The Fall Festival Marathon

During the diffusion of Buddhism in the Himalayas, Bhutan became a sanctuary for practitioners and teachings. Over the centuries, sacred dances have been the most popular medium of transmitting teachings to laity. There are 3 categories of sacred dances: magical manifestation (trulpi zumthrulgi garcham), visionary (kater dhagnangi garcham) and hagiographic (namthar zhicholgyi garcham). A multitude of accomplished masters founded myriad dance traditions from 14th to 17th century across Bhutan: Terton Dorji Lingpa (1346- 1405), Sakya Lama Thinley Rabyang (1505-65), Fourth Zhamarpa Chokyi Drakpa (1453-1524), Terton Sherab Mebar (1255-1315/1375-1435), Gyalse Kunga Gyeltshen (1689-1713) and Khedrup Kunga Wangpo. Terton Pema Lingpa (1450-1521), fourth of the five king treasure finders, founded a quintessential dance tradition inspired by treasure teachings and prophetic visions. Some of the dances are recognized as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.

Excerpt from “Sacred Dances of Bhutan”

Kuzuzangpala! Warm Greetings from the Kingdom of Bhutan!

Fall is the Season of Festival Marathon in Bhutan, the best time to enjoy the season’s harvests, colorful sights and sounds. Locals enjoy the well-deserved leisure time by reveling in the communal festivities, which connect Bhutan’s past and present, tradition and modernity, the worldly and the spiritual. Our popular featured festival is the well-attended JAMPA TEMPLE CONSECRATION FESTIVAL in Bumthang (2,800 masl), the cultural heartland of Bhutan.

Locals await this annual communal festival to renew faith and pay homage to their Patron-saint Guru Padmasambhava hallowed as the second Buddha in the Himalayan Buddhist world. Dedicatory prayers, lavish offerings and sacred dances are performed to observe and receive blessings from the founding saints such as Dorji Lingpa (1346-1405) and Pema Lingpa (1450-1521). The communal festival is also a joyous occasion to wear the season’s best, to see and be seen, and to share home-cooked delicacies with loved ones.

Choedril (choe: dharma, dril: gong) is resounded across valleys, announcing the Autumn FESTIVAL MARATHON in Bumthang, particularly the well-attended five- day Jampa Lhakhang Consecration Festival. Please check the festival dates to plan your trip and catch the featured festival. Contact Holidays Bhutan Team for any inquiry.

As a seasoned travel host, Holidays Bhutan believes in making memorable connections between our guests and the destination. We look forward to hosting your personal/private/group Festival Tours in Bhutan filled with joy, laughter and happiness.

As a seasoned travel host, Holidays Bhutan believes in making memorable connections between our guests and the destination. We look forward to hosting your personal/private/group Festival Tours in Bhutan filled with joy, laughter and happiness.


Holidays Bhutan cultural tour guide will greet and receive our guests at the Paro international for swift 15-minute transfer to the hotel. Refresh and join the welcome tea, formal introduction and tour briefing.

Paro Valley is 2,200 masl and located in western Bhutan.

Visit the historic Ta Dzong (watch tower) and Rinpung Dzong, the fortress on a heap of jewels.

Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan. Learn some local words, phrases and quick daily greetings. Please ask our guide for help if you want to pick up local accent too.

If our guests are interested to dress up for the festival and experience the local costume and culture, our cultural guide will help our guests wear Gho for men/ Kira for women, the national dress of Bhutan. You can also try the traditional boots to pair with the dress.

Meals included: Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Paro

Take domestic flight from Paro international airport to Bumthang, the cultural and spiritual heartland of Bhutan (35 minutes of average flight time).

Stroll through Chamkhar Town. Try the local popular Red Panda Beer, Gauda Cheese and honey. Try local cereal-based local delicacies and beverage: Khuli (buckwheat pancake), Puta (buckwheat noodles), Jangbuli (wheat flour pasta) and Ara (distilled local spirit).

