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Thangbi Mani Festival – 9 Nights / 10 Days

Thangbi Mani festival is one of the most popular festivals held in Chhoekhor Gewog in Bumthang. The highlight of the festival is the fire blessing (Mewang) ceremony, performed in an open ground. The lay monks perform purification rituals while people jump over flames to purify themselves. Several mask dances are also performed. It is believed that the festival would bring peace and prosperity and ensure better harvest for the entire community. Thangbi Mani is a unique festival which displays the rich tradition and celebrates the cultural heritage of this ancient monastery Thangbi Lhakang, founded in 1470 by the Shamar Rinpoche, Chokki Drakpa. The iron curtain at the entrance is said to have been cast by the saint himself. Thangbi Lhakhang is located beyond the Kurje Lhakhang.

Thangbi Mani Festival (Oct 4 -6 2017)

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PARO TSHECHU TOUR

The ‘Thangbi Mani’ festival tour travels to Bhutan’s spiritual heartland to experience the rich pageantry and festive atmosphere of this unique festival.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 AT 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 4pm 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 begun.  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

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 03 : PARO – 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). 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 riot of glorious spring colour.

Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It 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 in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned.

Afterwards enjoy a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. 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 04: PUNAKHA – BUMTHANG
Drive from Punakha to Bumthang via Trongsa (8 hrs) over the Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range. Enroute visit beautiful Chendebji Chorten, erected in the 18th century. The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty. After lunch, visit Trongsa Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan. The view from the Dzong is spectacular and one can see across the landscape for many miles. Also visit the Ta Dzong museum housing an incredible collection of historical artifacts of the Royal Family.

Continue driving to Bumthang, home to some of Bhutan’s oldest Palaces and temples. The valley’s barley fields, apple groves and meadows lay below huge hills which climb up towards the Himalayan mountain wall separating Bhutan from Tibet. Overnight at your lodge in Bumthang.

DAY 05: BUMTHANG
Today you will witness the festival of Tangbi Mani. You can see the lay monks perform the purification rituals Mewang ceremony (fire blessing) which is performed in an open ground. All the people jump over the flame three times as it is believed that it will wash away all the sins and the misfortunes for the entire year. Masked dances and folk dances are performed in the enclosed courtyard of the temple.

In the afternoon visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan’s patron saint Guru Rimpoche meditate. Overnight at your lodge in Bumthang.

DAY 06: BUMTHANG
Explore some of the many sites of the Bumthang valley, including  7th century Jambay Lhakhang. It dates back to the origins of Buddhism in Bhutan and is one of the Kingdoms oldest temples. Also visit Jakar Dzong and Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pemalingpa and containing interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings.

You may also visit 14th century Tang Rimochen Lhakhang where Guru Rinpoche meditated and Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake), where some of Guru Rinpoche’s treasures were found in the 15th century by the famous treasure discover Pema Lingpa. It’s a good location to meditate. Overnight at your lodge in Bumthang.

DAY 07: BUMTHANG – GANGTEY

After break you will proceed for your journey to PhoJikha.  We will travel back through the same route crossing the two passes Yountong La and Pelela.

Stop at Trongsa for lunch. Before reaching Wangdi, you will drive to a road that diverges towards Phobjikha. You will drop in at hotel and get fresh.

Then you will visit to Gangtey Goenpa, which is the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.   You will also see wide valley of phobikha which is the winter residence of hundreds of Black Necked Crane. Overnight hotel in Phobjikha.

DAY 08: GANGTEY – THIMPHU
Drive back to Thimphu (approx 6 hrs), 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 Thimphu, check into the hotel. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at your hotel  in Thimphu.

DAY 09: THIMPHU – PARO
Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to stunning Buddha Dordenma Statue, made of bronze and gilded in gold, and the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century. In the late afternoon, depart for Paro. 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.
Tashi Delek!

  • 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.

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