Bhutan Jambay Lhakhang Tsechu is a festival celebrated in the central region of Bhutan, during the October/November month, in tribute to the establishment of the Jambay temple and to ward off evil spirits. The 10-day Bhutan Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival Tour lets you be a part of the ancient rituals of the Bhutanese community during the festival and introduces you to the numerous Buddhist monasteries and temples. The five-day festival is grand and gracious with honor to the spiritual leader Guru Rimpoche as well. Jambay Lhakhang Tsechu revolves around the numinous history of the Jambay Lhakhang temple dating back to the 7th century when King Songsten Gampo built it.
The folklore, dances, rituals, and short plays during the festival will leave you in awe of the rich culture of the pristine Himalayan Kingdom. Furthermore, visits to the age-old monasteries and temples in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Bumthang, and Wangdue will drive you close to spirituality while soaking their religion and culture.
In most ways, the tour lets you understand the importance of religious beliefs that the Bhutanese people uphold and practice in their lives. At the end of the tour, you are left with utter respect for the culture and traditions of Bhutan.
|Day 1||Arrival in Paro then transfer to Thimphu City - 1:30 hours drive|
|Day 2||Sightseeing tour in Thimphu|
|Day 3||Drive from Thimphu to Punakha via Dochu La Pass (3,140m/10,301ft) - 2 to 3 hours (74km) drive|
|Day 4||Drive from Punakha to Bumthang - 6 to 7 hours (216km) drive|
|Day 5||Attend the Jambay Lhakhang Drup Tsechu|
|Day 6||Sightseeing tour to Bumthang|
|Day 7||Drive from Bumthang to Wangdue - 5 to 6 hours (178km) drive|
|Day 8||Drive from Wangdue to Paro - 3 to 4 hours (110km) drive|
|Day 9||Sightseeing Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro|
|Day 10||Final Depart from Paro|
Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival Tour in Bhutan, the central region, witnesses a distinct festivity celebrated to ward off evil spirits and reveal the establishment of Jambay Lhakhang. The tour takes you to the religious heart of the country, Bumthang, to observe cultural sites heavily promulgating Buddhism. The Jambay Lhakhang Tsechu, celebrated for 5 days annually in October/November, truly picture the Bhutanese myth, beliefs, and rituals that are incomparable to a foreigner’s eye.
The tour begins with your arrival at the Paro International Airport, followed by a scenic landing. On the first day, you will be driven to the capital city of Thimphu for your stay. The next day, you are taken for a spin around the Thimphu district for an excursion. Some of the most enjoyable tourist attractions are visited on this day. The King’s Memorial Chorten, National Museum, Takin Preserve, Tashi Chhoedzong are some of the places you can visit. If time permits, you can also visit the Buddha Dordenma, the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, and a local paper factory.
On the following day, you will head to Punakha valley, the olden capital of Bhutan. On the way, you will take a brief stop at the Dochu La pass to observe the panoramic views of the Himalayas and the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang. From there, the drive continues to Metisha village, from where you will take a short walk to the Fertility Temple/Chimi Lhakhang. Known for its distinct depiction of fertility through phallus objects and paintings, the temple was built by the Divine Madman. In Punakha, you will visit the beautiful Punakha Dzong situated in between the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers.
On the fourth day, you will drive from Punakha to the religious center of Bhutan, Bumthang. Before you reach Bumthang, you will make a brief stop at Zugney to interact with the women weaving wool in their wooden looms at the Yathra weaving center. On the next day, you will attend the most awaited Jambay Lhakhang festival. Be ready to get mesmerized by the awe-inspiring rituals and performances. Visit to understand the history of the Jambay Lhakhang temple built in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emperor King Songtsen Gampo, to pin down a demoness under the monastery. Observe the Naked Dance, Dance of Fire, Dance of Offering, Dance of two mythical birds, and more performances during the festival.
