Thimpu Tshechu & Bhutan Cultural Tour

from $ 3,300.00

The last of the Himalayan Kingdoms, Bhutan is a country unsurpassed in its scenic majesty and vibrant culture. The kingdom shares with Nepal the world’s greatest concentration of Mountains and living heritage of Buddhism. Combined with great natural beauty, and well-preserved culture and traditions, the cultural tour of Bhutan provides an experience like nowhere else on Earth.

 

Thimphu Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals in Bhutan. This festival is held in the capital city for three days beginning on 10th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. The Thimphu Tshechu is witnessed by thousands of people, many of whom travel from neighboring Dzongkhas (districts) to attend the festivities. The actual Tshechu is preceded by days and nights of prayer and rituals to invoke the gods.

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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
      Culture, Discovery, Family, Guided Tours, History
    • Activity Level Moderate
      3/8
    • Min 3 Pax
    1. Sept 18 Arrive Paro and drive to Thimphu

      Arrive Paro. Upon arrival in Paro, meet our representative, board the waiting vehicle and drive for 1½ hours to reach Thimphu—the capital of Bhutan.

      Thimphu perhaps is the most unusual capital city in the world that is a bustling town on the banks of its own river and set gloriously in the hills of its own valley. A regal town, Thimphu is home to the revered Bhutanese Royal family and to several foreign missions and development projects.

      Thimphu is a lively place and offers an interesting combination of tradition and modernity. Home to civil servants, expatriates and the monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style. Upon arrival in Thimphu, check into the Hotel.

      Dinner & Overnight at the Hotel

    2. Sept 19 Attend the Tshechu Festival & Thimpu Sightseeing

      Participate in the first day of the Thimpu Tshechu festival

      Participate in the first day of the Thimphu Tshechu festival at Tashichho Dzong; the main secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty the king of Bhutan and is the country’s administrative headquarters and houses the legislative body. It is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan).

      Thimphu Tshechu festival is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan and features dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes, Tshechus (festivals) are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan.

      Later proceed for the sightseeing. First we visit National Memorial Chorten

      This iconic landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (”the father of modern Bhutan”) and a monument to world peace. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy. Also visit Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Continue on to the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums: These museums, both of which opened in 2001 and provide fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life. Visit the Handicrafts Emporium: This government-run enterprise displays a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products. It also carries a small collection of books on Bhutan, Buddhism and Himalayan culture.

      Dinner & Overnight at the Hotel

    3. Sept 20 Hike to Tango Monastery, attend the festival

      After breakfast, drive for about 12 km north of Thimphu where the road ends at a parking lot. The trail to Tango Monastery is a climb of 280 m and takes about a little more than an hour to reach it. The walk is through beautiful forests and is an excellent place for bird watching. From the top, it commands good views of the valley. The Tango monastery is located at an altitude of 8500 meters and was built by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in the 12th Century and the present building was built in the 15th century by the divine Lama Drukpa Kunley.

      History states that in 1616 The Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal visited Tango and meditated in a cave near the Goenpa. His meditations helped ensure the defeat of the invading Tibetan army and the head lama, a descendent of Lakpa Drukpa Kunley presented the Goenpa to him who carved the sandal wood statue of Chenrezig and installed in the monastery. After the sightseeing proceed to participate in the second day of the festival.

      Dinner & overnight at the Hotel

    4. Sept 21 Morning hike to Buddha Doderma & Participate in Festival

      Morning hike to Buddha Doderma which is a massive statue of Shakyamuni that measures at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The Buddha Dordenma is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley.

      After returning from the hike, participate in the festival. The dances performed on this day are: The Black Hat Dance (Shana), Dance of the 21 black hats with drums (Sha nga ngacham), Dance of the Noblemen and the Ladies (Pholeg Moleg), Dance of the Drums from Dramitse (Dramitse Ngacham), Dance of the Noblemen and the Ladies (Pholeg Moleg) and Dance of the Stag and Hounds (Shawa Shachi).

