The Curious Statue of Ura Yakchoe (13-24 April 2016)

** Festival dates are tentative as unexpected changes can occur. Contact us to confirm dates **

Trip Overview

Legend has it that one day a long time ago in Ura valley, an old woman sat outside her house and was approached by a lama for a drink of water.  When she came out with the water, the lama had vanished leaving behind only a sack containing a lone statue. The statue, deemed to be spiritually significant and miraculous, has been passed on from generation to generation by the descendants of the woman. During the festival, the Ura Yakchoe dance is performed and the statue is put on display for people to receive blessings. 

Trip Summary

13 April – Paro; 14 April –Thimphu; 15 April – Thimphu, Punakha; 16 April – Punakha; 17 April – Punakha, Bumthang; 18 April – Bumthang 19-20 April – Ura Yakchoe Festival: 21 April – Bumthang –Gangtey; 22 April – Gantey, Paro; 23 April – Paro; 24 April – Paro

Curious Statue of Ura Yakchoe Map
Curious Statue of Ura Yakchoe Map

 

Price

USD 2,613 (approx. AUD 4,442)

BOOK NOW PAY FOR TRIP

Prices based on twin share. Single supplement USD 446

*AUD estimate based on USD/AUD 1=0.7

Inclusions: accommodation, meals, dedicated transport, entry fees to museums and attractions, licensed guide and driver, visa processing fees, all administrative costs.

Exclusions: international airfares (contact us to arrange), comprehensive travel insurance, personal expenses and tips.

Itinerary

13 April – Paro

The flight to Paro is an experience like no other.During the journey, you will get inspiringly beautiful glimpses of some of the world’s most famous Himalayan peaks. At the airport, your tour guide from Sakten Tours and treks will welcome you and escort you to your hotel. At the airport, our staff will welcome you and escort you to your hotel.  Drive up to your hotel, check in and begin the sightseeing with Ta-Dzong, the National Museum (closed on Sundays and Mondays), which was originally the watch tower of the Paro Dzong and stands imposingly on a hillock overlooking the Paro valley. A short visit here will give you an idea of the cultural and ecological richness of Bhutan. Ramble down to visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong, the ‘fortress of the heap of jewels. Visit Kyichu Lhakhang built in the 13th century by the famous Buddhist Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo to spread Buddhism in the region. Overnight in Paro.

14 April -Thimphu                                                                                         

After breakfast, drive to Thimphu the capital city of Bhutan. On arrival to Thimphu Visit to the Memorial Chorten and the Changangkha temple. In the afternoon, visit the Folk Heritage Museum and the Institute of Arts and Crafts. Drive up to Sangaygang hill/BBS tower best place for photographers are perhaps a visit to the Sangaygang hill or the BBS tower. A short drive from the town, the hill provides visitors with an opportunity to pause and reflect in the hustle-bustle of a busy city-life. You can also have a panoramic view of the valley. On the way back you can visit the small zoo dedicated to the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Visit to Authentic Bhutanese Craft Bazzar/shop. A one stop shop place to witness Bhutanese rich Culture and buy Bhutan made art and craft products. The shop in its 80 small stall covers all aspect of traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. The shops linked with the rural artisans aims to promote Bhutan’s craft industry by creating a viable market, which n turns acts to preserve and promote Bhutan’s unique culture and bring about equitable socio-economis development in the country. Visit the Weekend Market in Thimphu. Most of the Thimphu’s population and many valley dwellers converge on the bustling weekend market, held by the side of Wang chu (Thimphu river).  A wide range of Local food, vegetables and fruits are sold at the market.(It runs from Friday afternoon till Sunday evening)Later in the evening visit Tashichhoe Dzong “the fortress of the glorious religion”. It’s a majestic fortress in all its grandeur and serves as the seat of Bhutan’s government. The Dzong houses the secretariat, the throne room, the offices of his majesty the king and the ministries of home affairs and finance. On the drive back, you will pass the only golf course in the country. Overnight in Thimphu.

15 April – Thimphu, Punakha

After breakfast drive to the beautiful valley of Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. After a dramatic one hour drive, the zigzag course of the road brings you to Dochula, a beautiful mountain pass (alt 3,140 m) with its fluttering prayer flags and a spectacular set of 108 miniature chortens.  On a clear fine day, you will also get awe-inspiring glimpses of the towering Himalayan peaks around. The remaining part of the drive is mostly a gradual descent into Punakha valley. On arrival to Thinleygang/Menchuna village you can visit to some of the farm land where our people produce locally grown vegetables and fruits. You will get chance to mingle with local people. Also in some of the hotels they have started producing their own vegetables and fruits, which they used to serve to the guests. Overnigh in Punakha.

