Paro TsechuTsechu (literally the tenth day) are the annual religious festivals held in each district or Dzongkha of Bhutan on the tenth day of the lunar Tibetan Calendar. Tsechus are the religious festivals of the ‘Red Hat Sect’ or ‘Drukpa’ lineage of Buddhism. The Thimpu and Paro Tsechu are among the biggest of the Tsechus in terms of participation and audience. Tsechus are social gatherings, which perform the function of social bonding among people.
Paro / Punakha / Thimpu
Day 01: Arrival in Paro (2250m)
Depart Bangkok international airport by Druk-Air (Royal Bhutan Airline). On arrival at Paro international airport, you will be received by our representative and escorted to the hotel. After drive to Drugyel Dzong which is built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the towering outer walls and central keep remain an imposing sight. On clear day you can see the splendid view of Mount. Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Then you'll visit the national museum (Ta-dzong). Once it was the watch tower of Paro valley from 1616 A.D to 1907 and it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley. Also visit the Paro Rinpung dzong (fortress of the heap of Jewels) which is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (utse) of the dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the country. Then the dzong was built in 1645 A.D by Shebdrung Nawang Namgyel. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 02: Paro - Hike to Taksang (Tiger Nest)
After breakfast drive towards the road point to Taktshang Monastery, the most famous of Bhutan's monasteries. Taktshang means "Tiger's Nest," so named because Guru Rimpoche reportedly flew to the site of the monastery on the back of a flying tiger in the late centuries of the first millennium. The monastery is perched on a cliff nearly 3,000 ft above the Paro valley floor. This day hike is not only historically and culturally interesting, but also incredibly scenic! It takes about two hours to reach the cafeteria, which gives a breathtaking view of the Tiger's Nest. If you still feel like hiking then you can take another hour to reach the temple. Evening is optional attend half day Paro festival or you can stroll in Paro town and visit shops. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 03: Attend full day Paro Festival (3rd day of festival)
Dance of the Lords of the Cremation Grounds (Durdag) : A dance that takes place in cremation grounds. The dancers wear skull masks and represent protectors of the religion who live in the eight cremation grounds on the periphery of the symbolic Mt. Sumeru.
Dance of the Terrifying Deities (Tungam) : Dressed in beautiful brocade and terrifying masks, this is a deeply symbolic dance where a sacrificial murder is performed. Guru Rinpoche appears in a wrathful manifestation to save the world. The dance is meant to show all beings the way to salvation.
Dance of the Heroes with six kinds of ornaments (Guan Drug Pawo) : The heroes hold six ornaments – five rings of bone ornaments and a small drum and bell in their hands. By their gestures and the sound of their melodies, the heroes lead sentient beings from the wheel of reincarnation along the path of liberation.
Kyecham: is an accompanying dance to the next dance. The Kyecham dancers wear knee-length yellow skirts, and animal masks.
Dance of the Noblemen and Ladies (Pholeg Moleg) : A comical play that depicts the life of King Norzang. The play is full of bawdy and rustic humors as two princes and two princesses, and old couple and clowns enact a story of misbehavior, deceit, and mistrust. The story ends happily with the princes marrying the princesses and reconciliation takes place as a lesson to life.
Dance of the Stag and the Hounds – 2nd part : This is a conclusion of the dance began on the second day. The saint Milarepa appears in a long white dress and converts the dogs, stag and the hunter with a song. The conversion is symbolized by the hunter and his dogs jumping a rope.
During the festival, the locals also open up fair beside Ugencholing palace grounds, so one can walk down cross the cantilever bridge and visit the stalls, enjoy local festivities, shopping for handicrafts and souvenirs. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 04: Paro - Haa Valley (2800m) – Paro (One Day Excursion) (60 Km / 2hrs drive)
One day excursion to Haa valley across Chela Pass 3810 meters through the blue pines, fir and oak. On the clear day you will see mount Chomolhari, other snow capped and beautiful valley below the pass. Explore nearby mountains dotted with the colorful prayer flags and blanked with dwarf rhododendrons. After a picnic lunch, you will drive further down and arrive at Haa – valley is blessed by the presence of Meri Piensum, three small mountains symbolizing Rigsum Gonpo: Jampelyang (manjushri), Chana Dorji (vajrapani) and Chenrizi (avaloketeshvara). You can explore the remote village which will take 30 minutes walk and stroll in town later. Evening drive back to Paro and stroll in town and visit shops. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 05: 4th Last Day Of The Festival Paro (2250m) - Punakha (4 hrs drive)
Get up early morning at around 4 a.m to get blessing of unfurling of Great Thangka of Guru Padmasambhawa, believed as the re-incarnation of Lord Buddha who came to Bhutan in the 7th Century and introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. After lunch, 4 ½ hour’s drive to Punakha across Dochu-La Pass. (3116meters) snow-capped eastern Himalayan ranges can be seen on a clear day. Prayer flags will flutter you over the pass deeper into the essence of Bhutan. The beauty is further enhanced by the Druk Wangyal Chorten – 108 stupas built by the eldest Queen Mother. Once you cross the pass, you wind down into a warm fertile valley and meander along a gently flowing aquamarine river that leads you to the Punakha valley. On the way to Punakha, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minutes walk. through the rice fields to Chime Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple, dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley You may receive blessing from Lama’s wooden phallus. Check into hotel on arrival.Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 06: Punakha (1310m)
The sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and the surrounding mountainsides offer a large variety of attractive places to explore and discover monasteries and the most impressive Dzong in the country.
After early breakfast we will travel up the valley north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up and pay respect to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance when driving.The three-levelled chorten took eight and a half years to build and was consecrated in 1999. Dedicated to the Fifth King, it was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable.
Heading back down the valley we will stop for lunch. After the lunch we will visit the stunning Punakha Dzong. The Dzong is considered one of the most important and also one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the Kingdom. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637, and was the seat of the government every winter until Thimphu was established as the permanent capital in 1955. It is still the winter residence of the Je khempo (chief abbot) accompanied by the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colourful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, as well as paintings of one thousand Buddhas.
After the visit we will drive roughly 45 minutes towards queens village to visit the Nunnery. It was built by King Jigme's maternal grandfather. Inside the monastery we can see very large statue of Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara) bodhisattva of compassion. The nunnery has stunning view of both Punakha and Wangdi Valley. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 07: Punakha - Thimphu (2300 m) 65 Km, 3 hrs drive.
Today drive early to Thimhu the capital city of Bhutan on the way visit Wangdue Dzong, the district is famous for its fine bamboo and its slate and stone carving and visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang at Dochula stand on the crest of the pass. Evening stroll in Thimphu town and visit souvenir shops. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 08: Thimphu Sightseeing.
After breakfast visit Zorig Chusum Institute , 13 traditional arts and crafts, it was established in 1971 by the Royal Government in order to preserve the invaluable heritage and promote the arts of Bhutan; Textile museum the foundation was laid in 2000 under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, it was established with the aim of preserving and promoting Bhutanese textile arts; National Library and see the ancient manuscripts preserved there; Jungshi paper factory; and third king’s memorial Chorten.
Later visit Changangkha Lhakhang, mini Zoo here you can see just one animal, Bhutan's national animal the Takin. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over); nunnery temple; the Folk Heritage museum; and Tashichho Dzong, the main Government Secretariat building, where the government ministries, the Office of His Majesty the King and the Throne Room, the offices and living quarters of the monk body and the Chief Abbot’s housed. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 09: Departure from Paro.
After an early breakfast start 1 ½ hour’s drive from Thimpu to Paro International Airport to board your flight home.