Trongsa Festival Tour,Bhutan Festival, Bhutan Festival Tour, Bhutan Festival Date, Bhutan Festival
Festival Dates: (2nd Jan – 4th Jan 2012)
Trongsa, situated along a gorge in the heart of the kingdom has a rich history dating back to 16th century. During the year 1541, a saint known as Lam Ngagi Wangchuk built a small retreat house, which was soon followed by many other retreat houses built by his disciples. The surrounding villagers seeing the area turning into a small village, started naming the place as Trongsar meaning, new village. Since then the place was known as Trongsa. It was in 1644 that Chhogyel Minjur Tenpa under the command of Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal built the fortress in its present form. About 300 years later Ugyen Wangchuk was unanimously elected as the hereditary king of Bhutan, during which Trongsa served as the capital of the nation until the 3rd King moved it to Thimphu. Since then Bhutan have enjoyed peace, stability and economic growth.
The local people in this valley celebrate their annual five-day festival after the harvest during the winter. This festival held in the courtyard of the fortress is one of the popular festivals in Bhutan. The festival begins with mask dances and ends with unfurling of huge ancient old Thangkha (Buddhist Religious Scroll) that is hung from a 3-story building. We will spent couple of days in Trongsa learning the history, meeting people and joining them in their festive mood.
One can truly appreciate the beauty of Bhutan in winter. There aren’t many tourist in the main areas, the crops are in, village rooftops are bright red with the colors of drying chillis, and the pace of life in the villages is slow as villagers spend most of their time basking in the winter sun. The sky is crystal clear as far as the eye can see with snowcapped mountains forming a backdrop of brilliant white against the azure skies.
DAY 01 Jan 03rd ARRIVE PARO
The flight from Bangkok to Paro on Druk Air is a befitting introduction to Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. From a window seat on clear days you can experience a spectacular view of Bhutan’s snow capped peaks as you approach Paro. On arrival you will be received by our representative, and then drive to Thimphu. Overnight at Hotel.
DAY 02 Jan 04th THIMPHU - PUNAKHA
Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (3,050 m). This pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, as we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha (1,350 meters/ 4,430 feet). Before proceeding further to Punakha town we will hike up to the Chimi Lhakhang temple on a small hilltop. This temple is dedicated to the great Yogi in 14th century known as Drukpa Kuenley or popularly known as “Divine madman” to the westerners. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility. After lunch we will proceed to Punakha town to view the majestic Dzong ( fortress), situated between the two rivers Pho Chu and Mochu (male and Female River). This fortress is now used as the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (the Spiritual head of Bhutan). In the past this Dzong was the capital seat of the Kingdom. After strolling through the town of Punakha drive to hotel for overnight.
DAY 03 Jan 05th PUNAKHA - TRONGSA
The drive to Trongsa takes approximately 6 hours. We start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan through the breathtaking beauties and serenity of Bhutan’s rich flora and fauna. As we cross the fertile valley of Punakha and enter into the valley of Wangdue Phodrang. We take an opportunity to photograph the majestic fortress of Wangdue Dzong, which stands on a spur of a hill at the confluence of the Tsang Chu and Dang Chu rivers. We then climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pele la Pass (3,300 m/ 10,989 ft.) With an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo, the Pass is traditionally considered the boundary between West and East Bhutan. During the clear weather we can view the high snow capped peaks specially the Mount Chomolhari (7,314 m/ 24,355 ft.). As we descend from the pass through the dwarf bamboo and quite often Yaks grazing we reach at Chendebji Chorten. A Lama known as Shida, in order to nail into the ground a demon that had been terrorizing the inhabitants of this valley and the Ada valley just over the ridge, built this Chorten or Stupa in 18th century. We will have our packed lunch here. Continue your drive to Trongsa, as you enter Trongsa valley, the huge fortress of Trongsa makes you wonder if you will ever reach it. Backing on mountain and built on several levels, the Dzong fits narrowly on a spur that sticks out into the gorge of the Mangde River and overlooks the routes south and west. The view from the Dzong extends for many miles and in former times nothing could escape the vigilance of its watchmen. Arrive Trongsa and overnight at Lodge.
DAY 04 Jan 06th TRONGSA - BUMTHANG
It takes less than two hours to cover the 44 miles for a direct drive. We will continue our journey with sightseeing enroute and making us to arrive at Choekhor valley by lunchtime. Bumthang is the general name given to a complex of four valleys- Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura. Choekhor and Chumey are agricultural valleys while Tang and Ura depend mostly on the animal husbandry. From Trongsa the road rises rapidly through a series of hairpin bends until you arrive at Yotong La Pass (3400 meters / 11200 foot). From here the drive is down the hill until you arrive at Chumey Valley (average alt. 2700m / 8800 foot). Our first stop at Chumey will be to visit Domkhar Dzong, This small fortress overlooking the valley was once a summer Palace of the second King Jigme Wangchuk. Continue your drive to Tsugney village where you will see the traditional weaving of woolen fabrics. Continue your drive to Choekhor crossing the Kiki La Pass (2900 meters / 9500foot). Arrive at Choekhor Valley (Valley of Dharma Wheel). Check into your hotel.
