Bhutan - Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival Expedition 2018

TT1738

 Bhutan

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Day 01: Dec 11, Arrive Paro

Fly into Paro by Drukair or Bhutan Airlines. After immigration and customs formalities, you will be received by our representative and driven to your hotel.

After checking into your hotel and lunch visit the following:

  • Rinpung Dzong, built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now being used as an administration center and school for monks. Then walk down to Rimpung Bridge (Traditonal Bridge), oldest bridge in Bhutan.
  • Farm houses in Paro Valley and a visit to a farm house offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.

Overnight at a hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Dec 12, Hike to Taktsang Ghoempa (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)

After breakfast, hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The climb up to the viewpoint will take around 1 ½ hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria. Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 1 hour. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former glory. After visiting the monastery, walk back down to the road. On the way stop for lunch at the view point cafeteria and then walk further down to the road point. On the way, visit Kyichu temple,one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans.

Later drive to Thimphu (distance: 54 km and estimated driving time: 1 hour)

Leisure in the evening at Thimphu Town.

Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.

Day 03: Dec 13, Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival

After breakfast drive for about 45 minutes to Dochula Pass (3140 m) to attend the Druk Wangyel Festival. In the clear winter sky you will get to enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountain ranges.

Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival program

  1. Azhe Lham (Folk Dance)
  2. Dance of Gadpo Ganmo (Mask dance)
  3. Neyang Dochula written by karma Ura (Folk dance) or Dance of Jetsun Milarepa and Tsering Chednga
  4. Part I. Jetsun Milarepa and Five Enchantresse (Mask dance)
  5. Pawo Palden Drukpa written by HH Je Khenpo (Folk dance)
  6. Part II. Jetsum Milarepa and Five Enchantresses (Mask dance)
  7. Part III: Jetsun Milaraepa and Tshering Chednga (Mask dance)
  8. Neladangpamichag by HH Je Khenpo (Folk dance)
  9. Gakid Palzom by Gonpo Tshering (Folk dance)
  10. Ngonjon Gyalwagongma (Folk dance)
  11. Phodrang Dangpa Michag Folk dance)
  12. Gyalwa Shacha Muni written by Gonpo Tshering (Folk Dance) Dance of the Heroes
  13. Part I. Farewell of the Heroes (Folk dance)
  14. Druk Puna Dechen (Folk dance)
  15. Luchochig Lhadangsungma Chod by HH Je Khenpo (Folk dance)
  16. Part II. Combat of the Heroes (Mask dance)
  17. Lha Ugyen Pema by Gonpo Tshering (Folk dance)
  18. Sharitseney by HH Je Khenpo (Folk dance)
  19. Kidpu Drukgyi Tsenden By HH Je Khenpo (Folk dance)
  20. Part III: return of the Heroes and Encounter with Boddhisattvs (Mask dance)
  21. Tashi Labey (Farewell folk dance)

After the festival drive to Punakha which is about 2 hours drive from Dochula.

Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Punakha.

Day 04: Dec 14, Punakha Sightseeing

After breakfast, drive through upper Punakha valley and take a hike through farmhouses to the beautiful Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Lhakhang (temple) built by Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck (the Queen Mother of Bhutan) for peace and stability in this ever-changing world. This temple is situated on the hilltop overlooking the valley below. The leisurely walk up to the temple would take about an hour. Visit the temple and also enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful view from there.

Then visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho - Chu (male river) and the Mochu (female river). The dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (the person who unified Bhutan) to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century and in 1907, enthroned the first King Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in the recent years by the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.  At the dzong, you can see the highest standards in woodwork. 

After lunch drive to Metsina Village and take a 20 minutes’ walk to visit the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing.

In the evening you may visit Rinchengang village in Wangduephodrang where you will take a short hike through the village and have free interaction with the villagers. Round trip hike will take about 1 hr. At the same time you can view the ruins of Wangdue Dzong (the Dzong was razed to the ground by fire in 2012).

Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Punakha.

Day 05: Dec 15, Punakha-Phobjikha-Punakha

Distance: 64 km, Estimated driving time: 2 ½ hrs for one way.       

After breakfast drive to Phobjikha valley through the dense forests of the Phobjikha Valley you arrive at Gangtey village where you see the Gangtey Monastery and visit the monastery.

Phobjikha valley is part of the beautiful Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park (formerly known as Black Mountains National Park), one of Bhutan’s most important nature sanctuaries. Each winter it is home to a flock of 300 rare and endangered black-necked cranes. The surrounding hills and mountains are home to nomadic shepherds and yak-herders. This is one of the most remote and untouched regions in Bhutan and is only just opening its doors to the outside world.

The Black necked cranes start migration to this area from November each year. You will have refreshment and lunch at a resort/restaurant in this valley. Afternoon you can visit the Black Necked Crane Center and enjoy the fascinating sight of these birds in this beautiful scenic valley.

In the late afternoon drive back to Punakha and overnight at a hotel in Punakha.

Day 06: Dec 16, Punakha-Thimphu

Distance: 71 km,estimated driving time: 2 ½ hrs.                  

After breakfast drive to Thimphu and after lunch at Thimphu visit the following:

After breakfast, drive to Thimphu and after lunch visit the following:

  • Traditional Bhutanese paper making factory. The handmade paper making in Bhutan stemmed from the age old tradition originated in 8th century of Bhutanese history. The handmade paper constitutes as valuable National heritage of Bhutanese cultural identity and is preserved through all the ages. The Traditional paper is recognized and held high esteem both in home and outside world. Jungshi Paper Factory was established in November 1990 as an undertaking of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The unit now boasts as a major and sole dealer in handmade paper and its products.
  • National Textile Museum which is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs.You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
  • School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
  • Simply Bhutan– A living museum of rural life which provides visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life.
  • National Memorial Chorten, chorten literally means ' seat of faith' and Buddhists often call such monuments the 'Mind of Buddha'. Meet the elderly local in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten.
  • Tashichhoe Dzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body.
  • Craft Bazaar where craftsmen and artisans from across the country display and sell their handicrafts.

Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.

Day 07: Dec 17, Thimphu Sightseeing (National Day Celebration) & Thimphu-Paro

After breakfast, attend the National Day Celebration which will be held at Changlimithang Stadium and if you are lucky you may witness the Kings of Bhutan. After lunch visit the following places:

  • Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo. It can weigh as much as 550 pounds.
  • Kuensel Phodrang and take a short leisure hike to the Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park and enjoy the full view of Thimphu Valley below.

In the late afternoon drive to Paro.

Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro.

Day 08: Departure from Paro

After breakfast, drive to the Paro airport and your Bhutan tour guide from our end will see you off at the Paro International Airport for your flight to your onward destinations.

