A walking tour to central Bhutan
This 13-day trip is a wonderful combination of walking and cultural sights. Gain a deeper understanding by travelling to the spiritual heartland of central Bhutan, with a number of excellent walking trails en route to explore.
Day 3: To Punakha
Location : Punakha, Bhutan
Today we travel east to Punakha via the wonderful Dochula. The clear skies of winter should allow us to see the incredible mountain views from this 3,140 metre pass. Some 108 chortens have been built at Dochula by the queen mother in 2005 and make an impressive sight. Wandering amonst them is a complete pleasure - serene, beautiful and with jaw dropping views.
After this we travel down to semi-tropical Punakha, at the reletively balmy altitude of 1,300 metres. After lunch we will visit Chimi Lhakhang, known as the temple of the divine madman. Drukpa Kunley is a revered figure in Bhutan for his unorthodox methods of teaching Buddhism, using songs, humour and profanity to challenge preconceptions. Childless couples come here to be blessed and the temple contains a lovely photo album of those that went on to have children. The walk to Chimi Lhakhang is a gentle one that takes us through the rice paddies past many houses painted with phalluses in honour of the divine madman.
You will need your camera handy for the visit to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. The walk itself is an uphill climb through the paddies with increasingly stunning views as you ascend. The chorten itself is in a picturesque location atop a hill. It gets even better when you climb to the rooftop of the chorten and take in views of the entire valley.
Overnight in Punakha. Altitude: 1,310 metres.