The Thimphu festival or tshechu is Bhutan’s largest and most popular autumn festival held in the vicinity of Trashichhodzong, a 17th century fortress, under clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine.
Thousands of people turn up for the four-day festival where colourful and ancient mask dances are performed in an open cobbled stone courtyard by monks and laymen.
Started by Desi Tenzin Rabgay, the 4th temporal ruler of Bhutan more than three centuries ago, the festival honours Guru Padmasambhava, the great Indian tantric saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. The festival tour package offers a unique opportunity to experience Bhutan’s ancient culture up close and to become part of festivities that brings together families and communities in the spirit of a carnival.
- Attend the colourful four-day Thimphu festival or tshechu held to coincide with the 10th day of the 8th month of Bhutanese lunar calendar.
- Visit museums and school of traditional arts & crafts.
- Experience and watch Bhutan’s national game, archery, played in traditional style.
- Day hike to the “Tiger’s Nest” an ancient monastery that clings to a cliff above the forested Paro valley.
- Enjoy breathtaking views of snow-capped eastern Himalayan ranges from Dochula Pass (3050m), 19 kms from the capital.
DAY 1~ ARRIVAL IN PARO TO THIMPHU: 65KM/APPROX 1HR
DAY 2~ EXPLORE IN THIMPHU (2320m)
DAY 3 & 4~ FESTIVAL IN THIMPHU (6th – 10th October, 2016)
DAY 5~ THIMPHU – PUNAKHA EXCURSSION (1300m): 77KM/APPROX 3HR
DAY 6~ TIGER’S NEST HIKE IN PARO
DAY 7~ HAA DAY EXCURSION
DAY 8~ PARO DEPARTURE
DAY 1~ ARRIVAL IN PARO (2280m) TO THIMPHU: APPROX 1HR/65KM
The descent into Paro valley by air is one of the most majestic view in the world. En route to Paro by regional Bhutan flight you will see the world’s highest mountain Himalayan ranges.
When you enter into Paro valley, you will see the Paro Dzong like castle on the hilltop overlooking the Pa Chu (Paro River), with Ta Dzong, formerly a watch tower and now National Museum, above the Dzong.
On arrival, Bokar Tours will greet you up from Paro airport and drive you to the capital city of Thimphu.
The first stop will be to view the beautiful Tacho Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder. The drive to Thimphu takes about an hour and follows the course of the Pa Chu (Paro River) and the Wang Chu rivers. It is a scenic drive that offers beautiful views of villages by the riverside.
In the evening leisure walk through the small and unique capital city of Thimphu and get to know the locals. Overnight stay in hotel, Thimphu. LD
DAY 2~ EXPLORE THIMPHU (2320m)
Exploration of Thimphu begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, a Buddhist Stupa, dedicated to world peace and prosperity. It was built in the memory of the Third King of Bhutan in 1974. You will find Thimphu residents circumambulating the Stupa throughout the day praying for universal harmony and all sentient beings.
Your next stop is the National Library that holds thousands of ancient Buddhist texts and scriptures. It also has a small but growing collection of modern books.
You will also visit the Bhutan’s thirteen traditional arts and crafts where students train in and the Folk Heritage Museum, which will provide insight into a traditional Bhutanese farm house and Bhutan’s fast disappearing rural past.
After lunch, you will visit the 12th century Changangkha Lhakhang, a fortress like temple perched on a ridge above Thimphu. Toward the northern end of Thimphu valley, is a preserve for the Takin, the kingdom’s national animal.
Drive further up from the preserve to Sangaygang for a bird’s eye view of Thimphu city. On the way down visit a nunnery temple and the Tashichhodzong or “the fortress of the glorious religion” which is Bhutan’s seat of government. It is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo or the Chief Abbot. Overnight stay in hotel, Thimphu. BLD
DAY 3 & 4~ THIMPHU FESTIVAL (6th – 10th October, 2016)
The festival offers a unique opportunity to experience Bhutan’s ancient culture up close and to become part of festivities that brings together families and communities in the spirit of a carnival.
It is not necessary you spend whole three days at the Thimphu festival; we can tailor the itinerary depending on your interest and requirement. Please ask us, we are happy to amend your itinerary. Overnight stay hotel, Thimphu. BLD
The first stop is at Hongtsho, about 10 kms from Thimphu. From here you take a short hike to Hongtsho Goemba to view the stunning 15th century wall paintings of the monastery before driving up to Dochu La pass (3050m). From Dochula you can see the eastern Himalayan range on a clear day. Once you cross the pass, you wind down to the warmer valleys of Punakha and Wangdue.
En-route you will stop at Mitsina village and visit Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the temple of fertility and dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, the 15th century saint also known as the divine madman for his outrageous methods of teaching the dharma.
It is a 20-minute walk through rice fields to the temple were you get blessed by a wooden phallus. After lunch visit the majestic Punakha Dzong which stands at the confluence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers.
The Dzong was first built in 1637 by the founder of Bhutan and has been witness to defining moments of Bhutanese history. It is a fine example of Bhutan’s highly refined architectural skills. In the evening drive back to Thimphu. Overnight stay in hotel, Thimphu. BLD
DAY 6~ HIKE TO PARO TIGER’S NEST
In the morning you will drive back to Paro valley and hike to Taktshang or “Tiger’s Nest” one of the holiest Buddhists sites in the Himalayan region. The monastery clings to a sheer rock face almost 900 metres above the valley floor.
The uphill hike from the road point takes around 3 hours at a moderate pace. The trail passes through beautiful pine forests adorned with Spanish moss as you go further up. Stop for rest and light refreshments at the Taktshang cafeteria.
Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tigress and meditated for three months.
Later visit Kitchu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Songtshen Gompo. Then drive north to ruin Drugyel Dzong, the imposing fortress, which kept at bay invasions from the north in ancient times.
In the afternoon drive to Ta-Dzong (watch tower), which now serves as the national museum. The museum highlights various aspects of Bhutanese culture and history dating back to the 7th century. A short walk downhill takes you to the imposing Rinpung Dzong which serves as the district’s administrative and religious centre. Walk further down and cross a traditional bridge into Paro town. Overnight stay in hotel, Paro. BLD
DAY 7~ HAA DAY EXCURSION
Today with early breakfast day excursion to Haa Valley with picnic lunch. You will drive over Chele La, 3822 meters pass through the forest of blue pines, fir, and oak. On the clear day you will see mountain Jhomolhari 7300 meters, other snow capped and stunning valley below the pass. You will also explore nearby Chele La mountains dotted with the colourful prayer flags and blanked with dwarf rhododendrons.
After a picnic lunch at pass, you will drive further down to Haa Valley which is blessed by the presence of Meri Piensum, three small green mountains symbolizing Rigsum Gonpo: Jampelyang (manjushri), Chana Dorji (vajrapani) and Chenrizi (avaloketeshvara). You can explore the remote village of Haa, which will take 30 minutes walk. Visit Lhakhang Karpo (white temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (black temple). Later stroll in town later. Overnight stay in hotel, Paro. BLD