Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival – 10 Days
Discover the rich pageantry and festive atmosphere of the Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival set in the Bumthang Valley, Bhutan’s spiritual heartland. Tsechus (festivals) are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
Our representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities.
After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum and Rimpung Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa.
Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 02: THIMPHU
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, and continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and the Zilukha Nunnery.
If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichhodzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’ housing some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 03: 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. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung.
Afterwards enjoy a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman.
DAY 04: PUNAKHA – TRONGSA – BUMTHANG
Drive from Punakha to Bumthang via Trongsa (8 hrs) over the Dochu-La pass (3,100m) and Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range.
Continue driving to Bumthang, home to some of Bhutan’s oldest Palaces and temples. Try to stay awake until midnight to witness the opening proceedings of the Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival, including an unusual naked dance performed to sanctify the region. Overnight at your lodge in Bumthang.
DAY 05: BUMTHANG
In the morning visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan’s patron saint Guru Rimpoche meditated and 7th century Jambay Lhakhang.
After lunch, visit Jakar Dzong and Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pemalingpa and containing interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Afterwards enjoy exploring the village of Jakar, Bumthang’s main township. Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
DAY 06: BUMTHANG
Return to experience more of the festivities at Jambay Lhakhang, or enjoy an excursion to Tang Valley, the most remote valley in the Bumthang district. Activities may include a 45 minute walk uphill to Ugyen Chholing Palace, built in the 16th century by the Trongsa Penlop Tshokey Dorji.
DAY 07: BUMTHANG – PUNAKHA
In the morning visit visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan’s patron saint Guru Rimpoche meditated. Afterwards drive to Punakha, stopping for lunch along the way. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
DAY 08: PUNAKHA – PARO
Drive back to Thimphu where you will enjoy lunch and have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores. Afterwards proceed to Paro, visiting Semtokha Dzong en route. The Dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies. On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 09: PARO
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the viewing point).
In the afternoon drive to the almost fully reconstructed Drukgyel Dzong. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit other sights in Paro valley. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 10: DEPART PARO
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.