About Gomphu Kora Festival
Gomphu Kora is situated 23 kilometres from Trashigang Dzong, the headquarters of Bhutan’s most populous district.
Gomphu means “Meditation Cave” and Kora means “Circumambulation”. The name is derived from a cave formed out of a rock-face next to a temple that has been built as a tribute to this sacred site.
The story of Gomphu Kora goes back to the 8th century AD. Legend has it that an evil spirit named Myongkhapa escaped from Samye in Tibet when Guru Padmasambhava was spreading the Dharma in the Himalayas. Myongkhapa followed the course of the present-day Kholongchhu stream and concealed himself inside a rock where Gomphu Kora stands today. The Guru followed the evil, mediated for three days inside the rock cave and finally vanquished it.
Several prominent religious personalities have undertaken pilgrimage to Gomphu Kora and the earliest was Gongkhar Gyal, grandson of Lhasay Tsangma. He built a small shrine at Gomphu Kora around the 10th century A.D. In the 14th century, Terton Pema Lingpa, visited Gomphu Kora and enlarged the existing shrine. It was renovated and enlarged in the 15th century by Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk, the grandfather of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (who unified Bhutan). He also inscribed murals on the walls of the temple.
The biggest attraction of Gomphu Kora is the circumambulation. “Go around Gomphu Kora today for tomorrow may be too late”, advises a local song that entices devotees to visit Gomphu Kora. The place comes alive, once every year in early spring (from March 27 to 29, 2015) when people all over eastern Bhutan descend upon the narrow valley, dressed in their finery, to partake in the festivity, to worship and to reaffirm their connection with the past.
The sanctity of the three day religious festival even draws devotees from neighboring areas as far as Arunachael Pradesh (India).
Gomphu Kora Festival Schedule: March 16-18, 2016
11 Night 12 Day Gomphu Kora Festival Tour Packages
Day 01: Arrive Paro
Arrive Paro from Katmandu by Drukair. Fly into Paro. After immigration and customs formalities, you will be received by the representative of Access Bhutan Tours & Treks. Then you will be driven to your hotel in Paro. After checking into your hotel and refreshment you will visit Paro Rinpung Dzong (fortress), built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now being used as an administration center and school for monks. From the Dzong you will walk down to Rimpung Bridge (Traditonal Cantilever Bridge), oldest bridge in Bhutan.
Then you will visit one of the clusters of farm houses in Paro Valley and a visit to a farm house offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.
Dinner & overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 02: A Hike to Paro Taktsang Ghoempa(Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
After breakfast travel by car to the base camp of Tiger's Nest Monastery and then hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The climb up to the viewpoint will take around 1 ½ hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria.Then walk further up to the monastery which will take another 1 ½ hour. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former glory.After visiting the monastery, walk back down to the road on the way stop for lunch at the view point cafeteria and then walk further down to the road point.
On the way visit Kyichu temple,one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body.
In the evening you may relax in the traditional hotstone bath.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 03: Paro –Thimphu & Thimphu Sightseeing
After breakfast , travel to Thimphu which will take 1 hour and visit the following:
- Bhutan Post Office Headquarters to get personalized Bhutanese postage stamps with your photo on them. You can bring along your favorite photo to put on the stamps and put these stamps on your postcard to send to your family and friends.
- National Textile Museum which is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs. You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
- Traditional Bhutanese paper making factory. The handmade paper making in Bhutan stemmed from the age old tradition originated in 8th century of Bhutanese history. The handmade paper constitutes as valuable National heritage of Bhutanese cultural identity and is preserved through all the ages. The Traditional paper is recognized and held high esteem both in home and outside world. Jungshi Paper Factory was established in November 1990 as an undertaking of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The unit now boasts as a major and sole dealer in handmade paper and its products.
- Simply Bhutan– A living museum of rural life which provides visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life.
After lunch visit the following:
- National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only), where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medical practitioners trained.
- The School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
- Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo. It can weigh as much as 550 pounds.
- Tashichhoe Dzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body.
