Festival & Photography
27 Feb - 5 March
7D / 6N
Bhutan is the ultimate destination for an avid photographer offering ample opportunities for photography. The mystic snow-capped mountains, quaint valleys, turquoise rivers, unique textiles and handicrafts, pristine forests, stunning flora and fauna, the people, and the vibrant mask dance festivals are an excellent subject for photography.
This spectacular photography tour explores the alluring Thimphu city, a small town capital with a medley of old character and the high spirits of modernism. Showcases the architectural splendor exhibited in dzongs and fortresses, takes you on an excursion to the most photogenic sight- the Tiger’s Nest monastery and engage in one of the biggest festivals – the Punakha Dromche.
The photography tour is based around the Punakha Dromche Festival tentatively scheduled from 09 till 11 March. It is an annual extravaganza tantamount in religious significance. What makes this celebration unique is the recreation of the 17th century battle against the Tibetan army showcasing the victory of the Bhutanese. The local men put on the traditional battle gear with swords to emulate the wars fought against the Tibetan invaders in this valley. The festival also has a large number of ‘Cham’ (religious mask dances) and dances. Men, women and children clad in their best traditional attires and adorned with jewel ornaments come together to witness the festival. The festival is a prime location for photography.
Day 1 (27 Feb, Monday) - Arrive Paro
The flight to Bhutan offers the most fascinating view of the Himalayan mountain ranges especially if you are flying in from either Kathmandu or Delhi. On arrival at Paro airport, you will be greeted by our representative and transfer to the hotel. After lunch, visit Paro Dzong, a majestic fortress holding treasure artworks—murals, statues, and carvings. The massive fortress is a pinnacle of Bhutanese architecture with colourful paintings, intricate woodwork and large beams which present a scenic photographic landscape. Next, visit Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and sacred temples in the country dating back to the 7th century. It has a pleasant aura and elderly pilgrims can be seen chanting and circumambulating the temple. Paro town is one of the best in Bhutan to explore on foot. At the end of the day, you may take a stroll along the streets of Paro town marked with colourfully painted wooden shop fronts. If you are willing to spare some extra time after dinner to add some good pictures to your album, we will guide you to the spot for the shot of the stunning night scene of the traditional bridge and Paro Dzong. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 2 (28 Feb, Tuesday) - Paro to Thimphu
After breakfast, you will drive to Thimphu, the charming capital city of Bhutan. Drive up to Kuenselphodrang where the giant Buddha statue is located overlooking the view of the north and south Thimphu city. This 169ft is reputed to be the largest bronze Buddha Shakyamuni in the world and this offers opportunity to explore different photography angles. Next visit the King’s Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972, the Folk Heritage Museum, which depicts the life of a rural Bhutanese, the National Institue for Zorig Chusum (school of arts and craft), and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine. In the evening, visit the majestic Tashichhodzong, the capital of Bhutan. Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3 (1 March, Wednesday) - Thimphu to Punakha
After breakfast, enjoy a scenic drive to Punakha with a stop at Dochu La pass 3,100m marked with 108 chortens where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From here, drive downhill through the forests of rhododendron, fir, and hemlock. En route stop at Metsina and hike through rice paddies and up to the Chimi Lhakhang Temple. This temple is dedicated to the great Yogi of the 14th century known as Drukpa Kuenley, or the “Divine Madman,” who is believed to bless women who seek fertility. Continue the drive to Punakha. You will arrive at Punakha after traversing through the rice field and along the bank of the Punakha River. After lunch, visit the Punakha Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. The spot near the Punakha School and further ahead gives the best angle to capture wooden bridge, rivers and the dzong in one frame. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 4 (2 March, Thursday) - Punakha Dromchoe Festival
After breakfast, you will attend the Punakha Dromchoe festival an annual celebration holding high religious significance. Apart from the unique mask dance festivals, what makes this festival unique is the recreation of the 17th century battle by the local men. The local men put on the traditional battle gear with swords and imitate the battle fought in Punakha against the Tibetan army showcasing the victory of the Bhutanese. The religious dancers wear masks of animals, deities and skulls which gives a vibrant character to your photographs. The dancers as well as the audience are dolled up in their best outfits of silk and rich brocade paired with best ornaments. You will get ample candid and in-action pictures from the festival. The crowd, extravagant costumes and exaggerated masks will be the highlight of this photography tour. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 5 (3 March, Friday) - Punakha to Paro
Today you will drive back to Paro via the Dochula pass again and Thimphu. At Dochula, you can visit the new Druk Wangyel Monastery, which is the only of its kind in the country with elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. After this continue to drive to Thimphu. If it is the weekend, head over the Centenary Farmers Market where farmers come together to sell their farm produce. Make sure to capture the colourful hues of vegetables, fruits and condiments. Continue to drive to Paro. In the evening, you can stroll in Paro town of your own and absorb the lifestyle of the people. Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 6 (4 March, Saturday) - Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most captured sight. The monastery is perched on the edge of a cliff about 900m from Paro valley. The legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, the great spiritual master, miraculously flew on the back of a tigress from Singye Dzong in east Bhutan to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served at the Cafeteria restaurant located up on the mountain. After having explored the monastery and taken numerous pictures, you will hike back to Paro. This will be the end of the photography tour. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 7 (5 March, Sunday) - Depart Paro
Today we will bid you farewell as you catch your flight from Paro to your next destination.
We can also
customize a trip
Culture tour offers an array of activities that can be tailored to suit your whim and fancy. Whether you want a day-long excursion, a walk through the idyllic countryside, or a multi-day adventure, we can make it happen.
We can provide the opportunity to experience Buddhist festivals and celebrations such as traditional marriage, learn about traditional textiles, and any special landmarks. For the adventurous mind we can also offer rafting and other activities. If you have any specific interests, we can customize a tour just for you – please let us know.