THIMPHU FESTIVAL TOUR

Thimphu Festival (Tshechu) is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan. This festival is held in Thimphu for 3 days beginning on 10th day of the 8th month of lunar calendar usually held in the end of September or beginning of October. Thimphu Tshechu was initiated by the 4th Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay in 1867 and later some changes were introduced in Thimphu Tshechu in the 1950s by the third Kingof Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
This Thimphu festival is witnessed by thousands of people from all over Bhutan. The actual Tshechu is preceded by days and nights of prayer and rituals to invoke the gods.
To Bhutanese farmers, the Thimphu Tshechu is also seen as a break from farm life. It is an annual social gathering where people dress in their finest clothing and jewelries come to celebrate, receive blessings and pray for health and happiness.
It brings you a closer contact with the local people and gives you an insight into the Bhutanese lives, beliefs and more.
During Thimphu Tshechu which is held at Tendrel Thang ( Festival Ground in front of Tashichhoedzong), the mask dances known as cham and folk dances are performed to bless onlookers, to teach them the Buddhist dharma, to protect them from misfortune and to exorcise all evil. It is believed that merit is gained by attending these festivals. The dances invoke the deities to wipe out misfortunes, increase good luck and grant personal wishes.
The sacred Thongdrol of Guru Rinphoche is unfurled early in the morning on the last day of Thimphu Tshechu. It is believed that the Thongdroel is unveiled at dawn to bring blessings to all who view it.

DETAILED ITINERARY:

Day 1: Kathmandu Arrival
Kathmandu arrival and transfer to hotel. Check-in and refresh. In the evening, enjoy Nepali dinner with cultural program.
Overnight at hotel in Kathmandu.

Day 2: Fly to Paro and drive to Thimphu (53 kms/ 1.5 hours)
After breakfast, fly to Paro (1 hour). From the left seat, you can see mountain range including Mt. Everest (8848 m, highest peak in earth) and the spectacular view of Bhutan’s snow capped peaks as you approach Paro. On arrival you will be received by our representative and drive to Thimphu, is situated at an elevation of 2500 meters / 8200ft.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.

Day 3: Day of Thimphu Tshechu (Festival)
After breakfast you will go to witness the 1st Day of Thimphu Tshechu (Festival) which will be held at Tendrel Thang (the festival ground in front of Thimphu Tashichhodzong). Dressed in traditional finery, devotees flock to Tendrel Thang to proclaim their faith and receive blessings.
You will take off sometime from the festival to visit Tashichhoe Dzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body.
After the festival you will visit the following:

  • Watch Archery match: Bhutan’s national game

  • Kuenselphodrang where the Bhutan’s largest Buddha statue (167 feet tall) is perched on the hillock overlooking the entire Thimphu valley below and the view from there is magnificent.

  • National Memorial Chorten, chorten literally means ' seat of faith' and Buddhists often call such monuments the 'Mind of Buddha'. Meet the elderly generation in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten.
    Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu

Day 4: Witness Thimphu Tsechue, sightseeing & Short Hike to Tango Monastery
After breakfast visit the following:
Centenary Farmers’ Market (open from Thu-Sun only): Most of the Thimphu’s population and many valley dwellers converge on the bustling weekend market, held by the side of Wangchu River.  A wide range of foodstuffs and local arts and crafts are sold at the market, which runs from Friday afternoon till Sunday evening.  A visit to the market provides great photo opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with local people and perhaps buy souvenirs.
Go to Tendrel Thang to get a glimpse of the 2nd Day of Thimphu Festival and stay at the festival for about an hour or so.
National Textile Museum which is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs.You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
Simply Bhutan– A living museum of rural life which provides visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life.
After lunch drive for about 30 minutes to the base camp of Tango Monastery and hike up to the Monastery. The walk up to the Monastery is through the forest filled with Rhododendron flower trees which will be in full bloom during April month. Tango Monastery is the center for higher studies for monks. The view from Tango Monastery is breathtakingly beautiful. You will experience complete peace and serenity in this area. After visiting the monastery, walk back to the road and then drive back to Thimphu.
Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.

