Thursday, 27 April 2017

BHUTAN: Bhutan Scheduled Tours

Visitors can begin their day in Thimphu with a pleasant drive to the Buddha point at Kuenselphodrang, which offers a magnificent panoramic view of the valley below and great photograph opportunities.

Marvel at the gigantic Buddha Dordenma Statue which houses over a hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues, each of which, like the main statue itself are made of bronze and gilded in gold. The throne that the Buddha Dordenma sits upon is a large meditation hall.

The statue sits high on a spur overlooking the southern approach to Thimphu. It is one of the largest Buddharupas in the world at a height of 169 feet (51.5 meters).

Apart from commemorating the centennial of the Bhutanese monarchy, it fulfills two prophecies. In the twentieth century, a renowned yogi prophesied that a large statue of either Padmasambhava, Buddha or a phurba would be built in the region to bestow blessings, peace and happiness on the whole world. Additionally the statue is mentioned in the ancient terma (treasures) of Guru Padmasambhava himself, dating from the 8th C, and recovered by terton Pemalingpa in the 15th C.

Under the eyes of the Buddha statue, the Kuenselphodrang nature park was formally opened as a recreational park in 2011. The park conserves 943.4 acres of forest area that surrounds the Buddha Dordenma statue and has several enjoyable walking trails that range from leisurely to moderate.

With so many festivals on in Bhutan throughout the year, it can be difficult to plan and decide which one to attend. To help with this we have now included a number of Bhutan festival scheduled tours for 2015 on our festivals page.

Festivals in Bhutan draw hundreds of Bhutanese people in a spirit of reverence, blessing, festivity and celebration, and is one of the best ways to discover the rich cultural heritage of Bhutan.

These festivals come to life with colour, music, dance and drama as villagers and townspeople gather to witness the masked dances, sword dances, sample local cuisine, participate in traditional games and other sacred rituals.

They are also very popular with international guests visiting Bhutan, though it can be a challenge sometimes to plan a trip to Bhutan incorporating a festival. For your easy reference, we have placed a number of suggested 2015 festival tour samples on our festival page.

These include a range of different types of tours across a wide range of districts. If you do not see a tour included a festival that you would like to attend in 2015, please contact us and we can easily tailor design an itinerary to suit.

Bhutan’s first rotary air support during emergency for public was officially launched in November. Apart from emergencies the helicopter will also be used to ferry government officials to oversee and monitor developmental activity.

The helicopter can be hired for private uses like transporting passengers, scenic flights for tourists, and transportation of cargo.

Inaugurated as a part of 60th birth anniversary celebration of our fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the helicopter will respond to medical evacuation in airlifting critically ill person from remote areas and also respond to distress calls like fires, floods and earthquakes.

The helicopter can seat up to seven passengers and one pilot. The helicopter can be equipped with a sling capable of lifting 1,500kgs, that can be used to not only lift people but water as well for fire fighting duties.

The helicopter board has not determined the service rate for commercial use. BTB shall update the service rate once the company declare it.

The Chorten Kora festival, also known as ‘Dakpa Kora’, is set in Trashiyangtse, the easternmost district of Bhutan that borders Arunchal Pradesh. This years festival begins on the 16th of March and continues until the 30th of March.

It is dedicated to a young girl from Tawang, believed to have been a Khando (Dakini) who agreed to be buried alive inside the Chorten. Hundreds of people from Arunachal Pradesh known as the Dakpas make a pilgrimage to Chorten Kora to circumambulate on Dakpa Kora, held on the 15th day of the 3rd month corresponding to 28th February. Bhutanese pilgrims then follow with their circumbulation on the 30th day corresponding to 15th March every year.

The Chorten (Stupa) was built by Lama Ngawang Loday in 1740on the site where a demon was subdued. It was dedicated to the memory of his late uncle, Jungshu Pesan. It is believed to be a replica of the Boudhnath stupa in Nepal and was consecrated by the 13th chief Abbot of Bhutan Je Sherub Wangchuk. Today, it is considered one of the most important historical Buddhist structures.

