Spring is an exciting time to visit Bhutan, each year since the 17thcentury, people come from all over the country to join in the festivities. At its most formal, it is a religious event. Monks prepare for weeks before by meditating and during the festival perform ceremonial dances masked to represent demons and gods.
In Paro, the Tshechu is held in the Ringpung Dzong-built in the 15thcentury as a fortress and shining example of Bhutanese architecture.
Crowds gather dressed in their best clothes, as Tshechus across the country have always been social gathers as well as religious celebrations. Bhutan’s mountainous landscapes and lack of modern technology, the country first connected to the internet in 1998, meant that these gatherings were an annual gathering of friends and family from across the country.
Expect a communal spirit, courtyards filled with color, movement and dancing, and a buoyant-but deeply respectful crowd.
The last day of the festival unveils the world’s largest thangka, a gigantic silk tapestry depicting Guru Rinpoche. Guru Rinpoche is the man credited with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The thangka is unfurled once a year at the festival, and only between dawn and when the sun reaches the walls of the temple.
On the first day of this trip you meet your guide at the airport and settle into your accommodations before touring the nearby attractions. Ancient temples, forts, and the national museum are your first foray into the vast culture of the small country.
The second day of your tour the action gets started. After you arrive at the Ringpung Dzong, join in the festivities and watch the ancient culture come to life with traditional dancing, singing, and celebration. A part of the festival for families and locals is gathering at lunch for a hot picnic lunch, where you will join people from all over the country catching up and learning about the culture by being a part of it.
As the night falls, the city away from the festival sparks to life with people strolling and enjoying the ambiance created by the day’s events.
On the third day the adventure continues as you explore the natural wonders of the country on a trip to the capital of the country, Thimphu. On the way there is a stop at a scenic view point where walking over a suspension bridge gives you a eagle eye view of Bhutanese, Nepalese and Tibetan stupas, ceremonial buildings containing sacred relics that are built all around the county.
Once settled in Thimphu, the rest of the day is spent learning about the culture by visiting the folk heritage museum, school of thirteen arts and crafts, the national library, Changangkha temple, Motithang Takin zoo, kuensel Phodrang, and the main shrine and courtyard inside of the Thimphu Fort. The dzong was the site of the lavish formal coronation of the fifth king in 2008, and is the latest incarnation of a succession of buildings built after the first structure in 1216.
After breakfast on Day 4 you head north of the capital in search of ancient temples set high on adjacent mountain tops. After visiting the Tango and Chari Monasteries built in 13th and 17th centuries in the morning, you hike to a hike to the Wangduetse temple overlooking the Thimphu valley before returning to town for a relaxing evening.
Day five of your time in Bhutan is spent on the road visiting mountain peaks, a fort in Wangdue, and stopping at Chendibji Chhorten. The seven hour trip is a great opportunity to capture the country on film, grabbing stunning pictures to take back with you after the journey is finished.
The sixth day brings more amazing landscapes and visits to cultural sites with a stop at the winter palace of second king of Bhutan, Kuengarabten Palace, crossing an ancient mountain pass between the two central regions of the country, and exploring a Chhumey community, where textiles are a mainstay of the people’s livelihood.
Sightseeing around Bumthang takes up the day on Day 7, where a mix of cultural temples and forts and natural excursions take you to Kurjay temples the Tamshing monastery, and Mebar Tsho-The Burning Lake. The lake is a sacred site-it’s said that the enlightened can see the temple at the bottom of the pool.
Day 8 takes you to Phobjikha, the start of the Gangtay trek, winter home to the black necked crane, and the site where valley festivals bring thousands every year. Other points of interest are the Gangtay monastery, where you stop before settling into a hotel for the evening.
On days 9 and 10 you explore the regions and towns of Phobjikha and Punakha, where hikes take in the natural scenery while discovering the endemic wildlife. Others stops are the ancient Punakha Dzong, and Chhimi Lhakhang, a temple of fertility. The day’s events end with a drive back to Paro.
The last active day of the tour takes you to one of Bhutan’s most popular and photographed monasteries, the Tigers Nest. After a three hour hike, the magnificent temple comes into sight, situated high on the side of an immense valley below. National Geographic first photographed the impressive cluster of buildings in 1906, which draws both travelers and thousands of monks from around the country and the world.
For more information about this epic journey into the culture and incredible natural beauty of Bhutan, contact our team to start planning a trip of a lifetime.