Date: 23 NOV 2018
Place: Bumthang Eastern BHUTAN
The festival is held for duel reasons; to commemorate the establishment of the Jambay Lhakhang (temple) in 7th century and to honor Guru Rinpoche, a saint who introduced a Tantric from of Buddhism in Bhutan. A variety traditional and mask dances are performed and each dance has a specific meaning and importance. This festival is one of the most important in Bhutan and the highlight is the “Mewang”- the fire ceremony and the “Tercham” – a religious dance. A fire dance is held in the evening to bless infertile women so that they may bear children. The festivals dances were composed by Terton Pema Lingpa, the great treasure discoverer of the 15th century.
The first evening’s program begins around 7pm, with the “Jinsi” the burning of the sacred fire, Shana Cham with Ging Cham, Tseking Karna, Tshok Cham and Mewang (the sacred fire ceremony).
Day two of the festival begins around 9.30am with a “chipdrel” traditional reception. The Astara (clown) welcomes the audience and the marching ceremony. Shinji Yab Yum is the first mask dance of the ceremony followed by Youelem Peling Ging Sum – Driging, Juging, Ngaging Durda Cham and then takes break for luncharound 1pm. After lunch the dances resume and Jachung ends the day with the Boechung dance Pacham.
The third day of the festival begins with the Atsara (clown) dance Dola Pangtoy, Shazam, Shana Phurcham with Durda and Shana Ngacham. After lunch the festival resumes beginning with the Ging and Tsholing Cham (the dance of the sacred wars between the Gods and the Demons), Tsecho Gingcham (Tercham), Damitse Ngacham (the famous drum beat dance originating from Dramitse) and Pholey Moley Cham.
The final day begins with the Chungtsam Cham, Gicham, Dorling Ngacham (Tercham of Terchen Dorjilingpa), Raksha Gocham, Raksha Mangcham (this dance symbolizes life after death, at the court of the Lord of the Dead), and ends the festival of Jambay Lhakhang with the Ten wang (Blessings from the sacred statue of Terton Dorjilingpa).
23rd November 2018
Trip Length: 14 Days/13 Nights
Tour Costs: 1 person US $3710, 2 persons US $3570 each, 3 & more US $3150 each.
Cost includes: Government royalty, all meals, tea and snacks, accommodations, transport, entrance fees, guide service and sightseeing.
Cost does not include: Druk Air fares, drinks & beverages and other personal bills.
Jambay Lhakhang is one of 108 Buddhist temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. Revered as one of the oldest landmarks of the arrival of Buddhism in Bhutan , this temple holds a unique Tshechu or festival. The highlight of this festival is a fire dance that is done to purify sins and augur a good harvest. Naked dance is performed by men and considered very auspicious.
Detailed Tour Program
Day 1 : Arrive Paro Bhutan the only airport in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
During the flight, on a clear day, you can see breathtaking views of the Himalaya Mountains, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. On arrival you will be greeted by the representative of Excursion to Himalayas-ETH and transfer to your hotel. After lunch, visit the Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower that is now the National Museum. Then walk down the trail to visit the Rinpung Dzong which houses monastic bodies and center of civil administration. In the evening, you can stroll freely in the town. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 2 : Paro – Thimphu
In the morning, you will visit Kichu Monastery the 8th century old monastery built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo to spread Buddhism. Drive for 12 kilometers further to visit Drukgyal Dzong (Bhutan Victory Fort), which was built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. On a clear day you can see Mount Jumolhari, Bhutan’s second-highest mountain at 7,314 meters. After lunch, drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. You will visit the popular Weekend Market where you can see the variety of food of the country, including basket upon basket of fiery chilies, fresh cheese, and mangoes. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. This is perhaps good opportunity for photography and to mingle with locals who come from the nearby villages to sell their farm products. Overnight hotel in Thimphu .
Day 3 : Thimphu Sightseeing:
After breakfast, you will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), Changgangkha Monastery, the radio tower (for a great view of Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong), the zoo, which contains the national animal of Bhutan (the takin) and the nunnery temple. After a relaxing lunch, visit the National Library (which houses ancient manuscripts), the School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the painting school), the traditional paper factory and the Majestic Tashichodzong. In the evening, you can stroll through Thimphu town. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 4: Thimphu – Wangdue with excursion to Temple of Fertility
After breakfast you will drive to Wangdue, with a stop en route for tea at Dochu La Pass (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. Drive downhill through the forests of rhododendron, fir and hemlock. You will arrive at Punakha after traversing through rice field and along the bank of Punakha River.