'A Kingdom in the Sky’ combines a tour of Bhutan’s cultural western valley’s of Paro, Thmphu and Punakha with a fabulous day camping trek to Bumdra monastery which includes a night in a wilderness campsite high in the Himalaya. This tour is specially tailored to provide insight into Bhutan’s Buddhist culture at a deep and comprehensive level.

“A Kingdom in the Sky” combines spectacular drives to three historically important valleys: the bustling capital of Thimphu; the tropical Punakha valley; and the open valley of Paro. We take a fabulous day camping trek to Bumdra monastery which includes a night in a wilderness campsite high in the Himalaya and a visit to the Taktsang Goemba or Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Our circuit uses less trodden mountain paths, where few foreigners have ever set foot, to eventually approach the monastery from our campsite above the clouds. The overnight adventure includes two picnic lunches, a camp dinner and breakfast, all tentage, sleeping mattresses, a first-aid kit and the services of experienced BTB guides and cooks.

A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Buddhist Saint Padmasambhava, popularly known as ‘Guru Rimpoche’, the saint who was responsible for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. The Tsechu draws hundreds of Bhutanese people in a spirit of reverence, blessing, festivity and celebration, and is one of the best ways to discover the rich cultural heritage of Bhutan. The Tsechu comes to life with colour, music, dance and drama as villagers and townspeople gather to witness the masked dances, sword dances and other sacred rituals. These events, most of which are performed by monks in colourful and elaborate costumes bring blessings to the onlookers, as well as instructing them about the Buddhist Dharma.

Born in November 1977, Sonam is the youngest of five siblings and comes from Kyichu village in Paro. The son of a village farmer, he spent his early childhood in Paro and went to school there. In 1999, he joined the Royal Body Guards and served for 3 years. The years from 2003 to 2005 were spent with his parents in Kyichu, where he helped his family by driving a family owned taxi.

He joined his present job as driver at Aman Resorts in 2005.

Sonam first learnt to ride a cycle as a schoolboy on a friend’s basic bicycle that did not have any gears but a chain that kept slipping. Later in 2010, Sonam was inspired when another friend and colleague participated and completed the inaugural 268km Tour of the Dragon race. With encouragement from this friend, Sonam ended up buying his first bicycle in December the same year – a second hand Gary Fisher Trek mountain bike.

Sonam’s first race – the 2011 Kabisa Cross Country in Thimphu(58 km) where he trained for 10 days and finished 8th out of 50 riders was the ideal motivation he needed. He prepared harder for his second competitive event – the first Dantak Race (Thimphu – Paro – Thimphu 100km), and won. With the first two results behind him and confidence gained, Sonam registered for the Tour of the Dragon in the same year (2011) and surprised himself by finishing second ahead of several international riders who labeled this race “the toughest mountain bike race in the world”.

sonam3In 2012, Sonam shattered the Haa Festival race’s record by 30 minutes, completing its 83km course in just 3h 5mins. Motivated more than ever, Sonam took part in the 2012 Tour of the Dragon, and won in 11 hours despite a horrific crash in rainy conditions on a treacherous section midway through the race.

In 2013, he successfully defended his Tour of the Dragon title though it took him 13minutes more than his previous time. Poor visibility, weather and bad road conditions saw him lose 33 minutes from his previous time in the first half of the race. He eventually regained 19 minutes in the finishing sectors of the race.

With his second consecutive win of the Tour of the Dragon, Sonam is endearingly called “Son of the Dragon”. His many victories have earned him many individual international sponsors, and he has come to the notice of some international teams who are still in touch with him. He was sponsored to compete in an individual event at Colorado earlier this year but unfortunately missed the event because of the prolonged visa process at New Delhi.

On 06 September this year, Sonam will be attempting his third consecutive Tour of the Dragon title and Bhutan Travel Bureau are proud to support Sonam in his title defense and hat trick attempt.