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Hike from Dochula Pass to Lungchutse Lakhang
Being requested by our beloved admin Arijit Kar
I am trying to write down a travelogue. Had I been a good orator or an author I could have portrayed all the feelings and experiences through words but that is far away from the reality. So if it seems dull and uninteresting to you please be generous enough to tender your forgiveness. I would try to make it precise and concise.
Before I start description I must tell you my mistake so that it’s not reiterated again. We chose the wrong time i.e. July which is not at all good time for hike. You should choose either March-April (spring season. The forests get decked up with the ornaments of orchid and rhododendron (Etho Metho in Dzonkha) . Or you can select Mid October-Mid November as that is the fall season and you find the different shades of color among the foliage.
On one rainy afternoon of end June Steve (Adjunct Prof of our college from US) gave me the information about the yak trail and we decided to hike it on coming Sunday (our work permit does not allow us to go anywhere except two main districts: Thimphu and Paro. So it took next day to issue the permit.
Getting a permit is not difficult for Indian expatriates but there was an emergence of another problem. Suddenly the sky got densely clouded on Saturday evening and as time passed we become worried and finally decided to move to Dochula Pass and things could be decided afterwards by observing the condition.
We were fortunate enough that there were no rainfall, though the sky was cloudy and so were the peaks beside Dochula. It’s really easy to find the yak trail from Dochula to Lungchutse. One has to cross the War Memorial of Dochula pass and proceed towards Lobesa. Just after 200 meter one wooden board would be visible at the right side of the highway and some staircase like muddy way with wooden border would be found. There were huge prayer flags on the trees and those prayer flags could work as the indicator of the way.
Here starts the climbing but the staircase type shape ends after a few minutes and we had to start walking through the muddy yak trail (really narrow and slippery as the rays of sun has no right to touch the ground and the fallen leaves make it more slippery). The entire forest wore a very minute veil of mist and that made the forest more mysterious. Steve already opened his folding walking sticks and hence he could walk and balance himself at ease but had to be very careful for each step.
One fall could make me roll down through the cliff of the mountain, however, there is no life risk as the cliffs are full of bushes and undergrowth of saplings and herbs. Somehow I kept on escaping great falls narrowly. Due to the unavailability of sunlight the trees have to grow like skyscrapers as a part of their struggle for existence. T
The flora includes birch, far, hemlock, Juniper, larch, oak rhododendron and of course bamoo etc and a lot of moss, ferns,chlorophytes and different types of fungi covering the stems and branhes Except the chirps of birds like nutcracker, green baked tit, yellow billed magpie etc there was no other sound.
Sometimes the silence was so prominent that we could hear the sound of droplets falling from the leaves. Both of us were breathing like steam locos and kept on walking and clicking pics as well. Gradually we reached an open meadow like place. I thought that we had already reached the destination but alas it was the halfway of the trail, perhaps a saddle to reach from the cliff of another mountain from one. The yaks use this place for grazing.
We started climbing again and now we found the arrows fixed by Wind Horse Tours and Travels to indicate the hikers. The trail becomes steeper here and slippery too. The entire route seemed a feast for eyes to enjoy the solitude in wilderness. It gave me immense pleasure to perceive myself a caveman before the dawn of civilization who started his journey towards some indefinite destination. Finally climbing a sharper cliff we reached Lungchutsey Lakhang.
If I call it an abode of peace, believe me, that would not be any exaggeration. The tranquility of the place is mesmerizing and the entire ambiance would make you spellbound. I saw some Lamas who were working of their own chore like gardening, cooking, fetching water. The main Lama is a nice man, he doesn’t know English.
He somehow manages with Hindi and we had a conversation. He comes out of this place seldom. What attracted me was the tranquil smile on his face as if he had overcome all materialistic attractions. I came to know that he had to come Kolkata on his way to Bodhgaya. Everything else was fine except my luck. I expect to have 360° view of the Himalayas including views of Jumolhari (7314 m), Masang Gang in the region of Laya (7158), Zongophu Gang – a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana (7060 m) and Gangkhar Puensum (7520 m), the highest peak in Bhutan and the highest untouched virgin peak in the world as I came to know.
Nothing was possible due to heavy cloud but only gain was a spotted nutcracker. After having some light food we decided to come back. Lamaji saw the sticks of Steve and then by his weapon he made one sound wooden stick out of log and said – my child, keep it, it would help you to balance yourself in the muddy way and pray to Lord Buddhha to save you.
Now I understand his wisdom. He knew the muddy way and gravity would create immense problem while getting down. The stick made my narrow escapes possible repeatedly. While returning we found many groups (both Bhutanese and Foreigners) hiking. We were the first ones to reach the Lakhang on that day. Once the journey came to an end and we also started towards our respective flats.
Some Important Informations:
Altitude of Dochula Pass- 3050 m and altitude of Lungchutsey- 3600 m from sea level. The total length of road is 3.5 km so it’s a hike with medium difficulty. Better to use good sports shoes and it would be better to have walking sticks, at least a wooden stick. Take food and water as per your need because nothing is available in this way.
So, fix a plan to Bhutan in coming March and come here. If you fix it on Sunday may be I will accompany you.
Thanks for your time and patience.
Associate Professor of Economics at Royal Thimphu College
Since the early days of adolescence, nature has always beckoned me a traveler. This has never let me enjoy the peace inside the four walls. Confinement inside the four walls causes the anguish of strangulation for a nature lover like me. The most liked sentence of me – Let’s go. Let’s drink the nature to the lees- becomes the sacred hymn to a traveller and s/he loves to mutter it till its last breath,