Paro is a historic town with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered through the area. The Paro Festival is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan which begins on the 10th day of the 2nd month of the Bhutanese calendar and ends on 15th day of the 2nd month of the Bhutanese calendar. The Tshechu ends with Woochupey Zhey in the courtyard of the Dzong. It is said that the chipdrel ceremony of escorting the chief abbot of the monk body, Penlop and the mask dances are introduced by Penlop Dawa Penjor. Penlop Tshering Penjor is also said to have introduced many Peling chams such as Ngaging, Driging and Juging etc. He himself is a descendant of Pema Lingpa’s lineage. The traditions set up by these earlier leaders are still intact and people in the valley still revere the Tshechu.
They come in with their best garment and food both for religious and socialization purposes. Nowadays, the tourists add to both the number and variety of people attending the Tshechu. Thongdrel “deliverance from hell by the sight of it or attainment of nirvana by the sight of it” on the 5th day of the Tshechu, is a masterpiece of silver embroidery of Guru Rinpoche, his eight manifestations and two consorts. It is brought to Dayangkha at 3 am and displayed covering the entire three storied building and taken away by 7 am before the sun breaks, in case the sunlight decolonize the great religious piece. Maximum number of people is seen on this day.
Besides the Paro valley and the festival this tour will also visit Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan and the Punakha and Wangdu valleys driving over the Dochu la pass.
March 31, 2015: Arrival Paro – Thimphu (Bhutan Suites or Similar)
April 01, 2015: Thimphu – Wangdue (Dragon Nest Resort or Similar)
April 02, 2015: Wangdue – Thimphu (Bhutan Suites or Similar)
April 03, 2015: Thimphu – Paro ( Tashi Namgay Resort or Similar)
April 04, 2015: Paro ( Tashi Namgay Resort or Similar)
April 05, 2015: Paro ( Tashi Namgay Resort or Similar)
April 06, 2015: Departures
Tour Duration: 6 nights / 7 days
Group Size & Cost: 1 person US$1740 , 2 persons US$1680 each, 3 person & above US$1500 each.
COST INCLUDES: Twin sharing accommodation, all meals, tea & Snacks, visa fee, Tourism Development Fund, all transfers as per the itinerary, English speaking licensed Bhutanese Tour Guide, Special permit for restricted & old monastery, monument fees, all internal taxes and charges (including the 35% royalty).
COST EXCLUDES: Drukair fares, drinks & Beverages, Excess baggage, laundry, phone calls, medical, insurance and any other expenses that are not mentioned above.
March 31, 2015: Arrival in Bhutan.
Distance: 55 Km. Driving 1.5 Hours.(Thimphu Altitude 7609ft/2320m)
Flying in to the country’s only airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression.
On arrival at Paro airport, after immigration and custom formalities, your guide from Discovery Bhutan for the trip will receive you and transfer you to Thimphu. After lunch, go to Bhutan National Bank for currency exchange and then you can get an opportunity to purchase exquisite collector Bhutanese stamps. Then visit the National memorial chorten which was built in 1974 in Memory of the third king; visit the Buddha Dordenma sited amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuck, the 13th Desi Druk, overlooking the southern approach to Thimphu. It is one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world, at a height of 169 feet (51.5 meters). You can also enjoy the view of the Thimphu city clearly from here. In the evening you can walk in the town and then Dinner at Bhutan Orchard Restaurant to taste Bhutanese dishes.
Overnight hotel base in Thimphu.
April 01, 2015: Thimphu Sightseeing and then drive to Punakha.
Distance: 72 Km. Driving: 3 Hours.(Punakha Altitude 4200ft/1280m)
Half day of guided sightseeing tour of Thimphu visiting the National Memorial Stupa, Painting school, Bhutanese and Handicrafts Emporium. Then after lunch drive Punakha – a 3-hour drive through picturesque valleys and mountain slopes dotted with typical Bhutanese villages. From the Dochu La pass, at over 10-thousand feet, a vast panoramic views of the high snowcapped peaks of the Bhutanese Himalaya can be enjoyed on a clear day. Continue drive down into the Punakha valley.
Overnight – hotel base in Punakha.
