Festivals are very important to the Bhutanese people. From places far and away, thronging the festival values as a family get-together donning the best attire packing the best cuisines they can ever make- they come to pray and revel the occasion. As most festivals are religious, people hardly miss the festival and more importantly, all the festivals allows to gain good merits for rebirth.
- Masked DancesBhutan has a long tradition of colorful religious festivals. They are integral part of the cultural and spiritual life of the Bhutanese people. Bhutanese believe that everyone must attend a religious festival and witness the mask dances at least once to receive blessings.Mask dance or Chhams are usually performed during Tshechus celebrations. Mask dance personify communal occasions, passing seasons, and shared feelings and experiences. Mask dances that are performed in the Dzongs are crucial for unifying people and help them know more about their place, culture, and history. Besides, mask dances also deliver religious messages to people. It is believed that they ward off evils and misfortunes by invoking to their deities during the performance.
Chhams or religious mask dances have been classified into three groups: dramatic dances that push morality, dances that protect people from harmful spirits, and one that celebrates victories.
- Day 1 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 2 Thimphu: For today we make scenic drives to various locations at the outskirts of the capital city of Bhutan. Cruising through ancient valleys in the closure of nature, we will return to the capitals thriving acre, we make a visit to historical, cultural and religious attractions. Most of the time, all the visit include viewpoints at the top of the hills to see the views of Thimphu.
- Day 3 Thimphu-Punakha: Bit early on the schedule, we traverse into the depths of the Western territories. The destination- Punakha, and Wangduephodrang is in the cocoon of 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 scenics 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. Before reaching our destination, we drive to the ‘temple of fertility’ renowned for blessing infertile couples with children.
- Day 4 Punakha-Phobjikha: Driving gradually to the glacial valley of Phobjikha at 3,500m, we see Bhutan’s biggest stretch of plains in the north which has been adopted by the migratory 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 knoll.
- Day 5 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 6 Thimphu-Paro: This is our last stopover in Thimphu, so we do handicrafts or other shopping and visit few other places before we head for Paro after lunch. The last stopover for the day will be Kyichu Temple, built in the 7th century and thus the oldest and one of the most sacred in Bhutan. In popular myth, this temple was built to pin down the right knee of a giant ogress which was lying spread-eagled across the entire Himalayas.
- Day 7 Paro: This is the best moment of our Bhutan trip as we dress in Bhutanese traditional dress and head to the precincts of Paro Dzong to observe one of Bhutan’s most colorful and sacred festivals. At the courtyard witnessing the festival, we meet local people, clad in their finest clothes, coming from far and away to observe the masked dances, to pray, and to meet again another festival in another year. Witnessing a series of ancient dances with dancers in surrealistic masks and costumes, we bask in the culture and tradition of Bhutan.
- Day 8 Paro: Up in the wee hours of the morning, we set out to witness the Thongdrel, it is a gigantic appliqué painting. Thongdrel means liberation on sight and we Buddhists believe that the appliqué has the divine powers to bless the ones that witnesses it and wash their sins. It is a very important moment for this happens just once every year. On this day, we will see more people rounding up the venue to particularly witness the Thongdrel.
- Day 9 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 10 Paro: As you bid goodbye to come again, take your beautiful memories of Bhutan everywhere you travel.