8 Night 9 Day Punakha Drubchen and Punakha Tshechu
Brief Background on Punakha Drubchen and Tshechu
Punakha is located in the western part of Bhutan and it is the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (the Chief Abbot of Bhutan). Punakha has been of critical importance since the time of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel(Unifier of Bhutan and one who gave Bhutan and its people the distinct cultural identity that identified Bhutan from the rest of the world) in the 17th century. Today, Punakha is known as the old capital of Bhutan.
During the 17th century, Bhutan was invaded several times by Tibetan forces seeking to seize a very precious relic, the Ranjung Kharsapani. Headed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, led the Bhutanese army against the rival Tibetans, resulting in victory. To Honour, in tribute to victory, he introduced the Punakha Drubchen. Since then Punakha Drubchen (also known as Puna Drubchen) became the annual festival of Punakha Dzongkhag.
Punakha Dromchoe is a five-day long festival dedicated to the goddess Mahakala. Typical and colourful masked dances are performed during the festival.
The Punakha Drubchen is a unique and fascinating festival to witness as it hosts a dramatic amusement of the scene from the 17th century battle with Tibetan army. The local militiamen dress in traditional battle gear and build up an impression of the ancient battle scene on the last day of Punakha Drubchen.
For the preservation of Buddhist teachings and to keep alive the noble deeds of Zhabdrung Rimpoche, on request made by Punakha District Administration and local people, Punakha Tshechu was introduced in 2005.
Schedule of Punakha Tshechu : Feb 25-27,2018
8 Night 9 Day Tour Itinerary
Day 01: Arrive Paro, Travel to Thimphu (2Hours – 55KM)
On arrival at Paro airport and after completing your immigration formalities, you will be received by your tour guide from Advent Bhutan Tours and Travels. Then Voyage to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, is an hourly drive journey. The road runs down through the Paro valley, characterised by the narrow-gauged with high, rocky cliffs on the left.
You can stop on the way to visit the magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s iron bridge builder. Then passage through Chuzom, is the entrance to the Thimphu valley, the Confluence of Paro and Thimphu rivers. The road passes along the Simtokha Dzong, (Dzong means ‘castle-monastery’) – It is the oldest Dzong built in 1629 by Zhabdrug Ngawang Namgyal (who unified Bhutan). The Dzong functions as a monastic and as well as administrative centre. Today, it is one of the pre-eminent Dzongkha language (National Language) learning institutes.
On arrival at Thimphu check into your hotel and after brief rest and refreshment visit the following:
The Tashichho Dzong – It is a Buddhist monastery and fortress of the glorious religion on the northern edge of the city of Thimphu, built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. It was rebuilt into the 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.
Then, stroll down the handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, aligned neatly below Norzin Lam, opposite to Nehru Wangchuk Cultural Centre, to witness Bhutanese fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and other eye-catching items made from local materials.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Day Long Thimphu Sightseeing
After breakfast visit the following:
The Kuenselphodrang (commonly known as Buddha Point) – The Great Buddha Dordenma is sited amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuck, the thirteenth Desi Druk, facing towards the Southern approach to Thimphu. It is one of the largest Buddha statues in the world, at 169 feet (52 m) and contains 100,000 8-inch-tall and 25,000 12-inch-tall gilded bronze Buddhas.
The Bhutan Postal Museum (recently launched) -The Bhutan Postal Museum was launched on 7 November 2015 at the General Post Office building. The postal museum portrays the story of the evolution of communication, transportation and postal services in Bhutan’s history.
The National Textile Museum – Art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colours and designs. The National Textile Museum is located near the National Library of Bhutan. It was established in 2001 and operated by the National Commission for Cultural Affairs. Ever since its establishment, the museum has gained national and international recognition and has generated a important collection of antique textile artifacts’.
Traditional Bhutanese paper making factory– Jungshi Paper Factory was established in November 1990 as an undertaking of the Royal Government of Bhutan. This small factory produces traditional Bhutanese paper handmade from the bark of the daphne bush. The unit now boasts as a major and sole dealer in handmade paper and its products.
