Tergo Travels, Bhutan

Tergo Travels, Bhutan

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Pilgrimage to the holy Buddhist sites in Bhutan

Bhutan is a small Buddhist country with nearly 70 percent of its people practicing the Drukpa Kagyu form of Buddhism.  This form of Buddhism is the school of tantric Mahayana Buddhism and is similar to the Tibetan Buddhism but has its own set of unique beliefs and practices.

Bhutan has many holy places in the form of monasteries and chortens and other religious sites. And if you are interested in making a journey to discover yourself and Buddhism, it is worthwhile to make a pilgrimage to this amazing country.

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Day 1   |   Arrival to Paro International Airport

Druk Air flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills, each flight is a mesmerizing feat and offers exciting descent into the Kingdom. On arrival at the airport, received by our representative and then transfer to Thimphu, the modern capital town of Bhutan. If you arrive before lunch time, you will be served a picnic lunch in Paro before your journey onwards to Thimphu.

Visit Kichu Lhakhang, Paro

Kichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan and was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. Legend says that a giant demoness lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. So on order to control her, King Songsten Gampo built 108 temples which are places on all points of her body. Kichu Lhakhang was one of the 108 monasteries.

Visitors are not allowed when there are ceremonies going on in the monastery.

Night halt in Paro

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Day 2    |   Travel to Thimphu

Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan and is the centre of Government. The capital represents mostly the urban way of life. The name Thimphu originates from a sinking stone in front of Dechenphu monastery. “Thim” means to sink and “Phu” means to fly in the local language. Oral history says that the stone is place on top of a subdued ogress to prevent her from flying away. With a population of about 100,000 and increasing every day due to migrants from all over the country, Thimphu has many businesses, hotels, and restaurants, dance clubs and pools halls.

Visit the National Memorial Chorten

The National Memorial Chorten with a golden spire is one of the most visited religious structures in Thimphu. It was built in 1974 in memory of the third King of Bhutan. Inside the chorten, there are numerous religious paintings and complex tantric statues housed inside reflecting both peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist deities. For many Bhutanese living in Thimphu, the chorten is one of their main areas of worship.

30 minutes hike to the Tango Monastery

This monastery is an important centre for higher learning for monks. The three storey main temple is dedicated to the body, speech and mind of the Buddha. The name “Tango” means head of a horse. There is a rock which looks like a head of a horse.  Story says that when Lam Phajo Drugom Zhinpo was meditating in this area, he heard a horse neigh three times. And hence the place was called Tango.

Night halt in Thimphu

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Day 3   |    Travel to Punakha

Punakha is the old capital of Bhutan and is warmer compared to Thimphu. River rafting is done in this place. Punakha is also the winter residence for the central monk body.

Visit Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal was built over a period of 9 years. This chorten/stupa is a splendid example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions and the only one of its kind in the world. Built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, this temple is dedicated for the well being of the kingdom and the benefit of all sentient beings.

Visit the Punakha Dzong

Punakha Dzong (Palace of Great Happiness) was built in 1637 and is the winter residence of the Chief Abbot and the central monk body. Historically, the first king of Bhutan was enthroned in this dzong in 1907.

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Day 4   |   Travel to Wangdue

Wangdue is as warm as Punakha and is about 30 minutes drive from Punakha.

Visit Chimi Lhakhang

This monastery is devoted to the mad monk, Drukpa Kinley, who is remembered for his outrageous teaching often associated with sexual inclinations. This monastery is also known to have fertility power and childless couples visit this monastery to seek blessings.

Visit Wangdue Dzong

The Wangdue Dzong was built in 1639. Legend says that the protective deity, Yeshi Gonpo, told Zhabdrung Rimpoche that if he built a dzong on the ridge he would be able to bring the whole country under his power. Wangue means to bring under one’s power

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Day 5   |   Travel to Bumthang

Bumthang is named after “Bumpa” shaped valley. “Bumpa” is the vessel for water kept on the altar. Bumthang has many holy sites and is also famous for the textile “yathra”.

Night halt in Bumthang

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Day 6   |   Visit the Jambay Lhakang

This is one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo on the same day as Paro Kichu Lhakhang. This Lhakang has Guru Joyo Jampa, the future Buddha as its main statue. This is one of the holiest Lhakang in Bhutan,

Visit the Kurjey Monastery

The name Kurjey means body print. It is believed that Guru Rimpochu left his body print on a rock inside the main Lhakhang. The big cypress tree outside the Lhakhang is believed to be the walking staff of Guru Rimpoche.

Visit the Tamshing Lhakang

This small private monastery was founded in 1501. This Lhakhang also has a school for monks and has many interesting paintings. This is also one of the few monasteries where monks are being educated in the tradition of Pema Lingpa.

Rest and recuperation

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Day 6   |   Drive to Tang

This valley is about 3 hours from Jakar. The most part of the road is unpaved and can be unaccessible during the rainy season.

Enroute visit the Membar Tsho

The Membar Tsho or the burning lake was the place where the treasure revealer Pema Lingpa found the treasures hidden by Guru Rimpoche. The lake was named burning lake as Pema Lingpa plunged into the lake with a lighted lamp and came out with the treasures. The lamp was still lighted when he came out of the lake. Many people light lamp next to the lake.

Visit the Ta Rimocen Lhakhag

This Lhakhang has a big rock and is believed to be the meditation place of Guru Rimpoche. Guru has left many prints on the rock and the name of the Lhakang means “the one with marks”.

Picnic lunch at Tang

Drive back to Jakar

Night halt at Jakar

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Day 7   |   Visit the Jakar Dzong

You can see the Dzong as soon as you enter Jakar town since the Dzong is perched on a ridge overlooking the valley. Legends say that a white bird flew and landed on the site when the location of the dzong was being sought. Jakar means white bird.

Visit the Tharpaling Goempa

This monastery has an unpaved road which can be inaccessible during the rainy season. It takes about 2 -3 hours to walk to the monastery from the road head. This monastery has many interesting paintings which are worth seeing.

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Day 8    |     Travel back to Thimphu

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Day 9    |    Travel to Paro

Visit the Tiger’s nest

Constructed in 1692, Taksang is one of Bhutan’s most famous monasteries.  It is perched on the mountainside at an elevation of 3,120 metres (10,200 feet).  Taksang meaning “Tiger’s Nest” was named after the legend where Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tigress before finally landing at the very spot that Taksang was built.

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Day 10   |   Departure