Punakha Tshechu and Drubchen

Trip Facts

Punakha Tshechu and Drubchen
Length :  9 Days - 8 Nights
Start : Paro
Finish : Paro
Trip Style : Festival Tour
Discounts : Applicable on this trip
Group Size : Maximum 12, Avg 5
Group Leader : Certified Tour Leader from The DBT.
Transport : New Model Toyota Hiace /Coaster bus/Land Cruiser not more than 3 years old.
Trip Rating by Popularity :
Physical Demand Rating :
Can it be Tailored? : Yes

Trip Overview

Punakha Drubchen is a unique festival recreating scenes from the 17th century battle with the Tibetan army. In the absence of a standing army, men from eight great village blocks of Wang region came forward and expelled the invading forces, including general Gushir Khan and his Mongol hordes that had come to aid the Tibetans.

The Tibetan forces wanted to seize Ranjung Kharsapani, a self-recreated image of Avaloketeshwar from one of the vertebrates of Yeshey Tsangpa Gyarey.

The ‘pajabs’ as the militia men were called were few in number . They would jump down the stairs (at the main entrance) and fight their way through the Tibetans and run back towards the south wall and enter the dzong for rest or re-armouring or medical assistance, while the next group would harass the invading army. This created an illusion of a garrison with an inexhaustible manpower willing to fight with great vigour, stamina and bravery. Today, the local young men, dressed in traditional battle gears, reenact the ancient battle scene.

A 21-day prayer ceremony dedicated to Gonpo Yeshey Dorji (Mahakala) and Palden Lhamo was organized during the siege. At the end, Zhabdrung decided to climb on to the bridge to tell the invading army that he was going to throw the statue that had been a matter of much dispute between them. Holding aloft the bowl of fruit offering, supposedly containing Rangjung Khasarpani, which actually was hidden in his folded sleeve, he was reported to have said that the relic of dispute was there and he was going to throw it into the river, ending the dispute.

Zhabdrung threw the fruit bowl into the river but the Rangjung Khasarpani was in his sleeve – a trick that saved Bhutan from recurring Tibetan invasions, a master stroke of political maneuvering. And the invading Tibetan force went back.

To commemorate the triumph, the Punakha Drubchen was introduced as an annual festival of Punakha Dzongkhag.

In 2005, Punakha Tshechu was introduced by the 70th Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra. These two festivals play an important role in preserving Bhutan’s rich culture and traditions.

Date:     Punakha Drubche-23-27 February, 2015

Punakha Tshechu – 28Feb-2 March, 2015

Venue: Paro

Trip Overview


Punakha Drupchhen and Tshechu is actually a replay of history, in which Zhabdrung played the role of the master of the political game. As a religious head, he didn’t tell a lie when he said Rangjung Khasarpani was there in the direction he was pointing. But he also didn’t throw this great national treasure that symbolizes everything for the Bhutanese and Bhutan.

Destinations: Paro, Punakha, Wangduephodrang (Phobjikha valley), Thimphu and Paro (five districts in Bhutan).

Highlights of the tour:

  • Witness the replay of the events how the pajabs fooled the Tibetan army, and the sacred dances and rituals performed by monks and laymen in elaborate, colourful costumes.
  • Join the locals in a special occasion of celebration, blessing and socializing.
  • Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in western Bhutan.
  • Explore the religious, cultural and natural aspects of Phobjikha Valley, winter home to the black-necked crane.
  • Visit many cultural sites including medieval dzongs, markets and museums and immerse in
  • Immerse in religion at the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.
  • Marvel at the elaborate and ancient wall paintings and carvings in dzongs and temples.
  • Visit Phobjikha valley the home of the black-necked cranes.

Outline Iteinerary


  • After the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, you will be received at Paro airport by our representative.
  • Visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong, which houses many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts to acquaint with Bhutan’s historical and cultural past.
  • Visit the Rinpung Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation who was believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. The dzong houses the district monastic body and administrative centre. Then walk down to the beautiful cantilever wooden bridge, festooned with prayer flags and the town. Overnight stay at hotel in Paro.

DAY 02:   PARO

  • Hike to Taktsang Monastery. A walk of approximately 2 hours uphill taking you almost a kilometre above the valley. (Horses will be arranged up to the viewing point for those who can not walk.) Perched on a sheer cliff face, 900 metres above the valley floor, the monastery is also an important pilgrimage site for the Buddhists. The Guru Rinpoche is said to have landed here on the back of a flying tigress in the 8th Century. Legends say that the flying tigress was no one but Yeshey Tshogyal, daughter of Sindhu Raja, who was given as a consort to the Guru. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built.
  • Drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, an historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against the invading Tibetan army in 1644. On a day of fine weather, the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop.
  • En route to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Srongtsen Gampo to subjugate a demon.



  • Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 metres). On a clear day you are treated to an incredible view of the eastern Himalayan peaks. You can walk around the miniature 108 Druk Wangyel Chortens. Sadly, you cannot enjoy the rhododendron flowers at this time of the year. They bloom only in late April/early May. The drive through the Punakha valley offers a glimpse of everyday life in the countryside.
  • On arrival, drive to Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” to attend the festival. While the underlying purpose of the festival is spiritual, dances are more often like plays, telling stories where good triumphs over evil, or depicting significant historical events, especially surrounding the life of Bhutan’s patron saint, Padmasambhava, known as Guru Rinpoche. Built in 1637 situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers), it is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture. Bhutan’s first king was crowned here in 1907.


  • Visit Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madman. Considered a temple of fertility, childless couples come here to offer prayers for a child.
  • Afterwards, return to Punakha Dzong to observe the continuing masked dances and rituals. Overnight at hotel in Punakha.


  • Drive to Phobjikha Valley via the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang, up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forests, and over a high pass down into the picturesque Phobjikha Valley. One of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, Phobjikha is one of winter roosting ground of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the high Tibetan plateau.
  • After lunch visit the Phobjikha Sanctuary to view the majestic black necked cranes and Gangtey Monastery. Overnight at hotel.


  • After an early breakfast drive back to Thimphu. In the afternoon, explore the Crafts Bazaar and other souvenir shops.


  • Visit National Memorial Chorten dedicated to the Third King, revered as the father of modern Bhutan, who passed away in 1972. He was the one who decided to shift the capital from Punakha, once the power house of Bhutanese politics, to Thimphu for practical, if not for (regional) political reasons to Thimphu in 1953. Thimphu, once a broad, fertile rice-growing village, is today the nation’s bustling capital with religious-historical significance from the past to political and historical events that occurred in the present day. The 12-century Changangkha and Drubthob monastery housing the present-day Zilukha Nunnery are some of the great monuments from the past.
  • Visit Tashichhodzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’ the most important landmark. Seat of His Majesty’s secretariat, the Central Monastic Body and ministries, it was initially erected in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and was rebuilt in the 1960s by third king, who worked alongside the workers carrying huge logs on his shoulders.
  • An animal lover would not miss Takin Preserve, the zoo housing the takins, the national animal of Bhutan. Started as a shelter for a few stray takins years ago, it has turned into a full-fledged zoo but in an almost natural surrounding.
  • If during the weekends, visit Farmers’ Centenary Market to sample or observe the activities in Thimphu’s main vegetable market that provides a great photo opportunity.

DAY 08:   THIMPHU-PARO                    

  • Visit the Royal Textile Museum, formally inaugurated in June 2013. Besides educating, promoting and preserving Bhutanese textiles, RTA plans to create international awareness of Bhutanese textiles. It collects and documents important textiles that are part of Bhutanese textile heritage, and preservation and restoration of old Bhutanese textiles. The museum offers the visitors two galleries of artifacts. The lower gallery offers the Royal Collections which includes the first Raven Crown. The upper gallery features pieces representing the various regions of the country.
  • Visit the National Institute of Zorig Chusum where students are taught the 13 Bhutanese arts and crafts, National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century and the Traditional Paper Factory displaying the Bhutanese paper making process, and the Folk Heritage Museum
  • Other options are a hike to Tango and Cheri Monasteries (45 mins), two of the most ancient monasteries in the Thimphu region or a hike to Phajoding Monastery providing a splendid view of Thimphu valley.
  • Late afternoon, go to Paro for overnight halt to catch the morning flight.


  • Breakfast in hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your new destination.


Note: Drubchen and tshechu festivals falls one after the other, so the major part of the itinerary can be same with changes to accommodate the festival dates. The itinerary can also be customized to suit the guests’ requirement.


Date and Departure Information

Fix Departure Dates are yet to be announced. If you are interested for this trip, please click the button below for the further inquiry

Price Details

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), Tourism Business regulating agency of the Royal Government of Bhutan, fixes the Tourist Tariff rate. This rate is valid for all the inclusive tour packages. The tariffs for tourists visiting in a group of 3 persons or more are as follows:

Peak Season Rate: (March, April, May, September, October and November) Cultural Tour /Trekking – US$ 250/per person per night halt.

Low Season Rate:(January, February, June, July, August and December) Cultural Tour /Trekking- US$ 200/per person per night halt.

Price Inclusions

  • Bhutan Royalty ($65 per person per day).
  • Visa Fees ($40 per person).
  • All necessary permit fees.
  • All transfers and sightseeing with entrance fees.
  • All meals including evening tea.
  • All accommodation in our partner hotels, which are some of the best in the country on twin sharing basis.
  • All trekking equipments and logistics including cooks, camp personnel, horsemen and ponies.
  • English-speaking tour leader, guide and driver.
  • Trekking Insurance (Our value-added service).
  • Cultural Performance (our value-added service).

Price Exclusion

  • Airfare for flights into and out of Bhutan.
  • All personal expenses like laundry, telephone, tips, shopping expenses.
  • Meals and Beverages other than the ones mentioned above (see inclusions).
  • Spa Charges.
  • Travel and Medical insurance.

Route map

Punakha Tshechu and Drubchen
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