The Folk Heritage Museum– The museum was launched on 28 July 2001 under the initiative of founder Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo. The outdoor museum give an insight into rural life. The museum exhibit diverse materials associated with the Bhutanese culture and way of life. The exhibition comprises of rural households’ artifacts, equipment, objects and tools.
After lunch visit the following:
The Institute of Traditional Medicine– The Institute of traditional medicine sprawled on a hilltop with the Traditional Arts Center and National Library just below, was established in 1978. This institute collect medicinal plants from far-flung areas of the Bhutanese Himalaya, such as Lingzhi, Laya and Lunana, conducts research on Bhutan’s medicinal plants to identify the ingredients to help develop new health product and then dispense pills, tablets, ointments and medicinal teas to regional health-care units around the country.
The School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts – The traditional arts is known as zorigchusum (zo = the ability to make; rig = science or craft; chusum = thirteen). These traditional crafts depict hundreds of years of knowledge and ability that has been passed down through generations.The students undergo a six-year course to consummate learning the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan
The Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal, Takin (The national animal of Bhutan). The reason for declaring Takin as the national animal is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation (goat’s head and cattle’s body) in Bhutan in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley. Drive further to Sangaygang to get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful Thimphu valley.
The Memorial Chorten– Also known as the Thimphu Chorten, was built in 1974 to honor the third Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–1972), who is regarded as “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. Buddhist call the monument “The mind of the Buddha”. It is an honoured landmark in the city with its golden spires and bells, widely known as “the most visible religious landmark in Bhutan”.
Then, stroll down the Thimphu town.Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03 Thimphu-Punakha-Wangdue (3Hours -76Km)
In the morning, travel to Punakha via the Dochula pass. The Dochula Pass (3,088m/10,130ft) is a mountain pass, with the breathtaking view of 108 memorial stupas known as “Druk Wangyal Chortens” built under the initiative of Royal Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk( the eldest Queen Mother), built in honour of the fourth Druk Gyalpo (head of the state of Bhutan), Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Journey to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan and presently the winter residence of the central monk body. It is also known as Pungtang Dewa chhenbi Phodrang (meaning “the palace of great happiness or bliss). It is the second oldest and largest dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (Unifier of Bhutan) to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region.
After lunch, drive to Metshina Village and take 15 minutes walk through the rice fields to the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where it is believed, one can receive special fertility blessings.
Afterwards, a drive to Wangdue (25 Minutes journey from Punakha). Visit Wangdue Dzong. It was founded by the Zhabdrung in 1638. In the 17th century, Wangdue played a critical role in unifying Shar Chog Khorlo Tsebgay (the western, central and southern regions of the country). It is one of the largest dzongkhags (districts) in the country covering 4,308 sq km and ranges from 800-5800 m in altitude. In 24 June 2012, the dzong caught fire and was burnt down.The renovation is still ongoing and is expected to continue until 2021.
In the evening you may visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendup Lhakhang Nunnery and enjoy the beautiful view of Punakha and Wangdue valleys.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Punakha/Wangdue.
Day 04: Witness the Final Day of the Punakha Drubchen
After breakfast, witness the last day of Punakha Drubchen The Punakha Drubchen is a unique and fascinating festival to witness as it hosts a dramatic amusement of the scene from the 17th century battle with Tibetan army. The local militiamen dress in traditional battle gear and build up an impression of the ancient battle scene on the last day of Punakha Drubchen.
You will also visit the Punakha Dzong,visit the Punakha Dzong, majestically sprawl between the Pho Chu (Male River) and the Mo chu (Female River).It is the second oldest and largest dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (Unifier of Bhutan) to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. The dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region.
After lunch, drive through upper Punakha valley passing through farmhouses and take a leisure walk through farmhouses and then Visit Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten(stupa),(also known as Nyizergang Chöten and Punakha Zangdopelri). It was built in 2004 by the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck. The establishment of the stupa is to bring peace and firmness in the world. Enjoy the amazing view of Punakha and Wangdue valleys from there.
Dinner and overnight at hotel at Punakha.
