Trongsa Tsechu is held annually at the courtyard of Trongsa Dzong (fortress). Trongsa,ancestral home of the Royal Family, is about 200 km or 8 hours travel time from Thimphu and it is situated in central Bhutan. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat and it is customary for the crown prince to serve as the Trongsa Penlop (“governor”) prior to ascending the throne.
Trongsa Dzong built in 1648 is said to be the most impressive dzong in Bhutan and is truly an architectural masterpiece.
This Tsechu or festival brings together people from all walks of life and the tsechu lasts for 3 days. In addition to traditional mask dances, visitors can witness the unfurling of the sacred Thongdrol and receive blessings from high ranking monks.
9 Night 10 Day Tour Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive at Paro, Paro –Thimphu (54 km-1 hour drive)
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 and will be heading to capital city Thimphu.
Check into the hotel. After the lunch visit the following places.
The history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts, which are preserved at the National Library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and ancient texts, the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags. It has the largest book in the world.
Institute for Zorig Chusum
Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers a six-years course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.
Traditional Medicine Institute
In Bhutan, equal emphasis is given to both allopathic and traditional medicines. The rich herbal medicines made up from medicinal plants abundant in the Kingdom are prepared and dispensed here. The Institute is also a training school for traditional medicine practitioners. The complex is closed to visitors due to considerations of hygiene, but one can still walk around and view it from outside.
The Folk Heritage Museum
It is dedicated to connect people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programmes and documentation of rural life. The principal exhibit in the museum is a restored three storey traditional rammed mud and timber house, which dates back to the mid 19th century. The design and form of house is that of an average household in the Wang area during that era. The age of structure demonstrates the durability and performance of the building materials. From ground to top floor, household objects, typical domestic tools and equipments that would have been used by a family during that period are put on display. The museum is also developing some of the native trees and plants that were used for various domestic purposes in the rural households.
Also know as “fortress of the glorious religion”, it was initially built in 1641 and later rebuilt in its present form by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk in 1965. The Dzong houses main secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan. The National Assembly Hall is housed in a modern building on the other side of the river from the Dzong. During the warmer summer months, the monk body headed by His Holiness, the Je Khenpo, makes its home in the Dzong.
Overnight in a hotel in Thimphu
Day 2 Thimphu Sightseeing
After your breakfast,you will be visiting following sightseeing.
Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang)
Located at a short drive from Thimphu city centre, visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang). You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.
National Memorial Chorten
Visit the National Memorial Chorten, continuously circumambulated by the faithful, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who had wished to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.
Then, visit the 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, jewellery, and other interesting items made from local materials.
Takin Preserve, Motithang
The Takin is the national animal of Bhutan, and looks like a cross between a cow and a goat. Legend has it that the animal was created by the great Buddhist yogi, Drupa Kunley, and it can be found only in Bhutan and nearby areas. Taxonomists place the animal in a category of its own as it is not similar enough to any other animal to fit established categories.
This dzong, built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, stands on a low ridge 8 km down the valley from Thimphu. The most noteworthy artistic feature of this dzong is the series of over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard.
Perched on a promontory, overlooking picturesque Trashichhoedzong and Golf course, it is the only nunnery in capital known as Zilukha Anim Dratsang, once belonged to the Drubthob (Realized one) Thang Thong Gyalpo often referred to as The King of the open field (In the early 15th century with his multiple talents he popularly became the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas). You may interact here with some of the nuns who have devoted their life to spirituality and Buddhism.
Overnight in 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, travel to Trongsa through Wangdue Phondrang with lunch served enroute. Trongsa is 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 (11,000 ft). 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). On arrival at Trongsa and after the refreshment visit the Trongsa National 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.
In the evening visit Trongsa downtown. Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Trongsa.
Day 5 Trongsa Tsechu
After breakfast you will go to Trongsa Dzong to experience the colour, excitement and spectacular performances of the Trongsa Tshechu Festival. It is the most divine and deeply symbolic of all the Buddhist festivals celebrated in Bhutan. Local people from all walks of life dressed in their finest traditional dress, come to witness this festival.Monks and lay people, dressed in elaborate silk brocade costumes perform festive dances of good triumphing over evil to the haunting sounds of trumpets, cymbals and flutes. The dances and costumes have survived unchanged for thousands of years, each dance is an exact re-enactment of visions seen by Bhutan’s great Buddhist saints.
After the festival you will visit the interior of Trongsa Dzong.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Trongsa.
Day 6 Last Day of Trongsa Tsechu and Trongsa-Bumthang (68 km-3 hours drive)
Early morning go to the Trongsa Dzong to witness the unfurling of Thongdroel (giant silk Thangkha) which is unveiled on the last day of Trongsa Tsechu.The thongdroel is usually unveiled at dawn and it is then let down to the ground and ceremoniously rolled and folded away before the first rays of the sun can reach it.It is believed that it brings blessings to all who view it.
