Paro Festival (Bhutan)
24 till 28 Marzo 2021
Tshechu, a Buddhist festival meaning "tenth day", is held annually in various temples, monasteries and dzongs across Bhutan. It is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche, the one who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan. The exact month of Tshechu varies from place to place and from temple to temple. Tshechus are large events where entire communities gather to watch religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. Each mask dance performed during a Tshechu has a special meaning or story from long ago. In monasteries the dances are performed by monks and in remote villages they are joined by ordinary people. Two of the most popular Tshechus in the country, in terms of participation, are the Paro Tshechus and the Thimphu Tshechus. The party lasts four days; the first day in the courtyard of the dzong and the last day with the exhibition of the sacred Thanka which is a painting on silk and seeing it is considered a blessing.
Day 01 : Arrive in Kathmandu
Arrival at Kathmandu airport. Meeting with our staff. Transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon, visit the historic center of the city of Kathmandu, at 1330 meters above sea level, including the Palace Square with the pagoda temples and the Kumari Ghar, the house where the "child goddess" lives, considered the incarnation of the goddess Kali. Climb to the Swayambhunath stupa, about 2,500 years old, a sacred place of Buddhism. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 02: Kathmandu
Breakfast and visit of the Bodnath stupa, 36 meters high, UNESCO heritage. Visit of Pashupatinath, the most important Hindu temple in Nepal, dedicated to Shiva and also a UNESCO heritage site. Along its Baghmati River, pilgrims perform purifying ablutions and funeral ceremonies. Entrance to the sacred enclosure is only possible for Hindus. In the afternoon, visit to the magnificent medieval city of Badghaon, a UNESCO heritage site, with the Durbar Square where there is the Palace of 55 windows from 1427 AD which is accessed from the “Golden Gate”. The whole area is in Newari style with pagoda temples among which the most famous is that of Nyatapola from 1702 AD. Visit of the Tachupa Square, with the wood carving shops, and of the Potters' Square. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 03: Kathmandu / Paro ( by flight ) Paro / Thimpu
Breakfast and transfer to the airport for boarding the flight to Paro. The flight is spectacular for the beauty of the Himalayan landscape below. Upon arrival, meeting at the airport with our staff. Continue to Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, on the western hills of the Wang Chu Valley, at 2300 meters above sea level, full of enchanting temples and ancient monasteries. Photo stop in front of the 15th century Tschogang Lhakhang temple. Free afternoon for acclimatization to the altitude. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 04: Thimpu
Breakfast and visit of Thimphu. Visit to the National Library with a large collection of Buddhist manuscripts of inestimable value. Visit of the Zorig Chusum Institute, where students do a 6-year training course. Visit of the Folklore and Textile Arts Museum. Continue to 'Simply Bhutan', which preserves the Bhutanese tradition. In the afternoon, visit the King's Memorial Chorten, 1974, where devotees recite mantras and spin the prayer wheels. Visit of the Trashichhoedzong, government and spiritual center. Visit to Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang) from which you can admire a beautiful view of the valley. In the evening, stroll downtown and in the market area, among the government-run craft emporiums that sell hand-embroidered fabrics, painted thangkha, masks, ceramics, slates and wood carvings, jewelry, and other beautiful objects made with local materials . Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 05: Thimpu / Gangtey (Km. 150 - approx 05 hrs)
Breakfast and departure for Gangtey through the Dochu-La pass (over 3000 m high). This pass offers a splendid 360 degree view of the Himalayas, especially on clear winter days, when the snow-capped mountains frame the 108 chortens that grace the landscape. Continue to Gangtey. Upon arrival visit of the 16th century Gangtey monastery located on a small hill. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 06: Gangtey / Punakha ( Km. 80 - approx 03 hrs)
Breakfast and walk in the village of Phobjikha. Visit the center of Black-necked cranes arriving from Tibet during winter, a rare species. After departure for Punakha Upon arrival, accommodation in the hotel.
Day 07: Punakha
After breakfast, visit Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten temple which was commissioned by the Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. The temple was designed on the basis of Buddhist scriptures and was built to bring peace and prosperity. It takes a 1 hour walk to get to the temple passing a nice path between the fields and from the temple you can enjoy a beautiful view. Visit of the Punakha Dzong built in 1637 at the crossing of the Phochu and Mochu rivers. Then, between rice fields and villages, walk to Chimi Lhakhang, on a knoll in the center of the valley, also known as the fertility temple, frequented by couples who wish to have a child and founded by the great Lama Kunley, "the enlightened madman" whose phallic emblem adorns the entrance of many rural houses. The path leads through the rice fields to a small village that will bring you closer to the daily lifestyle of its inhabitants. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 08: Punakha / Paro (Km. 125 – approx 4 hrs)
Breakfast and departure for Paro descending from the Dochu La pass and for the Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys. In the afternoon visit the Ta Dzong, home of the National Museum with thangkha paintings, fabrics, weapons and armor. Then, walk along the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, which has a fascinating history. In the evening, stroll through the streets of Paro. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 09: Paro
Breakfast and visit of the Taktsang monastery, "the tiger's nest", one of the most revered places, on the side of a 900 meters cliff that can be reached with an uphill walk, on foot or on the back of a mule and a sacred place visited by all Bhutanese, at least once in their life. On the way back, visit the 7th Kichu Lhakhang temple whose construction marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 10: Paro - Paro Festival (Tsechu Festival)
The most important festival in the country where entire communities gather to watch dances with religious masks, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to masked dances, tshechus also include colourful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment.
Day 11: Paro / Kathmandu (by flight)
Breakfast. Transfer to the airport for boarding the flight to Kathmandu. Transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon, visit Patan, the oldest of the royal cities in the Kathmandu Valley and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 12: Depart from Kathmandu
After breakfast, transfer to the airport.
The trip to Bhutan with the participation in the Paro festival can be built according to your needs also by providing different itineraries (see the page "Bhutan" in "Destinations").