Kurje Tsechu

Tour Highlights:


In the middle of beautiful Bhutan's spiritual heart-land, the Kurjey festival stands as a meaningful occasion for all Bhutanese where traditional centuries-old mask dances are said to be granted tremendous blessing. The history of Kurjey's temples starts with Sindhu Raja and Guru Rinpoche. The latter was invited to Bhutan by Sindhu Raja in order to subdue evil spirits. Guru Rinpoche visited Bumthang and meditated in a cave resembling a pile of Dorje or Vajra (Buddhist ritual object). After suppressing local demons, imprints of Guru Rinpoche's body appeared on the rock. Hence the name "Kurjey": meaning "Impression of the body". The Lhakhang is a site of great historical significance and empowering blessing for all visitors.

Routes & Distances at Glance:

Day 1: Paro - Thimphu: 65km/1hour drive
Day 2: Thimphu Excursion:
Day 3: Thimphu - Punakha: 77km/3 hours drive
Day 4: Punakha - Gangtey: 78km/3 hours drive
Day 5: Hiking in Phobjikha: valley hike/3-4 hours
Day 6: Gangtey - Bumthang: 188km/7 hours drive
Day 7: Bumthang-Ura-Bumthang: 49km/2 hours drive
Day 8: Bumthang. Kurje festival:
Day 9: Bumthang- Wangdue: 224km/8hours drive
Day 10: Wangdue - Paro: 130km/4 hours drive
Day 11: Taktsang monastery Hike: 6 hours (round trip)
Day 12: Departure:
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Detailed Itinersry:

Day 1: Paro - Thimphu
T 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
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. We visit 12th- century Changangkha Monastery and Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery.
After lunch visit the School of Arts and Crafts, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory displaying the Bhutanese paper making process, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum.
Then drive to Tashichoe 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 and followed by visit to the Handicraft shop and return to your hotel.

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.
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 color. 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', Punakha Dzong is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers). 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.

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. Later if time permits, we drive 30 minutes towards northern part of Punakha valley and hike to Khumsum chorten. It's about less than 2 hours hike, worth to do hike as when you approach on hill, you will have splendor view of valley.

Altitude at Gangtey: 1300m

Day 4: 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. Later, 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: 3000 m

Overnight: Farm house

Day 5: Phobjikha valley
Morning, explore the scenery of U shape Phobjikha valley and take a glimpse of local people's daily core. And perhaps you may see flock working on their fields.
Afternoon, we suggest to do hike ‘Gangtey Nature Trail'. It's about less than 2 hours hiking through pine forest, crossing stream and open valley. You may encounter some pheasant on the way and quite close with nature. Evening, visit farm house and taste our traditional tea.

Overnight: Farm house / hotel.

Day 6: Gangtey - Bumthang
Drive via Trongsa to Bumthang across Pele-la pass (3300m). 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. 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.

After lunch proceed to Bumthang, holy heartland of Buddhism. The road winds steeply up to Yutong La (3400m), 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.
Altitude at Jakar: 2600 m

Day 7: Kurje festival

We witness the Kurje festival. We will see the religious dance around courtyard of Kurje Lhakhang and it's a quite unique compare to other festivals, some dances are showing the details about the evil spirits subdued by Indian Saint. It's a kind of blessing for purification of one's sin. Kurje Lhakhang is one of the most sacred places in the Kingdom where Bhutan's "patron saint" Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava once meditated here. Later we visit Jambey Lhakhang which was established by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. It is one of the two oldest monasteries in Bhutan (the other is Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro). Later, we hike to Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings.
Day 8: Bumthang - Ura Excursion-Bumthang
Early, morning, we drive to Ura valley en route the Shartang-la Pass (3200m). During cloudless day, you can see Gangkar-phunsum (7415m) on the northern side.
If you prefer to do short hike from pass to Ura village, it is possible the trail descend all way to the Ura village through fir trees and you will spot small prayer wheel turn by creek and few mani wall along the trail. It's lovely hike and fit for all ages. Afternoon, drive 20 minutes to Shinkhar village and you can do short hike around the village, visiting the village temple and farm house. And since it is newly open to the tourist due to the road connection, most guests are interested to do round hiking and taking photo of natural beauty of environment, people and Shingkhar village. We guarantee that it is worth doing short hike! In the evening, drive back to Bumthang.

Day 9: Bumthang-Wangdue
In the morning, we will visit Jakar Dzong, "the castle of the white bird". Later, A full day's drive back to Wangdue from Bumthang via Trongsa on the west side of the Pele La pass. There are many interesting sights along the way and you can make frequent stops to stretch your legs and explore.

Altitude at Wangdue: 1300m


Day 10: Wangdue - Paro
Drive to Paro from balmy Punakha valley, 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.
Today enjoy sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong. This museum houses many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan's historical and cultural past.

Day 11: Hike 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.

Altitude at Paro: 2300m

Day 12: Departure
Transfer to the airport and see you off.

 

Tour date

By request
(12 days / 11 nights)

Group size & price

from 3-12 pax:
2,240 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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