Then return back to your hotel and after breakfast get a glimpse of the last day of Trongsa tsechu and after lunch then travel to Bumthang .Bumthang Valley is the heartland of Buddhism. Many great teachers mediated here which led to the many temples arising in the valley. You stop at the Yathra weaving centre at Chumey and spend the sometime interacting with the local weavers the art of weaving fine woollen yarns. Yathra is the name of the colourful, hand-woven woollen cloth produced in the region.
In the evening stroll around Bumthang downtown and you may visit local handicraft stores.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
Day 7 Bumthang Sightseeing
After breakfast, visit the following places.
The Jakar Dzong or the “Castle of the White Bird” dominates the Chamkhar valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, the Dzong played an important role as the fortress of defence of the whole eastern Dzongkhags. It also became the seat of the first king of Bhutan. A special feature of the Dzong is the approximately 50 meter high Utse or the Central tower, which is distinct from most other Dzongs in Bhutan. The other unique feature of the Dzong is a sheltered passage, with two parallel walls, interconnected by fortified towers, which gave the population of the fortress access to water in the case of a siege. The protected water supply is still intact to this day.
This monastery was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of 108 monasteries which he built to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.
Located further along the valley, Kurje Lhakhang comprises three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 against the rock face where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century. The middle temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of the Guru’s body, and is therefore considered to be the most holy. The temple on the left was built in the 1990s by H.M. Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck, Grand-Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108 chorten wall.
Located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang, this temple was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, a re-incarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. There are very old religious paintings around the inner walls of the temple, which was restored at the end of the 19th century.
Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery
Located above the main town, about 3 km from Chamkhar town, the monastery was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 1984 who was recognized at a very young age by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H. 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama whose spiritual lineage dates back to the nearest disciples of the great 9th century master. Since then the monastery has developed considerably with increase in number of monks to almost four hundred. The monastey has become part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalize Tibetan culture. The monks regular curriculum include reading, memorizing the daily prayers, learning dharma dances, drawing mandalas, learning the melodies of sacred rituals, learning the use of ceremonial instruments and the art of making sacrificial objects, grammer, poerty, karika along with the basics of contemplation and instruction on the different stages of tantra
Day 8 Bumthang to Gangtey ( 193 km- 7 hours drive)
Perched on a small hill that rises from the valley floor, the Gangtey Monastery is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountain’s Gangtey valley, Bhutan and also the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens who take care of the Monastery.
Gangtey goemba was founded by Pema Trinley, the grand son of Pema Lingpa, the famous Nyingmapa saint of Bhutan. In 1613, Pema Trinley establish the monastery and became the first Gangtey Tulku. The religious traditions of Pema Lingpa still taught there. The second Tulku, Tenzin Legpa Dondrup (1645 to 1726), enhanced the size of Gangtey while keeping up good relations with Drukpas, and rebuilt the monastery in the form of a Dzong.
Black Necked Crane Information Centre
Situated on the edge of the forest and wetland along the main road of Phobjikha valley, the black-necked crane information centre has an observation room equipped with high power telescope and spotting scopes for catching the best view of the cranes. The centre also offers display information that outline the natural and cultural history of the area. There is a small gift shop, which sells handicrafts produced by the local people.
Overnight in a hotel in Gangtey
Day 9 Gangtey-Paro (194km- 7 hours)
After your breakfast,you will be driving towards Paro.
Built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal , the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called Nemi Zam. A walk through the bridge, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it. It is also the venue of Paro Tshechu, held once a year in the spring.
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.
It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang). The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in original pattern.
Farm House (traditional village house)
The beauty of Paro valley is embellished by cluster of quaint farm houses. Bhutanese farm houses are very colorful, decorative and traditionally built without the use of single nail. All houses follow the same architectural pattern. A visit to Farm House is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.
Built in 1525, this town temple was formed by Ngawang Chhogyel, one of the prince-abbots of Ralung in Tibet and an ancestor of the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
To the west of the road is Dungtse Lhakhang, a chorten-like temple. This unusual building was built in 1433 by the iron bridge builder Thangtong Gyalpo. It has three floors representing hell, earth and heaven and the paintings inside are said to be some of the best in Bhutan
Overnight in a hotel in Paro.
Day 10 Paro Sightseeing
After your breakfast,you will be hiking Tigers Nest
Tiger’s Nest is located on a high cliff towards the north of Paro town. 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.
Overnight in a hotel in Paro.
Day 11 Departure from Paro
In the morning your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight onwards.