- Craft Bazaar where craftsmen and artisans from across the country display and sell their handicrafts and Government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through examples of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and other interesting items made from local materials.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 04 Thimphu-Punakha and Wangdue
Distance: 71 km, estimated driving time: 2 ½ hours
After breakfast, travel to Punakha & Wangdue through Dochula Pass 3140 m). In the clear spring sky, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountain ranges. . Then pass by the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (Queen Mother of Bhutan) for the security and well being of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan.
You will also visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (monastery) which was built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck ( the Queen Mother of Bhutan) as a tribute to His Majesty the fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck and armed forces after His Majesty led a successful operation against Indian militants who had occupied certain areas of Bhutan. The gallery of the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang has beautiful murals depicting some of the important events in the reigns of the Kings of Bhutan.
Then travel onto Punakha. Punakha has been inextricably linked to some of the most momentous events in the Bhutanese history and deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful and significant regions at the heart of Bhutanese culture. Punakha had served as the capital of Bhutan from 1637 till 1907. The dzong is historically important and stands as the symbol for a unified Bhutan.
On the way, stop for lunch at Metsina village and then visit the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing.
Then visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho - Chu (male river) and the Mochu (female river). The dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. At the dzong, you can see the highest standards in woodwork.
In the evening you may visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendup Lhakhang Nunnery and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful view of Punakha and Wangdue valleys from there.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 05: Punakha-Trongsa
Distance: 129 km, estimated driving time: 5 hours
After breakfast, travel to Trongsa through Wangdue Phondrang with lunch served enroute. Trongsa is the ancestral home of the royal family. The drive will take you through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and through the tropical vegetation through the village of Nobding and Pele la pass (11,000ft). Throughout your trip you will come across the beautiful sceneries of rural Bhutan, with scattered settlements far from the road which makes for good photographing.You will also pass through open meadows, and valley of yak herders and several other villages via Chendebji Chorten (Stupa). On arrival at Trongsa and after the refreshment visit the Trongsa National Museum which is housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower). A museum in which aspects of Bhutanese culture and history are explained by beautifully objects. Documentary will be shown too which explains a great deal about Bhutanese history and history of monarchy.
You will also visit Trongsa Dzong,built in 1648 it is an architectural masterpiece and it is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan.
In the evening visit Trongsa downtown. Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Trongsa.
Day 06: Trongsa-Bumthang
Distance: 68km, Estimated travel time: 2 hrs
After breakfast, drive to Bumthang, this is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. Here the great teachers meditated and left in their wake many sacred grounds. The Guru Rinpoche and his lineage of Tertons, treasure finders, have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley. On the way, visit the “Yathra” weaving centre at Zugney and spend some time interacting with the local weavers. Yathra is the name for the colorful, hand-woven woolen cloth (often with geometric designs) that is produced in this region and wool used for this type of textile is sheep wool as the sheep is reared in this Bumthang district.Yatra is made into jackets or bags ,etc. Then drive onto Bumthang and Check into hotel.
After lunch, Bumthang sightseeing includes visit to the following:
- Jampa Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the King Songtsen Goempo of Tibet. In his effort to propagate Buddhism, he had a plan to build a total of 108 temples in Tibet and neighboring kingdoms.
- Kujey Lhakhang (Kujey means, "Body imprint"). The temple to the right is the oldest and was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652. It was built around the cave in which Guru Rimpoche meditated and left his body imprint.
- Jakar Dzong, "castle of the white bird". According to legend, when the lamas assembled in about 1549 to select a site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for Jakar Dzong. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of Bumthang district and summer residence of Trongsa monks.
In the evening stroll around the beautiful landscape of the Bumthang Jakar valley.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
Day 07: Bumthang - Mongar
Distance: 193 km, estimated travel time: 7 hrs
After breakfast, continue your journey eastwards to Eastern Bhutan , winding through more rugged terrain. The drive, with spectacular views, will take about 7 hours. Pass through Ura Valley in Bumthang before climbing sharply to the highest motor road pass in the Kingdom, the Thrumshingla Pass 12,465 ft. Gradually drop down to Sengor where you will stop for lunch. You will come across cascading waterfalls along the way. The descent stops at 2,130 ft on a bridge over the Kurichu. Climb again through pine forest, maize fileds and eastern hamlets to Mongar town. On arrival at Mongar check into your hotel and in the evening stroll around Mongar town.