Event highlight

In the evening, visit the 8 th -century Jampa temple. Attend the popular Mewang or fire-blessing ceremony in the open ground, which is performed to exorcise human and non-human obstructive spirits called Jungpos. The fire is a symbolic burial of obstructive spirits and to purify and prepare the ground for the festival.

20 feet twin poles are firmly planted and thickly covered with flammable tinder like bamboo, twigs and firewood. The poles (framed like a soccer goal post) are set on fire and locals believe that both poles burning away bring good fortune and bounteous harvest in the valley. The waiting crowd passes through the blazing poles to cleanse their defilements and negativities.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Bumthang

Visit the 16th-century Tamzhing Temple. Learn about the native treasure discoverer Terton Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) and his spiritual legacies across the Himalayas.

Pema Lingpa’s visionary dances are performed to this day at the annual Tamzhing Phala Choepa Festival in autumn. Please check the festival dates to plan your trip and catch the festival.

Visit ‘Tang Mebar Tsho’ popularly known as the ‘Burning Lake’, where Pema Lingpa revealed his first treasure artifacts. Listen to the story of the legendary treasure revelation and how the pool-lake earned its reputation.

Attend the Naked Dance on the first night of the Jampa Temple Consecration Festival at midnight.


The esoteric naked dances of Jampa temple in Bumthang and Nabji in south Trongsa are revelatory dances associated with Padmasambhava. The Patron-saint of Vajrayana Buddhism in Bhutan first revealed the treasure dance at Nabji in the 8th century. Legend has it that hordes of Jungpo Nuelemas (obstructive spirits) were destroying and delaying the construction of Nabji temple throughout night. To subjugate the spirits, Padmasambhava staged a gripping show of zombies who performed a naked dance with outrageous antics. At last, the temple was successfully built and Padmasambhava prophesied that a treasure revealer Dorje Lingpa (1346-1405) would reveal his hidden treasures at the site. Dorje Lingpa introduced the dance during the consecration of Jampa Temple in Bumthang in the 14th century.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Bumthang

The Jampa Temple consecration festival features exclusive visionary dances and an original composition of the theatrical play of the divine jesters, which were originally composed by treasure revealer Dorji Lingpa for the festival in the 14 th century.

Stroll through the food stalls in the venue and try out home-cooked local delicacies.

Visit landmark Kuje Temple, which houses the full body-imprint of Padmasambhava on the wall of a retreat cave.

In the afternoon, a short drive to the idyllic Chumey valley and attend the communal Trakar festival in the courtyard of a private temple. Watch the visionary dances originally composed by treasure revealer Pema Lingpa in the 15 th century.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Bumthang

A short scenic drive through pine forest to Chumey Valley. Visit the Yathra Factory specializing in an indigenous foot-pedal loom weaving technique of Yathra from sheep and yak wool. Learn about the intricate craft of dyeing, weaving and meanings behind patterns.

Take a shot walk up to the historic state-of-the-art Trongsa Ta Dzong, the watch- tower built in 1652 to stand guard over Chokor Rabtentse fortress in the valley below. The tower-turned-museum exhibits historical artifacts sharing insights into the political evolution and history of Bhutan from medieval theocracy into modern kingship. The tower houses a shrine dedicated to the epic warrior hero Ling Gesar.

Visit the historic Chokor Rabtentse fortress built by Chogyal Minjur Tenpa in 1647. The longest fortress was the geo-political stronghold of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel during the unification of eastern Bhutan in the 17th century. The hereditary crown princes become governor (Choetse Ponlop) of the fortress prior to ascending the golden throne. The fortress has 4 gateways, houses 25 shrines and 4 courtyards.

Stopover at roadside Chendebji Stupa built in the 18 th century in Nepali-style Boudhanath (41km from Trongsa town / 2,430 masl) and listen to the horror legend of the resident demoness Nyala Duem and the stupa built to pin her down. The beautiful mani walls around the stupa showcase the Bhutanese craftsmanship of masonry and stone carving.

