in the 1630s. In 1641 he rebuilt the Dzong christening it Tashichhoe (the Fortress of Glorious Religion). This became the summer residence of the Zhabdrung and the clergy and Punakha the winter retreat. A fire in 1772 resulted in severe damage and the Desi and Je khempo of that time decided to rebuild it at the bottom of the valley where it now stands. After the capital was moved to Thimphu, it was renovated and expanded in 1962.
- Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3 – Thimphu- Phobjikha (144 km/aprox 5 hr)
- Drive to Phobjikha about five hours drive from Thimphu.
- Stop at “Dochu La” (3100m) pass. On a clear day, the view of the Eastern Himalayas from this pass is one of the best in the country. There are a hundred and nine chortens (stupas) in three tiers of forty five, thirty six and twenty seven circumscribing a single larger chorten at the top. This chortens are called Druk Wangyal Chortens or ‘Stupas of Victory’. The building of these chortens was initiated by Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck when her husband the fourth King, travelled to the South-East of the country in December 2003 leading his army against the insurgents from India.Besides these magnificent chortens in an amazing setting you will be able enjoy the view of some of the great Himalayan peaks starting from the left with Masangang (7165m), which dominates the district of Laya. The next is Tshendagang ((7100m) and the following peaks are Tserigang (7300m), Jejegangphugang, Kangphugang, the Table top mountain’ Zongaphugang (7100m) and finally the highest peak of Gangkar Puensum at a towering height of 7541m.
- Drive to Phobjikha takes you through Wangdue valley and past the Wangduephodrang Dzong. This was another Dzong built by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel in 1638 at a spot that controlled the routes to Trongsa towards East, Punakha and Thimphu towards West, Gasa to the North and Dagana and Tserang to the South. Legend says that when Zhabdrung arrived in the area he spotted a boy building sand castle on the banks of the river. This was taken as good omen and when the dzong was built it was named after the boy – Wangduephodrang or Wangdi’s Palace. Complex and different in shape, the dzong comprised of three separate but linked structures. It was unfortunately completely destroyed by fire in 2012 and is now under reconstruction.
- Gangtey Goenpa: Gangtey Goenpa (Monastery) was established by Pema Lingpa’s grandson who became the first Gangtey Trulku. The goenpa is affiliated with several other important goenpas in this region, including Tamzhing in Bumthang. Currently the ninth reincarnation, Kunzang Pema Namgyel is the abbot here. Besides the goenpa there are several schools, a Tibetan style chorten (stupa) and meditation centers where monks retreat for periods ranging from three days to three years. There is also a Buddhist college nearby that offers a nine-year course in Buddhist studies.
- Overnight at your hotel in Gangtey/Phobjikha.
Day 4 – Phobjikha
- Phobjikha Valley: This valley is famous for potatoes which is one of the cash crops of the region and an important export to India. Phobjikha is also famed for the migratory black-necked cranes that make it their winter home. This endangered species of birds arrives from Tibet towards the end of October. Known as ‘Thrung Thrung Karmo’ by the Bhutanese, the locals have great affection for these beautiful birds and are featured in many folk songs. Their departure by the end of February is marked by songs of lamentation.
- Visit crane center, details of the birds’ habitat and habits are available at the Crane Observation and Education Center. If you visit the place at the time when the birds are in residence, you may be able to get a close view from the hides specially constructed for this purpose.
- Hike through the lush green fields of Phobjikha valley.
- Evening relax at your hotel enjoying the beautiful view of the valley.
- Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha/Gangtey.
Day 5 – Phobjikha – Bumthang (207 km/aprox 7 hrs)
- En route to Bumthang stop at Chendebji Chorten (stupa). This Napalese style stupa lies on the banks of Nikka Chu at an extremely serene spot. It was built in the eighteenth century by Lama Shida of Tibet to suppress a demon who had been troubling the inhabitants of the valley. A smaller Bhutanese style chorten was constructed nearby by the Royal grandmother in 1982.
- Trongsa Dzong: The most impressive Dzong (Fortress) in the country – it is intricately layered into the hillside, in complete harmony with its surroundings. The structure is aesthetically designed and its clean lines boast a superb sense of proportion and space while finely carved woodwork and elegant paintings suitably embellish it. Following the instruction of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel, the Dzong was built in 1644 by Chhogyel Minjur Tempa who later became the third Desi (Governor). The Dzong was named Chökhor Raptentse Dzong. The structure was enhanced by Desi Tenzin Rabgye in 1771 and now contains twenty-three temples. It is a veritable maze of corridors, courtyards and passageways leading to the multiple levels contained within the great outer impregnable shell.
- Ta Dzong: Located strategically above the Trongsa Dzong, it was built by Choeje Minjur Tenpa, the first governor of Trongsa, in the year 1652. The tower stood guard over the Trongsa Dzong to protect the main stronghold of the town from any external threats. It is a short steep walk from the Trongsa town.
