Nimalung and Kurjey Tshechu
Nimalung and Kurjey Tshechu(10nights/11days)
Venue: Nimalung Dratshang(Temple) and Kurjey Lhakhang(Temple) Bumthang.
Tshechu literally means "day ten" in Dzzongkha are annual religious Bhutanese festivals held in each district or dzongkhag of Bhutan on the tenth day of a month of the lunar Buddhist calendar. The month depends on the place. Tshechus are religious festivals of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.Tshechus are large social gatherings, which perform the function of social bonding among people of remote and spread-out villagesThe focal point of the tshechus are Cham dances, These costumed, masked dances typically are moral vignettes, or based on incidents from the life of the 9th century Nyingma teacher Padmasambhava and other saints.
Most tshechus also feature the unfurling of a thongdrel - a large appliqué thangka typically depicting a seated Padmasambhava surrounded by holy beings, the mere viewing of which is said to cleanse the viewer of sin. The thongdrel is raised before dawn and rolled down by morning.
Nimalung Tshechu is held once a year in the 5th month of the Bhutanese calendar. During the Tshechu an awe-inspiring Thongdrol (gigantic scroll painting) of Guru Rimpoche is put on display for attendees. The Thongdrol is nine meters long and twelve meters wide and in addition to inspiring wonder is said to cleanse the sins of all those who look upon it. The Thongdrol which was donated by Lopen Pemala and was consecrated in June 1994 in the presence of a large crowd of villagers by Lhalung Thuksey Rimpoche, the reincarnation of mental aspect of Pema Lingpa. During the festival, a series of colorful and spectacular mask dances are performed.
The Kurjey festival is an important occasion not only for the local people of Bumthang but for all Bhutanese. The festival brings together tourists and Bhutanese from all over as it presents the perfect occasion to not only receive blessings by witnessing age-old mask dances but also to enjoy this unique culture whilst basking in the natural beauty of Bhutan’s spiritual heartland.
Day 1:Arrive at Paro- Thimphu: Arrive at Paro International Airport, it’s a beautiful airport directly connected to very select destinations across the world. You will be received by your guide and driver that will be responsible to take you on this eclectic journey across Bhutan and your friend for guiding you towards anything you need. Lunch at Paro. On your first day visit the National Museum, located in the watchtower (Ta Dzong) of Paro Dzong. After the museum you proceed to Paro Rinpung Dzong, which was built by the founding father of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1646. Today, this fortress houses the Administrative seat of the district of Paro and the district Monk Body with about 200 monks. The central tower (Utse) of the fortress is one of the most beautiful in Bhutan with its superb woodwork. We drive to Thimphu the capital of Bhutan. Along the winding road following Paro River you will stop by Tamchhog Lhakhang, a private temple owned by the residents of the famous Tibetan bridge builder Thongten Gyalop. The traditional iron bridge here was reconstructed in 2005 using some of Thangtong’s original chain links from Duksum in eastern Bhutan. The red soil around the temple contains low-grade ore that once supplied the raw material for iron works. After checking-in at the hotel, later in the evening we will take you to the impressive Trashichoe Dzong. This massive fortress houses part of the government Ministries, the office of the King and the Throne Room. It also houses the State Monastic Body and the office and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot. Dinner at hotel
Day 2: Thimphu: Post breakfast visit Kuenselphordang where you will see the 169 ft sitting Buddha statue. School of Holy Arts: From there we will head over to experience Bhutanese arts and crafts being taught at Zorig Chusum, the school of 13 Holy Arts .Visit the zoo to meet Takin, National animal of Bhutan. A local legend tells how the Bhutanese national animal was created from the remains of a lunch eaten by Lama Drukpa Kunley, a 15th-century Buddhist saint, known as the Divine Madman. He combined the skeletons of a cow and goat and brought them back to life with a loud belch. And after lunch we visit Simply Bhutan, Simply Bhutan is a unique project that observes conservation of our culture and tradition while generating employment opportunities for young job seekers. The infrastructure portrays ancient Bhutanese architecture which is being lost to modernization. The project is one of its kinds in the country. The uniqueness of the structure is in its composition of the materials used. The structure is built reusing old timber, window and door frames and other items from traditional and old demolished houses. The best part is the portrayal of the age-old life styles of the Bhutanese people. Visit Memorial Chorten, a stupa built in memory of the third King of Bhutan. Evening for your own leisure. Dinner at hotel.
