Paro Tsechu is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes, 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. A highlight of the Paro Tsechu is the unfurling of the silk Thangka – so large it covers the face of an entire building and is considered one of the most sacred blessings in the whole of Bhutan. The ‘Thangka’, known in Bhutan as a ‘Thongdroel’ is a religious picture scroll, and is only exhibited for a few hours at daybreak on the final day of the festival enabling the people to obtain its blessing.
Paro Festival (April 7 -11 2017)
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PARO TSHECHU TOUR
The ‘Paro Tsechu’ festival tour includes one of Bhutan’s most popular festivals. Join locals in a colourful celebration of Bhutanese culture and faith. This Bhutan tour also explores the cultural western and historical central valleys of Bhutan.
- View sacred dances and rituals performed by monks and laymen in elaborate costumes.
- Join in with locals in a special occasion of celebration, blessings and socialising.
- Witness the unfurling ceremony of the sacred ‘thongdroel’ scroll at daybreak.
- Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
- Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO
On your arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be received by your tour guide. After checking into your hotel you have time to relax and have lunch before beginning your discovery of Bhutan. You will visit Ta Dzong. It is a Museum located on the hill behind the Paro Dzong. Open from 9 am to 4 pm every day except Mondays and some national holidays, a visit takes a good hour. Housed in a 17th century watch tower, it has a unique character and beautiful panoramic views over Paro Valley. Later in the afternoon you to will travel to visit the ruined Drukgyel Dzong (fortress of victory), constructed to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invaders in 1644 and destroyed by a butter lamp fire in 1951. The reconstruction of Drukgyel Dzong has started recently. On return you will also visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.
Overnight hotel in Paro.
DAY 02: PARO
After breakfast you will visit the ‘Paro Tsechu’ festival, which is one of Bhutan’s most popular festivals. You will join locals in a colourful celebration of Bhutanese culture and faith. You will spend the whole day at Tshechu and explore the uniqueness of Bhutanses culture and tradition.
Overnight hotel in Paro.
DAY 03: PARO – THIMPHU
Take a day walk to the ‘Tiger’s Nest’, the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings to the rock face 900 metres above the Paro valley floor. The Guru Rinpoche a Buddhist saint is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress. He subsequently meditated here for three months and subdued the demon residing there.
You can have lunch at the Taktshang cafeteria. After lunch you will hike downhill viewing the aesthetic beauty of wide Paro valley. In the evening relax at the hotel.
Overnight hotel in Paro.
DAY 04: PARO -THIMPHU
Today you will make your early morning visit for blessing from Thangka of Guru Rhinpoche. Today is the most auspicious day of the festival. You will view sacred dances and rituals performed by monks and laymen in multicoloured costumes. Have lunch and proceed to Thimphu. You can also stop on the way to capture in the magnificent Tachog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s iron bridge Builder (Drubthob Thangtong Gyalpo (1385-1464)). In the evening relax at the hotel or go for orientation walk of the town.
Overnight hotel in Thimphu
DAY 05: THIMPHU
Begin your day with a short drive to Kuenselphodrang, a popular vantage point, with the biggest Buddha statues in the world. This site offers a panoramic view of the capital below and also has several walking trails, which ranges from leisurely to moderate. Then visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in the memory of the Third King and for world peace. Continue on to the picturesque 12th century Changangkha Temple and Nunnery at Zilukha.
Afterwards visit the weekend vegetable market. Located below the main town, near the Wangchhu River, Thimphu’s weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan. Visit the Folk Heritage Museum featuring an exhibition of items and artifacts of Bhutanese villages and rural households. After visiting the museum we will walk to School for Arts & Crafts; which is located close to the museum. This is one of the interesting schools where young boys & girls learn 13 different skills of arts & crafts in Bhutan.Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 06: THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA
Drive from Thimphu to Phobjikha (5-6 hrs) over the Dochu-La pass (3,100m), which is marked by 108 little Chortens and prayer flags. On clear weather we can enjoy the view of almost all snow-covered mountains including highest mountain Gangkar Puensum (7740m). We will take a short walk to stretch legs to Chimilhakhang temple. After lunch at Chimilhakhang café , continue our drive crossing over Puntsangchu River at Wangdiphodrang via old town. In Phobjikha we will visit Gangtey monastery before we check into our hotel. Overnight at your hotel in Gangtey/Phobjikha.
DAY 07: PUNAKHA
Chorten Nebu Temple Trek: 6 miles, moderate with an elevation gain of 1,200 ft
The walk this morning begins on a quiet country road, before climbing steeply over a rough trail as you make your way through terraced fields of rice to the local Chorten Nebu Temple. After lunch you continue descending through small villages. Although steep in places, the trail from Chorten Nebu towards the valley floor is wide and well defined, as local people visiting the temple, as well as children walking to and from school frequently use it.
Time permitting, we can visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Zhabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan’s first king was crowned.
Overnight at hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.
DAY 08: PUNAKHA – PARO
After leaving Punakha, en-route to Paro you enjoy a walk through a forest with temperate vegetation. Arriving at the royal botanical garden, which is 8,800 feet above sea level, you will enjoy Rhododendron festival performed by local people in and around Hongtso and Thinleygang village. A short walk around the small lake, where you may spot a red panda, one of the rare animals in the Himalayas.
After enjoying a visit through the gardens we continue our drive to Paro. After settling into comfortable accommodations, there is time to relax before a dinner of local specialties in the hotel restaurant.
Overnight at hotel in Paro
DAY 09: DEPART PARO
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.
- Sustainable Development Fees & Visa fees.
- All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
- Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
- Experienced driver.
- Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard government approved hotels & guesthouses.
- All meals in Bhutan.
- All entrance fees and permits.
- All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone and tips.
- Medical / Travel Insurance.