NEW YEAR TOUR/ NABJI LHAKHANG DRUP (FESTIVAL).

Nabji Lhakhang Drup (12 days)

Festival highlight


It is a celebration of ‘Happy new year' and unique festival celebrated in the beautiful Nabji village in Trongsa. The festival is held in honor of Guru Rinpoche, the saint who introduced Buddhism in the 8th century and to commemorate the establishment of the Nabji temple. Similar to the Jambay Lhakhang Drup, its highlight is the 'Mewang" - the fire blessing ceremony and the " Tercham" - a religious naked dance. 

During the fire blessing, locals run underneath a gigantic flaming gate made out of dry grasses with ambers and piles of burning grasses falling on their head. The other event "Tercham" (literally translated Dance of Treasure) is performed by naked dancers wearing facial masks. We mean completely naked. Locals believe that the Tercham can bless the infertile women with children, and is only performed in the night around a bonfire. A variety of traditional and mask dances each bearing significant importance follows after the main events and all these sacred dances are thought to be composed by Terton Pema Lingpa, the great treasure discoverer of the 15th century. The trip is also allows visitors a complete Bhutan experience as it combines this spectacular festival with the piloted community-based tourism trek and other cultural hotspots of Bhutan.

Tour iternary

Day 1: Paro 30. December

Arriving in Paro airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression.
On arrival at Paro airport, after immigration and custom formalities, your guide from White Umbrella will receive you and transfer you to the hotel in Paro. After short refreshment, we visit the Rinpung Dzong, National museum and Dungtse monastery which was built in 1521 by Thongthong Gyalpo. Evening at leisure or walking excursion through the Paro city.
Altitude at Paro: 2300m

Day 2: Paro Taksang 31. December
We start to hike to Taktsang Monastery. The name Taktsang means Tiger's Nest. The Monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 4000ft and offers an excellent view of Paro valley. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava meditated in the spot where the Monastery is situated. Lunch at the Taktsang cafeteria near the Taktsang where you can enjoy the spectacle view of the monastery which is hung on the huge rock cliff. On the way back, we visit 7th century monastery called Kichu Lhakhnag which was built by the first Buddhist King of Tibet. You can still see the all internal structure and the statues which have never gone any renovation till today. This is one of the oldest monastery in Bhutan. Evening we offer a traditional sauna (menchu).
In the evening, hot stone bath, after soaking you will be serve Ara(local brew wine) with scramble egg. An hour concert will be present with "Bon fire" at the courtyard, flock dances, classical dances and Mask dances (mystic play) entertainment. Supper will be serving during concert and free flow of drinks will be arranged later till wee hours. We assured that you will enjoy the program and it will be one of the highlight in the trip.

Day 3: Paro-Thimphu. 01. January
Approximate driving time: 01 hour. Altitude at Thimphu: 2400m.
Drive to Bhutan's capital, Thimphu, passing through idyllic countryside, with villages and paddy fields on either side of the road. Thimphu has a special charm and it is fascinating to sit and watch a gathering of local people in the town square, wearing their traditional dress and going about their business in a typically unhurried Bhutanese way.
Sightseeing in Thimphu includes; Visit to the Institute of Traditional Medicine; Bhutan has long and rich tradition of medicine based on natural remedies derived mainly from plants and earth, and some animals. This institute has facility for out patients, training, research and production of traditional medicine. The courses to become traditional doctors entail six to eight years of strenuous study after high school. The institute has an exhibition room that imparts excellent look into the tradition.
Visit to the School of Traditional Arts and Crafts, the school offers a six-year course in the techniques of traditional art in religious and secular paintings, woodcarving, and clay sculpture and traditional mask making. One can see students working through progressive levels practicing precise rules of Bhutanese art. The school also has a showroom from where student works are sold at very reasonable price compared to town for same quality of work.
Drive to Bumthang en route mountain pass Yongtong-la(3400m) visit Trongsa Dzong (biggest Dzong) and Heritage museum(Ta-Dzong) established in 2008 and its worth to visit museum. And later proceed to Bumthang valley.
Overnight at hotel

Day 4: Thimphu-Punakha 02.January
3-4 hours drive.
We will take a drive to Punakha across Dochu La (3050m) from where one can have a spectacular view of the Himalayas to the north when the sky is clear. The pass is marked by 108 chortens (Stupa) which are Buddhist reliquaries, memorials to the teachings of the Buddha.The stupas mark the landscape with reminders of the Buddha's teachings. From here, it's about a little more than hour's drive down to sub-tropical Punakha Valley.
In Punakha, we will visit the Dzong that was built by Shabdrung, in 1637, on a strategic place at the confluence of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. The Dzong has played a hallowed role in the history of Bhutan. It served as the seat of Shabdrung's government, several foreign delegations were received here in 18th and 19th century, the election and coronation of the first King was observed in 1907 and the Third King convened the first National Assembly in the Dzong. The central monastic body continues to reside here in winter. The embalmed bodies of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Terton Pema Lingpa are housed on the top floor of the main tower. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the present King from the latest fire in 1987.

