Ura & Domkhar Festival - 11 Days

  • Ura and Domkhar (festival) is one of the most popular religious festivals in the Bumthang.
  • It offers the best opportunity to witness the Bhutanese’s rich culture, history and religion that distinguish the people and country distinctly from rest of the countries.
  • Bring you a closer contact with the people and give you an insight into the Bhutanese lives, beliefs and more.
  • See Mask Dance /Traditional Dances/Folk Songs
  • See Relic Dance (Ter Cham)- sacred naked dance
  • During Tshechu the dances are performed by monks as well as by laymen.
  • The Tshechu is a religious festival and by attending it, it is believed one gains merits.
  • It is also a yearly social gathering where the people come together to rejoice dressed in all their finery.
  • Visit one of the most remote country in the world
  • Hike to Taktsang Goemba ‘Tiger’s Nest’ and thrilling cliffs
  • Very special is a visit to the Cordyceps Tasting House, where you can learn more about the so-called ‘caterpillar mushroom’’, a traditional medicine valued more than gold
  • Visit Golden Buddha Dordenma at Kuenselphodrang
  • Visit 108 miniature chortens or stupa at Dochula pass
  • See and Experience century old fortresses called Dzongs and temples
  • Visit to Local Home stay to test local cuisines  
  • Offering of Butter Lamps.

The Tshechu is a religious festival in honour of Guru Padmasambhave “One who was born from the lotus”, popularly known as “Guru Rinpochu”, the Precious Teacher”. This Indian saint contributed enormously to the diffusion of Tantric Buddhism in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan etc around 800 A.D. The biography of Guru Rinpoche is highlighted by the 12 episodes on the model of the Buddha Shakyamuni’s life. Each episode is commemorated around the year in the 10th day of the month by “Tsechu”. The dates and the duration of the Tsechu vary from one Dzongkhag (District) to another but they always take place on or around the 10th day of the month according to Bhutanese calendar.

Arrival to Paro, Visit Kyichu Lhakhang. Built in the 7th century by the famous Buddhist Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. As the name suggests, the temple is a reservoir of peace, where you will really feel at peace.

Drive to Thimphu. The drive from Paro to Thimphu takes about one hour. 

Thimphu situated at an altitude of 2200 M.  The Kingdom’s capital city is home to approximately 130,000 inhabitants including the Royal family. Thimphu is the most modern city in Bhutan. This bustling little city is the main center of commerce, religion and government in the country. The juxtaposition of ancient tradition and modernity make Thimphu the ideal location for visitors to break away from their tour itinerary to immerse themselves in the contemporary Bhutanese lifestyle. 

Visit Tashichhodzong: Tashichhodzong means ‘the fortress of the glorious religion.’ It is a majestic fortress in all its grandeur and serves as the seat of Bhutan’s government. The Dzong houses the secretariat, the throne room, the offices of His Majesty the King. The fortress was initially erected in 1641 and later rebuilt in the 1960s by the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Overnight Hotel in Thimphu

Day 02 Thimphu Sightseeing. 

After breakfast begin Thimphu Sightseeing. Visit National Memorial Chorten. The National Memorial Chorten was built in 1974 in memory of the late Third Druk Gyalpo (King) of Bhutan. At the chorten, you will find an extraordinary depiction of Buddhist teachings in the form of paintings and sculptures.  Visit Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang). Buddha Point has the largest statue of Buddha in the whole kingdom.

Visit small sanctuary (Takin Zoo) dedicated to the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.

Visit Authentic Bhutanese Craft Bazzar/shop. A one stop shop place to witness Bhutanese rich Culture and buy Bhutan made art and craft products. The shop in its 80 small stall covers all aspect of traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. The shops linked with the rural artisans aims to promote Bhutan’s craft industry by creating a viable market, which n turns acts to preserve and promote Bhutan’s unique culture and bring about equitable socio-economic development in the country.

