NIMALUNG BUMTHANG FESTIVAL – 10 DAYS
Nimalung Tshechu is a three days festival held in Bumthang, and it is started with the usual charms and dances. This festival is celebrated with much zeal and there are traditional folk dances and other performances done by the locals. On the final day, people are blessed with the display of Guru Tshengye Thongdrol to seek their blessings and get away from the misfortunes.
Day 1: Arrive Paro then to Thimphu
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. If you arrive via Kathmandu, which offers the most breathtaking view of the range, it’s possible to see Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga as well. Upon arrival in Paro, you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon you can visit the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions, as do all the Dzongs (forts) currently. You’ll cross a traditional wooden bridge on the way to the Dzong. You can then tour the National Museum, formerly the watchtower for the Dzong. It now houses a collection of fine arts, paintings, thangkas, statues, and antiques. Afterward, you will visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. Later drive to Thimphu. Overnight in Thimphu
Day 2: Thimphu
After breakfast, you will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten (built-in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), Buddha Point, Changgangkha Monastery, the radio tower (for a great view of Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong), and the zoo, which contains the national animal of Bhutan: the takin. From there you will visit the nunnery temple, the National Library (which houses ancient manuscripts), and the School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the painting school). After a relaxing lunch, you will visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, a traditional paper factory, the majestic Tashichodzong. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu-Punakha
Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time).
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). And drive for about 12 km and from the road, point takes a walk across the rice fields and a river to reach the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which is located on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang. It houses the paintings and statues belonging to the Nyingmapa tradition. Visit Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chime Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple, where you may receive a special fertility blessing if you wish. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 4: Punakha –Trongsa-Bumthang
Today our drive is spectacular and passes over many valleys. We stop at the Chendibji Chorten at the top of the highest pass of the Black mountains and then continue into Central Bhutan. The golden roofed Trongsa Dzong spans the valley that divides east and west Bhutan and is another architectural feat, which can be seen for 20 tantalizing and winding miles before it is finally reached. Afternoon visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong and then drive to Bumthang via Yotongla pass (3,400 meters). En route to visit the joint Australian/Bhutanese wool project at Chumey valley. Watch the single loom weaving process and buy yak wool rugs or scarves if you wish. There is also a wonderful selection of textiles from all over Bhutan on display and for sale at this roadside stop. You will probably see Yaks on the high passes on the way to Bumthang. Eventually, the road winds down into the beautiful Bumthang valley, the cultural heart of Bhutan. Rice paddies give way to fields of barley and potatoes as the climate is too cold for rice. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Rinchenling Lodge.
Trongsa Dzong – were laid in the 16th century by Pema Lingpa and flourished during the 17th century under Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The impressive fortress is a massive structure, its wall looming high above the winding Mangde Chu Valley,commanding the east-west road. overnight in Bumthang.
Day 5: Bumthang
This is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. The Guru and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders), have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley. In the morning we hike to visit the Tamshing Monastery (one of the oldest monastic schools built by Terton Pema Lingpa) and Kurjey Lhakhang (where the Guru Rinpoche subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock). We also visit Jambay Lhakhang (one of the oldest temples in Bhutan built in the 7th century) and Jakar Dzong (seat of the district administration). In the afternoon, hike to Thangbi valley across the suspension bridge and visit the Thangbi Lhakhang built in the 14th century, dinner and overnight at a hotel or drive to Ura.
Day 6: Bumthang (Witness Tshechu)
Witness the tsechu today, a rich form of the oral history tradition where the Bhutanese pass on values, mythology, and spiritual beliefs through the dance dramas.
The Nimalung Tshechu will culminate with a rare display of a giant silk applique thangkha (painting) depicting Guru Padmasambhava or some other important Buddhist deity this morning.
Day 7: Bumthang to Gangtey
The valley of Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of the Black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis). Bhutan is home to around six hundred black-necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. The elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to the end of March.
You will begin the day by driving to Gangtey. You’ll pass through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and arrive at Gangtey village, where you’ll visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. From Gangtey, you can see the picturesque Black Mountain range as well as Phobjikha Valley, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes. Overnight Guesthouse at Gangtey.
Day 8: Gangtey to Paro
After Breakfast Explore the Phobjikha (Bhutan’s most beautiful valley) and also visit the Education Center, which is being looked after by the Royal Society of Protection of Nature (RSPN). Then start driving to Paro, en-route visit the Wangdi Town and the nearby villages are famous for stone and slate carvings. Few kilometers from the town you can also view Bhutan’s most unique village, Rinchengang. On arrival in Paro check into the hotel.
Day 9: Hike Paro Taksang
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the cafeteria).
In the afternoon drive to the almost fully reconstructed Drukgyel Dzong. The original monument (destroyed by fire in 1951) was built by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In the evening you can stroll through the Paro market and town. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Days 10: Depart Paro
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for a flight to your onward destination.