The tune of the festival in Bhutan is not of mirth alone, it is one that of a soothing melody of sacredness. As it recounts struggles and victories in religion and depicts lessons on life and death, people battles all contours together as a family in brightest colors taking a respite from work to pay homage. Festivals are vantage occasion for the Bhutanese to gain merits too. For spectators, the unearthing of Bhutanese festivals brings sights rarely seen around the world, thus festivals are one of the best tourist attractions.
- Bumthang Valley:
The valley offers scenic geographical contours; the valley is also the land of thousand plains. As historical as it might seem, Bumthang is the religious heartland of Bhutan. The sheer count of temples and monasteries dotting the valley is evidently incomparable to the rest of the pockets of Bhutan.
Sobriquet as the valley of the cranes, Phobjikha is the roosting ground of the migratory black-necked cranes flying to the valley in the winters. The spectacle is not the cranes alone, as we watch the cranes fly to the valley we see a magic. The birds, as the people, circumambulate the Gangtey Goenpa at the highest elevation of the valley thrice. Thought magically pious, the birds are just acclimatizing.
Punakha is the first capital of Bhutan. In the present day, Punakha is the winter capital of the central monastic body in Bhutan. In early 20’s, all the historic transition unfurled in Punakha starting from enthroning the Kings of Bhutan (even to the present days), the parliament of Bhutan started in Punakha in the 60’s and most of the important treaties of Bhutan were signed in Punakha.
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- Day 01 Paro-Thimphu As the flight descends, you will experience a thrilling taxiing of a plane. After a quick reception by your guide, your journey progresses in Bhutan and an hour later, you are in the capital city of Bhutan- Thimphu. En route to Thimphu on the midway, a small halt awaits. You will have a relaxing moment after your tiring flight, the 14th-century temple offers you a relaxing atmosphere to set a welcome mood to Bhutan. After checking into your hotel, attempt a walk along the busiest streets of Thimphu. The walk helps you to acclimatize better.
- Day 02 Thimphu Unfurling Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan is a vantage rendezvous that has settled the modern and the medieval realms together. Sightseeing in Thimphu allows tourists to understand Bhutan with just one glance and experience Bhutan first hand. It is through witnessing folk heritage museum, Buddha Dordema, arts and crafts school, takin preserve, religious fortresses and temples that one can understand Bhutan at its best.
- Day 03 Thimphu-Punakha Starting bit early, as it shall throughout the tour, we go deeper westbound to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. It will be a smooth two-hour journey. At half distance, we will stop at a mountain pass at 3050 meters- Do Chula. Do Chula is very famous amongst tourists visiting Bhutan. In 2016, the mountain pass was the most visited tourist spot. Before arriving at Punakha, the temple of fertility is a must visit. On the way, there is an opportunity to take a village walk witnessing the gleeful lives of Bhutanese folks.
- Day 04 Punakha-Bumthang The journey to the spiritual heartland of the country will be tiring six-hours long. We will endeavor to make your journey more interesting than the destination. On the way, we will stand awe-struck at Bhutan's longest religious fortress- Trongsa Dzong. At the center of the country, in a time of only mule tracks, it was a gateway amongst the people of four cardinal directions. One had to make an entry or exit through the fortress. In the present day, all the Kings of Bhutan must serve as a Trongsa Poenlop (Governor) before enthronement. Above the fortress is a watchtower which is now a museum. Passing by the fortress to the destination, another halt comes at a mountain pass- Pelela at 3140 meters. Here on the pass, one may choose to hoist prayer flags for the wellbeing of all the sentient beings. Hereon, the journey starts ascending to Bumthang after battling another uphill mountain pass- Yotongla at 3551 meters.
- Day 05 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 6 Bumthang Another day is a charm! To witness one of the oldest mask dances, we sit by a courtyard of a temple in the chilly wee hours of the winter. In Bumthang, the soul of mask dances enjoyed by tourists, flocked by locals too is to witness the naked dance performed by the locals. In the 7th century, mask dances were choreographed and performed by religious heads to subdue evil spirits. Inbetween the mask dances, we will leave the venue to visit other places in Bumthang. One can opt to go for cottage cheese tasting or beer tasting or better, learn more about beekeeping.
- Day 7 Bumthang-Phobjikha From Bumthang, we retrace our journey and enter the glacial valley of Phobjikha (3,500m.) Here we see probably Bhutan’s biggest stretch of plains in the north which has been adopted by the elegant but endangered Black-Necked Crane as its winter home. There is an air of deep spirituality about this place as well as the iconic Gangtey Monastery, the seat of the revered Peling Branch of Vajrayana Buddhism is located atop a mound here. Onto another realm, Phobjikha offers varying facets of geographical contours. The setting of the valley is restricted to 'as-it-is' state for the valley greets the endangered migratory Black-Necked Crane every winter serving as the roosting ground. Phobjikha is a glacial valley at 3500 meters. Atop a knoll is the iconic Gangtey Goenpa, the main seat of Peling sect, an offshoot of Vajrayana Buddhism. In winter, when the fog mars the monastery, it becomes one of the most picturesque spectacles to photograph. As the temple overlooks the valley, it becomes a viewpoint to get a panoramic view of the Phobjikha valley.
- Day 8 Phobjikha-Thimphu On the way back to the capital city, we leave Phobjikha only after hiking an hour long trail- the Nature's Trail. Along the trail, we encounter mosses referred to as 'old man's beard' that indicates the purity of the air. We also see cairns and carpets of primulas. If we are on our journey in the winter, there is always a chance to see the Black-Necked Crane. If the tour falls on few festivals, the best for most tourists is the Black-Necked Crane festival celebrating the endangered and migratory bird.
- Day 9 Thimphu-Paro As we near the end, we retrace our journey to Paro, the only air gateway to Bhutan. While in Paro, to acclimatize better and to prepare for the next day's hike, the tour will take you to the oldest Buddhist temple in the country built in the 7th century. Another equally fascinating monumental visit will be to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong, the fortress of victory. It was built in 1644 after winning a major Tibetan invasion, a battle if lost could cost the independence of our little country.
- Day 10 Paro After a quick breakfast equipping everything recommended, we set on the most awaited segment of the tour. The toil of the day before comes to play as you hike to the Tiger's Nest. Etched precariously on a carve of a granite cliff at 3120 meters, almost 1000 meters above the valley floor, Taktshang is the cultural icon of Bhutan. It is for this particular attraction, tourists flock to Bhutan and pilgrims attempts to visit the monastery at least once in a lifetime, if not more. For the being of the temple, a legend spells that the Indian Saint, Guru Padmasambhava, worshipped in the Buddhist world as the Second Buddha flew to this location on the back of a tigress to tame a tiger demon. The switchback trail to Taktshang offers respite through picturesque vistas of nature, the opportunity to see the last horizon, the horizon beyond horizon and narration by the guide on many myth and legends of Bhutan continuing the hike in a pace unbothered by time. After finishing the trail, the mind, and body equally exhausted, you might want to get a trekker's foot massage for a good night's sleep. Another one could be taking a hot stone bath immersed in a wooden tub with local medicinal herbs offering a relaxing sensory journey.
- Day 11 Paro-Departure As you bid goodbye to come again, take your beautiful memories of Bhutan everywhere you travel.