End of the tour

  1. Paro Taktshang Monastery: Taktshang means “Tiger Nest” named after Guru Rinpoche reportedly flew to this site riding on the back of a flying tigress late in the 9th century. We have to walk about 2hours up steep from the road end. You can also take horse ride if you are not able to walk. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. Paro Taktshang is one of the holiest places in the world.
  2. Largest Buddha Statue: Buddha Dordenma Statue is a bronze statue gilded in gold. It is one of the largest Buddha Statue in the world, at a height of 51.5 metres (169 ft). The statue alone is being built at a cost of US$ 47 million by Aero sun Corporation of Nanjing, China, while the total cost of the Buddha Dordenma Project is well over US$ 100 million.
  3. Chhime Lhakhang: Chhime Lhakhang is a small 15th Century temple famous for its fertility endowments or rites due to the blessings of Lam Drukpa Kuenley. The temple sits on a hillock shaped, as only Drukpa Kuenley could describe it “like a woman’s breast “.
  4. Punakha Dzong: Punakha Dzong (the Palace of Great Happiness) built in 1637 by the Zhabdrung. The Dzong is beautifully located in between the two rivers called Pho (male) and Mo (female) Chhu (river). It was the capital of Bhutan till 1955. The establishment of the Wangchuck Dynasty on 17th December, 1907 took place here and the first National Assembly was also held in the Dzong in 1953. Punakha Dzong continues to be the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the central monk body.
  5. Black-necked Crane Centre: A few kilometers past the Gangtay Goempa, on the valley floor is the village of Phobjikha. This is the winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass their winter in milder and lower climate.
Stay Envisaged Stars Destination Nights
Mandala Resort/Sililar
Paro 2
Kuenden Boutique/ Similar
Thimphu 2
Hotel Pema Karpo/ Similar
Punakha 1
Inclusions
  1. All Permit Fees.
  2. Assistance on Arrival.
  3. A 24 - hour helpline.
  4. Tour Guide.
  5. All sightseeing and excursions as mentioned in the itinerary.
  6. Walks and Hikes.
  7. Two meals a Day (Breakfast & Dinner).
  8. Bhutan Mineral Water in the Bus.
  9. Accommodation at 3 stars Hotels on twin sharing basis.
  10. Receive and Transfer to Paro Airport.
  11. Toyota Coaster Bus for the entire trip, as per the itinerary.
Exclusions
  1. Insurance
  2. Airfare (Ex Delhi Rs. 20,640/-, Ex Kolkota Rs. 16,570/- & Ex Bagdogra Rs. 10,655/- per person)
  3. Gifts & Souvenirs
  4. Alcohol & Beverages
  5. Donations to Monasteries
  6. Sightseeing Entry Fee
  7. International Telephone Calls
  8. Tips for Guide, Driver & other Staff
  9. Items of a personal nature such as souvenirs, laundry and tips
  10. Anything else not mentioned under ‘INCLUSIONS’
Terms and Conditions

Tour Price

The price attached above is in terms of INR and it is the discounted price for 2 person. Tour price will be different (cheaper) for 3 and more person in a group. Larger the number of guests lesser will be the per head cost. Kindly contact us for details. 

VISA

Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a visa at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 month validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card in place of passport). Your passport (VIC) needs to have at least 6 months’ validity calculated from the date on which you head Bhutan. Your Bhutan visa will be arranged by us and the actual visa is stamped into your passport on arrival at Paro Airport. 

Cancellation Policy

Once booked, the tours that are cancelled are subject to the following cancellation charges:

  • Earlier than 30 days before the start of the tour programme: 10% of the rates
  • Between 30 and 21 days before the start: 40% of the rates
  • Between 20 and 14 days before the start: 60% of the rates
  • Between 13 and 7 days before the start: 80% of the rates
  • Less than 7 days before the start or cancellation without notice: No refund will be made.

Note: Processing fee of 3% would be charged for the above mentioned cancellation policy. 

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Trail Overview

The Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival was established in 2011 in commemoration of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the Armed Forces’ victory over Indian insurgent forces residing in southern Bhutan in 2003. The festival is held annually on December 13th at the Festival Ground near Druk Wangyel Lhakhang which is located at Dochula Pass.

Dochula Pass is one of the most scenic passes in Bhutan, which offers spectacular views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. 
Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple) was built over a period of four years from 2004-2008 by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (the Queen Mother of Bhutan) as a tribute to His Majesty the fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck and armed forces after His Majesty led a successful operation against Indian militants who had occupied certain areas of Bhutan. The gallery of the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang has beautiful murals depicting some of the important events in the reigns of the Kings of Bhutan. This 7 nights 8 days tour program also includes visits to culturally rich valleys of Western Bhutan such as Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang and Phobjikha.

Duration : 8 Days
Trail Type : Fixed Departure
Location : Bhutan
Maximum number of people : 60
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