Gomphu Kora Festival

Trip Overview

Gomphu Kora lies in the heart of the agrarian belt of eastern Bhutan. It is 23 kilometres from Trashigang Dzong, the headquarters of Bhutan’s most populous district, and two kilometers from Duksum, a quaint hamlet consisting of a few shops.

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, the progenitor of the Nyingma strand of Buddhism, 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. 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 from 23rd to 25th March (check with your tour operator to confirm these dates), 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 the Dakpa tribe from neighboring Arunachael Pradesh (India). They endure days of travel on foot through rugged environs with entire families in tow. Some say the Dakpas have done this for more than a millennium, beginning shortly after Guru Padmasambhava sanctified the place in the 8th century A.D.

The Guru is attributed to have said that devotees will flock to Gomphu Kora for eons to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. There couldn’t be a more accurate prophesy.

Outline Itinerary

Begore you go

Accommodations and facilities:
There are limited choices of accommodations in Bhutan. With a few exceptions of highly over priced international chain properties, hotels in Bhutan are small with 15 to 20 rooms. The hotels have been categorized by local authorities as Star 1, 2 and 3, with 3 Star being on the top level 1Star at the bottom and naturally we have pick the 3 Star category hotels and resorts which are local architecture with Bhutanese décor, well maintained and staffed with the friendly locals. There is disparity in the rooms in most of the hotels and travelers of the same group may end up in two different types of rooms although you have paid the same amount. You will have private bathroom with 24 hour running cold and hot water. They provide some fundamental toiletry supplies but hair dryers, iron and ironing board etc may not be available. Hotels in Paro and Thimphu do have internet access in office or reception areas. There are some new deluxe properties and international chain resorts which are above the traditional classification criteria and in the higher side in terms of price and can be booked with supplemental cost. Hotel listed on the itinerary are suggestions only and during peak season and tours timed with festival, we may not get the same hotels and in that case, we will book you in the similar property or upgrade you to the higher level.

Guide and Escorts:
Our Tour Guides are local individuals with college degree, government certification, experienced and with knowledge on the destination, history, culture and religion and most importantly they are easy going, detailed oriented, patient and high level of customer service skills. They will uncover the wonders of the destinations for you which you would never find on your own. They ensure that everything goes well with your tour without a hitch.

Vehicle:
We use good condition Toyota SUV and Toyota Coaches for all transfers and tours. Driver and guide is not the same person. Driver may speak little or no English but they know the road and are skillful to fix the problem in case of mechanical breakdowns. Depending on group size, we will use Japanese made Sedan cars, SUVs or minivan for entire transfers and tours.

International and Internal Flights:
All internal flights are part of travel plan and are locally booked by us. You will be emailed e-ticket receipts once the reservation is booked and tickets issued. But you have liberty to book your international airfare on your own. We can certainly help you book international flight if that originates from the city that you live in. Once you receive itinerary, it's your responsibility to verify the itinerary and reconfirm the schedules.

Visa and Permits:
Passport should be valid for 6 months or more at the time of travel. We will take care of Bhutan Visa and permits. Bhutan Visa Fees of USD 20 which will be collected with the Tour Payment in advance. You will need to provide a copy of your passport which should be sent to us by email for Bhutan Visa Processing. Bhutan visa is preprocessed by us and we will provide you a copy the Visa Approval Letter before your trip which you will need to present at Druk Air counter at the time you check in for flight to Bhutan. You will get actual visa seal on your passport upon arrival at Paro airport.

Trip Activity Level:
This trip is basically motor vehicle based sightseeing with some short hikes and village visits and suitable for all travelers with regular health conditions. When we are driving from one city to another, we will be driving from 3-6 hours with occasional stops for photography and for refreshments. Roads are narrow and some portions may be rough and damaged. The itinerary allows enough acclimatization for you and it's advisable that you should keep physically fit and start mild exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling or practice some aerobics about 2-3 months ahead of the trip. It's your responsibility to determine that you are fit for this trip and if you have any health conditions, please consult with your physician before you sign up for this trip.

Note on Itinerary:
We do our best to adhere to the itinerary but it should be taken as a generic guideline in terms of what you expect to do or see during the tour and may differ in the practical ground from exact sequence or order of the sights to the overnight places depending on the local conditions.

Booking:
When you are sure you are traveling, please don't delay in booking so that we can confirm you in preferred hotels and flights. A 100% of both the Tour and Airfare is requested along with a completed trip application form plus copy of the photo page of your passport.

Cancellation:
100% Refund if tour canceled within 60 Days from the start of the tour.
50% Refund if tour canceled within 45 Days from the start of the tour.
25% Refund if tour canceled within 30 Days from the start of the tour.
No Refund if tour canceled less than 30 Days from the start of the tour.

Final Trip Dossier:
A final trip dossier with local contacts, hotel lists, check lists, travel notes and relevant information will be sent about a month ahead of the trip.

Tour Cost

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), Tourism Business regulating agency of the Royal Government of Bhutan, fixes the Tourist Tariff rate. This rate is valid for all the inclusive tour packages. The tariffs for tourists visiting in a group of 3 persons or more are as follows:

Peak Season Rate: (March, April, May, September, October and November) Cultural Tour /Trekking – US$ 250/per person per night halt.

Low Season Rate:(January, February, June, July, August and December) Cultural Tour /Trekking- US$ 200/per person per night halt.

What's Included
  • Bhutan Royalty ($65 per person per day).
  • Visa Fees ($40 per person).
  • All necessary permit fees.
  • All transfers and sightseeing with entrance fees.
  • All meals including evening tea.
  • All accommodation in our partner hotels, which are some of the best in the country on twin sharing basis.
  • All trekking equipments and logistics including cooks, camp personnel, horsemen and ponies.
  • English-speaking tour leader, guide and driver.
  • Trekking Insurance (Our value-added service).
  • Cultural Performance (our value-added service).

What's Not Included
  • Airfare for flights into and out of Bhutan.
  • All personal expenses like laundry, telephone, tips, shopping expenses.
  • Meals and Beverages other than the ones mentioned above (see inclusions).
  • Spa Charges.
  • Travel and Medical insurance.

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Cruising to Paradise
Kunzang Lam, Building # 29, Motithang
Thimphu, Kingdom of Bhutan
Tel: +975 1741 6570
Email: bhutanctp@gmail.com
info@bhutanctp.com