DAY 05 Jan 07th SIGHTSEEING OF BUMTHANG
A bumpa is an oblong-shaped lustral water vase and Bumthang means (Bum - lustral water vase and Thang- Ground) ‘the ground shaped like a bumpa’. Bumthang is considered the holiest valley in Bhutan, many Bhutanese from all over the country visit here on pilgrim to pay their respect and to be blessed by the many holy sites where in ancient times various religious masters have meditated. Our sightseeing today will be followed in the style of Bhutanese tradition that is in clockwise. Your car will drop you at the Kurjey Lhakhang, it is believed that in the eighth century guru Padmasambhava had meditated here and subdued the local deity known as Shelging Karpo. Begin your hike from here crossing the suspension bridge and visit Padmasambhava Lhakhang. This is another Meditation site of Guru Padmasambhava. It was founded by Pema Lingpa in 15th century and was restored by the Grand Queen Mother of present King.
Continue your hike to Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in beginning of the 16th century by Saint Pema Lingpa. Next you will visit Konchogsum Lhakhang, built in the 8th century, the Temple is famous for its bell, which bears an inscription from the eighth century. Your car will pick you up from here and drive to your lodge, after loading your baggage, drive to Trongsa. Overnight at Lodge.
DAY 06 Jan 08th ATTEND THE FESTIVAL
After breakfast you will drive to Trongsa Dzong and attend the festival. The day will be spend witnessing the masked dances and the fair around the monastery ground. Meet the local people and exchange information or make a life long friend. Overnight at lodge.
DAY 07 Jan 09th TRONGSA – PHOBJIKHA - PUNAKHA
After breakfast begin your journey to Phobjikha through the winding road crossing the Pele La Pass. After about thirty minutes of driving from the Pass, we will leave behind the highway and take a small diversion road which will take us into the huge open valley of Phobjikha at 3000 meters / 9840 ft. where the best potatoes of the nation is grown. Phobjikha is one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan and the valley floor is quite marshy in places. For several years, the cultivation of potatoes has brought a certain degree of prosperity to the peasants. Phobjikha is also the chosen home of the rare black-necked crane which migrates from Tibet to escape its harsh winters. It is here that the largest monastery of Nyingma School in Bhutan is located. Its lineage seat holder is known as the Gangtey Tulku and is the ninth reincarnation of the Gangtey lineage. Your car will drop you at the first house of the village, you will hike through the village to the monastery. From monastery you will hike downhill observing the crane. Overnight at Hotel.
DAY 08 Jan 10th PUNAKHA - THIMPHU
After breakfast drive to Wangdue, visit Rinchengang village, this small clustered village is famous for its masonry work. Resume your drive and stop at Simtokha Dzong, this dzong was built in the 1600s by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal. At present it houses the Traditional Institute for both laymen and women. Overnight at hotel.
DAY 09 Jan 11th THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING
After breakfast visit National Institute of Traditional Medicine. Established in 1988, to preserve the traditional healing methods and to develop the efficiency by taking advantage of the modern equipment and the method. You will visit next the School of Arts and Crafts, commonly known as the Painting School. This school offers an eight-year course, which provides the instruction in many of Bhutan’s traditional arts. Next visit Bhutan Heritage museum, this old 19th century house has been turned into a museum and it shows you the daily life of people living during the 19th century, the way of living is same in most of the regions in Bhutan. National Library, established in 1967 to preserve many ancient Bhutanese texts. Return back to hotel for lunch. After lunch, visit the Textile Museum, this Museum displays the old and new intricately hand woven textiles of Bhutan. Overnight at Hotel.
DAY 10 Jan 12th PARO SIGHTSEEING
Drive to Paro and visit Drukgyal Dzong 16 Kms. up the valley. Built in 1647 by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal, the Dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts, village and on a clear day experience the spectacular view of the majestic Mt. Chomolhari (7,314 m/ 23990 ft). Drive back south and visit Kyichu Temple, built in 7th century by a Tibetan King, Songtsen Gompo. Drive to Hotel, lunch will be served here. After lunch visit National Museum (Ta Dzong). This museum contains ancient religious objects, handcrafted objects of daily life, stuffed animals, costumes, armor and even stamps..
DAY 11 Jan 13th EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG MONASTERY.
After breakfast your car will drop you at the starting point of the excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s lair). The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop at the cafeteria for a rest and refreshments and continue the hike (if not tired) for short while until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the remains of Taktsang monastery. Built in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. The history states 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 doesn’t seem so impossible after all. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria. Return back to hotel and evening on leisure.
DAY 12 Jan 14th FLY BACK TO BANGKOK
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