Bhutan Travel Information and Advice | Pyala Travel

Bhutan Travel advice, information and traveltips to enhance your travelexperience to Bhutan

Bhutan: Country of the Thundering Dragon

Bhutan Travel Information | Bhutan Country Information

One of the most alluring lands for the true traveler is the isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Many have heard about it, few have been there. We open this land to you and offer you the opportunity to explore this fascinating country with your own eyes. Travel through the land of the "Thundering Dragon," as the Bhutanese call it, where you can visit the huge dzongs (monastery fortresses) and enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery, the friendly people and traditional culture.

You pay a fixed amount per day
Sustainable tourism is highly regarded in this country, where the king has chosen the pursuit of “Gross National Happiness. " Tourism is also arranged so that you pay a fixed amount per day, part of which will be invested by the government in various projects that benefit the country and people like infrastructure and education. This fixed amount is all inclusive; it covers your accommodations, meals, excursions, guide and private driver. The price per day in the peak season is higher than in the off season. The peak season is March - May and September - November. Off-season months are January, February, June - August, and December.

A trip to Bhutan is not complete without visiting a festival. Each monastery holds an annual festival with spectacular masked dances by the monks to the sound of hypnotic music. Everyone from the surrounding area come to such a festival, which usually lasts for several days. Besides the many monastic festivals (tsechu), there are also atmospheric village festivals. We know when the festivals take place and can advise you when to plan your trip so that you are able to experience a festival. Our tours are formulated so that they usually visit one or more festivals. Bhutan is also ideal for walkers.

There are several multi-day walks, short treks, and up to three-week long walks through the Himalayas. For hiking, there is no low season discount. A trip to Bhutan can easily be combined with a visit to Sikkim, the neighboring Buddhist Himalayan kingdom in India. Of course combinations with other regions in India, Nepal and Tibet are possible as well.

Festivals in Bhutan

One of the highlights of a visit to Bhutan is experiencing a Tshechu, a Buddhist festival. In most villages the local monastery organizes a yearly festival with religious and folkloric music and there is often a market with food stalls, shops and other activities. Most Tshechu are organized in honor of Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava). This Indian saint spread Tantric Buddhism across the Himalayas and Bhutan. He is the founder of the Nyingmapa movement within Tibetan Buddhism. The Tshechu are festivals that normally take place around the 10th day of the month according to the Bhutanese calendar. They commemorate different episodes from the life of Guru Rinpoche. During a Tshechu there is dancing performed by both monks and civilians. Attending a Tshechu is not only good for your karma, but also an annual social event. The population of the surrounding area, dressed in their Sunday best, come together to celebrate. Besides the monastery festivals there are also lesser-known village festivals, which are often smaller, but still very attractive.

Below is the program of the Tshechu in the capital of Thimpu. Similar dances are also performed elsewhere.

Day 1
Dance 1: Shacham. This Dance of Four Deer depicts the victory of Guru Rinpoche over the evil Wind King. The dancers wear knee-length skirts and deer masks.
Dance 2: Peling Went Sum, the Dance of the Three Kings of Ging. These three kings are all manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. This dance symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The dancers carry sticks and swords and wear knee-length skirts and masks of animals or demons. Dance 3: Pacham, the Dance of the Heroes. This dance depicts the leadership of Guru Rinpoche. The dancers wear yellow skirts, gold crowns and no masks.
Dance 4: Shawo Shachi, the Dance of the Deer and the Dogs. The dance portrays compassion for all living beings through Milarepa which brings harmony between the deer (prey) and the dog (the predator). The dancers wear masks of dogs and deer.
Dance 5: Dramyin Cham, the Dance of the Guitar. The leader carries a traditional guitar called a dramyin, and the dancers wear elaborate woolen robes with traditional felt boots, a yellow shirt, brown coat, sword and hat.

Day 2
Dance 1: Zshana, the Dance of the 21 Black Hats. The “Black Hat Dancers” represent yogis who have the power to both give life and take it away. The dancers wear large black hats, felt boots and colorful brocade robes.
Dance 2: Zshana Nga Cham, the Dance of the 21 Black Hats with Drums. This is a victory dance after the destruction of evil.
Dance 3: Kyecham, the Dance of the Devotees. This dance portrays King Norzang and his armed companions during a holy war. The dancers wear yellow skirts, animal masks and carry a sword in their right hand.
Dance 4: Phole Mole, the Dance of the Nobles, is based on a legend about King Norzang. Dance 5: Dramitse Ngacham. 16 drummers perform the Dramitse dance that illustrates a vision of the nun Chorten Zhangmo from the 15th century in which the followers of Guru Rinpoche saw a dance. The dancers wear yellow skirts, different animal masks and carry drums.
Dance 6: Shawo Shachi, the Dance of the Deer and the Dog (see day 1, dance 4)

Day 3
Dance 1: Durdag, the Dance Masters of the Cremation Grounds. This illustrates how the masters of the cremation grounds overcome the demonic powers with their oath to the tantric doctrine. The dancers wear a white suit, white boots and white skull masks.
Dance 2: Tungam, the Dance of the Terrible Gods. This dance shows how Guru Rinpoche overcame enemies of Buddhism with the evil "Thunderbolt." He wages war against evil forces and liberates men into a blissful state. The dancers wear beautiful brocade robes, boots, and terrifying masks.
Dance 3: Raksha Mangcham, the Rakshas and the Condemnation of Death Dance. The Rakshas are the helpers of the God of Death, Shinje. This dance dramatizes how people are convicted in the presence of the God of Death.

Day 4
Dance 1: Bumthang Ter Ham, a folk dance from Bumthang Tamshing. The dancers wear yellow skirts, white masks, and carry a bell and drum.
Dance 2: Durdag, the Dance Masters of the Cremation Grounds. (See day 3, dance 1).
Dance 3: Ging Dang Tsholing, the Dance of the Ging and the Tsholing. This dance depicts the paradise of Ugyen Rinpoche, the Zangtoepelri, where all the incarnations of Ugyen Rinpoche are sent. The Tsholing wear long colorful robes and the Ging wear tiger skins.
Dance 4: Guru Tshen Gye, the Dance of the Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. During this dance Ugyen Rinpoche receives the blessings of mind, speech and body.
Dance 5: Rigma Chudrug, the Dance of the 16 Fairies. These fairies are manifestations of the same person. They are goddesses of the sacrifices that have been divided into 4 categories. Each category is further divided into 4, giving a total of 16. The dance is meant to bring happiness to people who believe in the manifestations of Ugyen Rinpoche.
Dance 6: Other religious and folk dances You will also find festivals in Sikkim, but far fewer than in Bhutan.

A festival experience in Sikkim is therefore a unique event. Unfortunately, the dates of the festivals are often announced at the last minute and it is difficult to plan to include one in your trip.