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11-Day Dochula Festival Conquest Plan

Festival Date: 13th December 2013

Day 1: Arrival at Paro and drive to Thimphu (Altitude 2,280m)

Greetings and Kuzuzangpo!

Drive time: 45 minutes

Kuzuzangpo and welcome to Bhutan,“The Land of the Thunder Dragon”. Landing at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your tour guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Then we will drive to Thimphu, let you check in the hotel and serve you with the first taste of Bhutanese cuisine and some sightseeing in Thimphu if possible.

Day 2: Thimphu sightseeing

  •  Takin enclosure: To see the Takin National animal of Bhutan.
  • Buddha Dordenma Statue: You will see the Biggest Buddha statue in the world at Kuenselphodrang, gaingaintic
  • Heritage Museum: Dedicated to connecting Bhutanese rural though exhibition of artifacts used in rural households.
  • Textile Museum: You will witness the art of traditional weaving.
  • TashichoDzong: The Biggest Dzong, in the Country, is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan.
  • National Memorial Chorten: Built in honor of the Late third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. You will see hundreds of people chanting around the chorten in the evening.
  • Papermaking Factory: You will see the art of papermaking
  • SemtokhaDzong: Five miles from Thimphu stands the oldest fortress in the Kingdom known as SemtokhaDzong.
  • Centenary Farmers’ Market:Here villagers from the nearby village and other nearby places as far as Wangduecome to sell their agriculture products. This market is open every Saturday and Sunday.

Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha (Altitude 1,300m) 

Drive time to Dochula: Half hours

The festival starts at 0900 and ends at 0415

Dochula festival is commissioned by the Queen Mother AshiDorjiWangmoWangchuck. The year 2011 is considered as the inaugural year for this festival. It is one of the unique festivals as the festival is fully performed by the Royal Bhutan Army rather than monks. The soldiers have been trained 3 months in folk and mask dance.

After the festival we will drive back to Thimphu.

Day 4: Thimphu to Punakha (Altitude 1,300m) 

Drive time: Two and a half hours

  • Dochula Pass: 108 chortens built by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan AshiDorjiWangmoWangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Indian militants and to liberate the souls of the soldiers lost.
  • PunakhaDzong: 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 Bhutanese architecture, built at the fork of two rivers. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored as of today.
  • KhamsumYulleyNamgyalChorten: Built by the Third Queen Mother AshiTsheringYangdonwangchuck this Chorten is a splendid Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It was built over eight and a half years and the details have been drawn from religious scripture.

Day 5:Punakha to Bumthang(Altitude 2,600m – 4,000m)

Drive time 7 hours

We will have to start early morning to drive to Central Bhutan. Before we start we will pay a quick visit to ChhimiLhakhang.

  • ChhimiLhakhang:  20 minutes’ walk along the green 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. This Temple was built by NgawangChogyel in 15th century after the ’divine Madman’ DrukpaKuenlay built a small chorten over there. Now, It is a pilgrim site for unfertile women.
  • View of Wangdue:One of the district capital of Western Bhutan. Located south of Punakha, downstream of the river flowing from Punakha. The district is known for bamboo works, slate and stone carving.

We will stop for a while to view the WangduePhodrangDzong. Built in 1638, which is now seen only the remains of the walls,it was fiercely engulfed in fire last year, 2012. Every Bhutanese have been disheartened on this unfortunate incident.

Day 6:Bumthang sightseeing (Altitude 2,600 – 4,000m)

Bumthang is known as the paradise of Bhutan, it has the most spectacular valley and also the heartland of Buddhism in Bhutan. Bumthang is a home to the Guru Rinpoche and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders) which have led to construct more than 50 temples in this peaceful valley.Bumthand valley is also rich in fauna and flora.

Following visits will be made:

TamshingGoemba: Built in 1501 by the Buddhist saint PemaLingpa.

  • KurjeyLhakhang:It is one of the most sacred monasteries in Bhutan. Built by the Guru Rinpoche in 1652, it houses a rock with his body imprint. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche manifested as a Garuda to defeat the demon ShelgingKarpo who had taken the form of a white lion.
  • JambayLhakhang: It is built in 659 by Tibetan King SontsenGampo to pin down a demoness who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism.
  • JakarDzong: Built as monastery in 1549 by the great grandfather of the Zhabdrung, located on a pitched high ground overlooking the town junction. It is currently used as the administrative center for Bumthang district
  • ThangbiLhakhang: Located along the Thangbi Valley, we will have to hike for a short while, crossing a suspension bridge. This Lhakhang was built in the 14th century.

Note:

Visit in October,JambayLhakhangDrup is one of the most colourful festivals in Bhutan. 

Day 7:Bumthang to Gangtey (Altitude 3,000m)

Drive time 5 hours

On the way to Gangtey we will pass by Trongsa, which is the ancestral home of the ruling dynasty.

  • Trongsa,means “New Town” in our national language Dzongkha. Tronsga is where the current monarchy had its origin in Bhutan. For each King in the line of succession has held the post of TrongsaPenlop or Governor before crowning the Raven Crown.
  • TrongsaDzong: The foundations of TrongsaDzong were laid in the 16th century by PemaLingpa. The Dzong flourished during the 17th century under ShabdrungNgwangNamgyal. With its massive structure, its wall looming high above the winding MangdeChuValle.
  • TrongsaTaaDzong: Built as a watch tower the TaaDzong has since been converted into a Heritage Museum. A book on this prominent Dzong is written by Christian Schicklgruber entitled The Tower of Trongsa, Religion and Power in Bhutan.
  • Day 8: Gangtey sightseeing (Altitude 3,000m)
  • Phobjikha valley:The valley of Phobjikhais well known as the winter home of the Black necked crane (GrusNigricollis.Thesevalley is one of the popular places that the birds migratefrom the Tibetan plateau to the valley in winter months. Theseelegant birds can be observed from early November to end of March. Bhutan is home to around six hundred black necked cranes..

GangteyGoempa: This is an old monastery built around 17th century, overlooking the Phobjikha valley.

Some more short hikes around the valley of Phobjikha valley will be planned with you. 

Day 9: Gangtey to Paro (Altitude  2,280m) 

Drive time: 7 hours

  • Paro Valley: The most beautiful valley, home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries. The country’s onlyinternational  Airport is in Paro. The northern end of the valley is the mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley.
  • ParoDzong:ParoDzong known as RinpungDzong, built around 15th century a massive fortress, presently it is a administrative center of the district.
  • Ta Dzong:Built as a watch tower, later in 1968 it was converted into National Museum. The museum boasts antique Thangka, textiles, weapons and armor, household objects and rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. 

Day 10: Paro sightseeing (Altitude 2,280m)

  • Taktsang Monastery: A one hour hike to the cafeteria is also a vantage view whereby you can enjoy the stunning view of the monastery. The name Taktsang came after Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century.
  • DrukgyalDzong: A drive to north of Paro valley you will see the ruins of DrukgyalDzong which was built in 1647 by the great ZhabdrungNgawangNamgyal, known as the father and unifier of medieval Bhutan. DrukgyalDzong was destroyed by fire and left in ruins as reminiscent reminder of the great victories from Tibetans.
  • KyichuLhakhang:We will thenvisit  theKyichuLhakhang, one of the oldest Lhakhang in the country. 

Day 11: DepartingParo (Altitude 2,280m) 

We will drive you to Paro airport for your flight and you bid a farewell to the Kingdom of Bhutan.