A tour very different from many other tours, this tour is festive in mood as well as refreshing as we traverse through the enchanting villages and undulating roads. As the tour is particularly taken in March, the weather is very pleasant. On this tour, we go to witness a very spectacular festival- the Gomphu Kora festival.
⦁ Gomphu Kora
Gomphu means a meditation cave and kora means circumambulation. The name is derived from a cave formed out of a rock-face next to a temple that has been built as a tribute to this sacred site.
The festival that comes alive from 16th to 18th march once every year goes back to 8th century.
Legend has it that an evil spirit escaped from Tibet when Guru Padmasambhava, the progenitor of the Nyingma sect of Buddhism, was spreading the Dharma in the Himalayas, the evil spirit followed the course of the present-day Kholongchhu stream and concealed himself inside a rock where Gomphu Kora stands today. The Guru followed the evil, mediated for three days inside the rock cave and finally bested it.
A day in the spiritual heartland of the country is rejuvenating. In the sprawling acre of the valley, it is all temples and monasteries in the loop recommended by the itinerary.
Living by myth and legends, a short narration is here as follows to tickle your senses: In the 15th century, a Treasure Discoverer dived into a lake with a burning lake in his hand to the floor of the lake fishing out treasure and reappearing to the surface of the lake with the lamp still burning. Thus, the burning lake- is it a myth or a legend?
In the sacredness of the temples unwind your life’s purpose. Meditate in the tranquil of the valley unperturbed by the modern elements.
- Day 1 Paro: Fly to Bhutan amid gentle terrains of the Greater Himalayas. For the first-timers, the descent of the plane amid the wedges of the mountains will have their heart skip heartbeat sweaty palms clutched firm on the armrest, feet almost digging into the plane's floor and feeling the stark pull of gravity- Bhutan's airport is considered as one of the dangerous airports in the world. After a brief reception ceremony, your guide will immediately whisk you to your SUV. Your tour begins in Bhutan. At halfway, a halt takes you to a temple across an iron bridge as a welcoming gesture. Inhaling the atmosphere, you will start grouping the jigsaw of your life, admitting to your conscience that you have indeed touched and sensed everything that life has to offer. So have you, you are in a country that is carbon-negative and developing through happiness as a nation-state.
- Day 2 Paro: To acclimatize, we head for the switchback hike to the cultural icon of the country- Taktshang Monastery; we start early to truly experience the marvels of Nature. On a cliff 1000 meters above the floor of the valley, the popular Tiger's Nest is situated at a precarious location. Owing to the sacredness of the temple as the Second Buddha of the Vajrayana Buddhism, Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the caves of the temple complex after subduing a tiger flying to the location on the back of a tigress, it is a must visit for the Buddhist pilgrims once in their lifetime. The temple is thronged by thousands of devotees every year and the visit increases by the day. If possible, along with the 'alpinely' forested trail- we can wrap a picnic lunch and eat on our way down from the temple. For a relaxing evening, you can opt for a trekker's foot massage or simply stay immersed in hot stone bathing tub stirred with local medicinal herbs.
- Day 3 Paro-Thimphu: After an early breakfast, head for the capital city of Bhutan. Over a 50-kilometer stretch, driving for almost an hour, we reach Thimphu. The capital city of Bhutan is a rendezvous of culture, customs, and traditions. As we venture out sightseeing in Thimphu, the itinerary takes you to all the touristic spots that by little or completely touches everything about Bhutan. By large, Thimphu offers a clear picture of any part of Bhutan. The presence of various attractions be it cultural, religious or political- the capital city alone resemblances Bhutan. For sightseeing, the important attractions are takin preserve, memorial stupa, Buddha Dordema, folk heritage museum, textile museum, the academy of art and craft, Simtokha Dzong and Tashichhodzong. After visiting all the attractions in Thimphu, refresh once in your room and come out to take a stroll in the streets of the capital city of Bhutan. Dotted by various entertainments, the nightlife of Thimphu is very lively.
- Day 4 Thimphu – Punakha/Wangduephodrang: To head to the western districts even deeper, we start early. We traverse into the depths of the Western territories. The destination- Punakha and Wangduephodrang is in the cocoon of a medieval setting. It takes two-hours from Thimphu to the destination of the day. The western districts stood witness at scores of historical transition of the country, even to the unification of the country. Onto destination bound, the drive is one of the most scenic of the tour. Additionally, the stopover at the mountain pass- Do Chula at 3100 meters offers the panoramic vista of perennial snowcapped mountains to the North. On a clear weather, one can count 10 mountain peaks, the peaks are collectively known as ‘Jigme Singye Wangchuck Mountain Range’ after the name of Fourth King of Bhutan. It is on this journey that touts the fauna of the country. For photographers, down the mountain pass- Do Chula to the floor of the valley, it’s a photographer’s paradise. Before reaching our destination, we drive to the ‘temple of fertility’ renowned for blessing infertile couples with children.
