After breakfast at your hotel, you will be transferred east to the Dochula pass to begin today’s run, stopping briefly at Simtokha Dzong (fortress) on the way. Built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the fortress is said to sit on the site where a demon once vanished into a rocky outcrop. Simtokha Dzong is said to be the first dzong in Bhutan built to house both administrative and monastic residents, and it is also the oldest dzong to have survived as a complete structure. The Dzong boasts many fine murals, carvings and tapestries, a three-storey utse (tower), and a number of chapels.
After the visit, continue to the Dochula Pass, which stands at 3,100 metres (10,200 feet) above sea level. Mountain passes are some of the most sacred places in Bhutan and so it is customary to burn incense as an offering in places such as this. You may also wish to join locals in hanging colourful prayer flags as a sign of respect to the Gods.
While at Dochula you may visit the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple), built in honour of His Majesty the Fourth King Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bhutanese Monarchy. The paintings in this temple are unique insofar as they combine modern flourishes with century-old techniques. The Temple hosts a yearly tshechu (festival) which pays tribute to the wise leadership of His Majesty the King and the ongoing efforts of the Royal Bhutanese Army in protecting Bhutan’s sovereignty. You should also visit the Druk Wangyal Chorten (stupa), also known as the ‘108 Chortens’, and its nearby meditation caves.
After your visits, run down into the adjacent valley and join a section of the Trail known as the ‘Divine Madman Trail’. You are now following in the footsteps of the Divine Madman himself, Drukpa Kuenley, when he came to Bhutan from Tibet in the 16th century to fulfil his destiny of suppressing evil energies. Over the coming days, you will come across a number of important cultural sites and extraordinary stories related to the life of Drukpa Kuenley.
You will make a stop for a picnic lunch at Thinleygang Lhakhang (temple) before continuing down towards Toeb Chandana. On arrival, visit the Toeb Chandana Lhakhang (temple), also known as the Chandana Lhakhang, meaning ‘where the arrow landed’. Legend has it that when Drukpa Kuenley fired an arrow from Tibet to determine his course, it landed here in Toeb Chandana. The temple itself was built in the 15th century to ward off the evil energy of a demoness and then served as the religious seat of Ngawang Chogyal. The two hills at each end of the temple resemble knees and are said to be the knees of Ngawang Chogyal herself.
Next door to the Temple is the house of Toeb Tshewang, which Drukpa Kuenley’s arrow is said to have struck when it landed. Legend has it that, dressed as a hunting beggar, Kuenley courted Tshewang’s wife and that, in a fit of jealous rage, Tshewang drew a sword which Drukpa Kuenley miraculously knotted. Thus Realizing Kuenley’s divine power, Tshewang offered him his wife as a gift to aid him in fulfilling his prophecies. The building still houses the eleven-stepped wooden ladder that Kuenley’s arrow is said to have struck; and the descendants of Tshewang have preserved the house as a monument for fifteen generations.
Accommodation: Signature Trans Bhutan Trail Camping
Trek Distance: 13.5 kilometres (8.39 miles)
Elevation Gain: 50 metres (164 feet)
Starting Elevation: 3,114 metres (10,217 feet)
Ending Elevation: 1,560 metres (5,118 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 3,114 metres (10,217 feet)