Thimphu Tshechu

The Thimphu Tsechu, which is one of the Biggest Festivals in Bhutan, brings together people from all over the country to honour Guru Rinpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. This Festival dates back to 1867 when it was established by the Fourth Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. The festival features various mask dances performed by lay monks and jesting by Atsaras.


Trip Overview

DAY 1: PARO- THIMPHU
DAY 2:THIMPHU TSECHU
DAY 3: THIMPHU-PUNAKHA
DAY 4: PUNAKHA- TRONGSA
DAY 5: TRONGSA-BUMTHANG
DAY 6: BUMTHANG
DAY 7: BUMTHANG-GANGTEY
DAY 8: GANGTEY- PARO
DAY 9: PARO
DAY 10: DEPARTURE

Full Itinerary

Day 1: Paro- Thimphu

Arrive at Paro International Airport. Drive to Thimphu, which is an approximately 1hour drive and check in at your hotel. Thimphu is the Capital City of the kingdom of Bhutan. One of the charms of this unique capital is Bhutan‘s own version of the colonial traffic policemen, who will fascinate you with their elaborate hand gestures. Check in at Hotel.

Visit the National Memorial Chorten: This large Tibetan-style Chorten was built in 1974 to honor the memory of the third king – His Late Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. There are numerous religious paintings and complex tantric statues inside reflecting both peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist Deities. The Stupa is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, and for many people it is the focus of their daily worship.

National Library: This Library was established in 1967 to preserve many ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts. The traditional books kept on the upper floor of the building are Tibetan – style, printed or written on long strips of handmade paper stacked between pieces of wood and wrapped in silken cloth. There are also some wooden blocks that are used for printing books and prayer flags. The library contains a collection of English –language books, modern academic texts, travel books etc. The building houses many holy books, and statues of Bhutan’s most important historic figures.

National Institute for Traditional Medicine: Established in 1988- this traditional hospital prepares and dispenses herbal and other medicines. There is an impressive large lab and production facility that ensures the quality of the products.  There is a day care facility and clinic where doctors diagnose patients by reading their pulses.

Drive to the Buddha Dordenma Statue or to the place locally known as the Buddha Point. This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. The Buddha Dordenma is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley.

Tashichho Dzong: This Dzong was built in 1216 and houses the Throne room and offices of the King and the Ministers. The northern portion is the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the Central Monk Body. Tourists can visit the Dzong after 5 p.m and are allowed to enter the courtyard only.

Also make a short visit to the Mini-Zoo: This Zoo houses the National Animal of Bhutan – the Takin. It’s worthwhile taking the time to see these strange, quite ugly animals. Also stop to visit the Dupthop Lhakhang: one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. In the evening visit the Handicrafts Emporium where you can buy any type of Bhutanese souvenirs.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. Elevation 2300m

 

Day 2­- Thimphu Tsechu

The Thimphu Tsechu, which is one of the Biggest Festivals in Bhutan, brings together people from all over the country to honour Guru Rinpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. This Festival dates back to 1867 when it was established by the Fourth Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. The festival features various mask dances performed by lay monks and jesting by Atsaras.

The sacred Throngdroel of Guru Rinpoche is unfurled on the last day of the Tsechu. It is believed that those who are fortunate enough to view the Throngdroel will receive blessings and accumulate good merit.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. Elevation 2300m

Day 3: Thimphu-Punakha

After breakfast start your journey from Thimphu to Punakha. Estimated time of travel is 3 hours. We start our drive along mountainous roads, with spectacular alpine scenery. The drive will go over the Dochu La Pass at 3100m where on a clear day there are spectacular views of the Northern Himalayan Range. Also stop at this pass to visit the 108 Druk Wangyal Chortens built at the center of the pass. After a short break and tea at the pass drive to Paro.

Once in Punakha take a short hike from the road point to visit the Chimi Lhakhang built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley – “The Divine Madman “. He subdued the demoness of the Dochu la with his Magic Thunderbolt of Wisdom. Make a small offering and you will be rewarded with a blessing from the lama’s wooden and bone phalluses and his iron archery set. Mothers to be pray to the fertility goddess here and then select their future baby’s name from a collection of small bamboo slips. A wooden effigy of the lama’s thunderbolt is preserved in the Lhakhang and childless women go to the temple to receive a wang (blessing) from the saint. The hike is a 20-minute walk across fields from the road to the temple and passes through a small traditional village.

In Punakha visit Punakha Dzong, said to be the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan and the official winter residence of the Dratshang (official Monk body). The construction of this Dzong began in 1637 and was completed in 1638. After visiting the Dzong take a 10-minute hike to walk over one of the longest suspension bridges in Bhutan.

Dinner and overnight in Hotel in Punakha. Elevation 1320m

 

Day 4: Punakha- Trongsa

After breakfast travel to Trongsa. Approximate travel time is 7 hours.

On arrival in Trongsa visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong built in the year 1644. Also visit the Tower of Trongsa Museum or Ta Dzong originally built as a watchtower for the Trongsa Dzong but now converted to a museum.