       

      Dinner & Overnight at Hotel

    5. Sept 22 Visit Motithang Takin preserve, Drive to Punakha 77 KMS / 3 hours

      After breakfast, check out of the hotel and set out to visit the Motithang mini zoo to see the rare ”Takin”, national animal of Bhutan. It is also called Gnu Goat OR Cattle Chamois and found in the eastern Himalayas in forested valleys to rocky, grass-covered alpine zones, at altitudes between 1,000 and 4,500 m above sea level.

      Takin feed in the early morning and late afternoon, grazing on a variety of leaves and grasses, as well as bamboo shoots and flowers. They have been observed standing on their hind legs to feed on leaves over 3.1 m (10 ft) high. Salt is also an important part of their diets.

      Continue past Thimpu by driving on the road that climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near the Dochula pass (3,050 m), the place of 108 Chortens. This pass often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges and an ideal vantage point to view the mountains (weather permitting).

      Later descend to the warmer Lobes valley also known as Punakha; the former capital of Bhutan is located at 10,000 feet.

      Upon arrival, check into the Hotel.

      PM: Later drive for 30 minutes to reach Punakha Dzong that was built in 1637 and the winter residence of the monk body. This remarkable fortress is built between two rivers the Pho-chu (male) and the Mo-chu (female) and has survived many glacial floods and fire.

      The Punakha Dzong has been restored to its full glory after about 12 years of restoration work and is replete with detailed traditional carvings and colorful paintings in perfect condition. It also houses many sacred temples.

      After the sightseeing tour, return to the Hotel,

      Dinner and overnight at the hotel

    6. Sept 23 Hike to Khamsung Yuelley Namgyal Stupa

      After breakfast proceed for a hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal. From the car park, you have to cross a suspension bridge and walk through rice fields before you start climbing a moderately inclined trail surrounded by pine trees.

      It takes about 1 hour from the car park to hike up to the temple, and 30 minutes to hike down.  Khamsum Yulley Namgyal stands majestically on a strategic ridge above the Punakha Valley.

      After the hike, drive to the Chimi Lakhang Cafeteria for a much deserved lunch break.

      After lunch, the hike starts from the restaurant and a brisk 20 minute walk past rich alluvial rice fields through the village of Sosokha brings us to this famous temple “ Chimi Lakhang” or popularly known as the “Temple of Fertility.” It is the most revered and visited temples in Bhutan and people from all corners of the country visit the Lhakhang to seek blessings from Drukpa Kuenley. However, the majority of the visitors are childless couples who come to pray and ask for fertility. All crops grow and thrive well here in the valley and the farmers of this region are among the most well-to-do in Bhutan. They attribute this to the blessings of Lam Drukpa Kuenley.

       Dinner and Overnight at the Hotel

    7. Sept 24 Drive to Gangtey 78 Kms / 2 ½ hours

      After breakfast, drive for about 2 ½ hours to Gangtey. The road travels eastwards to and by way of the Chendebji Stupa and the Pele La at 11,000ft/3,353m and then descend for few kilometers to the junction where it leads to the glacial valley of Phobjika.

      This small village on the edge of the black mountains is famous for its monastery of gomchens and the black necked cranes ( grusnigricolis )  which fly in during the winter from Tibet and return in spring.

      Upon arrival, check into the Hotel.

      Dinner & overnight at the Hotel

    8. Sept 25 Hike to Gangtey Monastery, visit the black necked craned centre

      After breakfast visit the Gangtey Monastery. Gangtey Monastery is an important Monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism which is the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition located in the Wangdue Phodrang district in central Bhutan.

      The Monastery, also known by the Gangtey village that surrounds it, is in the Phobjika Valley. The Monastery’s history traces to the early 17th century and back to the prophecies made by the well-known Terton (treasure finder) Pema Lingpa in the late 15th century.

      Later visit black necked crane Centre and walk along the valley.

