Besides the Thimphu Tsechu,Thimphu also celebrates a one day festival known as the Thimphu Drubchen which is also commonly known as 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 Drubchen 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.
During Thimphu Drubchen the mask dances known as cham and folk dances are performed to bless onlookers, to teach them the Buddhist dharma, to protect them from misfortune and to exorcise all evil. It is believed that merit is gained by attending these festivals. The dances invoke the deities to wipe out misfortunes, increase good luck and grant personal wishes.
Apart from its religious implications, the festival is also an annual social gathering where people dress in their finest clothing and jewelleries. It brings you a closer contact with the local people and gives you an insight into the Bhutanese lives, beliefs and more.
6 Night 7 Day Thimphu Festival Tour Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive Paro
If you arrive on a bright sunny day, your holiday began with the panoramic view of the Himalaya range from your flight seat, you will be greeted by Mt. Everest and Mt. Kanchenjunga, and our very own Mt.Jomolhari and Mt.Jichu Drakey. An unparalleled feeling while you are descending over Bhutan is a feeling which is of total abandonment, a feeling which is inexplicably, compassionate and full of suspense as visibly seen in the growing communion between the passengers.
After checking into your hotel and lunch visit the following:
Rinpung Dzong,built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now being used as an administration center and school for monks.Then walk down to Rimpung Bridge (Traditonal Bridge), oldest bridge in Bhutan.
Farm housesin Paro Valley and a visit to a farm house offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.
One time watch tower built to defend Rinpung Dozng during inter-valley wars of the 17th century, since 1967 Ta Dzong is serving as the National Museum of the country. It holds fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps. The museum circular shape augments its varied collection displayed over several floors.
Overnight at a hotel in Paro
Day 2 Paro-Punakha (125km-3 hours drive)
After breakfast, you will travel to Punakha & Wangdue which will take you through Chunzom (confluence of Pachu- the river flowing through Paro valley & Wangchu –the river flowing through Thimphu valley). On the way, visit Tachog Lhakhang (temple) , this 14th century temple located on the base of a mountain across the Pa chu on the Paro-Thimphu highway, is a must visit temple in the Paro valley. Built by the great master architect Thangtong Gyalpo, the temple houses some unique statues. To get to the temple one may actually walk over the iron chains that spans over the Pa chu.
After crossing Chunzom, the drive will take you along the Wangchu upto Simtokha where road diversion leads you to Punakha/Wangdue through Dochula Pass (3,088m). In the clear spring sky, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountain ranges. At Dochula Pass you will see the beautiful 108 chortens (stupa) built on the hill by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (the Queen Mother of Bhutan) for the security and well being of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan. You will also visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple) .The temple was built to honor His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck (the 4th King of Bhutan). The past and future appear to merge in the details of the temple that tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distant future.
After refreshment at Dochula Pass Resort you will continue your journey to Punakha. Punakha has been inextricably linked to some of the most momentous events in the Bhutanese history and deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful and significant regions at the heart of Bhutanese culture. Punakha had served as the capital of Bhutan from 1637 till 1907 and the 1st National Assembly was held here. Punakha Dzong (fortress) is historically important and stands as the symbol for a unified Bhutan.
You will stop at Lobesa Village to visit the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing. After lunch at Lobesa Village you will visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho – Chu (male river) and the Mochu (female river). The dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (high Drupa Kagyu lama who unified the warring valley kingdoms under a single rule in 16th century) to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century and in 1907, enthroned the first King Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in the recent years by the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the dzong, you can see the highest standards in woodwork. Also visit the massive Kuenray, the Coronation Hall of all Bhutanese kings, the Dzongchung at the entrance to the dzong and the cantilever bridge over the Mochu that has been recently renovated.
Dinner & overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 3 Punakha/Wangdue-Thimphu (125 km-3 hours drive)
After breakfast, drive through upper Punakha valley passing through farmhouses and take a leisure walk through farmhouses and then through nature to the beautiful Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten temple built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan for peace and stability in this ever-changing world. This temple is situated on the hilltop overlooking the valley below. The leisurely walk up to the temple would take about 1 hour. Visit the temple and also enjoy the breathtaking view from there.
