Bhutan Diaries : Phobjikha

Soooo I was planning to do my Bhutan posts in a west-to-east order, but I was really dying to tell you about Phobjikha, my favouritest of the lot, so I decided to drop that plan!
After landing in Paro, we drove to Thimphu, about an hour away. We spent a couple of days there, and then drove to Phobjikha, an insanely gorgeous 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. We actually ran into a Bhutanese Rajnikanth fan there! It made us realize once again, how well the Bhutanese know India. From Bollywood music playing in cars and cafes to Indian food even in remote towns, India’s influence on the tiny kingdom is really visible. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing?

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 and 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 spiritual head of the monastery was going around blessing everyone. The village is really charming too, with traditional Bhutanese wood houses and gorgeous views all around.
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. And look at the awesomeness that was waiting for us:
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. That’s about all there is to ‘sightsee’. But the real reason you should go to Phobjikha is to soak up the jaw-dropping natural beauty all around, disconnect from the world (Phobjikha is so remote, it didn’t even have electricity until recently), and go on 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 TrailWe only had time for a short hike called the Gangtey Nature Trail, but I know for sure that if I ever return to Bhutan, I’ll skip everything else and go straight to Phobjikha. After Phobjikha, we drove deeper into central Bhutan, to our next destination, Trongsa. But that’s another story for another post 🙂
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  • Reply Neha Sharma April 22, 2016 at 4:01 PM

    A wonderful Blog! Missing Bhutan. I loved the Phobjika Trail 🙂

    Following you on Insta now.

  • Reply Madhu Gopalan September 11, 2015 at 10:20 PM

    That is so kind of you! Thank you so very much!

  • Reply Sensuous2Spiritual August 17, 2015 at 1:51 PM

    Your posts are so intriguing that I have dropped all work (egad, I am in office and people think I am working!!!) and reading your Bhutan posts hoping no one is spying on my schedule! ;p
    You have made Bhutan magical for me and now I guess I WILL end up going to this amazing abode. Every post stitches the story together so well and of course gets a few of us glued to no redemption! 🙂
    Moving on to Paro now…

  • Reply Madhu Gopalan July 22, 2015 at 1:03 PM

    Thank you Venkat bhai, glad you like it 🙂 And if you are going, pls call me – i'll tell you whatever i know – why refer to blog and all 🙂

  • Reply Venkat Parthasarathy July 22, 2015 at 12:56 PM

    Beautiful pics of a beautiful place…. some day will visit here and use this as the reference 🙂

  • Reply Madhu Gopalan July 20, 2015 at 12:43 PM

    Thank you Celine!

  • Reply Madhu Gopalan July 20, 2015 at 12:43 PM

    So nice to see you here Sandeep! Thank you so much 🙂

  • Reply Celine July 16, 2015 at 1:50 PM

    It's so beautiful!

  • Reply sandeep July 15, 2015 at 7:25 PM

    Used to follow ur flickr profile a while back and saw the link there. Gr8 to see ur blog … keep writing and clicking those beautiful frames 🙂

  • Reply Madhu Gopalan July 15, 2015 at 5:03 PM

    vJ – this is a rhododendron bush : 🙂 They were in full bloom because we went during spring.

  • Reply Madhu Gopalan July 15, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    Thank you Niranjan!

  • Reply vJ July 14, 2015 at 10:59 PM

    Awesome! You checked off one my top locations. What is a rhododendron?! Do you have a pic?!

  • Reply R Niranjan Das July 14, 2015 at 2:47 PM

    Wonderful account of your visit. Loved the gorgeous captures.

  • Reply Madhu Gopalan July 14, 2015 at 8:51 AM

    Thank you Prashanth!

  • Reply Anonymous July 14, 2015 at 6:42 AM

    Beautiful already! waiting for your next post..
    – Prashanth

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