The next day’s tour will take you around Bumthang’s cultural heritage site. Head to the ‘castle of white bird,’ Jambay Lhakhang. Then you can then visit the Kurjey Lhakhang temple, which is popularized to have the imprint of Guru Rimpoche. Stroll around the Tamshing Lhakhang, also known as the Temple of the Good Message. Another day takes you from Bumthang to Wangdue. You will stop at the Chendebji Chorten on the way. A Nepalese styled stupa, it is known to have trapped the body of an evil spirit.
On the following day, you will head to Thimphu, Dochu La pass, and then Paro. In Paro, you can visit the local archery grounds to observe the professional’s play. You may also visit one of the largest dzongs in Bhutan, Rinpung Dzong, to admire its grand beauty. Later you can visit the Kyichu Lhakhang and the old Jowo temple. A sightseeing hike to Bhutan’s most popular cultural icon, Tiger’s Nest Monastery, follows on the next day. The Tiger’s Nest monastery situated in a high cliff was established with the Bhutanese mythology of the spiritual leader, Guru Rimpoche, who is believed to have meditated in the caves of this monastery. The tour ends on the tenth day with a flight homeward from the Paro International Airport.
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The Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival tour in Bhutan begins with a flight to Paro. The flight to the valley town of Paro is mesmeric as you get to observe the views of the regal mountains and rolling hills. Upon your arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be welcomed by our Bhutanese guide and taken to a local restaurant for lunch.
After a hefty lunch, you will be driven to the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu. The drive from the valley town to the city is filled with views of green hills, chortens, Paro and Thimphu rivers, and farms. After you check-in to your respective hotel, you will be oriented about the tour to follow. In the evening, you can wander around the streets of Thimphu to observe the market.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Thimphu.
Thimphu city is the epitome of tourist destinations in western Bhutan. On this day, after having breakfast, you will take the opportunity to visit some of the famous tourist destinations in the Thimphu District. As per your interest and time in your hands, you can visit some of these landmarks:
King’s Memorial Chorten is the first on our list of places to visit in Bhutan as it is recognized as the ‘most visible religious landmark in Bhutan’ due to its golden bells and prime location. The Chorten was built in memory of the third Druk/King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorje Wangchuk, also known as the father of modern Bhutan.
The National Museum in Thimphu is yet another fascinating place where you can learn about the history of Bhutan. You will find the preserved weaving tools, old textile, arts, and crafts being exhibited.
You can also visit the School of Arts and Crafts, Bhutan Post Office Headquarters, the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, and a traditional paper factory. These short visits will let you understand the economy and administration of Bhutan.
Motithang Takin Preserve is a mini zoo turned wildlife reserve for the national animal of Bhutan, Takin, which is a member of the goat family. Enjoy a stroll around the preserve.
Tashi Chhoedzong is a religious fortress built in the 16th century and houses the secretariat, throne room and office of the king, and the central monk body. It is known to have over thirty temples, chapels, and shrines in the vicinity. The grand Tashi Dzong can realize the glory of the monarchical system, also called the ‘Fortress of Glorious Religion.’
If you are up for some hiking experience, then you can visit the Changankha Lhakhang situated atop a small hill. Built during the 13th century, it is now a spiritual home for children of the Chang valley.
After enjoying the sightseeing tour in Thimphu, you can saunter through the Handicraft Emporium and local art and craft shops to purchase some souvenirs.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Thimphu.
On this day, you will enjoy a short drive from the current capital of Bhutan, Thimphu, to the ancient capital of the country, Punakha. On the way, you will pass through the Sama Lam and Lungten Lam road till Semtokha, then head on through a zigzag road to the Dochu La Pass situated at the height of 3,140m/10,301ft. The views of the eastern Himalayas can be seen from the Pass on a clear day. You will take a brief stop to admire the 108 memorial Chorten in the pass along with the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang built by the Queen Mother in 2004. The Dochu La pass witnesses an annual winter Druk Wangyel Tsechu Festival in Bhutan to honor the fourth Druk of Bhutan and his Royal Army for protecting Bhutan against the invading Indian army in 2003.
