Travel

bhutan : phobjikha

After landing in Paro, we drove to Thimphu, about an hour away. We spent a couple of days there, and then drove to Phobjikha, a spectacular glacial valley in central Bhutan. The drive was pretty bumpy, and took about 8 hours, but it was an experience in itself – on that one day alone, we saw more beauty than we’d seen ever before!
108 chortens/stupas at Dochula Pass
The stupas at Dochula Pass

We drove through two gorgeous high mountain passes – the first was the Dochu La Pass  at 3100 meters. 108 little stupas stand at the pass, commemorating the successful eviction of  Northeast Indian insurgents by Bhutanese forces. The cafe up there is an awesome place to enjoy a cup of tea with a view.

The Dochula cafe at the Dochula Pass
The cafe at Dochula

Shortly after we crossed Dochula, it started raining, and continued to rain almost all day. The entire route was wet, misty and incredibly beautiful.
The drive to Phobjikha

The rain thinned down to a light drizzle by the time we reached Lowala Pass, the entrance to Phobjikha. At an altitude of 3360 meters, with the clouds and the valley far below, and surrounded by yaks and rhododendrons, it was the most picturesque stretch in the entire drive.
Lowala Pass at 3360 m above sea level
Lowala Pass
A yak grazing at the Lowala Pass, at 3360 m above sea level
Lowala Pass
Since we still had a little daylight left, we went straight to Gangtey, a little village overlooking the valley. It is home to a beautiful monastery called the Gangtey Gompa. We were lucky to be there during a festival – the huge crowd gathered there was singing together and a masked dance was going on.
The village road leading to the Gangtey Gompa / monasteryThe locals of Gangtey, a tiny village overlooking the Phobjikha Valley The wide glacial valley of Phobjikha seen from Gangtey
Quite exhausted after a long but most EPIC day, we headed to the Gaikiling Guesthouse where we’d be spending the night.
The Gaikiling Guesthouse, our hotel in Phobjikha, Bhutan
The Gaikiling Guesthouse
The Gaikiling Guesthouse, our hotel in Phobjikha, Bhutan
Our wonderfully cozy room
The view from our room in the Gaikiling Guesthouse, in Phobjikha, Bhutan
The view from our room
Breakfast with view at the Gaikiling Guesthouse, Phobjikha, Bhutan
Where we had breakfast the next morning
Like I mentioned, Phobjikha is a glacial valley, which means, eons ago, a glacier flowed through it, carving it into the wide U-shape that it has today. During winter, black necked cranes come visiting from Tibet, and the monastery in Gangtey holds a special festival to celebrate their arrival. Phobjikha was my favourite part of Bhutan – I loved its jaw-dropping natural beauty, how disconnected it is from the world (Phobjikha is so remote, it didn’t even have electricity until recently), and the long, stunning hikes.
Hiking through the glacial valley of Phobjikha, on the Gangtey Nature TrailHiking through the glacial valley of Phobjikha, on the Gangtey Nature TrailHiking through the glacial valley of Phobjikha, on the Gangtey Nature TrailHiking through the glacial valley of Phobjikha, on the Gangtey Nature Trail
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