A Free Pass to the Valley

The uniqueness of Bhutan resides in its very location. With a dramatic topography varying from sub-tropical plains to steep mountains and valleys, each turn of the road presents you with a dramatic view that will definitely make you hold your breath. There is a sense of spirituality that seems to entrench the country of Bhutan; doesn’t matter if you are experiencing that within the walls of monasteries or standing at the cusp of one of the most spectacular views. The valleys of Bhutan are connected by a series of passes also called as “La” in Dzongkha. Two of the most important and most commonly viewed are the Chele La Pass (3789 metres) which connects the Haa Valley to the Paro Valley, and the Dochu La Pass (3116 metres) which forms a connection between Thimpu and Punakha. 

Located between Thimpu and Punkaha, Dochu La Pass is one of the most famous tourist spot from where one can ideally click a 360 panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges, with a view of the 108 chortens (or stupas) built to commemorate the memory of the Bhutanese soldiers killed during the expulsion of Assamese guerrillas in 2003. Inside each chorten, there are images of Buddhist gods composed of clay, stuffed with papers inscribed with prayers.

Chele La Pass was a complete contrast to Dochu La. Located at the height of 3810 mt, Chele La pass is one of the highest motorable pass in Bhutan, separating Haa and Paro valley. For a traveller though, the best way to describe Chele La is: Wild, Rough, Windy and crowded.

Prayer flags throng the rough terrain in a visual vibrancy of multiple colors, tied by the faithful devotees, in reverence to the sacred mountain Jomolhari, who is said to be the bride of Kangchenjunga. The mountain’s claim to fame has less to do with physical elevation, and more to do with its spiritual beliefs. Tibetan Buddhists believe it to be the abode of one of the five female protector goddesses [Jomo] of Tibet.

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