Paro tshechu is one of the biggest such festivals in the Bhutanese calendar. It has been held annually since the 17th century when Zhanbdrung the founder of the state of Bhutan, and Penlop Rigzin Nyingpo initiated the festival together with the consecration of Paro Dzong in 1644. The festival is observed in three parts- the pre-festival rituals on the first day, ceremonies on the second day inside the paro dzong and the main festival at the festival ground for three days. Bhutanese from all walks of life in their finery come to attend the five-day festival. For the year 2016, paro festival will be held from 20-24 March.
Traditional festivals in Bhutan are by and large Buddhist in nature. The Tshechu is mainly a religious event celebrated on tenth day of a month of lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However the month of Tshechu depends from place to place and temple to temple.
During the Tshechus, Buddhist monks perform different forms of mask dances that have origins as back as the 8th century. This event brings together Bhutanese from all walks of life, dressed in their best outfit. Although it is a religious festival, it also takes the form of a carnival where people enjoy other forms of entertainment like traditional singing and dancing.
However, the significance of the tshechus are very solemn. Bhutanese believe that one must witness the tshechu at least once in life. It will not only wash away sins of this life but also pave the way for the afterlife and rebirth.
Paro festival for the year 2015 is scheduled from 31st march to 4th April during which wide array of masked dances accompanied by local cultural program are performed. The festival also offers individual and group traveler to get to know the authentic local culture as festival event bring about reunion of friend and families.
Besides, this 12 day festival tour also highlights cultural, historical, nature exploration in the district of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue and Trongsa and Bumthang offering the experience of lifetime.
Day 1 Arrival Paro/ sightseeing/ Paro
Arrive at Paro international airport and drive to hotel for the arrival refreshment. Start up the cultural orientation sightseeing at Paro Dzong and National museum coupled by walk across Shari village. After the lunch visit the sixth century temple in Kichu village followed by ruin fort in Tshento locality. Evening, spend your leisure time exploring the main town of Paro. And soak up in a warn hospitality of your hotel.
Day 2 Attend full day Paro festival/Paro
After early breakfast in the hotel proceed to the main venue of Paro festival and occupy a view priority seat. At the festival you will witness different forms of festival mask dances and folk dances performed by the local people. Add to it, this is the most suitable time to experience local culture by coming in one to one contact with local folks. And to make your journey worth memorable, your guide will arrange hot picnic lunch, which is to be served in the vicinity of event venue amongst local folks.
Evening take a leisurely stroll across the main town of Paro visiting souvenir shops and interacting with local people and loosing in photography fun.
Day 3 Paro/Thimphu
Early depart to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. On the way stop over at Tagcho view point for photography and experience a walk over suspension bridge beneath. At the rivers confluence, glance the three different version stupas of Bhutanese, Nepalese and Tibetan designs. From here half an hour to north will reach you to the capital. After the hotel check in, visit the folk heritage museum, school of thirteen arts and crafts and national library. Sightseeing visit to Changangkha temple, Motithang takin zoo, kuensel Phodrang and sangaygang view point will be covered up after the lunch. At last, visit to the main shrine and courtyard inside of Thimphu fort will be done after the office hour.
Day 4 Thimphu sightseeing
After the breakfast take a 45 minutes drive to the north of capital to hike to Tango and Chari Monasteries. These monasteries are situated on two adjacent mountains and were built in 13th and 17th centuries. Afternoon commence a hike to Wangduetse temple overlooking the Thimphu valley.
Day 5 Thimphu/Trongsa
The first half central Bhutan excursion would drive you all the way through couple of mountain passes namely Dochula and Pelela in Shar, Wang and Mangde valleys. Stop over at both the passes offers scenic views of snow capped Himalayan mountain ranges and greeneries. However the excursion would also include visit to fort in Wangdue and photography time at Chendibji Chhorten. In total it is seven hours leisurely drive excursion.
Day 6 Trongsa/Bumthang
The winter palace of second king of Bhutan, Kuengarabten palace still lures multitudes from far and near to explore its Royal heritage site and immortal tales of philanthropy prince Drimi Kuenden. Therefore, your early morning visit to this place would be no exception. On completion drive back to Tronga and visit the giant fort first and Ta Dzong then. Following the lunch, straight drive across Yotongla, the eminent ancient mountain pass between these two central regions. Stop at Chhumey community to check the Yathra textile production centre to shop at cheaper prices in comparison to the urban handicraft centers. Settle in the hotel after dinner.
Day 7 Bumthang sightseeing
Firstly, visit the Jakar Dzong on exploration of its name derived from the white bird. For hike loving enthusiasts, an optional short hike to the fort is at your choice. Then acquire your visit to Jambay Lhakhang, built in the sixth century featuring the history of future Buddha as a main existence of the temple. Following visit to Kurjay temples and hike across to Tamshing monastery shall be in pursuit till the lunch break. Afternoon, trip to the famous burning lake, Mebar Tsho will be continued in Tang locality. According to the Buddhism history it is unveiled that the hidden treasures of Guru Rinpochhed was discovered by his own treasure discoverer from Tang valley, Terton Pema Lingpa in 12th century. Following this historical incident devotees from across the country pay visit while on their trip to and fro through this region still. Evening leisure basking in the Chamkhar town and settle in the hotel after dinner.
Day 8 Bumthang/Phobjikha
Depart to Phobjikha, the winter home of black neck crane, the rare migratory bird of Tibet. Phobjikha valley is well known for their mass potato production and as a starting point of Gangtay trek. Annually the place hosts a famous black neck festival and community religious festival attracting thousand of people from near and far. On arrival visit the centrally located Gangtay monastery and spend the rest of the time in hotel.
Day 9 Phobjikha/Punakha
Opt for early hike across the valley with your tour guide. If your visit coincides with the arrival of the migratory bird, you will love seeing the rare dance being performed inside the protected zone. Depart to Punakha following your hike and lunch in the hotel en route Wangdue.
Day 10 Punakha/Paro
Your first tour program of the day will start with hike to Khamsum Yuelay Nammgyal Chhorten at kebesa followed by visit to Punakha Dzong. Afternoon take a short hike to Chhimi Lhakhang, locally worshiped temple of fertility. Drive back to Paro, your halt destination for tonight.
Day 11 Tiger nest hike
The highlight of the day will be your excursion to the tiger nest. It would be a combination of three hours spiritual hike with glimpses of Buddhism introduction history of Bhutan. Guru Rinpiochhe, the legendary master from India, who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan, spent three months meditating in the cave where the present stature of tiger nest temple is incredibly situated. Besides, the hike also offers breathtaking views of the lower valleys and encircling lush greeneries.
Day 12 Exit
You will be seen off at paro airport by your local tour guide.
High Season (March, April, May, September, October & November)