Bumthang, Jambay Lhakhang Festival
Jampa lhakhang is located in Bumthang.Jampa Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in the kingdom. It was founded by, Songtsen Gampo, a Tibetan King in the 7th century AD. The king was destined to build 108 temples known as Thadhul- Yangdhul (temples on and across the border) in a day to subdue the demoness that was residing in the Himalayas. The temple is one of the two of the 108 built in Bhutan. The other is the Kichu lhakhang in Paro, believed to have been built on the same day.
Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche visited the site several times and deemed it exceptionally sacred. Chakhar Gyab, the king of the Iron Castle of Bumthang renovated the temple in the 8th century AD.
The first king of Bhutan, Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck constructed the Dus Kyi Khorlo (Kala Chakra- Wheel of Time) inside the temple, to commemorate his victory over his rivals Phuntsho Dorji of Punakha and Alu Dorji of Thimphu after the battle of Changlimithang in 1885. Later, Ashi Wangmo, the younger sister of the second king of Bhutan, built the Chorten lhakhang.
The main relics include the future Buddha, Jowo Jampa (Maitreya) from whose name the present name of the temple is derived. The lhakhang also houses more than one hundred statues of the gods of Kalachakra built by the first king, in 1887. Here, one of the most spectacular festivals is hosted called Jambay lhakhang Drup that lasts for five days beginning from Nov 6 -10, 2013. The highlight of the festival is the fire ritual that is held in the evening where crowds gather to witness the ritual together with the naked dance.
10 Night 11 Day Jambay Lhakhang 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.
Upon arrival you will be received by our guide who will help you settle into your comfortable car.
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.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro
Day 2 Paro-Thimphu (54 km-1 hour drive)
After breakfast, travel to Thimphu and check into your hotel. Then visit the following as per your interest and time availability:
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 Museum which 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.
The Folk Heritage Museum,an outdoor museum that gives an insight into rural life in Bhutan.
The School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Craftswhere students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
Centenary Farmers’ market(if tour coincides with Thu-Sun) where farmers would be selling their wide range of farm produces (vegetables from farms and wild ferns or bamboo shoots collected from forest, flour, rice, roasted rice, rice flakes, spices, yams both cultivated and wild ones collected from forests, fruits, etc) and livestock products (mainly cheese and butter). Free interaction with people from town as well as from villages come to this weekend market. Weekend market is from Thursday-Sunday( 4 days).
The Memrial Chortenwhich was constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of the country, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Bhutan.
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.
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.
Changankha Lhakhang(temple): This temple situated atop a small hound overlooking the Thimphu valley was built in the 13th century by the illustrious Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo. The temple is considered the spiritual home of children born in the Chang valley.
Kuenselphodrang where 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 throughKuenselphodrang Nature park and enjoy the nice view of the entire Thimphu valley below
Government-run Handicrafts Emporium and 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 town and you may visit local handicraft stores.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3 Thimphu-Punakha (77 km-3 hours drive)
After early breakfast, you will drive towards Punakha via Dochula Pass.
Dochula pass is located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu. The pass is popular for tourists for its ideal location from where one can enjoy 360 degree of beautiful panoramic view of Himalaya mountain range, especially on clear winter days. The beauty of this place is further enhanced by the Druk Wangyal Chortens-108 stupa built by the eldest Queen Mother Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. The pass is also popular spiritual place for both locals and tourists because of an important temple that is located on the crest of Dochula pass.
Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck has achieved a fine blend of history and mythology in the construction of The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple) to honor His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The past and future appear to merge in the details of the lhakhang (temple) that tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distant future.
Besides the spirituality of the place many Bhutanese families visit the pass during holidays and weekends to simply enjoy the scenery of the place with their pack lunch and hot tea. For the tourist the place is an ideal location to capture beautiful pictures of Himalaya mountain range during clear warm days.
Placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, the dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal 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 enrich your trip with the opportunity to see the highest standards in woodwork. Do not miss 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.
The Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humour, songs and outrageous behavior to dramatise his teachings and due to this also known as “Divine Madman”. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. It is about 30 minute walk across field from the road to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning “field”. It then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang.
Overnight in a hotel in Punakha.
