HIGHLIGHTS OF THE JAMBAY LHAKHANG DRUP FESTIVAL TOUR
Jambay Lhakhang Festival is held in Jambay lhakhang located in Bumthang. Jambay Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in the kingdom. It was founded by, Songtsen Gampo, a Tibetan King in the 7th century AD. The king was destined to build 108 temples known as Thadhul- Yangdhul in a day to subdue the demons that were residing in the Himalayas. The temple is one of the two of the 108 built in Bhutan. The other is the Kichu lhakhang in Paro, believed to have been built on the same day.
Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche visited the site several times and deemed it exceptionally sacred. Chakhar Gyab, the king of the Iron Castle of Bumthang renovated the temple in the 8th century AD.
The main relics include the future Buddha, Jowo Jampa (Maitreya) from whose name the present name of the temple is derived. The lhakhang also houses more than one hundred statues of the gods of Kalachakra built by the first king, in 1887. Here, one of the most spectacular festivals is hosted called Jambay lhakhang Drup that lasts for five days beginning from Nov 14-17, 2016. The highlight of the jambay lhakhang festival is the fire ritual that is held in the evening where crowds gather to witness the ritual together with the naked dance.
JAMBAY LHKAHANG DRUP FESTIVAL DETAILED ITINERARY
Day 1: Arrive Paro International Airport
Upon arrival at Paro International airport, you will be welcomed by our company representative and the tour guide will receive and escort you to designated Hotels in Thimphu.
After lunch visit Simtokha Dzong.This was the first of the many dzongs constructed by Zhabdrung in 1631. NATIONAL MEOMRIAL CHORTEN, it was built in 1974 in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk by his mother. CHANGANGKHA LHAKHANG, is one of the oldest temple in Thimphu, dating back to the fifteen century. The place has an air of peace and tranquility, located as it is above and away from the city. TRASHICHHOE DZONG, “The Fortress of Auspicious Religion”, your last stop for the day. The Dzong can be visited only after 5 pm on week days, when the government office closed-or then during the day on Saturday/Sunday.
Day 2: Thimphu Sightseeing
Today drive further north of Thimphu to visit TANGO GOMPA, this is a 300m hike and takes around one hour. Although founded by Gyalwa Lhanangpa , it was further developed by Lama Drukpa Kinley in the 15th century. Nearby is the cave where Zhabdrung meditated and believing that his spiritual powers had helped repel the Tibetan invasion, this gompa was presented to him in appreciation.
SANGAY GANG, heading towards the telecom tower which is at 8807ft/2685m and provides a vantage point for brilliant, clear views of the town and surrounding countryside.
MINI-ZOO, heading back, stop a few minutes at the ‘mini-zoo’ which is now a large outdoor enclosure that holds one of the strangest looking creatures you are likely to see- the takin.
DRUBTHOP GOMPA, a small building surrounded by prayer flags that now house the Zilukha Nunnery. Located above the dzong, this gompa is believed to protect it from fires.
DECHEN PHODRANG, descending further, your arrive at Dechen phodrang which was the original site of the dzong and is now occupied by the state monastic school.
NATIONAL LIBRARY, your drive will now take you past the rolling greens of the golf course with the grand National Library coming up on the opposite side. This was open in 1967 to preserve the ancient Dzongkha texts and act as a repository for thousands of old religious books and manuscripts as well as the wooden blocks used for printing.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ZORIG CHUSUM, which offers a six year course on Bhutan’s traditional crafts for those who are artistically inclined.
FOLK HERITAGE MUSEUM, with its interior styled to resemble a typical farmhouse as it would have been a hundred years ago. The museum offers not only a glimpse into the past but also depicts the present reality of many remote rural hamlets. “If you are in Thimphu over the weekend, try and visit the local open market with its vast array of fresh produce, handicrafts and other items.”
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha
Check-out from the hotel and drive to Punakha, the former Capital of Bhutan (77 Km) from Thimphu. Enjoy panoramic view of Black Mountain range at Dochu La, Visit Druk Wangyel Lhakhang, and Royal Botanical Garden on the way. Dochu La is a paradise for photographers.
On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location.
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.
Day 4: Punakha – Trongsa
After your early breakfast drive to Trongsa, en route to Trongsa is the Chendebji Chorten, patterned on Katmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes painted on the four cardinal points. Reaching Trongsa visit TRONGSA DZONG, built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and the second Kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat. All 5 Kings were invested as Trongsa Penlop “governor” prior to ascending the throne.
TA DZONG, this watchtower, which once guarded Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands on a promontory above the town. It was built by Chhoje Minjur Tempa, the first governor of Trongsa in 1652. It has four observation pints resembling Tiger, Lion, Garuda, and Dragon. Climb up the path to visit Ta Dzong which now houses a shrine dedicated to the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling. A visit to this former watchtower provides visitors with an insight into the significant of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history. As of date the Ta Dzong of Trongsa is the most fascinating museum of the country.
