Punakha Tshechu



Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal is known as the unifier of Bhutan as a nation state and he was the one who gave Bhutan and its people the distinct cultural identity that identified Bhutan from the rest of the world. During 17th century Bhutan was invaded several times by Tibetan forces seeking to seize a very precious relic, the Ranjung Kharsapani. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal led the Bhutanese to victory over the Tibetans and to commemorate the triumph he introduced the Punakha Drubchen. Since then Punakha Drubchen (also known as Puna Drubchen) became the annual festival of Punakha Dzongkhag.

The Punakha Drubchen is a unique festival because it hosts a dramatic recreation of the scene from the 17th century battle with Tibetan army. The ‘pazaps’ or local militia men dress in traditional battle gear and reenact the ancient battle scene. This reenactment harkens back to the time when in the absence of a standing army, men from the eight Tshogchens or great village blocks of Thimphu came forward and managed to expel the invading forces from the country. Their victory ushered in a period of new-found internal peace and stability.

This festival is not only play an important role in preserving Bhutan’s rich culture and traditions but also provide devout Buddhists with an opportunity for prayer and pilgrimage. They reflect the richness of the Bhutanese cultural heritage and are very special in the eyes and hearts of both Bhutanese and tourists who visit Bhutan.


DAY 1   ARRIVAL IN PARO, BHUTAN

Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon.Touching down at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Today, we will take it easy to acclimatise to the altitude. Drive to Thimphu, check in to the hotel and lets have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine and some light sight-seeing, like the weekend market, in Thimphu.

Heritage Museum – Dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past though exhibition of artefacts used in rural households.
Textile Museum – witnesses the art of traditional weaving.
Semtokha Dzong – Five miles from Thimphu, on a lofty ridge, stands Semtokha Dzong the oldest fortress in the Kingdom.

DAY 2  TOUR OF THIMPHU

National Memorial Chorten – Which was built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.
Papermaking Factory – Witnesses the art of papermaking.Day Trek to Tango Goemba and picnic/lunch by river In the afternoon. The Tango Goemba site has had religious significance since the 12th century when it was the home of the Lama who brought the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism to Bhutan. The monastery was built there in the 15th century by Drukpa Kunley (“The Divine Madman”). Tango is the highest center of Buddhist learning in the country; almost every Je Khenpo (religious head of Bhutan) completed the 9-year program there. After completing that program, monks traditionally spend 3 years, 3 months and 3 days in mediation at the nearby Cheri Goemba retreat, built in 1619 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder or first unifier of Bhutan. It is currently the home of an 11-year-old boy believed to be the seventh reincarnation of the fourth desi, or ruler, of Bhutan.Centenary Farmers’ Market – Every Saturday and Sunday most of the Thimphu population congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. Here villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products.

DAY 3  PUNAKHA TSHECHU

 Punakha Dzong– Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.

The Punakha Tshechu, as all Tshechu festivals, honors Padma Sambhawa, also known as Guru Rimpoche, the precious yogi and saint who is credited with having introduced Tantric Buddhism throughout the Himalayas. The festival’s masked dances are performed by monks clad in colorful brocade attire and permeated by chants and reading of Buddhist scripts. The culmination of  festival constitutes the unfolding of a huge cloth thangka, a sacred scroll, depicting Padma Smabhawa and imagery from Buddhist pantheon.

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten – Built by the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon wangchuck this Chorten is a splendid example of of the Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built over eight and a half years and its details have been drawn from religious scripture.

DAY 4  PUNAKHA

The Punakha Tshechu, as all Tshechu festivals, honors Padma Sambhawa, also known as Guru Rimpoche, the precious yogi and saint who is credited with having introduced Tantric Buddhism throughout the Himalayas. The festival’s masked dances are performed by monks clad in colorful brocade attire and permeated by chants and reading of Buddhist scripts. The culmination of  festival constitutes the unfolding of a huge cloth thangka, a sacred scroll, depicting Padma Smabhawa and imagery from Buddhist pantheon.

DAY 5 PUNAKHA TO PARO

Chhimi Lhakhang – A 20 minutes walk across terraced fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. Ngawang Chogyel built the temple in 15th century after the ’divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. It is a pilgrim site for barren women. Paro Valley – The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley. The following are some of the prominent places to visit in Paro. Paro Dzong also known as Rinpung Dzong, this 15th century massive fortress/monastery, is also the administrative center of the dzonkhag. A morning drive, north of Paro valley brings us to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate.Explore the ramparts and relive the memories of a glorious past.

DAY 6  PARO

Drukgyal Dzong– A morning drive, north of Paro valley brings us to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate.Explore the ramparts and relive the memories of a glorious past.

 Taktsang Monastery– A  hour hike to the cafeteria is also a vantage view whereby you can enjoy the stunning view of the monastery. Prayer flags adorn the cliffs and this is also where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century.

Kyichu Lhakhang – After a sumptuous local lunch, we will retrace our steps to visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.

DAY 7 DEPART PARO

After breakfast, we will transfer to Paro airport for our flight and we bid a fond farewell to the Kingdom of Bhutan

 

Video

Private guided tour
Visas for Bhutan
Airport transfers
Daily 3 meals
3 star accommodation
A qualified & licensed English-speaking guide
An experienced driver
A tour vehicle
Entry fess & road permits
Taxes & surcharges
Mineral water
Set of traditional costume (to be return at the end of your stay)

Festival Date: 25th Feb 2018 - 27th Feb 2018

For Travel during Punakha Tshechu

Flight into Bhutan via Drukair (can be arranged with us)
Flight on other airline to catch Drukair Flight
Meals at 4-5 stars restaurants
Hotel stay outside of Bhutan
Expenditure of personal nature
Travel Insurance (can be arranged with us)
Tips for the guide and driver
Alcoholic drink

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