Visit Simply Bhutan, an interactive ‘living’ museum developed for and by the youth of Bhutan through the Bhutan Youth Development Fund.  (You can try traditional butter tea and Traditional food)

Visit Cordyceps Tasting House.  Unique to the world, the Cordyceps Tasting Room offer a cozy room to taste a range of Cordyceps-infused tea.  Our hostess will also perform a Cordyceps Tea Ceremoney. Cordyceps Sinensis is a unique and exotic mushroom that grows in the mountains of Bhutan at an elevation between 14,500 feet to 17,000 feet below the snow line.

Visit National Textile Museum. The National Textile Museum offers an in-depth look into the Bhutanese art form of weaving. You can see examples of weaving techniques from different areas of Bhutan, as well as styles of local dress and textiles made by local people. A small group of weavers usually work their looms inside the shop giving you the chance to see weaving firsthand. 

Visit the local post office that has a large collection of stamps. They can make a personalized postage stamp for you that can be used to mail a letter or postcard for a nominal fee.

Watch archery at the archery ground. Overnight Hotel in Thimphu

Day 03 Thimphu-Punakha.  (Drive 3 hours)  

After drive to the beautiful valley of Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. After a dramatic one-hour drive, the zigzag course of the road brings you to Dochula, a beautiful mountain pass (alt 3,140 m) with its fluttering prayer flags and a spectacular set of 108 miniature chortens.  On a clear fine day, you will also get awe-inspiring glimpses of the towering Himalayan peaks around. The remaining part of the drive is mostly a gradual descent into Punakha valley. 

Punakha situated at an altitude of 1200 M.  Punakha Dzongkhag has been inextricably linked with momentous occasions in Bhutanese history. It served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1950s. Punakha Dzong is not only the second oldest and second largest dzong, but it also has one of the most majestic structures in the country. Punakha Dzong was built at the confluence of two major rivers in Bhutan, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu, which converge in this valley. It is an especially beautiful sight on sunny days with sunlight reflecting off the water onto its white-washed walls.

Visit Punakha Dzong. Placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, the dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal 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, the first King Gongsr Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned. 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, enrich your trip with the opportunity to see the highest standards in woodwork. 

Visit Chimi Lhakhang in the village of Lobesa (20 mins from Punakha), the auspicious fertility temple built by the famous divine madman. It’s a beautiful 30 min walk amidst paddy fields and typical Bhutanese houses. Stop at some of the local village homes here to get a feel of the traditional Bhutanese way of living. The temple is beautifully perched on a small hilltop overlooking the entire village. Overnight Hotel in Punakha

Day 04 Punakha-Gangtey/Phobjikha Valley (Drive 2 hours)

After breakfast drive to Tserigang village, north of Punakha. Hike to Khamsum Yule Namgyel Chorten. It is around 45 mins one-way hike through rice field. This fascinating temple was built by the Queen Mother of the 5th King to bring universal peace in this world. The best of the spiritual art works are painted on the inner walls. There are also paintings of Buddhist teachers and tutelary deities of the country. This is a great temple to study the symbolic meanings from frescoes and sculptures. 

Drive to Gangtey/Phobjakha Valley. The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, and extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed.

Gangtey Nature trail. This pleasurable hike from the small hilltop overlooking the Phobjikha valley to the community school gives you a nice feel of the valley. It is a gentle hike through flower meadows, beautiful forests and into the open valley.  

Experiences: Evening visit Local Farmhouse.  These farmhouses are generally home to multiple generations, with anywhere from five to 5-6 family members sleeping there at one time. The family will also showcase their preparation of Ema Datshi. You’ll have the chance to taste ara, local drink made from organic grains grown by the farmers.  (Dinner with local family members). Overnight Hotel /Home Stay in Gangtey 

Day 05 Gangtey-Bumthang (Drive 5 hours) 

After breakfast visit Gangtey Shedra for Butter Lamp Offering Ceremony. The lighting of butter lamps accompanied by prayers has a special significance in Buddhist religion. Lighting butter lamps represents relief from suffering and provides you with a guiding light to find enlightenment. A senior monk teacher at Gangtey Goenpa (monastery) will be happy to lead this significant ritual for you personally. 

Offering of Lamp is a complimentary service arranged by Away Smile Travels.