Day 5: Trongsa – Bumthang
Reaching Bumthang, check in to the hotel and after lunch visit JAKAR DZONG, the Jakar Dzong or “Castle of the White Bird” dominates the Chamkhar valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan lama Nagi Wangchuk . The dzong plays an important role as the fortress of defense of the whole eastern districts.
TAMSHING LAKHANG, located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang, this temple was founded in 1501, a Terton(treasure revealer) Pema Lingpa, who was the re-incarnation of Guru Rinpochhe There are very old religious painting around the inner wall, which was restored at the end of the 19th century.
THANGBI GOMPA, this temple can be approached with 30 minute walk from Kurje Lhakhang, situated in the middle of a wide fertile plateau overlooking the river. Founded in 1470, by Shamar Rinpochhe of the Karma Kagupa religious school. The building compresses two sanctuary and a temple of terrifying deity. The sanctuary on the ground floor contains the statue of the past , present , and the future Buddha and three clay statues probably dating to the end of the 15th century. On the upper floor, the vestibule contains two remarkable paintings of Guru Rinpochhe’s heaven and the Buddha Amitabha’s heaven.
Day 6: Jambay Lhakhang Drup
After your breakfast drive to Jambay Lhakhang and withes ‘Tshechu’. This is a great opportunity to mingle with the Bhutanese crowed and so to enjoy their happy company. Throughout the day there will be mask dance and the Buddhist ceremonies. People come from all around to attend and exchange gossip, look for marriage partner, pick up merit in the search of escaping the wheel of life or perhaps just to have thoroughly good time with the friends.
Day 7: Jambay Lhakhang Drup (Festival)
In the morning continue with the festival and after lunch visit KURJE LAKHANG, located further along the valley, Kurje Lhakhang compresses three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 against the rock face, where Guru Rinpochhe meditated in the 8th century. The middle temple was built on the site of a cave containing with the rock imprint of Gurus body, and is therefore, considered to be the most holy. The temple on the left was built by the Queen Mother, Ashi Kesang Choden in 1990. These three temples are surrounded by 108 chorten walls. If time permits drive furthers east of Bumthang to visit the MEMBAR TSHO ‘the burning lake’. In the evening after your early dinner drive to Jambay Lhakhang to witness the night necked mask dance. The festival of Jambay Lhakhang is well known because of this dance that performed at night. Enjoy the dance.
Day 8: Bumthang – Phojikha Valley
Today you will be driving to Gangtay, the winter home land of black-necked crane there. In Gangtay you can either rest in the peaceful vicinity of the lodge, or there a plenty of local walks, including bird watching and the visit to gompa which overlooks the valley.
GANGTAY GOMPA, in the mountains east of Wangdue Phodrang lies the beautiful Phobjikha valley, on the slope of which is situated the great monastery of Gangtay, established in 17th century. The village of Phobjikha lies a few Km. down from the monastery on the valley floor. This quite remote valley is the winter home for the Black Necked Cranes, which migrates from the arid of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate BLACK NECKED CRANE CENTRE, visit the Black Necked Crane Centre, though you might not be on a Crane season, you will get a loads of information about the crane, even a short 3-4 minute documentary will be available regarding the Black Necked Crane.
Day 9: Phobjikha – Thimphu
Drive to Thimphu and en-route visit WANGDUE PHODRANG DZONG, stretched along the hilltop above the confluence of Punatshangchhu and Dangchhu river, the imposing Wangdue Phodrang Dzong is the town’s most visible feature. During pre monarchy days, the governor of this dzong played an important role. So be the guest and enjoy the tour of the dzong. After lunch in Wangdue continue your drive to Thimphu and reaching DOCHULA PASS 10,150ft/3100m stop here for the panoramic view incase if you have missed on your before journey. Reaching Thimphu check in to your hotel and in the evening time get down to the town for shopping if you are interested.
Day 10: Thimphu – Haa Via Chelela and Paro
Drive to Haa through Chele La (3,988m). From the pass you can see Paro valley on one side and then Haa valley on the other. You can also have a picnic at Chele La if you like to. In Haa, some sightseeing and then going to katsho village and visiting the Katso Lhakhang.
The valley of Haa was only opened to Tourist in 2002 and Haa is the least visited valley in Bhutan due to the lack of Tourist infrastructure. This has helped in keeping Haa the way it has always been, with Bhutanese families living their traditional and simple life. There are no tourist standard hotels in Haa valley so we will return back to Paro for the night.
Day 11: A day hike to Taktsang Monastery
After breakfast,you will hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The climb up to the viewpoint will take around 1 ½ hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria. Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 1 hour. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former beauty.
After visiting the monastery, walk back down to the road on the way stop for lunch at the view point cafeteria and then walk further down to the road point. Then drive back to hotel and relax.
Dinner and overnight in Paro.
Day 12: Depart Paro
After your leisurely breakfast in the hotel drive to Paro airport and depart to your onward destination. Here you bid goodbye to your helpful Bhutanese tourist guide and driver and proceed to your onward destination.