Morning Punakha Dromche
The Tsechu is a festival in honour of Padmasambhava “One who was born from a lotus flower,” popularly known under the name of “Guru Rimpoche,” the Precious Teacher. This Indian saint contributed enormously to the diffusion of Tantric Buddhism in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan etc. around 800 AD. He is the founder of Nyingmapa, the “old school” of Lamaism, which still has numerous followers. The biography of Guru Rimpoche is highlighted by 12 episodes on the model of the Buddha Shakyamuni’s life. “The Tsechu” which has become the name of a popular festival commemorates each episode around the year on the 10th day of the month.
The dates and the duration of the festival vary from one district to another but they always take place on or around the 10th day of the month according to the Bhutanese calendar. During Tsechus, the dances are performed by monks as well as by laymen. The Tsechu is a religious festival and attending it, it is believed one gains merits. It is also a yearly social gathering where the people come together to rejoice dressed in all their finery.
Afternoon drive three hours to Gangtey in Phobjikha, a glacial valley on the western slopes of Black Mountain national park. The valley is a designated conservation area and borders the Black Mountain National Park. Because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that winter here (from late October to late March), it is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country. In addition to cranes there are also barking deer, wild boar, sambar, Himalayan black bears, and leopards.
Phobjikha Valley is circled by beautiful pine covered mountains. At the valley’s center, rising dramatically from a small ridge, stands Gantey Gompa, one of the oldest Nyingma Bhuddist monasteries in Bhutan. Gantey Tulku Rimpoche, the head lama of Gangtey Gompa, is the ninth incarnation of Terton Pemalingpa, the famous 14th-century Treasure Revealer from Bumthang, one of Bhutan’s famous Buddhist saints and an ancestor of the ruling Wangchuck dynasty. Gangtey monastery overlooks the large green expanse of Phobjikha Valley. The extensive complex consists of the gomba itself, the monks’ quarters, meditation centers, and schools.
In the evening you will have opportunity to see roosting of Black necked cranes and to visit a farm house for local hospitality.