Bhutan Jambay Lhakhang Festival

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BHUTAN IN –DEPTH
Kingdom f Bhutan – Travel through Bhutan’s lush central Valleys to witness the
spectacular Buddhist festival in Bhutan in Bumthang Valley.
11 Days overland journey
Bhutan, or Drukyul,(meaning “Land of thunder Dragon”) as its call in the country’s
native Tibetan dialect, is the least inhabited and most environmentally intact of all the
Himalayan countries. To protect its tranquil and traditional way of life, government
restrictions limit the number of visitors who enter the country annually. The unique
cultural, traditional and immense Buddhist faith of its people makes this land
undoubtedly the jewel of the Himalaya. Bhutan provides visitors with a close glimpse
into ancient Tibetan cultural as it existed throughout the region prior to the 20th century.
This overland tour features light; interesting walks, and is scheduled to coincide with
Bhutan’s popular and colorful Buddhist festival in Bumthang . we travel through the rice
paddies of Bhutan’s central farming valleys of paro and Bumthang along the base of the
eastern Himalaya. Along winding, pastoral roads we pass apple orchards, picturesque
farms and villagers, stately monasteries, and monastic fortresses called Dzongs,
This trip has been specially designed to ensure a mixed cultural experience. We spend
time at Paro, Thimphu , Taktsang and the famed Bumthang Valley called “heaven on
earth” by veteran Himalaya travelers who have explored this truly unique kingdom.
ITINERARY AT – A – GLANCE
Day 1 Arrive in Paro /Sightseeing
Day 2 Drive to Thimphu/Explore the city
Day 3 Day hike to Phajoding Gompa
Day 4 Drive to Trongsa
Day 5 Drive to Bumthang/Attend fire Dance
Day 6 - 7
Bumthang Festival
Day 8 Travel to Gangtey Gompa
Day 9 Explore Gangtey/ drive to Punakha
Day 10
Travel to Paro
Day 11
Climb to Taktsang Monastery
Day 12
Departs Bhutan
FULL ITINERARY
Day 1: Our flight into Paro on Bhutan’s national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting
introduction to the country’s spectacular beauty. In clear weather, magnificent views of
the world’s highest peaks give way to the lush, green paro valley. We will explore paro
town after a brief stop at our Hotel. We also visit Ta Dzong , an ancient watch-tower,
which now is the houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro
Rinpung Dzong, the center of civil and religious authority in the valley.
Day 2 : In the morning we will enjoy the beautiful drive to Thimphu, the capital of
Bhutan. Thimphu is a town of approximately 30,000people, boasting an interesting
mix of traditional and modern architecture. Upon arrival we visit the National Memorial
Chorten which was built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wnagchuck and the
Duptho Lhakhang- one of the few surviving the nunneries in Bhutan, we visit the
National Library, stocked with ancient manuscripts and the panting school where
traditional art is still kept alive through instruction in the art of panting thangkhas, sacred
Buddhist religious scrolls, after Lunch we drive to the indigenous Hospital where
traditional medicines are prepared according to ancient practices, and to
Lungtenzampa to observe traditional gold and silversmiths at work. Other highlights
include are visit to the summer residence of the Je Khenpo and the Tashichhodzong
, seat of the national government and the central monastic body. The Tashichho dzong
is open to visitors on in the winter when the Je Khenpo and monastic body move to
Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. Finally, we spend a relaxed evening at the
hotel, enjoy a sumptuous meal including authentic, fiery- hot local cuisine at our hotel,
and sleep in warm beds. B/L/D
Day 3: Today we hike above Thimphu to the remote Phajoding Gompa, from here we
have a wonderful view over the Thimphu valley and surrounding country-side. We return
to Thimphu for the evening B/L/D
Day 4 : In the morning, we drive to Trongsa. This fabulous drive takes us through the
central valley of Bhutan, and across several passes. The pele la (10,827) is traditionally
considered the boundary between west and east Bhutan. If the weather is clear, we see
the Himalaya ranges, particularly the peak of Chomolhari to the west. We will stop at
chendebji chorten, a Buddhist reliquary shrine built many centuries ago to suppress a
demon. In the evening, we reach our destination of Trongsa Dzong , ancestral home of
the ruling dynasty. In the past, the dzong commanded the passage between east and
west Bhutan. B/L/D
Day 5 : In the morning we embark on the scenic drive over the Yougto La (11,555) a
pass leading to Bumthang. We arrive in time to attend the fire dance at the annual
Jambay Lhakhang festivel. The most striking expressions of religion in the Thunder
Dragon Kingdom are the annual festival as tsechus, which offer us the opportunity to
see the colorful mask dances and religious art forms of Bhutan, particularly the giant
throngdrols (Tantric Buddhist religious scrolls) while all 20 of the kingdom’s districts hold
tsechus at different times of the year, Bumthang’s tsechus is one of the most
spectacular in all of Bhutan. Tsechu are a time for people to gather, dressed in their
finest clothing, to meet friends, celebrate, and receive blessings. Atsaras –clowns in
costumes and comical marks – lighten the atmosphere with antics only they may
perform during religious festival. B/L/D
Activities. The beautiful Bumthang valley abounds with opportunities to experience the
rual lifestyle of Bhutan. We may take an excursion to ura valley. Villages in this region of
Ura characteristically have very closely clustered houses. Ura’s main occupation is
raising sheep and yaks, but potato farming has been recently introduced. We explore
the villages and visit the Ura Temple and Namkhey Nyingpo Monastery. Other
interesting sites in the area include the Jakar Dzong (Castle of the white Bird), where
we observed the famous Bumthang yatha and matha, woolen cloth, being woven, and
the ancient Wangdichholing Palace and woodcraft center. B/L/D
Day 8: From Bumthang, we set off early on our five – hour overland journey for
Gangtey. The beautiful Gangtey valley (9843) is dominated by an important
Nyingmapa Monastery. This valley is the winter home for the rare endangered Siberian
black-necked cranes that migrate here from Tibet. B/L/D
Day 9: We drive to punakha, and view the punakha Dzong. Winter seat of the
Jekhenpo (chief abbot of Bhutan) and the ancient capital of Bhutan, remarkably located
between the Mochu (female) and Phochu (male) rivers. The Dzong is open to visitors
only in summer when the Je Khenpo and the monk body are in Thimphu. When we
arrive we will take a late afternoon stroll through the quaint town of Punakha B/L/D
Day10: Today, we depart punakha for Thimphu and on to paro. The road climbs up to
the Dochula (10007) a pass which often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan
Mountain ranges, then descends steeply through a forest of pine and cedar draped with
hanging lichen. B/L/D
Day 11: This is a very special day with an excursion to view the Taktsang Monastery.
Although arson fire destroyed a great deal of Bhutan’s national symbol in April 1998, the
exterior has recently been rebuilt, through the interior is still a work in progress. The
“Tiger’s Nest’ is truly a labor of devotion and faith. After breakfast, a short drive takes
us to Satsam Chorten from where we walk up to the Taktsang viewpoint. Our trail
climbs through a beautiful pine forest festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional
grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop to rest and enjoy light refreshments at the
Taktsang cafeteria. From here it’s only a short distance to where we can see Taktsang
Monastery clearly and seemingly within reach. Built in the 1600’s this incredible
structure clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff plunging 2952 feet in to the valley
below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantric Mystic who brought
Buddhism to Bhutan, Landed here on the back of a flying tiger. Looking at the
monastery, flying tigers don’t seem so impossible after all. B/L/D
Day 12 We depart from Bhutan
B= breakfast
L= Lunch
D= Dinner
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