16 April – Punakha

Visit Chimi Lhakhang in Lobesa which was built in 1499. It is a half hour walk across a local village and rice fields from the road head at Sopsokha. It is located on a hillock in the center of the valley. It is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kinley, who in the late 15th century used humor, songs and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teaching and hence was also known as the divine madman. It is widely believed that childless couples who pray at this temple are usually blessed with children so it is also known as the Fertility temple. Visit Punakha Dzong strategically built between the two rivers, the Phochu (Male River) and the Mochu (Female River), the winter residence of the Je-Khenpo (the religious leader of Bhutan). Hike to Khamsum Yule Namgyel Chorten. This fascinating temple was built by the Queen Mother of the 5th King to bring universal peace in this world. The best of the spiritual art works are painted on the inner walls. There are also paintings of Buddhist teachers and tutelary deities of the country. This is a great temple to study the symbolic meanings from frescoes and sculptures. Overnight in Punakha.

17 April – Punakha, Bumthang

Drive to Bumthang via the Pele La Pass. You will cross the villages of Rukubji and En route to Trongsa is the Chendebji Chorten, patterned after Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points.  It was built in the 18th century by Lama Zhida, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. Legend has it that the evil spirit manifested as a gigantic snake.On arrival to Trongsa, visit the Trongsa dzong.It was  built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan.  Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat.  All kings are appointed as Trongsa Penlop (“governor”) prior to ascending the throne. Overnight: Hotel in Bumthang.

18 April – Bumthang

Visit Jakar Dzong or the “Castle of the White Bird” dominates the Chamkhar valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in 1549 by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, the Dzong played an important role as the fortress of defence of the whole eastern Dzongkhag. It also became the seat of the first king of Bhutan. A special feature of the Dzong is the approximately fifty meters high ‘Utse’ or the Central tower, which is distinct from most other Dzongs in Bhutan. The other unique feature of the Dzong is a sheltered passage, with two parallel walls, interconnected by fortified towers, which gave the population of the fortress access to water in the case of a siege. The protected water supply is still intact to this day. Visit Chakhar (Iron Castle) Chakhar is located about 3 km away from the Swiss Farm and was the residence of King Sinda in the 8th century. It is still inhabited by one of his descendants, the Chakhar Lama. Visit Kurje Lhakhang. It is located further along the valley, Kurje Lhakhang is comprised of three temples.  The one on the right was built in 1652 against the rock face where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century.  The middle temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of the Guru’s body, and is therefore considered to be the holiest.  The temple on the left was built in the 1990s by Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck, Royal Grandmother.  These three temples are surrounded by a 108-chorten wall.

19-20 April – Ura Valley

 You will have two days to attend the Ura Yakchoe festival.

21 April – Bumthang –Gangtey 

Today head to Gantey valley. On the way back visit Yathra Weaving Center. Yathras are brightly colored wool fabrics, a speciality of the region. At the Center, you can watch women weaving these brightly colored fabrics.  On arrival to Gantey, visit Gangtey Goemba. It is situated on the slopes of the valley was built in the 17th century.  The village of Phobjikha lies on the floor of the valley, a few kilometers down from the monastery.  This quiet, remote valley is the winter home of the famous black-necked cranes, which migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate. Visit Black-Necked Information Center. The Center has informative displays about the cranes and the valley environment. You can use the Center’s powerful spotting scopes. Overnight in Gangtey.

22 April – Gangtey, Paro

After breakfast drive to Paro. On the way to Paro Stop at Tachog Lhakhang view point. It located on the base of a mountain across the Paro chu (river) on the Paro-Thimphu highway, Tachog Lhakhang is a ‘must-visit’ temple. The lhakhang was built by the great master architect Thangtong Gyalpo in the 14th century. The temple houses some very unique statues. To get to the temple, one will have to walk over the irons chains that spans over the Paro chu. Visit the Dungtse Lhakhang. The unusual Dungtse Lhakhang is conceived as a ‘mandala’ with the different floors corresponding to different levels of initiation and has a remarkable collection of some of Bhutan’s most interesting paintings. Later stroll through the small town of Paro, visit some of the local establishments. Overnight in Paro.

23 April – Paro

After breakfast drive up to Satsam Chorten and begin the hike to Taktshang Goemba. Taktshang meaning the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ is one of Bhutan’s most venerated pilgrimage sites and a very popular site for all tourists visiting Bhutan. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche miraculously flew here on the back of a tigress, meditated in a cave here for three months and converted the whole of Paro valley to Buddhism. Visit Drugyel Dzong. Drugyel Dzong was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetans in 1644.Drukgyel means “the fortress of the victorious Drukpas”. The Dzong, with a delightful village nestling at its foot and Mount Jumolhari (Alt 24,000 feet) appearing as a backdrop on a fine weather is an awe-inspiring sight. Overnight in Paro.

24 April – Paro (Departure)

After breakfast, you will be transported to Paro International Airport for your onward journey.