Day 05: Last Day of Thimphu Tshechu
After breakfast go to Tendrel Thang (festival ground) to witness the most spectacular last day of Thimphu Tsechu with religious dance performances mixed with folk dances and dance of Bhutanese warriors. People from all walks of life gather at the festival in their finest dresses and ornaments.
After the festival visit the following:
Traditional Bhutanese paper making factory. The handmade paper making in Bhutan stemmed from the age old tradition originated in 8th century of Bhutanese history. The handmade paper constitutes as valuable National heritage of Bhutanese cultural identity and is preserved through all the ages. The Traditional paper is recognized and held high esteem both in home and outside world. Jungshi Paper Factory was established in November 1990 as an undertaking of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The unit now boasts as a major and sole dealer in handmade paper and its products.
Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo. It can weigh as much as 550 pounds.
Changankha Lhakhang (temple): This temple situated atop a small hound overlooking the Thimphu valley was built in the 13th century by the illustrious Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo. The temple is considered the spiritual home of children born in the Chang valley.
Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.

Day 6: Drive to Punakha/Wangdue( 71 kms/ 3 hours).
After breakfast, travel to Punakha & Wangdue through Dochula Pass 3140 m). In the clear spring sky, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountain ranges. . Then pass by the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (Queen Mother of Bhutan) for the security and well being of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan.
You will also visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (monastery) which was built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck ( the Queen Mother of Bhutan) as a tribute to His Majesty the fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck and armed forces after His Majesty led a successful operation against Indian militants who had occupied certain areas of Bhutan. The gallery of the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang has beautiful murals depicting some of the important events in the reigns of the Kings of Bhutan.
Then travel onto Punakha. Punakha has been inextricably linked to some of the most momentous events in the Bhutanese history and deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful and significant regions at the heart of Bhutanese culture. Punakha had served as the capital of Bhutan from 1637 till 1907. The dzong is historically important and stands as the symbol for a unified Bhutan.
On the way, stop for lunch at Metsina village and then visit the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing.
Then visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho - Chu (male river) and the Mochu (female river). The dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region.  At the dzong, you can see the highest standards in woodwork.
In the evening you may visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendup Lhakhang Nunnery and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful view of Punakha and Wangdue valleys from there.
Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.

Day 07: Drive back to Paro (71 kms/ 3 hours)
After breakfast, travel through upper Punakha valley and take a hike through farmhouses to the beautiful Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Lhakhang (temple) built by Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck (the Queen Mother of Bhutan)  for peace and stability in this ever-changing world. This temple is situated on the hilltop overlooking the valley below. The leisurely walk up to the temple would take about an hour. Visit the temple and also enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful view from there.
Then travel to Paro with lunch enroute. On arrival at Paro visit the following:
Rinpung Dzong, built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now being used as an administration center and school for monks.Then walk down to Rimpung Bridge (Traditonal Bridge), oldest bridge in Bhutan.
Farm houses in Paro Valley and a visit to a farm house offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.
Overnight at a hotel in Paro.

Day 8: Hike to Taktsang Ghoempa (Tiger’s Nest Monastery) in Paro
After breakfast, hike to Taktsang Goempa (Tiger's Nest Monastery). The hike upto the viewpoint will take about 1 1/2 hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff.You will stop here for refreshments and then hike further upto the monastery which should take another 1 1/2 hours.
It was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three months in the 8th century.  It is believed that Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) flew to this location from Khenpajong, Tibet on the back of a tigress and subdued a demon. He then performed meditation in one of the caves here and emerged in eight incarnated forms (manifestations) and blessed the place. Subsequently, the place came to be known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. Guru Padmasambhava is known for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen caves in which he meditated.
After visiting the monastery, walk back downhill to the road with lunch at the viewpoint cafeteria. Then drive back to your hotel after visiting Kichu Lhakhang on the way. Kichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demon.
Overnight at a hotel in Paro.

Day 9: Departure to Kathmandu from Paro
After breakfast, transfer to Paro International Airport for flight back to Kathmandu.
Kathmandu arrival and transfer to hotel. Optional sightseeing or full day rest.
Eve: Enjoy farewell dinner at one of the nice restaurant.
Overnight at hotel in Kathmandu.

Day 10: Departure from Kathmandu or Extend Nepal Tour
Breakfast and timely transfer to airport for departure from Kathmandu.