After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong, which is noteworthy for being one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan. Then drive to Wangdue. On the way back, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lakhang, which is a fertility temple dedicated to Divine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. Receive the blessing from the Lama’s wooden phallus! Overnight hotel in Wangdue.
Day 5 : Wangdiphodrang – Trongsa, with excursion to Gangtey
You will begin the day by driving to Gangtey. You’ll pass through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and arrive at Gangtey village, where you’ll visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. From Gangtey, you can see the picturesque Black Mountain range as well as Phobjikha Valley, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes. From there you’ll head to Trongsa, the ancestral home of the royal family. The route is along a spectacular winding road, crossing 3,300-meter-high Pele La, and you will see yaks grazing on the slopes of dwarf bamboos. On arrival, you can browse through the Trongsa shops and town. Overnight hotel in Trongsa.
Day 6 : Trongsa – Bumthang
In the morning you’ll visit Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture, and you’ll also see Ta Dzong, the watchtower built to defend this Dzong. Then you’ll proceed to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation, with lush valleys and hilly forests. Along the way you will stop at a yathra (textile weaving) factory, where the yathras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. The afternoon will be spent sightseeing in the area, including Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places, because Guru Rinpoche left his body imprint on the cave when he was meditating. You can spend the evening strolling through Bumthang town. Overnight hotel in Bumthang.
Day 7 : Bumthang
Attend full day festival of Jambay Lhakhang. Stay awake till midnight to catch an unusual naked dance, which is considered pious and performed to sanctify the region and augur good harvest. Overnight at hotel in Bumthang.
Day 8: Bumthang
Day excursion to Ura Valley. The road to Ura Valley is off the main road, and this enjoyable excursion will provide a nice view of the Jakar Dzong. You’ll make a stop in Ura village for lunch and will have a chance to visit the main temple and explore the village. Ura Village has a medieval look to it because of the cobblestone streets, and the typical clothing of the women includes a sheepskin shawl. On the way back to town, you will be taken to Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake), where some of Guru Rinpoche’s treasures were found in the 15th century by the famous treasure discover Pema Lingpa. It’s a good place to meditate. You will also have a chance to tour Tamshing Lhakhang, a treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings. In the evening you can visit local shops. Overnight hotel in Bumthang.
Day 9: Bumthang – Wangdue
You’ll begin the day at the Bumthang market, and then drive to Wangdue, where you can stroll through the town and visit the shops. The nearby villages are known for their slate and stone carvings. Overnight hotel in Wangdue.
Day 10 : Wangdue – Thimphu
In the morning you will drive back to Thimphu via Dochula Pass. Visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery, which is the only of its kind in the country with elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. Continue drive to Thimphu. After lunch, you will tour the Textile Museum and the Folk Heritage Museum, and you can explore the interesting handicraft shops. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 11: Thimphu – Paro
In the morning you can hike to Tango Monastery, which was built by the “Divine Madman” in the 15th century. It’s a center of study for monks, and it affords a great view of the Thimphu Valley. On the grounds of the monastery is a “sin-testing” tunnel–it is said that if you have sinned, you will get stuck in the tunnel, and if you are without sin, you will go through with ease! After your picnic lunch, you can hike back to Thimphu. In the evening, you will drive to Paro. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 12 : Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
After breakfast, you will hike to Taktsang or “Tiger’s Nest” Monastery perched precariously on the cliff 900m above the floor of the Paro valley. It is the most famous monastery in Bhutan. It is said that Guru Rinpoche, the great spiritual master, have flown to the site of the monastery from eastern Bhutan on the back of a tigress and meditated here for three months. Lunch would be served in the Cafeteria restaurant on the way. After having explored the monastery, you will hike down to the valley. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 13:Paro to Excursion to Chele La Pass
After breakfast, you will begin for the excursion to Chele La Pass the highest in Bhutan also 3810m. Walking along the high ridges dotted with colorful Buddhist prayer flags will offer you stunning views of Mount Jumolhari and other mountains and valleys below the pass. Have a picnic lunch on the Pass. If you want to be more adventurous, after lunch, you can hike further down the ridges to Kila Goenpa Nunnery, which is nestled in a craggy patch on the mountain site below the pass and perched precariously along the rock face. Walk for few miles through the coniferous forests to the road head, where your car will be awaiting to transfer to Paro. Free time in Paro town. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 14: Depart Paro
After early breakfast, drive to the airport for departure.