- Day 5 Punakha/Wangdue Phodrang–Trongsa: We drive to Trongsa from the sub-tropical to the sub-alpine region with the highest point at Pelela Pass (3,300m). From Pelela we descent to lower valleys and after lunch we visit the 18th century Chendebji, a replica of the Boudanath Stupa in Nepal, we continue eastward to Trongsa, the hub of the powerful governors in ancient Bhutan responsible for unifying Bhutan.
- Day 6 Trongsa – Bumthang: After visiting the Trongsa Dzong and Ta Dzong preserved as the Museum of Bhutanese Kings, we then drive to Bumthang passing the highest point at Yotong La pass (3,400 m). After a brief stopover to marvel at Black Mountain range, we drive towards Chumey. Chumey is popular for the beautiful Yathra – a clothing line with intricate floral patterns woven out of sheep’s wool.
- Day 7 Bumthang: A day in the spiritual heartland of the country is rejuvenating. In the sprawling acre of the valley, it is all temples and monasteries in the loop recommended by the itinerary. Living by myth and legends, a short narration is here as follows to tickle your senses: In the 15th century, a Treasure Discoverer dived into a lake with a burning lake in his hand to the floor of the lake fishing out treasure and reappearing to the surface of the lake with the lamp still burning. Thus, the burning lake- is it a myth or a legend? In the sacredness of the temples unwind your life's purpose. Meditate in the tranquil of the valley unperturbed by the modern elements.
- Day 8 Bumthang-Mongar: Starting early, across undulating vales and valleys, we drive to one of the highest mountain pass Thrumshingla at 3,750m. This pass an integral part of a protected area dubbed as the “Crown Jewel” of conservation in the eastern Himalayas. The area is also a birder’s paradise with over 600 species of birds. The descent from Thrumshingla to Lingmethang is another heady experience. Descending from 3,800 meters to 650 meters across sub-alpine to the temperate to the sub-tropics, the undulating drive is a drive of a lifetime. We can also see the ruins of Zhongar Dzong which was a palace and fortress of a powerful chieftain. It is now preserved as a pride and joy of Bhutan’s yesteryears. Later we reach the floor of Lingmethang.
- Day 9 Mongar-Trashigang: Onward for a three-hour journey, the drive from Mongar to Trashigang takes us through several villages with the highest point being Korila Pass at 2,450m. As we descend all the way to Dangmechu through a mid-way town called Yadhi, finally winding down a series of thrilling zig zags .Near the riverbank, we see the remains of an iron chain bridge built in the 14th century. From here, another 12 kilometers uphill is Tashigang dzong and we go to visit the Dzong to take a stroll in Trashigang town afterwards.
- Day 10 Trashigang- Gomphu Kora-Trashigang: At wee hours, we embark on a religious sojourn referred as The Great festival of Circumambulation. Gomphu means a meditation cave and kora means circumambulation. The name is derived from a cave formed out of a rock-face next to a temple that has been built as a tribute to this sacred site. The festival that comes alive from 16th to 18th march once every year goes back to 8th century. Legend has it that an evil spirit escaped from Tibet when Guru Padmasambhava, the progenitor of the Nyingma sect of Buddhism, was spreading the Dharma in the Himalayas, the evil spirit followed the course of the present-day Kholongchhu stream and concealed himself inside a rock where Gomphu Kora stands today. The Guru followed the evil, mediated for three days inside the rock cave and finally bested it. The famous three days religious festival Gomphu Kora even draws followers from Arunachal Pradesh (India). The journey is endured on foot for days through the rugged mountains and it follows a prophecy of the Guru that that devotees will flock to Gomphu Kora for eons to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
- Day 11 Trashigang-Trashiyangtse-Gomphu Kora-Trashigang: We drive to Tashiyangtse today. In Trashiyangtse we will visit the famous Chorten Kora said to have been built by entombing alive a princess. The district is also famous for for woodwork, boasts an institute of art and craft in its main town, and is home to the rare Ludlow’s Bhutan Swallowtail butterfly and Black-Necked Crane. Retracing our way back to Trashigang, we watch the festival at Gomphu once more for events more jovial.
- Day 12 Trashigang town-North Trashigang-Trashigang town: As we reach Trashigang, we visit Rangjung Monastery, the biggest centre of Nyingma Buddhism in the district. After interacting with the monks at the monastery, we drive further up to the village of Radhi, the rice bowl of eastern Bhutan, where we meet women weaving raw silk cloth pieces known as bura. After lunch, we drive further up the mountain to see the lifestyles of a tribe and then return to our hotel in Trashigang town.
- Day 13 Trashigang–Samdrup Jongkhar: The last metaphorical mile of our tour, a 180-kilometer over seven-hours, the drive to the one among the few southern gateway of Bhutan is tiring yet scenic. En route we will see an ancient temple at Yonphu famed for its unique mask dances. After few stopovers at some temples, we enter the humid zone, Samdrup Jongkhar.
- Day 14 Samdrupjongkhar–Guwahati: After breakfast, after driving the darned traffic of the Indian highways, we reach the Indian airport. Upon reaching there, we bid farewell to see one another time.