(11 nights / 12 days )
Date: 27th - 31st March, 2018.
Venu: Paro Rimpong Dzong.
The Tshechu is essentially an open-air performance where monks perform sacred mask dances to the accompaniment of religious music, and district dancers perform traditional dances. The last day of festival concludes with the display of a giant Thangka or Thongdroel (tapestry) at 3 AM and is brought down just before sunrise.
This festival is not an event organized for tourists; it is the occasion that has been happening for centuries. People from other parts of the country join the locals in the festive mood. They come is their best costumes to attend the annual festival. They believe that attending such festival helps them in gaining merit in their lives. This is also the time of the festive season of socializing and merry making.
The highlight of the tour is a hike to the “Tiger’s Nest”, to gain insight into Himalayan Buddhism in Bhutan, visit Phobjikha valley, the largest and the most significant wetland in the country. The valley is the winter habitat of the rare and endangered Black‐necked cranes, attend the five-day Paro Tshechu, the most famous of spring festivals held every year at end of March or beginning of April month, hang out with the locals.
DAY 1. Arrive Paro (2280m) – THIMPHU (2320 m) (54 km, 1 ½ hrs. drive):
Upon your arrival in Paro, representative from Make My Holidays in Bhutan will receive you at the airport and drive you to Thimphu. Stop a while on the way to view a private monastery namely Tamchog Lhakhang. The drive to the capital city Thimphu is a scenic drive that offers beautiful views of villages by the riverside. In the evening, free to stroll in the Thimphu- the only capital in the world where there is no traffic light. Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (L, D)
DAY 2. Thimphu (2320m)
Your day in Thimphu begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten,built in 1974 in memory of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. The next stop is at National Institute of Zorig Chusum, school of 13 arts and crafts, where you can meet the students in training session. The next visit is Folk Heritage Museum, that provides insight into a traditional Bhutanese farm house and Bhutan’s fast disappearing rural past.
After lunch, you will visit the 12th century Changangkha Lhakhang, followed by a visit to Takin Preserve Centre (Takin is the nation’s national animal). We then visit a nunnery before visiting Tashichhodzong which is the seat of government. It is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo or the Chief Abbot. Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 3. Thimphu – Punakha (1300m) (76 km, 3 hrs. driving time):
After a sumptuous breakfast, drive to Punakha – the old capital of Bhutan. The first stop is at Dochu La pass (3160 m). From Dochula you can see the eastern Himalayan range if the weather permits. En-route you will visit Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the temple of fertility dedicated to a divine madman Drukpa Kuenley, the 15th century saint known for his outrageous methods of teaching the dharma. It is a 20-minute walk through rice fields to the temple. Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 4. Punakha – Trongsa (2316m) (129 km, 5 hrs drive):
your first visit, after the breakfast, is 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.
We then proceed to Trongsa passing over Pele La pass at 3390m. Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 5. Trongsa – Bumthang (2800 m) (Distance: 68 km, 3 hrs):
After breakfast, visit Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648. It was seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second kings ruled the country from this ancient seat. Bhutan’s monarchs are invested as Trongsa Penlop (Governor of Trongsa) prior to ascending the throne. We then visit the ancient watchtower, which has now been restored from ground up and converted into a state of the art museum presenting the historical and religious heritage of the fortress.
After lunch you will drive to Bumthang passing over Yotong La pass (3425 m). On the way, stop at a Yathra textile weaving handloom centre. You can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 6. Bumthang (2800 m)
Explore the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. Bumthang loosely means the valley of 100,000 spirits. The visit today includes Jambay Lhakhang, built in 7th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo followed by Kurjey Lhakhang, which consists of three temples surrounded by 108 chortens (stupas). We then visit Tamshing Lhakhang built in 1501 and known for its ancient religious paintings of a Thousand Buddhas and Twenty One Taras (female form of Bodhisattavas).
After lunch visit Jakar Dzong, known as the ‘Castle of the White Bird’. Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 7. Bumthang – URA (40 km, 2 hr):
Drive to Ura village crossing Ura Pass (3590m) before descending to Ura, which is unique village with clustered houses and cobblestone pathways. Evening, drive back to Chamkhar, Bumthang. On the way back, visit Mebar Tsho (Lake of Burning Fire), a sacred lake for the Bhutanese who believe that Terton (treasure revealer) Pema Lingpa discovered religious treasures from the lake. Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 8. Bumthang – Phobjikha (3100m) (143 km, 6 hrs. driving time):
Drive to the beautiful valley of Phobjikha home to the rare black Necked crane that roost in winter. On the way, stop a while at Chendebji Chorten, patterned on Katmandu’s Swayambhunath stupa, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points.
After lunch, visit Gangtey Goenpa & Khewa Lhakhang. The trail descends to Semchubara village and keeps straight at the Chortens into the edge of the forest, before descending to a square Chorten and the Lhakhang. Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 9. Phobjikha – Thimphu (2320 m) (138 km, 6 hrs):
After breakfast, visit to the Crane Observation and Information Center and then drive to Thimphu. Enroute stop at Wangdue to briefly visit the Wangdue Dzong which is being restored (was razed by fire in 2012), and then visit Rinchengang village where the clustered settlement is made of mud and stone. Stop at Dochu La pass for lunch. Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 10. Thimphu – Paro Festival (19 March – 23rd March, 2016)
Paro Tshechu is the most popular festival in Bhutan with its unique unfurling of the Thangka or Thongdrol ceremony. The traditional dances are performed by district dancers and mask dances by monks & lay monks. The local people attend the festival to gain merit. It is a festive time and people come dressed-up in their finest colourful costumes to socialize and make merry. Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 11. Paro: Hike to Taktsang Monastery.
After breakfast, drive to the base of Taktsang and hike to Taktsang or “Tiger’s Nest” one of the holiest Buddhists sites in the Himalayan region. The monastery clings to a sheer rock face, almost 900 m above the valley floor. The uphill hike from the road point takes around 3 hours. The trail passes through beautiful pine forests adorned with Spanish moss as you go further up. Stop for rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang 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.
After lunch, visit to ruins of Drugyel Dzong, which kept at bay invasions from the north. On the way back, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gyempo.
Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 12. Paro: Departure:
Early morning drive to the Airport for onward journey. (B)
Cost on request.