Day 5: Punakha-Bumthang 03. January
Approximate driving time: 08 hours. Altitude at Jakar: 2600m
Drive to Bumthang via Trongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830ft). This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between western and central Bhutan. Further down the road, stop to visit Chendebji Chorten erected in the 18th century by a Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. It is built in the Nepalese style, with painted eyes at the four cardinal points.
The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and its impressive Dzong, stretched along a ridge above a ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the winding road suddenly leads you into the town. Later,proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy heartland of Buddhism. The 68 km. journey takes about 3 hours. The road winds steeply up to Yutong La (3,400m/11,155ft), and then run down through dense coniferous forest to enter a wide, open, cultivated valley, known as Chumey valley. From here it is about an hour to Bumthang, a most pleasant run in the soft, late afternoon light.

Day 6: Bumthang 04. January
Bumthang is the general name given to a group of four valleys Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura, with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000m/8,530 to 13,125ft.
In the morning we will visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan's "patron saint", Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, is one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro).
After lunch, we will visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later on we will visit Jakar Dzong, "the castle of the white bird", and then take a stroll through Bumthang's market area before returning to the lodge.

Day 7: Bumthang-Trongsa 05. January
Approximate driving time:03-04 hours
On the way back, visit and experience the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture at Tongsa Dzong. It was Shabdrung's great - grandfather who founded the first temple at Tongsa in 1543. In 1647 the Shabdrung had begun his great work of expansion and unification, realizing all the advantages that could be gained from Tongsa's position; he constructed the first Dzong at the place where his ancestors had erected the temple. The Dzong was called Choekor Rabtentse. In 1652, Minjur Tenpa, the Penlop of Tongsa, had the Dzong enlarged. The Dzong is built in such a way that in the old days, no matter what direction a traveler comes from, he was obliged to pass through the courtyard of the Dzong. This helped to make the Penlop of this Dzong as powerful as it had a complete control over the east - west traffic. The watch tower above the Dzong further strengthened its defense. The father of the first king known as the black regent and the first king served as the Governor of Tongsa before the emergence of the Bhutanese Monarchy, since then it has become a tradition for the young crown prince to serve as the Governor of this place before he is crowned.
Later, visit Ta Dzong on the hillside above the town built as a watchtower to guard Trongsa but recently converted into museum in 2008.

Day 8: 06 January
Trongsa/Nabji

Approximate time: 02-03 hours. Altitude: 1600m
This morning, en route Kinga Rabten palace, winter palace for our 2nd king, the architecture in traditional design with U shape structure. The dirt road branch off left side of high way and the dirt road terminate near the Nabji School. From School, an hour hike to the Nabji Lhakhang(temple). You will get ample time to take photography as there could be less tourists and local people. You will witness the age old tradition which has been preserved by our ancestor and will be passing down to new generation. The main purpose of ‘Tercham'(naked dance) is for fertility.

Day 9: Nabji
07. January
Witness the festivals (Nabji Lhakhang Drup) at temple and afternoon explore the village and have a glimpse of local people life with scenery landscape of Nabji and colourfull events.

Day 10: Nabji-Gangtey
08.January

Approximate driving time: 05-06 hours. Altitude at Gangtey: 3000m
Then drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the Phobjikha valley, surely one of the loveliest high altitude valleys in Bhutan. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan's few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau. Explore Phobjikha valley and also visit Gangtey Gonpa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan

Day 11: Gangtey-Paro 09. January
Approximate driving time: 06-07 hours.
From Gangtey, the road gradually descends into the balmy Punakha valley, and then begins a long climb back up to the Dochu La, where a stunning field of white chortens and colorful prayer flags send blessings up to the Himalayan sky; snow peaks line the horizon. From the La, it is only another hour to Thimphu. Stop here for lunch, then continue to Paro (just under 2 hrs), one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan with its slate-roofed farmhouses, graceful willow trees and rushing glacial river beneath snow covered peaks. Afternoon visit to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo (only three remain), and one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other is Jambe Lhakhang in Bumthang). Kyichu is built in a manner similar to the Jokhang in Lhasa. Inside there is a great golden image of Buddha Shakyamuni.

Day 12: Paro. Departure 10. January
Transfer to the airport.
 

TOUR OVERVIEW 2015

Tour facts

Tour date

30.12.15-10.01.16
(12 days / 11 nights)

Group size & price

from 3-12 pax:
2,290 USD per person

Price includes

  • accommodation in standard hotels (certified TCB). DBL occupancy.
  • 3 meals per day
  • transfers and transportation
  • road permit fees
  • taxes
  • entrance fees to all monuments
  • English speaking Bhutanese guide (other languages upon request)
  • visa fee

Not included

  • airfares (as listed separately)
  • personal expenses such as beverages, spa or message
  • travel & medical Insurance
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