One of the biggest festivals in the country is the Thimphu Tshechu. This festival is held in the capital city for three days beginning on 10th day of the 8th month of lunar calendar. This Tshechu is witnessed by thousands of people many of which travel from neighboring Dzongkhags (districts) to attend the festivities. The actual Tshechu is preceded by days and nights of prayer and rituals to invoke the gods.
When it was initiated by the 4th Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay in 1867 the Tshechu consisted of only a few dances being performed strictly by monks. These were the Zhana chham and the Zhana Nga chham (Dances of the 21 Black Hats), Durdag (Dance of the Lords of the Cremation Ground), and the Tungam chham (Dance of the Terrifying Deities).
The Thimphu Tshechu underwent a change in the 1950s, when the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, introduced numerous Boed chhams (mask dances performed by lay monks). These additions added colour and variation to the festival without compromising its spiritual significance. Mask dances like the Guru Tshengye (Eight Manifestations of Guru), Shaw Shachi (Dance of the Stags) are enjoyed because they are similar to stage-theater.
Equally important are the Atsaras, who are more than just mere clowns. The Atsaras are the dupthobs (acharyas), who provide protection. The dances and the jesting of the Atsaras are believed to entrance evil forces and prevent them from causing harm during Tshechus. Modern Atsaras also perform short skits to disseminate health and social awareness messages.
To farmers, the Tshechu is also seen as a break from farm life. It’s an occasion to celebrate, receive blessings and pray for health and happiness.
Besides the annual three day Tshechu, Thimphu also celebrates a one day festival known as the Thimphu Dromchoe. The day long festival dates back to the 17th century. It was first introduced by Kuenga Gyeltshen in 1710, who was recognized as the reincarnation of Jampel Dorji, son of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel. The dromchoe is celebrated 3 days prior to the Thimphu Tshechu.
The Dromchoe showcases the sacred dances dedicated to the chief protective deity of Bhutan, Palden Lhamo. Legend has it, that the deity Pelden Lhamo appeared before Kuenga Gyeltshen and performed the dances while he was in meditation. Based on these dances, Kuenga Gyaltshen initiated the Dromchoe.
Day 1- Arrive in Paro
Our guide will welcome you to Bhutan at the airport in the traditional Bhutanese way by offering silk scarves. The beautiful valley of Paro perhaps presents the best introduction to Bhutan. As you fly into the valley, you will see the towering mountains surrounding the valley as if they were within arm’s length. Except for the small town, Paro valley is largely dominated by paddy fields which offer a spectacular view at any time of the year.
If you arrive in Paro early in the morning, we will take you to the National Museum of Bhutan housed in the medieval watch tower or Taa Dzong. The circular building on the ridge overlooking Rinpung Dzong and part of Paro valley is a piece of Bhutanese heritage.
We can also visit Rinpung Dzong, which is the civil and religious centre of Paro District. Rinpung Dzong is a historically important monument in the country. It was first built by Hungral Drung Drung, a descendant of Phajo Drugom Zhigpo. Later in the 1640s, the descendants of Hungral Drung Drung offered the dzong to Zhabdrung Rinpoche who demolished the old dzong and built a new one on the same spot in 1646.
Day2-Halt in Thimphu
Today we drive to Thimphu after breakfast. A sightseeing tour around Thimphu, the melting pot of Bhutan, can give you a good introduction to the Bhutanese way of life. Today, we visit the popular Memorial Chorten in the heart of the city built in memory of the third King of Bhutan. A continues stream of Bhutanese and foreigners throng the place. The devout – both old and young – doing their pious rounds and monks saying prayers best represent the spiritual side of Bhutan. Other places of interest in Thimphu include the National Library, the School of Traditional Arts and Crafts, the Takin Preserve, the giant Buddha statue on the hill overlooking Thimphu city, the oldest dzong in Bhutan, Semtokha Dzong, built in 1629 by the founder of Bhutanese state, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
Day 3-Attend Thimphu Festival
Today we attend Thimphu Tshechu held on the recently built festival ground attached to the Tashichodzong. Tashichodzong is seat of the Bhutanese government and state authorities. It houses government ministries, the office of His Majesty the King, the Throne Room, and the living quarters of the Central Monastic Body and its Chief Abbot.