Day 4 Punakha-Trongsa (130 km-5 hours drive)
After breakfast,drive to Trongsa, the ancestral home of the royal family.The drive will take you through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and through the tropical vegetation through the village of Nobding and Pele la pass (11,000ft). Throughout your trip you will come across the beautiful sceneries of rural Bhutan, with scattered settlements far from the road which makes for good photographing.You will also pass through open meadows, and valley of yak herders and several other villages via Chendebji Chorten ( Stupa) where you will stop for a tea break at a convenient spot and drive for another 2 hours to Trongsa. Check into the hotel in Trongsa. After the refreshment,visit the Museum which is housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower).A museum in which aspects of Bhutanese culture and history are explained by beautifully objects. Documentary will be shown too which explains a great deal about Bhutanese history and history of monarchy.
Also visit Trongsa Dzong, which is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. Built in 1644 by the Shabdrung, the dzong is an architectural masterpiece.
Dinner and overnight at hotel in Trongsa.
Day 5 Trongsa-Bumthang (68km-3 hours drive)
After breakfast, drive to Bumthang, this is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. Here the great teachers meditated and left in their wake many sacred grounds. The Guru and his lineage of Tertons, treasure finders, have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley.On the way, visit the “Yathra” weaving centre at Zugney and spent our afternoon interacting with the local weavers. Yathra is the name for the colorful, hand-woven woolen cloth (often with geometric designs) that is produced in this region and wool used for this type of textile is sheep wool as the sheep is reared in this Bumthang district.Yatra is made into jackets or bags ,etc. Then drive onto Bumthang and Check into hotel.
Afternoon, Bumthang sightseeing includes visit to the following:
Jampa Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the King Songtsen Goempo of Tibet. In his effort to propagate Buddhism he had a plan to build a total of 108 temples in Tibet and neighboring kingdoms.
Kujey Lhakhang(Kujey means, “Body imprint”). The temple to the right is the oldest and was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652. It was built around the cave in which Guru Rimpoche meditated and left his body imprint.
Jakar Dzong, “castle of the white bird”. According to legend, when the lamas assembled in about 1549 to select a site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for Jakar Dzong. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of the valley and summer residence of Trongsa monks.
Tamshing Lhakhang;This temple is also known as Tamshing Lhendrup Chholing (Temple of the Good Message).
In the evening stroll around the beautiful landscape of the Bumthang Jakar valley. After dinner attend the first day of Jambay Lhakhang festival.
The first day of the festival begins in the evening around 8:30 pm. The details of the first day of the festival are as follows:
Black Hat Dance (Shana) and of the Gings (emanations of Guru Rinpoche): Costume: Dancers, wearing long brocade robes and ornate black hats, perform this dance. The dancers’ who represent the Ging wear shorter robes with masks. This dance is performed to purify the ground and to chase away evil influences.
Dance of Offering (Tshogcham): A dancer offers the body of evil spirits to the deities. After the offering is made the audience goes outside the temple where an arch of pine bushes has been erected.
Fire Dance (Mecham): The arch of pine is set on fire. The fire is said to purify the earth of evil spirits. People who pass through the arch have their sins cleansed. A dancer chases away the evil spirits.
Overnight at hotel in Bumthang.
Day 6 Bumthang Jambay Lhakhang Festival
After breakfast,you will attend the full second day of the Jambay Lhakhang Drup (festival) which will start around 10:30 am. You will be watching many ritual dances, which are performed in the court yard of Jampa Lhakhang. There are a number of different dances, subdivided into three categories: those that are intended to give moral instruction; those that are designed to drive away evil spirits and those that celebrate the Buddhist faith in its many guises. This is the occasion where the local people, dressed in their finest clothes, come to attend the festival with packed lunches. This occasion also gives opportunity to the local businesses- there will be a number of stalls selling craftwork, jewellery, religious artifacts and thangkas. Overnight hotel in Jakar.
Details of the 2nd Day Jambay Lhakhang Drub ( festival)are as follows:
It follows a ceremony where a small girl representing the daughter of Sindhu Raja blesses the villagers.Dance of Singje Yab Yum (Lord of death and his consort): The Lord of Death and his consort perform this dance to protect the four realms over which he has power.
Dance of Nyulema and Peling Ging Sum (Three kinds of Ging): The Nyulema is an evil spirit represented by a boy in a skeleton mask. The Ging with the sticks catch the Nyulema. The Durdag or the Lords of the Cremation Ground (represented with dancers wearing white skeletal masks) bring forward a box, which represents evil spirits. The Ging with swords liberate the mind of the evil spirit by killing its body of flesh. The Ging with drums dance to celebrate the victory of religion over the evil spirit.
