(11 Nights/12 Days)
Festival Date: 29th -31st October, 2017
Venue: Jakar Dzong, Bumthang
Bhutan’s sacred tshechu (festivals) take place across the country at various times of the year. Mask dancers perform to packed crowds of local celebrants dressed to the hilt. The tshechu plays illustrate moral tales from the life and times of Guru Padmasambava–the “Lotus-born Buddha of the Himalayas”
–against a backdrop of thanka (scrolls) believed to gain merits in their lives. Think of it as an elaborate religious opera of many parts–with the performances taking place in the open air–on the courtyards of Bhutan’s magnificent dzongs (fortress).
This thrilling three-day event is a relatively new festival begun by the Monastic Body of Jakar. It is held within the Jakar Dzong and it includes celebratory masked dances and folk songs.
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 Tashichho Dzong 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.):
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) – Jakar Tshechu
Attend the festival whole day. Your guide will explain the significance of festival. 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):
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, 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 sightseeing. Your visit includes visit to the tallest and the largest statue of sitting Buddha. We then drive to Paro. After lunch, visit the National Museum and Paro Rimpung Dzong. 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 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. 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.
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 Gampo.
Dinner and overnight in Hotel. (B, L, D)
DAY 12. Paro: Departure
Early morning drive to the Airport for onward journey.(B)