Mask Dances are sacred to the Bhutanese people and is also the major tourist attraction festival in Bhutan. It is customary for the Bhutanese people to attend the festival dressed in their best National attire.
Families bring packed lunch to the festival as the mask dances goes on for the entire day with short breaks where Bhutanese cultural dances are performed.
(The following itinerary has been designed so that it coincides with the mask dance festival for Thimphu District alone. Other districts in Bhutan have similar mask dance festivals that fall on other dates.)
Festival Dates for Thimphu:
September 19th 2015 and September 23rd to September 25th 2015
Day 01 Place: Paro to Thimphu
Arrive at the Paro Airport where your guide will be there to welcome you. Drive to Thimphu, which would take about an hour. Check in at hotel at Thimphu. Have your lunch after a brief rest at the hotel. In the afternoon, visit the Memorial Chorten(temple) which was built in 1974 in memory of the Late Third King of Bhutan. On any given day, you shall find people circumambulating this temple in order to gain merits for all sentient beings. Go to Kuenselphodrang, popularly known as the “Buddha Point” where a statue of the Buddha measuring 54 meters tall sits above the Thimphu valley. Visit the Changgangkha Lhakhang(temple) which is one of most popular temples for the people living in Thimphu. Couples with newborns come to this temple to seek a name for their child as well as get the blessings from the temple. TheTakin Reserve is a must visit place if you have never seen a Takin before. Takin, the national animal of Bhutan is a very unique animal and according to the beliefs of the Bhutanese people, there is a story behind how this magnificent animal was first created. Dinner and overnight shall be at the hotel.
Day 02 Place: Thimphu
Visit the Tashichhoe Dzong(fortress) to witness the mask dance festival. The mask dance festival brings Bhutanese people from all walks of life together. It is believed that one gains merits by witnessing the mask dances. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 03 Place: Thimphu to Punakha
After breakfast, drive to Punakha, a place with subtropical vegetation and about 3 hours drive from Thimphu. On your way stop at the mountain pass called Dochula where a 108 stupas were built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan, and enjoy the breathtaking view of the chain of some of the tallest mountains in Bhutan on a day with clear skies. Have your lunch on your way and then visit the Chimi Lhakhang(temple) also known popularly as the “fertility temple”. This temple is reputed for granting children to couples who come to seek blessings for a child. People who come to this temple are blessed with a wooden phallus with a silver handle and the bow and arrows of the famous 15thcentury Buddhist saint called “Drukpa Kuenley” to whom this temple is dedicated. Check in at your hotel at Punakha, evening at leisure. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 04 Place: Punakha to Gangtey
Having had your breakfast, we drive to Punakha Dzong(Fortress) which is perhaps the most Important and beautiful Dzong in Bhutan. Built in the 17th century, at the confluence of the two rivers, the Pho Chu and the Mo Chu which literally translates as the “male river” and the “female river”, this is the place where the First King of Bhutan was crowned in 1907 and it is also the winter residence of the 70thChief Abbot of Bhutan. Later we shall hike to temple called Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal which lies at about 45 minutes climb from the road end point. After crossing the suspension bridge, the path to the temple passes through fields of mustards and paddy and then gradually starts climbing. This temple is renowned for housing some of the most intricate sculpturing and paintings done in Bhutan. After lunch, visit the nunnery and then proceed onwards to Gangtey. Dinner and overnight at the guest house in Gangtey.
Day 05 Place: Gangtey to Wangdiphodrang
Gangtey also called “Phobjikha” is one of the most famous marsh lands in Bhutan. It is usually a very quiet place. This valley is famous for the Black Necked Cranes that come here from Tibet to roost during the cold winter months. Visit the Black Necked Craned Information Center amd then the Gangtey Goenpa, which is a very old temple on top of a hill. Drive to Wangdiphodrang after lunch. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 06 Place: Wangdiphodrang to Paro
Move to Paro via Thimphu. Sightseeing in and around Paro valley after a brief stop at Thimphu for lunch. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 07 Place: Paro
After a good breakfast, the day starts by driving to the base of Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest). From here on, the walk uphill begins. Taktshang is a highly recommended place to visit for guests. The walk uphill offers clean and pristine air for breathing while you enjoy the occasional view of the valley below. Almost halfway through your way up, have some tea and snacks at the restaurant with the stunning view of the temple suspended on a cliff. Proceed to the temple, visit the many shrines in the temple and on your way back, have your lunch at the restaurant. Get back to the base where your car will be waiting for you. The rest of the day is leisure where you can relax and take a walk in the Paro town. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Note: We would like to suggest you wear comfortable shoes for your hike to the Taktshang temple.
Day 08 Place: Paro
After breakfast, depart from Paro Airport. Your guide will be there to see you off on behalf of the company.