The festival presents diverse facets of Bhutanese culture and religion. You will see colourful mask dances, folk dances, opera-like enactment of scenes, jesters, and not to mention, huge crowds of people in their finery feasting on the dazzling sights or delicious local rice and meat dishes.
Day 4-Thimphu to Punakha
Our journey today takes us across the Dochula Pass at 3,150 m above sea level. A coffee stop on the pass adorned with 108 stupas will give us an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular view of Jigme Singye Wangchuck mountain ranges sparkling in the distance.
From Dochula, we descend to Lobesa where we stop for lunch. Twenty-five minutes walk from the road point near Lobesa is Chimi Lhakhang. The temple, built by Tibetan Lama Ngawang Chogyal, is today associated with his cousin, Lam Drukpa Kinley, popularly known as Divine Madman. Popularly known as the Fertility Temple among tourists, it is believed to bless childless couples with children. The village around the temple is teeming with the painting of phallus in homage to the great Divine Madman. After the visit to the temple, we drive to Punakha.
Day 5-Punakha to Gangtey
Today we drive from Punakha, across Wangdiphodrang, to Gangtey at 3,500 metres. We take the Wangdi-Trongsa highway towards the east. We climb the historic Pelela Pass, and before we hit the peak, we leave the highway and turn towards Gangtey. If you are visiting Bhutan in autumn, you will see the Pelela Pass awash with rhododendron in full bloom.
At Gangtey, we visit Gangtey Gonpa, one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and the seat of an important lineage holder of Pema Lingpa, the 15th century Bhutanese treasure discoverer.
From Gangtey, we descend into the vast valley of Phobjikha popular for the endangered black-necked crane. Phobjikha is one of the two main winter roosting grounds for the crane.
We spend the night in a village in Gangtey and experience the traditional Bhutanese rural life.
Day 6- Gangtey to Paro
Today we drive to Paro via Wangdi where the ruins of Wangdiphodrang Dzong stand. Built in 1638 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Wangdiphodrang Dzong was one of the foremost administrative centres during Bhutan’s medieval times. It was administrative and religious centre of the district until it was burnt down in June, 2012. Until the rebuilding is complete, hardly anything remains of that great dzong.
Day 7-Hike to Taktshang
Today, we visit the most photographed monastery in Bhutan, Taktshang. Clinging to the face of a cliff 900 metres above Paro valley, Taktshang, known to outsiders as the Tiger’s Nest, is one of the most sacred places in the entire Himalayan region. Besides Guru Padmasambhava (popularly known as Guru Rinpoche in Bhutan) who is believed to have flown to this place riding a tigress, many enlightened masters meditated here and blessed the place. It is bit of a hike demanding some stamina, but a fulfilling one. Lunch is served at Taktshang Cafeteria which is face-to-face with Taktshang.
Today, we drop you at the airport on time to catch your flight back home. We bid you farewell in the traditional Bhutanese way by offering you a white silk scarf.
GROUP SIZEAny group Size
TRIP ACCOMMODATIONTourist Standard Hotel generally 3 to 4 star category.
Paro, Thimphu,Punakha, WangduePho
TRIP TYPECultural and Festival
TRIP SEASONSAutum (Sept - Nov) are best seasons.
FESTIVAL MONTHSOctoberLEAN MONTHSJanuary, December,
Please Note : Although we pride ourselves in constantly maintaining our programme the above mentioned programme is subject to change without prior notice.
- Bhutan Royalties, tourists fees, Visa fees and taxes.
- Accommodations in listed or similar hotels (pleasant hotels 3-4 star type) during the tour and in tents during the trek.
- All meals, including evening tea/coffee etc through-out the trip.
- All land transfers, sightseeing with entrance fees.
- Experienced Culture Tour Guide.
- Bottled water in the vehicle and other camp servces.
- Flights in and out of Bhutan.
- Travel insurance, Drink, Visa fees, Laundry