Dance of the Jachung Bochung (Two mythical birds): Dancers wearing masks representing the auspicious birds perform the dance. The play of the Atsara Gapo Pawo Solgyo (Atsara who acts like a Pawo). Though most of the stories and plays were originally with Buddhist sub text they now serve as comedy relief for the crowd. This story is about an Atsara (clown with a red mask) who is mad. The Atsara injures his son, as he did not recognize him. He tries to save his son’s life by impersonating a pawo or medium and tries to perform a religious curative ceremony. Being unsuccessful he has to finally call a doctor and a monk to cure his son.
Overnight at hotel in Bumthang.
Day 7 Bumthang Jambay Lhakhang Festival
After breakfast, attend the full day of the 3rd day of Jambay Lhakhang Drub. The program begins at around 10:30am. Below are the details of the day’s program.
Dance of the four stags (Shacham): The King of the Wind was causing much unhappiness and suffering in the world. Ugyen Rinpoche subdued him and then as a sign of victory rode on the stag, which was the mount of the king of the Wind. Later a disciple of Guru Rinpoche, Namkhay Nyinpo found an effigy of the face of the stag which appeared to be a blessing. Thus the dance came into existence.
Dance of Ging Tsoling: The dance is supposed to take place in the paradise of Guru Rinpoche and is performed by incarnations of the Guru. The dance is said to give blessings to those who witness it as well as remove obstacles to the doctrine of the Buddha. People whistle during the dance to chase away evil spirits and the Ging hit people on the head to chase away impurity from the body.
Dramitse Ngacham (Dance of the drums from Dramitse): The creator of this dance was Kuenga Gyeltshen, a learned lama from the 16th Century who lived in Dramitse. He is reputed to have seen the dance in Guru Rinpoche’s paradise performed by attendants of the guru. The dance proclaims the superiority of religion over evil spirits.
Pacham – Dance of the heros: Pema Lingpa (the Treasure-Revealer who discovered many Buddhist treasures) saw this dance in Guru Rinpoche’s paradise. On his return to earth he recreated this dance. The most important attendants of the Guru perform the dance. They lead the beings who die into the presence of the Guru.
Phole Mole: The nobleman and the lady. This ‘play’ is about two princes who leave their princesses and go to war. An old couple is to take care of the princesses. As soon as the princes leave the clowns try to frolic with the princesses and also corrupt the old women. When the princes return they are shocked by the behaviour of the princesses and the old women, and have their noses cut off as a punishment. Finally a doctor is called and everyone’s nose is restored and the princesses and princes marry.
Overnight at hotel in Bumthang.
Day 8 Bumthang-Punakha via Phojikha (197 km-7 hours drive)
After early breakfast, drive to Phobjikha valley. You may visit Gangtey Gompa (monastery) which now houses one of the only Nyingmapa monasteries in Bhutan. The valley is also the winter home to the rare black-necked cranes (Grus Nicorocolis), which migrate, from remote parts of Tibet, China and Siberia during winter to this valley. Lunch at Phobjikha and after lunch drive to Punakha.
Dinner and overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Day 9 Punakha-Paro (125 km-4 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.
After lunch,drive back to Paro. After a refreshment drive up the valley to visit the historic Drukgyel Dzong which was built in the 16th century to mark the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetan invaders.
Dinner and overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 10 Hike to Tiger’s Nest
After breakfast, travel to Paro which will take about 1 hour and on arrival at Paro hike to Taktsang Goempa (Tiger’s Nest Monastery). The hike upto the viewpoint will take about 1 1/2 hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff.You will stop here for refreshments and then hike further upto the monastery which should take another 1 1/2 hours. It was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three months in the 8th century. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) flew to this location from Khenpajong, Tibet on the back of a tigress and subdued a demon. He then performed meditation in one of the caves here and emerged in eight incarnated forms (manifestations) and blessed the place. Subsequently, the place came to be known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. Guru Padmasambhava is known for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen caves in which he meditated. After visiting the monastery, walk back downhill to the road with lunch at the viewpoint cafeteria.
Then drive back to your hotel after visiting Kichu Lhakhang on the way. Kichu Lhakhang, 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. In the evening relax and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 11 Depart Paro
In the morning your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight onwards.