       Dinner and Overnight at Hotel

    9. Sept 26 Drive to Trongsa, Visit Trongsa Dzong & Ta Dzong

      After breakfast drive to Trongsa (120 kms / 4 hours) and upon check into the hotel.

      Trongsa forms the central hub of the nation and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched. Both His Majesty King Ugyen Wangchuck, the Penlop of Trongsa, who was elected the country’s first hereditary monarch and his successor, King Jigme Wangchuck, ruled the country from Trongsa’s ancient seat. The Crown Prince of Bhutan normally holds the position of the Trongsa Penlop prior to ascending the throne. The entire landscape around Trongsa is spectacular.

      PM : Visit Trongsa Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan and certainly one of the most impressive. Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan and both the first and second King ruled the country from this ancient seat.

      Protected from invaders by an impenetrable valley, Trongsa Dzong is an impregnable fortress. The Dzong itself is a labyrinth of temples, corridors and offices holding court over the local community. It is built on many levels into the side of the hill and can be seen from every approach to Trongsa heralding its strength as a defensive stronghold.

      Later drive to the Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five storeys, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, a task entrusted to him by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a classy museum,that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity. There are 224 items on display including a sacred image of Sung JoenmaDorji Chang (self spokenVajradharna), a bronze statue of PemaLingpa, made by himself, and a number of centuries-old treasures like dance and ritual costumes and objects, ancient prayer books, paintings and scrolls, and textiles.

      After the sightseeing tour, descend to the town by a walk way and head back to the hotel

       Dinner and Overnight at Hotel

    10. Sept 27 Drive Bumthang (68 Kms / 2 hours), visit Yartha Centers, Cheese factory & Brewery

      After breakfast drive to Bumthang across the Yotong La pass 11,234’, and then descend into Chumey valley, the first of four Bumthang valleys. In Chumey, visit Yartha Weaving centers (a Colorful wool weaving).

      Bumthang valley is considered one of the most sacred in the kingdom and innumerable legends surround the area. It is here that the kings were cremated and the present royal families trace their ancestry back to a famous saint called Pemalingpa. This is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. The Guru and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders), have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley.  Upon arrival check into the Hotel

      Later vist the Cheese Factory and the 1st Brewery of Bhutan,

      Fritz Maurer was 29 years old and living in Bern, Switzerland when he spotted an ad in a Swiss newspaper from the Kingdom of Bhutan seeking its first steps towards modernization. A cheese-maker by training, Maurer moved to Gogona, Bhutan to help implement new dairy processing techniques. Maurer immediately fell in love with his new surroundings.

      Unsatisfied with cheese alone, Maurer soon branched out into various other modernization initiatives. Bhutan’s apple surplus in the 1970s inspired Maurer to purchase two large cider presses from Switzerland. In April 1977, he was appointed as the District Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Officer. Maurer also introduced beekeeping to Bhutan in 1986 and established a brewery in Bumthang in 2006, producing a popular brew called Red Panda.

      This small factory, founded by Swiss Bhutanese produces a variety of Swiss cheeses, clover honey, apple cider, wine, apple brandy and local beer. It is an interesting place to see, sample and purchase some to try.

      Dinner & Overnight at the Hotel

    11. Sept 28 Sightseeing of Bumthang

      After breakfast, set out for the sightseeing tour of Bumthang. Nowhere other than in Bumthang, a beautiful valley in Central Bhutan, one can find as many temples and monasteries, The valley is wide and open and the hills slopes gently unlike other districts. The famous Yathra fabrics, woven out of sheep wool, for jackets are widely available in Bumthang.

      Firstly visit Jampa Lhakhang, the oldest Monastery built by Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. Continue on to Wangdicholing, the palace built in 1857 on the site of the battle camp of the Penlop of Trongsa, Jigme Namgyal.  It was the first palace that was not designed as a fortress and was the early home of the 3rd King who later moved his court to Punakha in 1952. It lies just below the Jakar Dzong which literally means “Castle of the White Bird”. The dzong is located on a picturesque place overlooking the Choskhor Valley and was built in 1667.

