Ura Yakchoe Festival Bumthang 16th April 20th April
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- 2880 USD /person
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- Credit Card
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Last updated: 03/13/2008
Festival deities are invoked through benediction and luck is increased and misfortune dissipated.
Arrive at Paro
Arrive at Paro Airport (7,000ft). You will be received at the airport by a representative from Bhutan Tours & Adventures, who will then take you to the hotel. Check out the local town.
Today we will visit the impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. You can also visit Ta Dzong (the watch tower') now housing the National Museum. Built on top of the hill above Rinpung Dzong, it was originally used to defend Rinpung Dzong and the Paro valley during times of war. Its unusual circular construction resembles a conch shell and it now contains a magnificent collection of Bhutanese artefacts : costumes, religious paintings, arms, textiles and a fascinating collection of Bhutan stamps. After lunch drive along the Paro and Thimphu river valleys to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital. You can stop on the way to take in the magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan's iron bridge builder. Take an early evening walk around town and soak in the atmosphere of this magical capital with its busy shops and bazaars and photogenic citizens in national dress.
We will visit the revered Memorial Chorten, the National Library and the School of Traditional Arts. In the afternoon you can take in more of the sights and culture of the capital, with the option of a trip to Simtokha Dzong (one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan, dating from 1629 AD). If you prefer to stay closer to town you could drive up to the Radio Tower (offering splendid views of the city from a hilltop festooned with prayer flags), visit the Takin Reserve showcasing the unique national animal, the Takin, browse the striking collection of intricate textiles at the National Textile Museum or visit the Folk Heritage Museum. Tell your guide what takes your interest.
Thimphu to Punakha
In the morning drive to the old capital, Punakha, via Dochu La pass at 3050 metres, where we will stop for a hot drink and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. In the afternoon visit the imposing Punakha Dzong, and Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility) built in the 15th century by the Divine Madman' (Lama Drukpa Kuenley).
Punakha to Bumthang
Drive to Trongsa, the gateway to central Bhutan. Set amidst spectacular scenery, Trongsa Dzong commands the eye from miles away. After lunch continue through some of Bhutan's most beautiful landscapes to Bumthang. Overnight in Bumthang.
Explore Ura Festival
Today you will drive an hour and a half to Ura village to attend the Ura Festival. You will see locals dressed in their finest clothes who have walked from miles around to attend the festivities. They come to watch masked dances, to pray, and to feast. Arrays of colourful brocades whirl through the air as the dancers spin and dance the thunderbolt step. Masks of glorious demonic demons and animals arouse your senses as you watch the purification take place. Watch for the Atsara (clown). This dancer, unique in his own style, mimics dancers and entertains onlookers. Festival deities are invoked through benediction and luck is increased and misfortune dissipated. While the underlying purpose of the festival is spiritual, dances are more often like plays, telling stories where good triumphs over evil, or depicting significant historical events, especially surrounding the life of Bhutan's patron saint, Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche). There is inevitably a great deal of socialising as well. The occasion provides an opportunity for people to relax and forget the daily routine, and to dress in their finest clothes and jewellery, but it is also an occasion for prayer and blessings. Overnight in Bumthang.
Sightseeing in Bumthang
The spiritual heartland of Bhutan, with its many legendary monasteries, temples and palaces. We will begin with Bhutan's largest Dzong (Jakar), with its picturesque location overlooking the Chokhor valley. Then your guide will take you on a fascinating tour of a variety of sacred sites including Jampa Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, and followed by a visit to Membar Tsho the Flaming Lake', one of Bhutan's most important pilgrimage sites. You can also visit Bumthang's famous Swiss cheese factory and dairy farm. Overnight in Bumthang.
Drive to Gangtey (at 3500 metres)
Enjoy the views of the immense and remote Phobjikha valley and the black mountain ranges. Visit Gangtey Gompa (one of Bhutan's oldest monasteries and currently under renovation). Overnight in Gangtey village where the villagers continue to live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. This is the site where black-necked cranes visit in their hundreds in November each year after spending the summer in Tibet. As a result no electricity is run to the valley to avoid disturbing their habitat.
Drive back to Thimphu via Wangdi
Wangdi is considered Bhutan's secondary capital and commanding an important central position. Visit Wangdi Dzong, built by the Shabdrung in 1638 on an auspicious site where four ravens were seen flying in four different directions. After lunch continue on your way. You should see plenty of flowering rhododendrons, orchids and magnolia to enhance the drive. In the evening you may like to visit Tashicho Dzong, built in 1641, which housed the original National Assembly and is now home to Government offices, the throne room and offices of the King.
Day 10. This morning we will return to Paro after breakfast. Then you can visit the ruined Drukgyel Dzong (fortress of victory), constructed to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invaders in 1644 and destroyed by a butter lamp fire in 1951. Nearby you can also visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, a temple of historical significance and one of the most sacred shrines in Bhutan.
In the afternoon we will go and visit a local farmhouse allowing you to experience traditional Bhutanese village life.
Excursion to Taktsang Monastery
Take a day walk to the 'Tiger's Nest', the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings to the rock face 900 metres above the valley floor. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress. He subsequently meditated here for three months. It is one of Bhutan's most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighbouring Buddhist countries. You can have lunch at the Taktshang cafeteria from where you get a spectacular view of the monastery. On the way back you can visit Dumtse Lhakhang, a temple built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the iron bridge builder.
Our BTA representative will see you off at Paro Airport. Check in two hours prior to flight departure to ensure the best seats on board.
- Inclusions -
- Riding ponies and pack animals on treks & Trekking staff and equipment( sleeping tents, dining tents, toilet tents)
- Exclusions -
- Air port tax
- Extras -
- We will process your visa application with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on your behalf. Visa processing will take a minimum of five working days. It is mandatory for a tourist to get his/her visa clearance before departing for Bhutan. Without proof of payment, Drukair, the only airline flying in and out of Bhutan, will not issue tickets. The Department of Tourism will then not issue clearance and the Ministry of Foreign affairs will not issue your visa pending your payment. All visa applications must reach Bhutan at-least 3 weeks prior to your intended arrival date. Full passport details must be mailed or faxed to us in order to process your visa with the immigration authorities. We will also inform you about your visa status before your intended departure date. BTA can also apply for an extension of your visa, should you wish to remain in Bhutan for a longer duration than stipulated. You must bring 3 passport size photographs of your own as it will be required by the immigration authorities at the entry points. Sorry, this is government regulations.
Bhutan's climate ranges from subtropical in the south to temperate in the central highlands to cold and even sub freezing in the north. The climate can be unpredictable and the temperature can vary dramatically. In Thimphu and Paro, the winter daytime temperature averages 12 degrees Celsius but drops well below freezing at night. Warm woolens are recommended in the winter and it is advisable to bring light sweaters or jackets even in the summer. Comfortable walking shoes are indispensable to all while trekkers should be equipped with strong boots and medium to heavy sleeping bags.
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Email the tour operator - Ura Yakchoe Festival Bumthang 16th April 20th April
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