After crossing the Dochu La pass, you will head to Thinyelgang through the Thimphu Punakha Highway. You will pass through Sopsokha then towards the Metshina village. You will take a brief stop here and go for a 20-minute hike through the green fields to Chimi Lhakhang. It is also called the Fertility Temple as it portrays fertility through the phallus objects and paintings found there. It is known to have been promoted by the Divine Madman, Drukpa Kuenley, who was known for his distinct ways of teaching Buddhism. From there on, you will head to your car and drive through Khuruthang to Punakha.
Upon reaching your hotel, you will take some refreshments and then head for a visit to one of the most beautiful, Punakha Dzong. It is situated between the Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (Female) rivers in the valley. It was once the seat of the Government of Bhutan and the administrative center until 1955, when the capital of Bhutan was shifted from Punakha to Thimphu. After the interesting day, you will head back to your hotel for the night.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Punakha.
On this day, you will be driving to the heart of religious Bhutan, Bumthang. It is a long drive, but one that is filled with amazing scenic views. Along the Trashigang-Semtokha Highway, you will pass through many settlements. The tropical vegetation and rhododendron-clad forest will take you through the Pele La pass (3,420m/11,220ft). You will cross the open meadows and watch the rural settings where yak herders are seen grazing their cattle, until you reach Trongsa for Lunch. After having lunch, you will head to the Trongsa Dzong which was built in the 16th century. It is regarded to be the largest Dzong in Bhutan and is the administrative seat of the government of Trongsa District.
You can make a stop at the Yathra weaving center situated at Zugney to interact with the women in their looms making hand-woven woolen clothes and other items. The distinct textile is native to Bhutan and can be found in the local shops in items like scarves, caps, and bags. Taking the Bumthang-Ura Highway through a lush forest, you will lead to Bumthang. Buddhist gurus and monks have led to the sprouting of many temples and monasteries in this area for meditation. After the long drive, you will head to your hotel for some rest. In the evening you can go to the streets to observe the locality and nearby villagers.
Overnight stay at hotel or Guesthouse in Bumthang.
This is the crux of your Bhutan Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival Tour as you will be attending the festival. After having breakfast, you will head to the Jambay Lhakhang temple. The history of the Jambay temple predates to the 7th century. As per ancient mythology, there was a demoness who once lurked in the Himalayas, spreading savagery and malignant armadas. Hence to combat the evil, spread Buddhism and positivity, the temple was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan emperor King Songtsen Gampo. The temple is believed to restrain the body of the demoness. It is regarded as one of the 108 temples built by the emperor to promulgate Buddhism in Bhutan and Tibet.
In October/November of each year, the temple witnesses the Jambay Lhakhang festival Bumthang for five days. The festival is celebrated to honor the temple's establishment, ward off evil and honor the spiritual leader Guru Rimpoche who is believed to have blessed the temple.
Depending on which day you attend the festival, you will witness many performances and rituals. The most prominent and distinct among them is the Mewang, a form of fire dance held in the evening. Infertile women are blessed during the performance in hopes that they may be able to bear children. You will also witness the Naked Dance, known locally as Tercham, performed by 16 naked men to ward off evil spirits. You will also witness the Black Hat Dance of the emanations of Guru Rimpoche, where the performers wear long robes and black hats. The Dance of Offering, known as Tshogcham, is where the performer offers the body of an evil spirit to the deity. The festivity continues with performances like the Dance of Nyelema and Peling Ging Sum, Two Mythical Birds, Dance of Ging Tsoling, Damitse Ngacham, and Pacham/Dance of Heros, to name a few.
Throughout the time, you can also interact with the community gathered to celebrate the festival in unity. It is wise for you to understand that you cannot take pictures during the performance. However, the memories of the unusual yet amazing festivity will be imprinted in your mind.
Overnight stay at a hotel or guesthouse in Bumthang.
On this day, you will be taking a tour of the nearby religious sites in Bumthang. You will begin your tour to the Jakar Dzong, called the ‘castle of the white bird.’ It is known to have been built in the 15th century when the lamas searched for a place for a monastery’s construction, a while bird flu on the hilltop. It was signaled as a positive omen, so the monastery was located there.
From there, you can head to the Kurjey Lhakhang, which was built in the 16th century by the Minjur Tempa. Kurjey is translated to ‘Body imprint,’ which, as per the mythology, Guru Rimpoche left his imprint in the temple’s cave.
