A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Buddhist Saint Padmasambhava, popularly known as 'Guru Rimpoche', the saint who was responsible for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. The Tshechu draws hundreds of Bhutanese people in a spirit of reverence, blessing, festivity and celebration. The Tshechu comes to life with colour, music, dance and drama as villagers and townspeople gather to witness the masked dances, sword dances and other sacred rituals.
Best: during festival time
Tour: 7 days
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This tour can be altered to start and end in Kathmandu
Day-1: ParoThe flight into Paro is spectacular on a clear day as magnificent views of the world's highest peaks give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land.
After lunch we will do some sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum which houses religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan's historical, cultural, and religious past. We will then visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River.
Day-2: Thimpu.After breakfast, drive to Tashichhodzong to attend the Thimphu festival. Tashichhodzong, 'the fortress of the glorious religion's. Initially erected in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was rebuilt in the 1960s during the reign of Bhutan's third king in the traditional style, without plans or nails. Here, locals dressed in their finest clothes come to attend the festivities.
During the festivities, masked dancers dance, pray and tell stories of good triumphing over evil, as well as stories of the significant historical events surrounding the life of Bhutan's patron saint, Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche).
Day-3: ThimpuEnjoy a morning of sightseeing, including a visit to 12th century Changangkha Temple, and the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. In the afternoon return to Tashichhodzong to experience the colourful events of the Thimphu festival. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day-4: Thimpu - Punaka.Today we 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). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a splash of colour.
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the "Palace of Great Happiness" built in 1637.
After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it's not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.
Day-5: Punakha - Thimpu - Paro.In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.
Drive back to Thimphu where you will visit The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum. If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items.
Afterwards proceed to Paro.Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day-6: ParoAfter 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). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then meditated in a cave for three months where the monastery was later built. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments.
In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, an historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.
Bhutan itinerary ends here
Journey back to Kathmandu. Overnight hotel
Day-7: Final Departure.In the morning our staff escort will bid you farewell at Paro airport.
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