Dinner and overnight at hotel in Mongar
Day 08: Mongar-Trashigang
Distance :91 km, estimated travel time : 3 hrs
After breakfast,drive to Trashigang. The road from Mongar to Trashigang, the eastern most region, begins through lush forests and ferns passing over the Kori La at 8,000 ft. After driving about an hour, you reach the village of Ngatshang, the site of one of the fiefdoms before unification of the nation. Descending rapidly through corn fields and banana groves, you reach Yadi village. Follow the Gamri river until the bifurcation to Drametsi. This temple, perched atop a steep hill, was founded by Nun Choden Zangmo in the 16th century. This is the place from where the famous Drametsi Nga Chham, mask dance with drums, originated. About 30 kilometres onwards lies Trashigang, at 3,775 ft. Trashigang is the center of the biggest and most populated district in the nation. View the dzong, built strategically on a spur going out towards the Gamri Chu.
After lunch, visit Khaling, it is the weaving center under women association of Bhutan,Government of Bhutan. There you can see all the process and materials involved in weaving. Drive back to Trashigang for overnight stay.
Day 09: Gomphu Kora festival
After breakfast, travel for about 23 kms to Gomphu Kora with packed picnic lunch and enjoy the festival and free interaction with local people.People from all over eastern Bhutan and neighboring Indian state of Anurachal Pradesh, dressed in their finest cloths gather at the Gomphu Kora festival and take part in the festivities
After the festival return to Tashigang. Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Trashigang.
Day 10: A day trip to Tashiyangtse
Trashigang-Trashiyantse: 54 km x 2
After breakfast,drive to Tashiyangtse. The people here are known for making wooden bowls and containers, which are said to be the best quality found in Bhutan. Visit the Arts School and the Chorten Kora. On the way to Tashiyangtse you will stop at the Gom Kora temple, behind which is a large black rock. It is said that Guru Rimpoche meditated in a cave in which you can see the impression of his thumb, his hat, and his body on the rock. Then visit the abandoned iron chain link bridge behind the village of Duksum. It is said that this is the last remaining bridge of those built by a Tibetan bridge builder by the name of Thangthong Gyalpo in the 15th century.
Return to Trashigang for overnight stay. Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Trashigang.
Day 11: Trashigang-Samdrupjongkhar
Distance :180 km, estimated travel time : 9 hrs
After breakfast drive to Samdrupjongkhar with lunch enroute. On the way visit Khaling, it is the weaving center under women association of Bhutan,Government of Bhutan. There you can see all the process and materials involved in weaving.
Overnight at Samdrupjongkhar.
Day 12: Depart from Samdrupjongkhar
In the morning, your Access Bhutan travel guide will see you off at Samdrupjongkhar from where you will travel to Guwahati Airport for your onward journey.
End of Tour Program
Bhutan Trip Cost for the 11 Nights 12 Days Nomad festival Tour Itinerary
3 pax & above
High Tourist Season: March,2015
The above Bhutan tour package prices include the following:
- Bhutan Government Royalty of US$ 65/person/night
- FIT surcharges of US$40/person/night for a single traveler and US$30/person/night for a double
- Twin sharing hotel rooms at 3 star hotels
- All meals ( breakfast, lunch, dinner & light refreshments) with standard menu at 3 star hotels
- English speaking tour guide service
- All transfers and excursions by private vehicles
- All entrance fees to museums and monuments
- All internal taxes and fees
- Mineral drinking water
The above tour prices do not include the following:
- Single room supplement of US$ 50/room/night (optional)
- Bhutan Visa fee of US$40/person (must be paid in advance with tour cost)
- Airfares (optional)
- Travel insurance (recommended)
- 4 star and 5 star accommodations and meals (optional)
- Other personal expenses like overseas calls, laundry, etc
***Thank you & Tashi Delek***