One of the biggest festivals in the country is the Thimphu Tsechu. This festival is held in the capital city for three days beginning on 10th day of the 8th month of lunar calendar. This Tsechu is witnessed by thousands of people many of which travel from neighboring Dzongkhag (districts) to attend the festivities. The actual Tsechu is preceded by days and nights of prayer and rituals to invoke the gods.
When it was initiated by the 4th Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay in 1867 the Tsechu consisted of only a few dances being performed strictly by monks. These were the Zhana chham and the Zhana Nga chham (Dances of the 21 Black Hats), Durdag (Dance of the Lords of the Cremation Ground), and the Tungam chham (Dance of the Terrifying Deities).
The Thimphu Tsechu underwent a change in the 1950s, when the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, introduced numerous Boed chhams (mask dances performed by lay monks). These additions added color and variation to the festival without compromising its spiritual significance. Mask dances like the Guru Tshengye (Eight Manifestations of Guru), Shaw Shachi (Dance of the Stags) are enjoyed because they are similar to stage-theater.
Equally important are the Atsaras, who are more than just mere clowns. The Atsaras are the dupthobs (acharyas), who provide protection. The dances and the jesting of the Atsaras are believed to entrance evil forces and prevent them from causing harm during Tshechus. Modern Atsaras also perform short skits to disseminate health and social awareness messages.
To farmers, the Tsechu is also seen as a break from farm life. It’s an occasion to celebrate, receive blessings and pray for health and happiness.
Besides the annual three day Tsechu, Thimphu also celebrates a one day festival known as the Thimphu Dromchoe. The day long festival dates back to the 17th century. It was first introduced by Kuenga Gyeltshen in 1710, who was recognized as the reincarnation of Jampel Dorji, son of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The Dromchoe is celebrated 3 days prior to the Thimphu Tsechu.
The Dromchoe showcases the sacred dances dedicated to the chief protective deity of Bhutan, Palden Lhamo. Legend has it, that the deity Pelden Lhamo appeared before Kuenga Gyeltshen and performed the dances while he was in meditation. Based on these dances, Kuenga Gyaltshen initiated the Dromchoe.
Day to day itinerary 6 nights 7 days
Day 01 Arrive paro and transfer to Thimphu 65 km 1 hour
Arrive Paro international airport, once you arrive in you will be meet &greet by BST representative and escort to Thimphu driving through scenic beauty of nature. On arrival check in at hotel followed by refreshment and itinerary review with your tour guide. If time permits explore the city admiring the traditional way of life. End the evening with sumptuous dinner and retire
Overnight in Thimphu at Hotel Norbuling or similar
Day 02 Thimphu Festival (Full day program)
Following breakfast prepare to witness the event “Tsechu” that is taking place at the tendril thang. You will be more than happy to mingle with the local coming to attend the much awaited Autumn Festival adorned with their finest attire specially made for the events . Enjoy yourself with a series of mask dancers performing with the instrumental rhythm and the spiritual chants. Tsechu connect and transmit the spiritual and cultural essence to all the Buddhist believers seeking for the liberation from miserable Samsara
End the evening exploring the city admiring the traditional way of life. Dinner and overnight Hotel Norbuling or similar
Day 03 Thimphu /Punakha 70 km 3 hours
Following breakfast take an exciting drive to Punakha crossing over the Dochula pass at an elevation of 3150 m above the sea level. If weather permits you can view a dramatic landscape from the pass. Walk around the 108 Druk Wangyel Chorten (Stupa) built by the queen mother of Bhutan. Walk in to the café for a hot cup of tea /coffee
Continue journey driving down hills though lush vegetation adorned with varieties of Rhododendrons in bloom (Mid Feb – April). On arrival at the lower valley of Lobeysa walk in to the café for hot lunch with perfect setting overlooking the rice fields and the farm houses. After lunch take a walk through rice fields towards the temple of fertility and return to the road head. Transfer to Punakha to visit the grand Dzong (Fortress) “the palace of great happiness “that sit on the confluence of Mochu and Pho Chu (River). The Dzong was built in mid Seventeen Century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to house the government administration and central monastic body as well the army garrison. Drive to hotel for check in at Hotel Drupchhu or similar
Day 04 Punakha /Paro 135 km 4 hours
Following breakfast drive to Paro retracing way back via Dochula pass, en route enjoy the scenic beauty of nature with stop over at Lampelri Royal botanical garden. A short documentary on Himalayan flora & Fauna will enlighten you about the rich biodiversity of Bhutan and its ecological balance that has been the priority of our nature conservation society. Stroll around the park listening to the bewitching calls of the birds around. Continue driving towards Paro and on arrival check in at hotel Khangkhu Resort or similar
Day 05 Paro sightseeing
Following breakfast explore Paro visiting some of the points of interest such as Ta Dzong (Watch Tower) that is converted into a national museum, visit to Rinpong Dzong, walk along the flagstone foot path towards cantilever bridge and Choeding temple. End the evening exploring Paro city admiring the traditional way of life. Dinner and overnight in Hotel Khangkhu Resort or similar
Day 06 Paro /Taktsang Monastery
Following breakfast drive to Ramthanka base, walking begins from the base through beautiful pine forest adorns with lichen is a great treat for this walk. About forty five min walk brings you at the tea house. Use facilities and refresh yourself with hot cup of tea /coffee and continue walking up hills for about 45 min brings you at the vantage point that offers spectacular view of the Temple (Taktsang). This trip to Taktsang fills you up with spiritual bliss and for those who do not choose the spiritual side, it is a dramatic land scape. As legend has it that in eight century Guru Rinpoche arrived here riding on the flaming tiger in the form of fierce thunderbolt and went on to meditate for about four month to pacify the spirits harming the human being.
Walk back to the tea house for the lunch and descent down to the road head and transfer to the hotel and relaxing hot stone bath, End the evening with sumptuous dinner with the teams and retire,
Day 07 Departure …. You will be leaving for home today, so after leisurely breakfast our team will drop you at the airport and bid you farewell