Punakha Drubchen&Tsechu

Tour Highlights:

Punakha Drubchen tells the story of a historic victorious battle in a 17th century Bhutan. As a celebration of the victory over invaders, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal started the tradition of Punakha Drubchen, a theatrical play with a group performance by more than hundred people dressed as warriors (Pazaps).
The Drubchen is then followed by the Tsechu. Both events are special: they also serve as a place of religious pilgrimage and prayer for faithful Buddhist practitioners. These festivals perfectly demonstrate all the richness of the Bhutanese culture thus leaving a deep impression in the hearts of travelers.

Routes & Distances at Glance:

Day 1: Paro - Thimphu: 55km/1hour drive
Day 2: Thimphu Excursion:
Day 3: Thimphu - Punakha. 77km/3 hours drive
Day 4: Punakha Festival:
Day 5: Punakha - Gangtey: 78km/3 hours drive
Day 6: Gangtey - Paro: 185Km/7 hours drive
Day 7: Taktsang Monastery Hike: 6 hours hike (roundtrip)
Day 8: Departure:
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Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1: Paro - Thimphu
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. After visa formality, you will meet the guide of White Umbrella tours at Paro airport exit doors. We drive to Thimphu and after a short refreshment in hotel, we visit Kings' Memorial Stupa in the evening and spend some time there where aged religious locals are busy with making circumambulation around the stupa.
Day 2: Thimphu
Our excursion start from Kunsel Phodrang (Buddha point) to have a ‘Birds Eye View' of Thimphu valley followed up by Arts and Craft School. This is a vocational training institute where the art of painting, woodcraft and sculpturing are taught to students with the objective of preserving the rich and pristine heritage. Later, drive to and visit the zoo to see the national animal ‘Takin'. Later, visit Tashicho Dzong, the main secretariat which houses the summer residence of the central monk body and main seat of government. Its majestic architecture in finely balanced proportions is complemented by artistic decorations and paintings. Leisure time and visit Handicraft shops in the city.

Altitude at Thimphu: 2600m

Day 3: Thimphu - 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).

Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, drive to Punakha Dzong, the ‘Palace of Great Happiness'. It was built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan', PunakhaDzong is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers).

The three-storied 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.

Hike 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.

Altitude at Punakha: 1300m

Day 4: Punakha Festival
In the early morning, we assemble at the courtyard of the Punakha Dzong to witness the first day of Punakha Fetival or Tshechu where the mask dances and folk dances are performed. You will be amazed to see old and young people attending the festival. Perhaps you may get good picturesque of events mask dances and people with their colorful dress.
Day 5: Punakha - Gangtey

Drive to Wangduephodrang and visit the Dzong which is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The position of the Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view both up and down the valley. And 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 visit Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.

Altitude at Gangtey: 3000m.

Overnight: farm House

Day 6: Gangtey - Paro

Day 7: Hiking to Taktsang Monastery
After breakfast, we hike to Taktsang Monastery. It is a strenuous hike as you have to climb up and down more than 500 steps to pass one gorge to reach the monastery at the end. But rest of the trail itself is an enjoyable for many hikers since climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You can have different angles panoramic view of Paro valley. One can hire horse and enjoy on the back of a horse till half way if you like horse riding.
This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend says that the Indian Buddhist Saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tigress and landed here and mediated in one cave. He was also a religious hero for almost whole Bhutanese people as he brought Buddhism to Bhutan in early 8th-century.
On the way back to Paro, we visit 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang which is believed to be one of the 108 temples constructed in one day at the behest of the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.


Day 8: Departure
Transfer to the airport and see you off.

 

Tour date

By request

Group size & price

from 3-12 pax:
1,790 USD per person

Price includes

  • 3* hotels double occupancy
  • Full board
  • private vehicle
  • all entrance fees
  • English speaking Bhutanese guide (other languages upon request)
  • Visa fee

Supplementary fee

  • Single individual
    80 USD per night
  • Group of 2 persons
    30 USD per person per night
  • single occupancy
    40 USD per night

* Any individual tours and services can be upgraded according to your time and interest on request.
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