April 02, 2015: Punakha then return back to Thimphu.
Distance: 72 Km. Driving:3 Hours.(Thimphu Altitude 7609ft/2320m)
In the morning, visit the Punakaha Dzong which is the old capital of Bhutan and is the winter home of the Je Kenpo and the national body of monks. The hike to Chhime Lhakhang , an ancient monastery near Punakha, dedicated to fertility and founded by Lam Drukpa Kuenley, to pray for children. They get blessed by a symbolic phallus which represents the sign of fertility and other religious objects of the Lam. It will take only few stories of the Lam to understand why everyone in this magical kingdom believes that the Lam’s blessings will help a woman conceive.
Overnight at the hotel base in Thimphu.
April 03, 2015: Thimphu – Paro (Paro Festival)
Distance: 55 Km. Driving 1.5 Hours.(Thimphu Altitude 7,478ft/2280m)
After breakfast drive from Thimphu to Paro stopping at the Simthoka Dzong which is the oldest of the many Dzongs (forts) in Bhutan. Today it houses the National Bhutanse School where Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan, is taught. Continue drive to Paro valley. On arrival check-in at hotel followed by lunch.
After lunch visit the Paro Dzong where the Masked dance-dramas of this typical Buddhist festival are going on. Be amongst throngs of Bhutanese from the Paro valley and from outlying villages of Bhutan all dressed in their traditional finery. Witness the age-old, wonderfully colourful and esoteric Religious masked dance-dramas performed by specially trained groups of Buddhist monks.
Overnight at hotel base in Paro.
April 04, 2015: Paro Tshechu (Festival).
Early morning visit festival for the viewing the Thondrol – the great Buddhist Thanka scroll dedicated to Guru Padmashambava. Spend the rest of the morning at the festival viewing masked dances and ritual activities. Truly a great climax to the most revered yearly festival of Bhutan.
In the afternoon visit Paro Museum housed at the graceful Ta Dzong, once a watch tower situated strategically overlooking the Paro valley. The Museum houses a rare collection of Bhutan’s historical, religious, cultural and artistic heritage, all beautifully preserved and displayed in a unique setting – a museum lover’s heaven.
Visit the ancient temple of Avalokiteshvara at Kyichu which is now being restored under the auspices of Bhutan’s Queen Mother. It is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan dating back to the 8th century and one of the many temples built by King Songtse Gampo (the main temple being the Jokhang in Tibet, another sill surviving temple is Jampay in Bumthang). According to a legend, the Tibetan king sent 108 saints all over the Himalayan region to build replica temples of the Jokhang. The king drew a diagram of a devil over the map of the Himalayan Buddhist countries and a temple was to be built on every joint. The two knees of the devil fell on Bhutanese land, one in Kyichu and one in Bumthang. Of 108 temples built during that time, only 3 remain today.
Then visit Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche’s Residence Memorial House which is next to Kichu monastery; Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991) is known as one of the great masters of meditation and erudition in 20th century Tibetan Buddhism. We use the term ‘great’ in reference to the breadth of his learning, depth of his compassion and expanse of his wisdom. Chance to see the Documentary (Journey to Enlightenment for 18 minutes and Brilliant Moon for 56 minutes), Rimpoche’s Reception Room, Rimpoche’s Clothing Room, Rimpoche’s Bed Room, Rimpoche’s Ceremonial Hat, Photo gallery and Book Display.
Overnight at same hotel.
April 05, 2015: Excursion to Tiger Nest Monastery.
Today, we hike up to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest.” This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.
After visiting what is known as one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites in the country, we will go off the beaten track further up to the temples that are on the hill tops above Tiger’s Nest. It’s so peaceful there and you can really communicate with nature as you enjoy the views from the top be it that of mountains or the valley. No wonder that some monks have chosen this place to meditate for their life! To go down, we are following a different path that takes us through the pristine thick forest of oaks and rhododendrons festooned with Spanish mosses.
Then you will return back to the hotel or where there will be time for resting or visiting the town for some more photography or shopping.
April 06, 2015: Departure.
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport in time to catch up your onward flight. you will be escorted till airport by staff of white lotus tours and treks.