Dinner and overnight at Hotel in Trongsa. Elevation 2300m

 

Day 5: Trongsa-Bumthang

After an early breakfast drive for approximately 2.5 to 3 hours to Bumthang Valley. On today’s drive we will also be crossing two high mountain passes, Pele La (3420m) and Yotong La (3425m).

 We start today by visiting Jambey Lhakhang, believed to be built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gyembo in the 7th century.  It is one of the two oldest temples in Bhutan, the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro).

Kurjey Lhakhang: Located just a mile away from the valley, this temple is named after the body(Kur) Print(Jey) of Guru Rinpoche, which is still preserved inside the oldest of the three buildings that make up the temple complex. After you have finished visiting this temple, take a short walk across a suspension bridge to the other side of the valley.

Dinner and Overnight in hotel in Bumthang, Elevation 2580m

 

Day 6: Bumthang

After breakfast visit Tamshing Goemba, established in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingma Goemba in the country today. When inside you may try carrying Terton Pema Lingpa’s cloak of chainmail on your shoulders and make 3 koras around the inner temple which is considered very auspicious. The chainmail weighs around 25kg.

After lunch, visit the Swiss Farm. This farm is a development project established by Fritz Maurer, one of the first Swiss to work in Bhutan, and now run by his son. The project introduced brewing, farming machinery and fuel-efficient, smokeless wooden stoves to the valley, as well as its first tourist guesthouse. The milk from large Swiss brown cattle is used in Bhutan’s only commercial cheese factory and Bhutan’s only native beer, Red Panda, is brewed here. Also take short drive to the Membartsho or the “Burning Lake”, a holy site on the Tang river where several of Guru Rinpoche’s treasures were founded by the 1st Terton (treasure reveler) Terton Pema Lingpa.

In the evening visit Jakar Dzong: Jakar Dzong is located above Chokhor valley. It was built in 1667 and was founded by Ngagi Wangchuck, The great Grandfather of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

Dinner and Overnight in hotel in Bumthang, Elevation 2580m

Day 7: Bumthang-Gangtey

Today, After breakfast travel from Bumthang to Gangtey. Travel time is approximately 5 hours.

 Nestled in the inner Himalayas at about 300m above sea level, Phobjikha is a wide alpine wet land valley that is considered the largest and the most significant wet land in the country and chosen home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the Central Asiatic Plateau to escape its harsh winters. Phobjikha is also known to the locals as the Gangtey Valley because of the Gangtey Monastery which is located at the hilltop pf this valley.

On arrival at Gangtey take a beautiful hike through the Gangety Nature Trail, which will take approximately 2 hours. This is a relatively easy hike with no vertical climbing involved.

Dinner and overnight in Hotel in Gangtey. Elevation 2900m.

Day 8: Gangtey- Paro

After an early breakfast, start your journey from Gangtey to Paro. Approximate travel time is 5 hours.

Upon arrival in Paro, if time permits visit Ta Dzong – An unusual round building said to be in a shape of a conch shell and which houses the National Museum of the Kingdom. The museum displays a spectacular collection of Thankas, extensive philatelic collection, ancient bronze and stone objects, statues, ancient weapons and shields. Presently the Museum is under renovations but the artifacts have been shifted to a new building and are open to visitors.

Also visit Rimpung Dzong. This Dzong was built in 1644 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal on a foundation of a monastery built by Guru Rinpoche.  Like most Dzongs in Bhutan it houses both the monastic body and district government offices including the local courts. After the Dzong walk down to the traditionally wooden covered bridge called Nyamai Zam.

Late afternoon visit to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the two oldest Lhakhangs in the country built in the 7 century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gyampo.  It is one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King and is said to hold down the left foot of a demoness. The other temple being the Jambey Lhakhang in Bumthang.

Dinner and overnight at Hotel in Paro, elevation 2280m.

 

Day 9: Paro

After early breakfast drive to the north of the valley to the base of a hill and hike to the famous Taktsang monastery at an altitude of 3100m.  Taktsang literally means –“Tiger’s nest” . This monastery was built in the 1600s and clings to a sheer rock cliff 900m above the valley. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo arrived at this site on the back of a flying tigress believed to be his consort in the 8th century to subdue evil spirits and establish the flow of Buddhism. It is an hour and 45 minutes’ walk up hill to the cafeteria and another one hour up to the main Monastery.

After lunch, walk back to the base and drive a short distance further north to visit the Drukgyal Dzong built in 1647 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate Bhutan’s numerous victories over the Tibetan invaders. The Dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and is now left in ruin.  On a clear day, the 24000ft (7314m) white doomed sacred Mount. Jhomulhari can be seen.

Dinner and overnight at Hotel Paro. Elevation 2280

Day 10: Departure

Contact Info

Chhundu Travel & Tours
Gatoen Lam,
P.O Box # 149
Thimphu Bhutan
Tel: +975-2-322592 / 322547
Mobile: +975-1711-2547