- Overnight at your hotel in Bumthang.
Day 6 – Bumthang-sightseeing
- Jakar Dzong: Which literally means “The Castle of White Bird” was built in 1646. The building was damaged by fire and then again by earthquake of 1897 after which it was rebuilt by King Ugyen Wangchuck in 1905. Today it is the administrative Head Quarters of Bumthang district.
- Jambay Lhakhang: Believed to have built on the same day as Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro by a Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the year 659. The temple is dedicated to Maitreya or Jampa and the central shrine holds a large statue of the Buddha of the future, surrounded by four boddhisatvas. The statue is guarded by iron chainmail handcrafted by Pema Lingpa. Under the temple is said to be a lake in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.
- Tamzhing Lhakhang: (Temple of the good message), was established in 1501 by Terton (treasure reveler) Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom. Tamzhing commands a very good view of Kurjey Lhakhang which is just located on the other side of the river.
- Wangdicholing Palace: The first palace in Bhutan was built in 1857 then Trongsa Penlop (Governor), Jigme Namgyal the father of the first king.
- Kurjey Lhakhang: This monastery is the country’s most historical holy place – the complex is surrounded by 108 chortens (stupas), transforming it into three dimensional mandala patterned on the lines of the Samye Monastery in Tibet. ‘Kur’ means body and ‘jey’ is print – it is here that guru Padmasambhava meditated when he first arrived in the country, leaving an imprint of his body on the rock enshrined here.
- Overnight at your hotel in Bumthang.
Day 7 – Bumthang to Mongar (193 km/aprox 7 hr)
- En route to Trashigang from Bumthang is the biggest national park in Bhutan called the Thrumshingla National Park. The 768 sq.km of this national park is located within the boundaries of four districts: Bumthang, Lhuentse, Mongar and Zhemgang and it was established in 1998. On this long drive, enjoy the natural beauty of the undisturbed environment and take pics of some breath taking scenery like the Namling Bra (cliff) waterfall which falls down the deepest cliff in Eastern Bhutan.
- Enjoy your packed lunch on the way.
- Overnight at your hotel in Mongar.
Day 8 – Mongar-Gomkora Tsechu (80 km)
- After early breakfast drive to Gomkora festival.
- The festival site a sacred place where, around 850 AD, Guru Rimpochhe subdued an evil spirit, he chased all the way from Lhasa Samye, in Tibet. The Kora festival at Gomphu Kora was initiated 400 years ago. The Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals in eastern Bhutan providing a welcome break for locals to trade, socialize, and celebrate before the start of the farming season.
- The festival draws people mostly from three neighboring districts of Tashiyangtse, Trashigang and Mongar. The festival is also popular to the Dakpa tribe of Tawang of Arunachal Pradesh state of India.
- Evening drive to Trashigang.
- Overnight at your hotel in Trashigang.
Day 9 – Trashigang to Bumthang (284 km/aprox 10 hrs)
- It is a long drive back to Bumthang. But you have the option of taking a domestic flight from Youngphula to Paro.
- Overnight at your hotel in Bumthang.
Day 10 – Bumthang to Punakha (220 km/aprox 8 hrs)
- Another day of long drive.
- Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
Day 11 – Punakha to Paro (131 km/aprox 4 hrs)
- Visit Punakha Dzong: The Dzong straddles the confluence of two rivers- Phochu (Male River) and Mochu (Female River) is the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan. It was named as ‘Pungthang Dechen Phodrang’ or ‘Palace of Great happiness’. This impressive fortress was built in 1637. It was the second of the mighty dzongs built by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel (person who unified Bhutan) and was the seat of government till the end of the reign of the second King.The site of the Dzong is believed to have received the blessings of Guru Padmasambhava (the Great Buddhist teacher who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan). In the eighth century he is believed to have prophesied: “…on the edge of the hill that looks like an elephant’s trunk, a man named Namgyal will come and build a fortress…”The most recent historic event the wedding ceremony of the present King His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema’s was held inside this Dzong.
- Drive to Paro to witness the festival.
- Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 12 – Paro Tsechu/Taktshang Hike
- Attend the festival.
- Or hike to Taktshang the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The hike to Taktshang Monastery perched on a cliff at 2950m/9700ft takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours as per your hiking ability. It is an uphill hike to the Monastery. There is a cafeteria (Taktsang Jakhang) on the half way. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava (the great Buddhist master) with his magical powers came to Taktshang in the eighth century, flying from the east of the country on the back of a tigress (a form that one of his consorts is believed to have taken). He is said to have meditated for about three months in a cave on the cliff and subdued the evil spirits. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1692 by the fourth Desi Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below.
Day 13 – Paro-Tshechu
- Attend the festival
- Afternoon visit the makeshift tshechu market.
Day 14 – Depart Paro
- Your travel to Bhutan ends. After breakfast, our team will drop you to the airport and bid farewell.