Jampa Lhakhang Festival

Day 1

Arrive in ParoJambay-Lhakhang

We will welcome you at the Paro international airport in a traditional Bhutanese way. The only gateway to Bhutan via flight, Paro presents the best introduction to Bhutan. Except for a few concrete and traditional buildings, Paro valley is dominated by paddy fields.

Upon arrival at the airport, you will be driven to the capital city, Thimphu. En route Thimphu, we will make several stopovers. We will briefly visit the 15th century Tamchog Lhakhang.  Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo, a Tibetan spiritual adept, who is said to have spent 60 years in his mother’s womb, built the monastery. He is popular in Bhutan for building iron chain bridges. One such bridge is the approach bridge to the temple.

Our guide will explain to you about the builder and the temple’s historical significance.

If we reach Thimphu early, we will walk around the capital city, the only capital city in the world without traffic lights.

Day 2

Halt in Thimphu

Today, we undertake a sightseeing tour around Thimphu. We will visit the popular Memorial Choeten in the heart of the city built in the memory of the third King of Bhutan, the traditional weaving centre, the heritage museum, the Bhutanese paper factory, the National Library, and the School of Traditional Arts and Crafts.

In the afternoon, we can either take a stroll around Thimphu city or visit historically significant Semtokha Dzong. Built in 1629 by the founder of Bhutanese state, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it is the oldest dzong in Bhutan.

Alternatively, we can drive to Sangaygang, a hilltop that commands a panoramic view of the capital city. On the way, we can visit Bhutan’s only takin reserve. Takin is the national animal of Bhutan.

Day 3

Thimphu to Punakha

Today, we start our journey early in the morning. The road to Punakha passes across Dochula Pass which is 3,150 m above sea level. We will stop on the pass for a while and enjoy the spectacular view of Jigme Singye Wangchuck mountain ranges as we sip our coffee. The 108 stupas built on the crest add beauty to the already magnificent mountain pass.

From Dochula, we descend to Lobesa where we will have our lunch. After lunch, we visit Chimi Lhakhang, which is 25 minutes hike from the road point. Also known as the fertility monastery, this temple built by Tibetan Lama Ngawang Chogyal is today associated with his cousin, Lama Drukpa Kinley, popularly known as Divine Madman. This temple is believed to bless childless couples with fertility.

After the temple visit we will drive to Punakha.

Day 4

Punakha to Bumthang

As we drive towards the east from Punakha, we will pass through Wangdi and Trongsa districts that present different vegetations. In Wangdi, we will drive past the ruins of Wangdi Dzong. In Trongsa, we pass by the magnificent Trongsa Dzong. This dzong is historically important to Bhutan as it was the seat of Trongsa Penlop before the institution of monarchy, a century ago. Bhutan’s crown prince still assumes the role of Trongsa Penlop before becoming the King.

We have lunch in Trongsa and continue our journey. Dinner and overnight stay will be arranged in Bumthang.

Day 5

Halt in Bumthang

Today we visit Mebartsho, Jampa Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, and Tamzhing Lhakhang.

Mebartsho (Burning Lake) is associated with great treasure discoverer Terton Pema Lingpa. Pema Lingpa is said to have dived into the lake with a butter lamp in hand and emerged from the lake carrying treasures with the lamp still burning bright. So the lake was named Mebartsho.

Jampa Lhakhang was built by Tibetan dharma king Songtsen Gampo along with Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro to immobilise the left knee and left foot of a demoness respectively.

One of the holiest monasteries in Bumthang, Kurjey Lhakhang is associated with the first visit of Guru Rinpoche to Bhutan. Guru is believed to have left his body print here after subduing the vindictive local spirit, Shelging Karpo. A huge cypress tree near the temple is believed to have grown from Guru’s walking staff.

Tamzhing Lhakhang was the seat of great treasure discoverer Pema Lingpa. He built the temple in 1505. Today, among others, we can see at the temple iron chain jacket made by Pema Lingpa.

