WANDUE TSHECHU – 9 DAYS
The festival is held in Wangduephodrang and is observed for three days in the autumn season. This festival was introduced by the Zhaddrung Ngawang Namgyal right after the Dzong was completed. The tshechu is well known for the Raksha Mangcham or the Dance of the Ox. Many different kinds of mask dances are performed during the festival. It concludes with the unfurling of the Guru Tshengye Thongdrel (large tapestry).
Day 1: Arrive Paro
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. In the evening you can stroll through the Paro market and town. Overnight in Paro.
Day 2: Paro – Thimphu
After breakfast, excursion to Taktsang or the “tiger’s nest” perched precariously on the cliff 900m above the floor of the Paro valley. Meditate on the hill. It is said that Guru Rimpoche has flown to the site of the monastery on the back of a tigress and meditated here for three months. Lunch would be served in the Cafeteria. Return to Paro and after tea drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The road leads through the Paro Valley to the confluence of the Paro and Thimphu rivers at Chuzomsa. Three different styles of chortens adorn the confluence. A short way beyond, on the left, is the Tachogang Lhakhang built in the 15th century by Thangthong Gyelpo, a trader who first introduced Iron Bridges in Bhutan. On the way visit Simtokha Dzong; the oldest Dzong in Bhutan built by Shabdrung in the 17th century. On arrival in Thimphu check into the hotel. In the evening you can explore Thimphu freely and visit some interesting handicraft shops. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: 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 4: 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 hotel in Punakha.
Day 5: Punakha – Wangduephodrang
After breakfast, drive towards Wangduephodrang Dzong and attend the festival.
Day 6: Wangdue – Gangtey
After breakfast, 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. 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). Overnight hotel in Gangtay.
Day 07: Gangtay
After breakfast, you’ll visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan which is the most spiritual temple, From Gangtey, and you can see the picturesque Black Mountain range as well as Phobjikha Valley, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes. Overnight Hotel in Gangtey.
Day 8: Gangtey – Paro
After breakfast start driving to Paro, have lunch on way in Wangdue Phodrang overnight in Paro.
Day 9: Depart Paro
Drive to the Airport for the departure.