27th to 31st March 2018
The ‘Tsechu’ literally means the ’10th day’ of a month and is considered one of the auspicious days of the month. The festivals are called ‘Tshechu’ as one of the three days of festival falls on the 10th day of the particular month. These religious festivals are in honour of Guru Rimpoche Padmasambhava (the Indian Saint who spread Buddhism in the country in 8th century) or a patron deity of the area. Mask dances and various cultural folk dances are performed by the monks and the locals. All mask dances have religious significance and it is believed that one who witnesses the tshechu is profusely blessed.
Tshechus are also an occasion for friends and families to get together and for some it is also an opportunity to show off their best dresses, jewelry and ornaments. So, everybody is dressed in their best.
The annual Paro Tshechu falls by end of March or early April as per Bhutanese (lunar) calendar and is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan.
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-Punakha
- Drive to Punakha (72 Kms, 3 hours drive). Before reaching Punakha (about 22km from Thimphu) you will pass through a mountain pass “Dochu La” at 3100m above sea level. 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.
- On the way, hike view Chimi Lhakhang. This Lhakhang dates back to 1499 which was built by Lama Drukpa Kinley who is till this day known as a Divine Madman. Located beautifully on a hilltop, it is about 30 to 40 minute walk passing through a charming village set in lush terraced fields. Lama Drukpa Kinley is beleived to have subdued a demoness residing in Dochu La with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’ and a wooden effigy of this is preserved within. There are also statues of him along with those of Lama Zhabdrung, Sakyamuni and Avalokiteswara. Devotees receive blessings from his wooden phallus and iron Bow and arrow that lie here and childless women are said to have their wish fulfilled after visiting this Lhakhang.
- 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.
- Overnight at your Hotel in Punakha.
Day 4: Punakha – Paro – Festival
- Drive towards Paro.
- Join the locals in their finest dresses to witness the festival.
- Overnight at your Hotel in Paro.
Day 5: Paro Festival
- Drive to Paro Dzong to witness the festival.
- Overnight at your Hotel in Paro.
Day 6: Paro – Taktshang Hike
- 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. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. 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.
- Kyichu Lhakhang: It was built in 659 by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. The temple fell into disrepair but was superbly restored in 1839 by the 25th Je Khempo (Chief Abbot). He also contributed the outstanding statue of Avalokiteshwara, with eleven heads and thousand arms, which is located in the sanctuary.
- Evening free for shopping.
- Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 7: Depart
- End of your travel with Chen-Ray Travel & Tours (Bhutan Tour Operator). Our team will drive you to the Airport and bid farewell.