Transfer to Bumthang. En route stop at to Trongsa. visit the Ta Dzong/Royal Heritage Museum. This watchtower, which once guarded Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands on a promontory above the town. It was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the 1st Governor of Trongsa in 1652. It has four observation points representing a tiger, lion, garuda, and dragon. A visit to this former watchtower provides visitors with an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history. As of date, the Ta Dzong of Trongsa is the most fascinating museum in the kingdom.

Depart to Bumthang. Bumthang region span from 2,600-4,500 m is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. Tales of Guru Padmasambhava and the tertons (“religious treasure-discoverers”) still linger in this sacred region. Bumthang Dzongkhag consists of four main valleys, Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. Choekhor is the largest of the four and is widely considered as ‘Bumthang Valley’. The valleys are broad and gentle carved by the ancient glaciers. Overnight Hotel in Bumthang

Day 06 Bumthang Sightseeing

After breakfast visit Jambay Lhakhang. This monastery was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo.  It is one of 108 monasteries he built to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region.  Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.

Visit Kurjey Lhakhang. Located further along the valley, Kurje Lhakhang is comprised of three temples.  The middle temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of the Guru’s body and is therefore considered to be the holiest.   These three temples are surrounded by a 108-chorten wall.

Visit Kenchusum Lhakhang. The temple is an important historical place for the Bhutanese, and it is also a place of worship for the villagers in its vicinity. It is looked after by a caretaker of the next by Tamshing monastic community. A school for young monks has been built in 2009 next to the temple and is attached to Tamshing monastic community which upholds the religious teachings of Pema Lingpa

Visit local Beer factory Red Panda Beer. Explore Bumthang Town. Overnight hotel in Bumthang.

Day 07 Bumthang-Domkhar (Drive 1 hour 30 mins each way) 

After breakfast drive to Domkhar. Attend Domkhar Festival which includes Mask dances and dances which are performed by the local people of Domkhar village.  Later in the evening, you will drive back to Bumthang. Overnight hotel in Bumthang.

Day 08 Bumthang-Ura Valley. (Drive 1 hour 30 mins each way)

After breakfast drive to Ura valley. The road to Ura climbs to an amazingly open countryside, only occasionally running into forest. The route crosses Ura La (3,600m) with a magnificent view of Mount Gangkar Puensum. Ura is the highest of Bumthang valleys and is believed by some to have been the home of the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. There are about 40 closely packed houses along cobblestone streets, giving the town a medieval atmosphere. The Geyden Lhakhang dominates the town. 

Attend Ura Yakchoe festival. Spend the morning at the festival and interacting with the locals. The Ura Yakchoe highlight of which is the invoking and escorting of the Yidam Chhana Dorjee from Gaythen to Ura. Singji Pho Mo, Zhana Chham, Acho Phang Tho , Chingzhi, Thro  Chhu , Ging Tsho Ling chmma etc are also performed.

Later in the evening, you will drive back to Bumthang.  Overnight hotel in Bumthang.

Day 09 Bumthang-Paro (Flight 30 mins)

After breakfast take a domestic flight to Paro. (Flight schedule TBC).  Rest of the afternoon relax at the hotel. Overnight hotel in Paro.

Day 10 Paro Sightseeing. 

After breakfast drive to Ramthangka and hike to Tiger Nest (Taktshang Goemba). Taktshang meaning the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ is one of Bhutan’s most venerated pilgrimage sites.  According to legend, Guru Rinpoche miraculously flew here on the back of a tigress, meditated in a cave here for three months and converted the whole of Paro valley to Buddhism. Resting at an altitude of 900 meters above the valley, Taktshang is an architectural wonder and the spectacular four-hour walk will be your most overwhelming experience ever. (Round trip hike 5 hrs) 

Gala dinner at Local Home Stay. Overnight Hotel in Paro.

Day 11 Departure: After breakfast drive to the Paro International Airport, where our representatives will bid you goodbye

Thank you (Kardrienchhey) for visiting Bhutan with Away Smile Travels “Smiles for Miles”

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