Punakha Dromche is an annual event that happens inside the Punakha Dzong. Dromche is showcasing the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetans Invasions during the Zhabdrung Era in the 17th Century.
Paro International Airport (Google Map)
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Your guide and driver will welcome you at the airport and will proceed to the capital of Bhutan which is an hour’s drive away. Take a brief stop at Tamchhu Lhakhang on the way. Built by Thangtong Gyalpo or the Iron Bridge Builder as he is known, this 14th-century saint introduced the art of building suspension bridges with iron chains and the only way to reach his temple is by one of his bridges.
The view over Thimpu from the big Buddha statue helps us to get our bearings before we plunge into this vibrant growing town struggling to blend the shock of the new with traditional aspects of life in the shadow of the Himalaya. Depending on opening hours, guest interests, and time, your guide may include some of the following in your private schedule: The school of Arts & crafts the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, the Folk Heritage Museum, Takin preserve (Bhutan’s National animal) or you may wish to just go window shopping.
The 12th century Chari Goemba is one of the most popular meditational retreat centres for the monks. The meditational sites are glued to the rocky cliff 300m above the river valley. Once the monks graduate from Tango Monastery most of them decide to sit for meditation around the holy temple of Chari from three years to nine years. Tango Chari is located 12km away from Thimphu city.
Visit the Bhutanese Paper Factory, This traditional handmade paper is still being widely used around the country followed by Memorial stupa, which was built in memory of our Late Third King. It now serves as a focal point of worship for people residing in Thimphu, especially for elderly people.
Later visit the Tashichhoe Dzong (fortress of the glorious religion), the main secretariat building, the office of the King and Throne room, and also the house of the State Monastic Body.
After an early breakfast, drive to Punakha via the winding river of Paro Chu & Wangchu from Paro (128km/ 4hr). Stop for a hot cup of coffee at Dochu La pass (3150m) where you can enjoy spectacular views of the Eastern Himalayan Mountain ranges. Walk around the 108 stupas which decorate the pass and enter Druk Wangyel temple built by the four Queens and as a tribute to the beloved fourth King of Bhutan.
After lunch, visit the Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Punakha Dzong is the former winter Capital and in present-day hosts the administrative seat of the district. Also the winter residence of the central monastic body and its Chief Abbot. The Dzong lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, the male and female rivers.
Evening, hike to Chimi Lhakhang to visit the temple of Bhutan’s foremost saint, Lama Drukpa Kunley, also known as the “Divine Madman”. This temple is called the Temple of Fertility as it is believed that childless couples who come here to pray for a child are usually blessed with a child.
Overnight Punakha/ Wangdue.
Punakha Drubchen / Dromche is a unique festival as it hosts a dramatic recreation of the scene from the 17th century battle with the Tibetan army. This is one of the oldest festivals in the district. Unlike the annual festival called the Tshechu(The tenth day of the month), the Punakha Drubchen is a detailed dramatization of how the local Bhutanese militia duped and defeated an invading Tibetan army and forced them to withdraw. This 17th-century event was also the beginning of the consolidation process of Bhutan as a country and it is historically very important for the country. This event is also a celebration of the Bhutanese roots.
In the afternoon drive to Yabesa village and hike through rice fields 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. The Chorten is built for the well-being of the King and the Nation. The walk takes us along the paddy fields climbing up gradually through Chir pine forest to the Chorten.
It is time to retrace our steps back over the Dochu La for a second chance at that spectacular view of the Himalayan range. Returning to the Chunzom (or confluence) we catch a glimpse of the three shrines in Nepali, Tibetan, and Bhutanese style which were built to ward off evil spirits near the checkpoint.
On the final leg, the sinuous route follows the Pa Chhu River, through apple orchards and rice paddies, past quaint homesteads to our home in the Himalaya, Paro town.
On arrival visit National Museum (Ta-Dzong).Once the watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong (Fortress), it was converted into the National Museum in 1968 (one of the best museums in Asia). The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. Later visit the Rinpung Dzong. Today, this massive fortress built in 1645 AD is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the nation. A flagstone path descends gradually to the beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guardhouses to the Dzong.
Evening visit Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in the country which dates back to the 7th century.
Drive to Satsam Chorten and spend the day hiking up the forested path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most famous and scenic icon. The climb is steep and takes about 4 hours round trip. An important place of pilgrimage and refuge for more than 1200 years, Taktsang Monastery clings to sheer cliffs 2000 ft above Paro Valley, and from your closest vantage point on a rocky ledge directly across from it, you will still need 200-300 mm lenses and a steady tripod to get tight photographs.
This sacred place got its name when Guru Rinpoche rode there on the back of a flying tiger and meditated in a cave behind the present-day monastery. Sadly, in 1998, the central temple was destroyed by fire, leaving the country in mourning for their holiest of spiritual places. But religious leaders and the King quickly developed a plan to rebuild Taktsang and donations started pouring in from Buddhist centers all over the world, and today, the magnificently rebuilt exterior is complete. Tiger’s Nest is once again the subject of cloud-shrouded posters that say, “Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon.” Picnic lunch on the hillside cafeteria.
Evening, visit a typical village home for a traditional Bhutanese-style dinner accompanied by the local liquor called “Ara” (tastes somewhat like the Japanese Sake) & yak meat. Then luxuriate in the Bhutanese equivalent of a Jacuzzi called a “Chu Tse.” River rocks are heated and dunked into a large wooden tub with herbs. This type of bath is considered to have medicinal properties of healing.
Early morning your guide will accompany you to the airport to see you off onto your flight and wish you Tashi Delek.