Day 6

Halt in Bumthang

Today, we drive to one of the remotest valleys in Bumthang, Tang valley. The road passes by Mebartsho. We visit the birthplace of treasure discoverer Pema Lingpa.  From there, we go to Ogyen Choling Manor House, which is now a museum. It gives an insight into the culture of Bhutan.

Day 7

Attend Jampa Lhakhang FestivalFire-Festival

Today we attend Bumthang Drup at Jampa Lhakhang. The festival is held annually on the 15th day of the ninth Bhutanese lunar month.

The festival is significant. It is held at the monastery believed to have been built by Tibetan Dharma Raja Songtsen Gampo. It is believed that, in the 7th century, he built 108 monasteries in one day in different provinces of Tibet and Bhutan. Jampa Lhakhang is located in the heart of Bumthang’s Chokhor Valley which was said to have infested with disease under the spell of evil spirits before the arrival of Buddhism to Bhutan.

Sindhu Raja, the King of Chokhor, invited Guru Rinpoche to the valley to subdue the evil spirits. The same dance Guru Rinpoche performed to subdue the evil spirits is performed today at the Drub.

Buddhism in Bhutan spread from here after Guru Rinpoche’s visit. In the 15th century, Terton Dorji Lingpa introduced the religious teachings of Guru Rinpoche through this festival.

Day 8

Bumthang to Gangtey

Today, as we drive to Gangtey at 3,500 metres, we will come across different vegetations, landscapes and people. After reaching Gangtey, we visit Phobjikha valley which is popular for the endangered black-neck crane. Phobjikha valley is one of the two main roosting grounds for the cranes in the winter. We take the same route we took to come to Bumthang. After we pass the popular Pelela Pass, we turn left and leave the highway. At Gangtey, we visit Gangtey Gompa, one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and the seat of an important lineage of Pema Lingpa, the 15th century Bhutanese treasure discoverer.
We will spend the night in a village in Gangtey. We will experience traditional Bhutanese rural life. Our guide will relate their experience of rural Bhutanese life.

Day 9

Gangtey to Paro

Today, from Gangtey, we drive to Paro via Wangdi and Thimphu. We will pass by the ruins of Wangdiphodrang Dzong. The Dzong that was burnt in a fire accident in 2012 was an important administrative centre in the medieval Bhutan. It was the seat of administration and district monastic body until it was destroyed by fire. The dzong is being rebuilt. Our guide will brief you on the historical and political significance of the dzong.

Day 10

Halt in Paro

Today, we visit the National Museum of Bhutan known as Taa Dzong or the Watch Tower, Rinpung Dzong, also built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, and some other places of historical importance.

After lunch, we drive north to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong (fortress of Drukpa victory), built to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Tibetan invaders in 1644 and destroyed by fire in 1951.

Just a short trip north of Paro town is Kyichu Monastery built in the 7th century. This historic temple was built as part of construction of 108 temples by a Tibetan dharma king to subdue a demoness. Two such temples were constructed in Bhutan. The other one is Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang. Jampa Lhakhang is believed to have been built on the demoness’ left knee and Kyichu on its left foot. The temple is small but very historic. Our guide will explain to you the historical and religious importance of the temple.

Day 11

Hike to Taktshang

Today, we hike to Taktshang Monastery clinging on the face of a cliff 900 metre above Paro valley. Taktshang, also known to the outsiders as the Tiger’s Nest, is one of the most sacred places in Bhutan. This place is said to have been blessed by a large number of enlightened Buddhist masters, among them Guru Padmasambhava (popularly known as Guru Rinpoche in Bhutan). Guru Rinpoche is believed to have flown to this place riding a tigress.

We will have lunch at Taktshang cafeteria from where we will enjoy a great view of the monastery.

Day 12

Depart

Our guide will drive you to the airport on time to catch your flight back home. We will bid you farewell in a traditional Bhutanese way by offering you a white silk scarf.