Enjoy the scenic drive across the two highest mountain-passes in Bhutan, Yotungla (3,420 masl) and Pelela (3,300masl) into Phobjikha valley, the winter roosting ground of the Black-necked Crane, affectionately known as Bird of Heaven.


Explore Phobjikha valley by taking the nature walk around the roosting ground of the Cranes. One can sight the heavenly migratory birds in the winter months from November end to April. OR attend the Black-necked Crane Festival on 11 November in the courtyard of the Gangtey Temple.

Enjoy the mountain drive through natural parks and reserves – approximately 2 hrs. 20 minutes covering 78.7 kms – from temperate Phobjikha (3,000 masl) to tropical Punakha valley (1,500 masl).

Visit Kaja Throm Market in Khuruthang, meet local vendors and farmers and learn about the local Bhutanese fresh farm produce and food preservation techniques.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Punakha

In the afternoon, visit the 400-year-old Pungthang Dechen Phodrang, the palace of great bliss and learn about Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (1594-1651), the founding father of Bhutan. The castle fortress is an epitome of Bhutanese architecture housing national relics and finest Buddhist frescos including the popular 12 episodes of the life of Shakyamuni Buddha inside the grand assembly hall.

Every spring, the fortress hosts the 3-day Dromchoe festival, where resident monks perform sacred masked dances. It is the first festival to usher in the Traditional New Year on the Bhutanese traditional calendar. Please check the festival dates to plan your trip and catch the festival in the courtyard of the historic fortress.

Enjoy a short walk to the popular Temple of Fertility in Punakha. Learn about the beloved saint Drukpa Kunley (1455-1529), whose songs and stories of spiritual realization continue to influence and shape the Bhutanese socio-cultural life.

Please have an open mind as you take the walk of fame to the temple through the village proudly exhibiting their phallic house paintings, souvenir arts and crafts.

Stopover at the Dochula Pass for tea/coffee and enjoy the spectacular view of the pan- Himalayas from the 3,100-mt mountain pass.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Thimphu

Visit the Motithang Takin Zoo. Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. Drive to Sangaygang viewpoint and enjoy the refreshing view of Thimphu City.

Visit the National Institute of Zorig Chusum, where you can watch and learn about the thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan. The institute remains closed on Sunday and public holidays. Check out the National Library which houses comprehensive Buddhist cannons and the world’s largest book on display.

Visit the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan/ museum (instituted in 2005) and learn about the history and craft of textile weaving in Bhutan.

Stroll through the craft market showcasing the authentic crafts of rural Bhutanese artisans.

Join the locals in their daily circumambulation / Kora of the city’s landmark Memorial Stupa, which was built in 1974 in memory of the late third King of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

Visit the Changlimithang National Stadium archery range to watch an archery match, the national sport of Bhutan. Bhutanese are keen and enthusiastic archers. Our guests can try the sport on traditional equipment in one of the hotel campuses.

Drive to Paro: leisure stroll and shopping through the streets of Paro town.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Paro

Hike to the spectacular Taktsang, literally called the Tiger’s Nest, takes between 2-4 hours depending on the walking pace. The first temple complex was built in 1692, which was blessed by Padmasambhava as a power-place and treasure trove in the 8th century. The magical site has attracted some of the legendary Buddhist saints and treasure discoverers who attained spiritual realizations and revealed treasure teachings from the site.

Guests have options between foot-hike and pony ride up to the Tiger’s Nest.

The 2-3-hour moderate climb traverses mixed forests of oak, pine and rhododendron and finally descending to a waterfall cascading down a 2000-ft vertical cliff.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Paro

This morning/afternoon we see you off at the airport to catch your flight to Bangkok or other gateway cities to connect with your international flight to next destination.