Following that, you will visit the Tamshing Lhakhang, known as the ‘Temple of the Good Message.’ It now houses about 95 monks and is known for teaching Dharma to serve the community for good.
After the sightseeing tour, you can either head back to your hotel or can proceed to the Jambay Lhakhang Bhutan to witness more of the festival if it is still ongoing. You can also interact with the local villagers and understand their way of life in this part of Bhutan.
Overnight stay at hotel in Bumthang.
On this day, you will leave Bumthang and head towards Wangdue district through Trongsa. Your drive will take you through the Trongsa Bumthang Highway, passing Jakar, and back through Bumthang Ura Highway. After passing Trongsa, you will reach Chendebji in a few hours. After having lunch, you will visit the Chendebji Chorten, which is constructed in a Nepalese stupa style. It is known to have been built in the 18th century and covers the body of an evil demon. In the area, you will find a prayer wall. The Chorten is supposed to deter the Nagala demon. After the brief stop, you will continue your drive to Wangduephodrang. Wangdue is situated in between Punakha and Gangtey.
After the long drive, you will be driven to your guesthouse or homestay for the night. You can head out to the village blocks known as gewogs and interact with the local people in the evening time. You can observe their traditional dresses, cooking utensils, and their belief in the Buddhist religion.
Overnight stay at guesthouse or homestay in Wangdue.
On this day, you will be driving from Wangdue to Paro, which is a short distance. On the way, you will pass Sopsokha and head straight to Thimphu, and you will pass the Royal Botanical Park, then head to the Dochula pass. If you wish, you can stop at the pass one last time to witness the panoramic vistas of the Himalayas. From there, you will take a descend, past the settlement of Semtokha, Khasadapchu, and Chuzom. Alongside the Paro Chhu river via the Paro-Thimphu Highway, you will reach Paro. After being transferred to your hotel, you will head out for a sightseeing tour.
You can go to the local archery ground to observe the professionals playing archery. From there, you can visit the Rinpung Dzong. Known as the ‘fortress of the heaps of Jewels,’ it is Bhutan's largest monasteries. From there, you will visit the religious Kyichu Lhakhang. The Jowo temple in the Lhakhang is known to be one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, built sometime in the 7th century. It is known to have been visited by Guru Rimpoche. You can head out to buy some souvenirs from the art and crafts and textile shops in the evening.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Paro.
On this day, you will be visiting one of the most famous cultural heritage of Bhutan, the Paro Taktsang/Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The monastery situated 900m/2,952ft above the Paro valley floor sits on the edge of a cliff. The hike to this monastery is tiresome, but, in the end, it is all worth it. You will be baffled by the grandeur of this monastery and its surrounding.
The monastery gets its name from the ancient Bhutanese mythology that suggests that spiritual leader Guru Rimpoche, in his quest to promote Buddhism in Bhutan, came to the caves and meditated. It is believed that he flew on his tiger’s back and landed on the Thulo Phuk cave here, and meditated in the Pel Phuk cave for months and years on end.
Hence, a visit to the caves and the monastery buildings with detailed architecture, statues, and paintings of relics, can help you to realize and appreciate the history of Bhutan and the Buddhist religion. The faint chanting of prayers by the monks, and the fluttering of prayer flags, get you in touch with your spirit. You can take some time to meditate in the hallways of the monastery. Views of the Himalayas far beyond and the Paro valley below look almost dreamy. You will head back through the hill and drive off to your hotel in the evening for some local Bhutanese delicacies.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Paro.
This day marks the end of your Bhutan Jambay Lhakhang Drup Tsechu Tour. You will be driven to the Paro International Airport and bid farewell by your travel crew. You are assured to remember the amazing tie you had on this tour, visiting the religious temples and dzongs. Most importantly, you will remember the Jambay Lhakhang festival performances as you head back home.
After the amazing tour with us, you will want to enjoy similar festivities in Bhutan. If you wish to extend your tour or visit the neighboring countries of Nepal and India for a distinct experience in the future, you can feel free to contact us.
Images: iain48 /flickr