Day 3:Thimphu-Punakha: Today we start our journey to Punakha driving through Dochu La, a 3140m high street pass. On clear days the pass offers a panoramic view of the Bhutan Himalaya. The collection of 108 chortens were built in 2005, and the new Druk Wangyel Lhakhang was inaugurated 2009, showing marvelous paintings. In reaching Mitsena we will visit Chimi Lhakhang. This temple was founded by Drukpa Kinley, commonly known as “Divine Mad Man”. After Drukpa Kinley subdued the feared demoness of Dochu La, he advised the local people to build a temple in 1499. Lunch will be at restaurant close to the temple. On the way we visit Punakha Dzong (fortress) that lies between two rivers known as Pochu and Mochu which means “Male River and Female River.” Built in 1637 under the reign of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founding father of Bhutan, Punakha is today the winter residence of the central monk body and holds the famous Drukpa Kagyu relique “Rajung Khasarpani”. The main assembly hall shows paintings of the life story of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha. Dinner at hotel.|
Day 4:Punakha-Trongsa: Today we drive towards central Bhutan. After crossing the 3420m high Pele La you enter the broad heavily cultivated Mangde Chhu valley. Stop for tea at the Chendibji cafetaria, just around the Chendibji Chorten, built in the 19th century by Lama Shida from Tibet to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed here. Still one hour before actually reaching Trongsa you will reach the viewpoint from which you have a stunning view over Trongsa Dzong and the villages. You reach your hotel for lunch. In the afternoon visit Trongsa Dzong. Then continue to the newly opened Museum in the Ta Dzong, dedicated to the reign of the Wangchuck family. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 5:Trongsa-Bumthang:(Nimalung Festival): Early morning you start the drive to Bumthang, crossing Jotong La 3425m and entering the region of Bumthang. The descent from the pass is through firs, then blue pines and bamboo. The road enters the upper part of the Chhume valley, marked by the small roadside Chuchi Lhakhang at Gaytsa. For those interested in textiles you can stop at the local weaveries at Chummi. In reaching Chummi you witness the first day og Nimalung Festival In Nimalung dratshang( Temple) in Chummi,Bumthang. In the evening drive up to Jakar Dzong and visit it inside. Dinner at Hotel.
Day 6:Bumthang(Nimalung Festival): In the morning drive back to Chummi and witness the second day of festival. After lunch you drive to Membar Tsho, also known as “Burning Lake”, a site at which the famous treasure revealer Pema Lingpa revealed important sacred treasures in the 15th century. Then visit Tamshing Lhakhang ,it is a private monastery that was established in 1501 by treasure revealer Pema Lingpa. Inside, some of the probably oldest paintings in the entire country can be seen, painted by Pema Lingpa himself. Also you will find the famous iron chain, made by Pema Lingpa who was a blacksmith until he started discovering the sacred Buddhist treasures, hidden by Guru Rinpoche and his disciples many centuries ago. Evening for your own leisure. Dinner at hotel.
Day 7:Bumthang(Kurjey Festival): Today In the morning First visit Jambay Lhakhang, which dates back to the reign of Tibetan King Songtsen Ganpo, who built this temple to subdue an ogress that was lying across the Himalayan region. When the great saint Guru Rinpoche arrived to Bhutan in the late 7th century, he gave his first Buddhist teachings from the roof-top of this temple. The temple itself is dedicated to the future Buddha Maitreya and holds precious statues of the Buddha of the Past, Present and Future. After visiting the temple you continue to Kurjey Lhakhang which is nearby. Kurjey consists of three temples, with the oldest one dating back to the 1652 when it was built by Minjur Tenpa. The site of Kurjey reminds of the subjugation of the local demon by Guru Rinpoche, who was invited by the former King of Bumthang to help him defeat his enemies. Inside the temple the cave in which Guru Rinpoche meditated can be seen. And witness the First day of Kurjey Festival in Kurjey Lhakhang(Temple). Evening for own leisure. Dinner at hotel.
Day 8:Bumthang-Punakha: Today you drive back towards the west and return to the National Highway and drive 190 km back to Punakha. You reach Punakha in the late afternoon and Lunch at the hotel. Evening for your own leisure Dinner at Hotel.
Day 9:Punakha-Paro: Today after breakfast we drive back to Paro. In reaching Paro you will drive to Drugyal Dzong (a ruin of a Dzong) which is situated at the end of Paro valley about 16 kilometers outside town. This Fortress is of great historical importance as it was here that the Bhutanese defeated the invading Tibetans and drove them back. From here, the snowcovered peaks of Mount Jhomolhari (7329m) can be seen on a clear day. After that visit one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the Kyichu Lhakhang. Built buy the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, Kyichu is considered to be one of 108 temples that were built to defeat an ogress (demon) that was lying over the entire Himalayas. Dinner at Hotel.
Day 10:Paro(Taktshang Hike): Today’s programme includes a hike to one of the most sacred places in entire Bhutan. About 15 Kilometres North of Paro Dzong and half an hour drive away is Taktshang Monastery. Perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 800 ft, Taktsang was built in 1692, around the Taktshang Senge Samdup (stag tshang seng ge bsam grub) cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated for three months in the 8th century. Padmasambhava has introduced Buddhism to Bhutan. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen taktshang or “tiger lair” caves in which he meditated. Like an outgrowth of the terrain itself, the gem-like Taktshang monastery clings to a sheer, 3000 foot rock face. The name of this gravity defying cluster of buildings means literally "The Tiger's nest," an allusion to the popular legend that Padma Sambhava flews here from Tibet on the back of a Tigers. The Monastery shares its name with another monastery in North West Arunachal Pradesh which also shares very similar legend. Evening for your own leisure. Dinner at hotel
Day 11: Drive to Paro Airport: Today we shall bid adieu the land of dragons and departing for our respective destinations, see off by your Guide and Driver.