Traveling to Bhutan
Our eleven day spiritual holiday in Bhutan will be overflowing with amazing sights and experiences. The spiritual energy and growth you will feel in just a short time will grow exponentially each day.
Which sights, treks, and experiences will have the most impact will vary from person to person. Perhaps two of the most powerful days will come toward the end of the tour when we attend the Dulchuka Tshechu Festival and then later when we visit Taktsang Monastery.
Since 2011, by order of the Queen Mother, Bhutan has held the Dulchuka Tshechu Festival on December 13. This day marks the commencement of military action in 2003 by the Royal Bhutan Army against anti-India terrorist groups.
These groups had been using the dense forests of south Bhutan as base camp for twelve years. As safety continued to decrease in this region, and as diplomatic efforts with the camps continued to fail, Bhutan was left with little option but to expel the insurgents forcefully.
It might seem strange to celebrate a military action with a day long festival, but it is important to keep in mind that Bhutan is primarily a Buddhist and peace keeping nation. Their modern army was established in the 1950′s after the People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet.
Since that time, the small army of 6,000 has never engaged in active military action. For six years Parliament tried to negotiate a peaceful removal – to no avail. Only eleven soldiers were killed and the return of safety to this area was much for the Bhutanese to celebrate.
The festival is unique in that it is not the monks who perform the day-long dancing, but the soldiers themselves. They train in folk and masked dancing and it is their honor to perform for the people they protect.
Though it is cold in December (six degrees is the average temperature), the mood is always joyful and light. The festival is a beautiful way to experience the personality of the Bhutanese. Through dance and song they come together in community to express gratitude for their many blessings.
Just three days after the festival, we will arrive back in Paro and will trek to Taktsang Monastery. Also known as The Tigers Nest, this holy place is both haunting and powerful. The monastery is perched 900 meters above the valley jutting out from the cliffs edge. Many days a low hanging fog give the grounds an air of mystery and beauty.
The site is holy to Buddhists as it is believed to be the site where Guru Padmasambhava first traveled to Bhutan on the back of a flying tigress. After meditating in a cave on the cliff for over three years, he went on to establish The Nyingmapa school of Mahayana Buddhism in the country. Each year in March or April, a festival is held to honor Guru Padmasambhava and all he did for the Bhutanese.
The monastery was built around the cave in 1692 by Tenzin Rabgye, who is believed to be a reincarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. It has been a site of holy pilgrimage ever since. In 1998 the building suffered from a fire most likely caused by an electrical short. Many relics and sacred art where lost and well as the life of one monk.
The hike to the monastery is breathtaking and inspiring. About halfway up there is a smaller monastery that also serves as a viewing stop for travelers and pilgrims. As you continue up you also ford a 60 meter waterfall and walk through forest blanketed with prayer flags. The serenity of the place is palpable and your first up-close sight of the cave and grounds is one of large colorful paintings that welcome you.
Though a small and largely unknown country, Bhutan has so much to offer the spiritual traveler. Each of our stops during the eleven days will help you to reawaken your own spiritual center by exposing you to the history, culture, and personality of the Bhutanese.
To read about our upcoming spiritual tour to Bhutan please click here.