       Visit the renowned Kurji Lakhang (where the Guru Rinpoche subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock which is preserved in a cave inside the oldest of the three buildings that make up the temple complex). The walk across the suspention bridge to Tamshing and visit the Tamshing Gompa (Monastery). It was established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa Gompa in the kingdom. It is believed that Pema Lingpa built all the structures himself with the help of Khandroms (female Celestial beings) who made many of his statues.

      After the sightseeing tour, return to the Hotel

      Dinner and overnight at hotel

    12. Sept 29 Fly Bumthang to Paro, Sightseeing of Paro

      Transfer to the airport and fly Bumthang to Paro (30 minutes). Upon arrival in Paro transfer to the Hotel. (Note : The flights operate only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays)

      Later visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples. The temple is popularly believed to have been built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet, to pin down the left foot of a giant ogress who was thwarting the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. As one enters the intimate inner courtyard, there is a mural to the right of the doorway of King Gesar of Ling, the popular Tibetan warrior-king, whose epic poem is said to be the worlds longest.

      Ashi Kesang Wangchuck the third King’s wife, sponsored the construction of the Guru Lhakhang in 1968. It contains a 5m-high statue of Guru Rinpoche and another of Kurukulla (Red Tara), holding a bow and arrow made of flowers. The inner hall of the main Jowo Lhakhang houses an original 7th-century statue of Jowo Sakyamuni, said to have been cast at the same time as the famous statue in Lhasa. Rest of the day is free to browse through the Bazaars of Paro.

       Dinner & Overnight at the Hotel

    13. Sept 30 Excursion to Taktsang Monastery

      After an early breakfast board the waiting vehicle and drive to Satsam Chorten (10 Kms) for a short trek to Taktsang Monastery. The Taktsang also known as “the Tiger’s Nest” was named after Guru Rimpoche miraculously flew to the cave on the back of a tigress from Khempajong in the region of Kurtoe. In the 7th century.  According to the legend, the tigress was a form taken by his consort for the occasion. Guru Rimpoche meditated for three months in a cave in Taktsang and subdued the demons that were trying to stop the spread of Buddhism. He then converted the Paro valley to Buddhism. During the end of the 17th Century, a monastery was built on the spot where Longchen Pelki Singye, a student of Guru Rimpoche meditated here in a cave which came to be known as Pelphug or “Pelki’s Cave. The Taksang monastery is a pilgrimage site for every Bhutanese to visit once in their life time.

      From Satsam, the hike which is mostly uphill all the way takes about 3-4 hours. The trail is well defined and passes through wooded alpine forests. The monastery which hangs on a huge granite cliff 800 meters above the Paro valley was devastated by fire in 1998 but the Government of Bhutan took immediate steps to restore the monastery to its original structure.

      Note : Though much of the trail is wide and well traversed, the final descent and then the ascent to the monastery is actually quite difficult. One must be aware and tread carefully on the steep stairs that descends and ascends to the monastery. To assist the trekkers and for the safety of the pilgrims hand rails have been installed on the steeper sections. For those not wanting to do the steep sections that leads to the monastery they can stay at the Tiger’s Nest View restaurant that offers great view of the Monastery Or hike a little further up to get an eye to eye view of the monastery.

      Taksang is one of the holiest pilgrim sites in the Himalayas. There are 13 holy places in the complex. His Holiness, the 69th Je Khenpo Late Gayshe Gaden Rinchen was born in a cave on the way to the last viewpoint of Taktsang.

      After the visit, walk down to the Restaurant for a much deserved lunch break. Then descend all the way to the valley floor to meet up with waiting vehicle and drive to Paro town.

      The late afternoon is free to browse around the souvenir shops OR visit a farm house to take a hot stone bath.

      Later, return to the Hotel.

      Dinner & Overnight at the Hotel

                 

    14. Oct 1 Final Departure

      Day free until final departure transfer to airport for onward flight