Changangkha Lhakhang Festival

7 days

ITINERARY OVERVIEW

DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 02: THIMPHU
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
DAY 04: PUNAKHA
DAY 05: PUNAKHA – PARO
DAY 06: PARO
DAY 07 : DEPART PARO

This unique festival takes place in Changangkha Lhakhang, the oldest temple in Thimphu. Built in 12th century, it is located on a ridge above central Thimphu, with a picturesque view west all the way along the vast Thimphu valley. It is a popular temple attracting a regular procession of pilgrims, and new parents seeking auspicious names for their newborns or blessings for their young children.

More intimate than the popular Thimphu Tsechu, this festival is an annual ritual which begins with an appraisal to the local deity “Domsap” followed by masked dances and traditional forms of Bhutanese dance and entertainment. It is believed that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Every mask dance performed during a Tshechu has a special meaning or a story behind it and are performed by Changangkha lama’s.

This festival takes place at approximately the same time as the more popular events in Bumthang. This one is ideal for this with limited time who cannot travel into the central valleys, yet would like to witness this unique expression of Bhutanese history and culture.

Highlights of this Tour

CHANGANGKHA LHAKHANG FESTIVAL TOUR

Experience this  annual ritual which begins with an appraisal to the local deity “Domsap” followed by masked dances and traditional forms of Bhutanese dance and entertainment. It is believed that everyone must attend a Tsechu and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. This Bhutan tour also explores all of the highlights of Bhutan’s western valleys, including the famous Taktsang Monastery at Paro, Punakha Dzong, and the many sites of Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu.

  • Witness unique dances and rituals performed by the Royal Bhutan Army rather than monks or lay people.
  • Join in with locals in a special occasion of celebration, blessings and socialising.
  • Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
  • Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
  • Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.
  • Marvel at the elaborate and ancient wall paintings and carvings in Dzongs and temples.
  • Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys to dense forests.
  • Incorporate a Value-Added Option such as a cooking lesson or meditation session with a monk.

To view more information about some of the townships that are featured in this tour, please visit the Township Highlights page.

Detailed Itinerary

CHANGANGKHA LHAKHANG FESTIVAL

DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 02: THIMPHU
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
DAY 04: PUNAKHA
DAY 05: PUNAKHA – PARO
DAY 06: PARO
DAY 07 : DEPART PARO

DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our Bhutan Travel Bureau representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities.

After lunch visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo where you will participate in a purification ceremony to bring you good luck on your journey. Afterwards transfer to Thimphu. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

DAY 02: THIMPHU
Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to stunning Buddha Dordenma Statue, made of bronze and gilded in gold, and the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century and Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.

If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. (This market is open only from Friday until mid Sunday). Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
Begin your day with attending the Changangkha Lhakhang Festival. The festival begins with an appraisal to the local deity “Domsap”, followed by a display of religious and cultural dances performed by monks from Changangkha wearing masks and elaborate costumes. Enjoy gathering with locals in this unique celebration of their faith and culture.

Late in the day leave Thimphu for Punakha over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time).

Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Stroll around Punakha town in the evening. Overnight at hotel in Punakha.

DAY 04: PUNAKHA
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. Visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness”. Built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’, Punakha Dzong is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers). It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned.

After lunch enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.

DAY 05: PUNAKHA – PARO
In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.
Take a picnic lunch on a picturesque riverside before exploring the Wangduephodrang Dzong. Built in 1639 the strategically located Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers.

Drive back to Thimphu where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores. Afterwards proceed to Paro, visiting Semtokha Dzong en route. The Dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies. On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

DAY 06: PARO
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the viewing point). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments.

In the afternoon visit the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts.

Alternatively, day 6 could be spent on a day trip to the Haa Valley, one of the most picturesque districts in Bhutan. Reached via the beautiful Chelila Pass, Haa Valley is characterised by its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

DAY 07: DEPART PARO
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. 
Tashi Delek!

Tailor-Design This Tour

TAILOR-DESIGN THE CHANGANGKHA LHAKHANG FESTIVAL TOUR

We understand that every traveller is different, so we design holidays to suit you. Our consultants are experts in creating the most unique Bhutan tour just for you. Whether you are solo traveller, a couple, group of friends, or a large group, we are here to help you open the doors to your himalayan dream. Use the form below to let us know what you are interested in adding or excluding to customise the Punakha Tsechu tour.

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Value-Add Options

VALUE-ADDED OPTIONS

In addition to offering independent, flexible tour options, Bhutan Travel Bureau can also arrange a variety of “add on” options to provide a more in-depth experience of Bhutan. These include:

  • Cooking lessons
  • A farmhouse stay
  • “Ara” (rice liquor) brewing lessons
  • Monastery experience
  • Evening dinner & culture show

Alternatively, you can awaken your senses with a range of wellbeing and spa retreats offering yoga, pilates, meditation, healing bodywork, hot stone baths and massage.

These activities can easily be incorporated into any itinerary. Please note that some activities may attract additional fees.

BHUTAN TOUR DATES:

All of our Bhutan tours are private, tailor-made journeys for independent travel on dates of your choosing. We can easily customise your Bhutan tour to spend more in the places doing the activities that you are interested in. Please click on the ‘Tailor-Design This  Tour’ tab above to begin customising this tour to your requirements. This tour can be experienced all year around.

WHAT WE INCLUDE IN OUR TAILOR MADE BHUTAN TOURS:

  • Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
  • All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
  • Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
  • Experienced driver.
  • Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard goverment approved hotels & guesthouses.
  • All meals in Bhutan.
  • All entrance fees and permits.

NOT INCLUDED:

  • All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone and tips.
  • Medical / Travel Insurance.