Day 05: Witness the first day of Punakha Tsechu
After breakfast, we will go and attend the first day of Punakha Tsechu which will be held in the courtyard of Punakha Dzong.We will witness a day-long festival till the end.
In the evening, stroll down around Punakha town and market.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 06: Punakha-Phobjikha-Punakha( 2Hours30Minutes-64Km)
After breakfast drive to Phobjikha valley via Gantey village where you see the Gangtey Monastery and visit the monastery. Gangtey Gompa, an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, is one of the main seats of the religious tradition based on Pema Lingpa’s revelations.It is the most tourists visited place during the winter season to see the magnificent black-necked cranes that migrate from far-flung remote parts of Tibet. The spectacular ambience surrounded by hills and mountains are home to wandering shepherds and yak-herders. The view is breathtaking.
You will have refreshment and lunch at a resort/restaurant in this valley. Afternoon you can visit the Black Necked Crane Center and enjoy the fascinating sight of these birds in this beautiful scenic valley.
In the late afternoon drive back to Punakha and overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 07: Punakha Tsechu and Punakha-Paro (4Hours-124Km)
Early morning go to the Punakha Dzong to witness the unfurling of Thongdroel (giant silk Thangkha).The huge banner (thangka), called Thongdrel (liberation and blessings at the sight), is unfurled for public reverence. 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 Punakha tsechu and then travel to Paro with lunch enroute.
On arrival at Paro visit The Rimpung Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress which houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. It was built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. From the Dzong, march further down to Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge which lies below the sheer walls of Rinpung Dzong. Stroll through Rimpung Bridge (The oldest bridge in Bhutan)
In the evening walk around Paro downtown and you may visit local handicraft stores.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro
Day 08: Paro Excursion to Taktsang (3hours 30 minutes Walk)
Drive to Satsam Chorten and then hike to the Taktshang, the Tiger’s Nest. Normally it takes about three and half hours to complete the hike but might take longer depending on your fitness. Paro Taktsang, also known as the Tiger’s Nest, is an important Buddhist sacred site which clings to the rock face, 900 metres above the valley floor. To the rear of the Taktsang lies Senge Samdup cave where Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century. Today, Paro Taktsang is popularly known for the thirteen taktsang or “tiger lair” caves in which he meditated. It is believed that Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flew to Taktshang from Tibet on the back of a tigress from Khenpajong. This place was consecrated to tame the Tiger demon.
Refreshment will be served at View Point Cafeteria en route. After visiting the monastery, descend back to viewpoint cafeteria for lunch and then further descend downhill to the base. Then drive back to hotel.
Then drive to your hotel. On the way visit Kichu temple. It is one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The Jowo Temple of Kyichu is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. To overcome a giant demon who prevented the spread of Buddhism, laid on the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas, King Songtsen Gampo build 108 temples placed on all the points of her body.
In the evening, you can relax after your tiresome journey in the traditional hot stone bath.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 09: Paro – Departure
Advent Bhutan Tours & Travels (your local Bhutan travel agent) will see you off at the Paro International Airport for your onward destinations.
End of Tour Program
Bhutan Trip Cost for this 8 Nights 9 Days Tour Itinerary
3 pax & above
High Season: Feb 2018
The above Bhutan tour package prices includes the following:
- Bhutan Government Royalty of US$ 65/person/night
- FIT surcharges of US$40/person/night for a single traveler and US$30/person/night for a double
- Twin sharing hotel rooms at 3 star hotels
- All meals ( breakfast, lunch, dinner & light refreshments) with standard menu at 3 star hotels
- English speaking tour guide service
- All transfers and excursions by private vehicles
- All entrance fees to museums and monuments
- All internal taxes and fees
- Mineral drinking water
The above tour prices do not include the following:
- Single room supplement of US$ 40/room/night (optional)
- Bhutan Visa fee of US$40/person (must be paid in advance with tour cost)
- Airfares (optional)
- Travel insurance (recommended)
- 4 star and 5 star accommodations and meals (optional)
- Other personal expenses like overseas calls, laundry,etc
***Thank you & Tashi Delek***