Then travel to Thimphu with lunch enroute.
On arrival at Thimphu check into your hotel and visit the following:
Centenary Farmers’ Market (open from Thu-Sun only): Most of the Thimphu’s population and many valley dwellers converge on the bustling weekend market, held by the side of Wangchu River. A wide range of foodstuffs and local arts and crafts are sold at the market, which runs from Friday afternoon till Sunday evening. A visit to the market provides great photo opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with local people and perhaps buy souvenirs.
Kuenselphodrangwhere largest Buddha statue in the country is perched on the hillock overlooking the Thimphu valley and also if interested/if time permits, take a leisure walk through Kuenselphodrang Nature park and enjoy the nice view of the entire Thimphu valley below.
National Memorial Chorten (stupa), chorten literally means ‘ seat of faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments the ‘Mind of Buddha’. Meet the elderly generation in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten.
Visit government-run Handicrafts Emporiumand local crafts shops, to browse through examples of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and other interesting items made from local materials.
In the evening stroll around Thimphu downtown where you can visit local handicraft stores.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 4 Thimphu Dromchoe ( 9.00 a,-4.30 pm)
After breakfast you will go to witness Thimphu Dromchoe (Festival) which will be held at the Courtyard of Tashichhoedzong. The sacred dances would be performed which are dedicated to the chief protective deity of Bhutan, Palden Lhamo. Legend has it, that the deity Pelden Lhamo appeared before Kuenga Gyeltshen (chief abbot of Bhutan) and performed the dances while he was in meditation. Based on these dances, Kuenga Gyaltshen initiated the Dromchoe.
These religious dances are interspersed with folk songs and clowning. The festival is a magnificent cacophony of sound and colour and a photographer’s delight.
You also visit the interior of Tashichhoe Dzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body.
After the festival you will visit the following:
Watch Archery match : Bhutan’s national game
Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo. It can weigh as much as 550 pounds.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 5 Thimphu Sightseeing
After breakfast visit the following:
Bhutan Post Office Headquarters to get personalized Bhutanese postage stamps with your photo on them. You can bring along your favorite photo to put on the stamps and put these stamps on your postcard to send to your family and friends.
National Textile Museumwhich is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs. You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
National Institute of Traditional Medicine(outside only), where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medical practitioners trained.
The School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Craftswhere students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
Traditional Bhutanese paper making factory. The handmade paper making in Bhutan stemmed from the age old tradition originated in 8th century of Bhutanese history. The handmade paper constitutes as valuable National heritage of Bhutanese cultural identity and is preserved through all the ages. The Traditional paper is recognized and held high esteem both in home and outside world. Jungshi Paper Factory was established in November 1990 as an undertaking of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The unit now boasts as a major and sole dealer in handmade paper and its products.
After lunch drive for about 30 minutes to the base camp of Tango Monastery and hike up to the Monastery. The walk up to the Monastery is through the forest filled with Rhododendron flower trees which will be in full bloom during April month. Tango Monastery is the center for higher studies for monks. The view from Tango Monastery is breathtakingly beautiful. You will experience complete peace and serenity in this area. After visiting the monastery, walk back to the road and then drive back to Thimphu .
Dinner & overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 6 Thimphu-Paro (54 km,1 hour drive) & A Day Hike to Tiger’s Nest
After breakfast,drive to Paro which takes about 1 hr and then hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The walk up to the viewpoint will take about 1 – 1 ½ hrs depending on your fitness and from View Point you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria. Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 1 hour. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former glory.After visiting the monastery, walk downhill back to the road on the way stop for lunch at the view point cafeteria and then walk further downhill to the road point. Then drive back to hotel.
On the way visit Kyichu temple,one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demon.
Dinner & overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 7 Departure from Paro
In the morning your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight onwards.