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Festivals

You can plan your visit to Bhutan around the colourful festivals that take place across the valleys throughout the year.

These religious festivals, known locally as ‘tshechus’, are special events in the Bhutanese calendar and are an integral part of Bhutanese life. They are colourful displays of masked dances performed by monks and laymen over several days in the courtyards of the dzongs and monasteries.

Some of the festivals have their origin in famous legends and some are based on significant historical ocassions. The dances, performed during the tshechus, depict and describe religious beliefs and often relay the life of Guru Padmasambhava (the Great Indian Saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 7th Century AD). They usually end with the unfurling of a giant thangkha (religious painting) on the last day which draws a huge crowd seeking blessings.

Besides its religious significance, tshechus are also a time for social gathering when people from all walks of life put on their best clothes, take a break from work and relax with their family and friends.

Tshechus are celebrated in many parts of the country and take place practically every month throughout the year. Many visitors to Bhutan make sure that they attend some of the popular ones.

If your idea of a perfect holiday in Bhutan is to immerse yourself in the festivities and experience this enthralling event, check the festivals for this year. And if you find something to your liking, do let us know and we will plan and create your very own personalised tour to make your trip a wholesome experience.

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Below is a sample tour (8 days) built around the Thimphu tshechu in the autumn.

Day 1: Arrive at Paro by Druk Air.  Your guide will take you to your hotel. After lunch, a leisurely walk through the Paro town and a visit to the nearby Paro Rinpung Dzong and Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower and now the National Museum of Bhutan. Evening, visit a traditional farmhouse. 

Night halt: Paro

Day 2:  After breakfast, visit the lovely Kyichhu Lhakhang (built 659 A D) en route to see the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong (built 1647, a fortress that saw many a battles being fought between the Drukpas and the Tibetan invaders from the north). After lunch drive to Thimphu, stopping to visit the charming Tamchhog Lhakhang, the monastery dedicated to Bhutan’s iron bridge builder, Thangtong Gyalpo, a 15th Century monk with extraordinary powers.

Night halt: Thimphu

Day 3: Full day in Thimphu. Indulge yourself in some of the notable landmarks of the city – The Memorial Chorten (Stupa), Folk Heritage Museum, Institute of Traditional Medicine, National Library, National Institute of Zorig Chusum, the Textile Museum, and the Handicrafts Emporium. In the afternoon take a short drive to see the Tango and Cheri Monasteries. Stroll in the town and visit the local weekend market in the evening.

Night halt: Thimphu

Day 4: Attend the Thimphu tshechu held in the courtyard of the magnificent Tashichho Dzong. Mingle with the crowd dressed colourfully for the event and soak in the enchanting festivity around. You can take your time and spend as long as you like at the festival, or move on to do some more sightseeing of the city. You can catch a live archery match at the Changlimithang ground or stroll in the town.

Night halt: Thimphu

Day 5: Early start to Punakha, with a stop over at Dochhu La (3,050m). On a bright day, you will enjoy the spectacular view of the Himalayan range in the horizon. We then descend into the warm valley of Punakha. En route an easy trek off the highway will take you into the Botanical Garden at Lamperi with exotic collection of plant species. Take a walk in the paddy fiends to visit Chimi Lhakhang, dedicated to Drukpa Kunley – the Divine Madman. Visit the magnificent 17th Century Punakha Dzong. Take a short trek up to the Khasum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten perched neatly on the hilltop overlooking the Punakha valley.

Night halt: Punakha

Day 6: Drive to Wangdue Phodrang. After lunch head back to Paro.  In the evening visit a traditional farmhouse and stroll in the town at leisure.

Night halt: Paro

Day 7:  The whole day is dedicated to visit the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) that clings dramatically on a huge rock cliff, 900 m above the valley. The 2-3 hours hike (each way) takes you along winding footpaths and through pine forests. Evening to be spent at leisure.

Night halt: Thimphu

Day 8: Your guide will see you off at the Paro International Airport.


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