Dochula Pass, Bhutan: How to Plan, Best Time to Visit & What More to Do

On a crisp december morning, amidst the serenity of the 108 memorial stupas at Dochula Pass, Bhutan, we felt bewilderment. Although created by a violent history, one feels nothing but peace here. Located en-route Thimphu & Punakha highway, Dochula Pass is a popular attraction among tourists & locals. A stunning mountain pass, it offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. Built in memory of 108 brave Bhutanese soldiers who lost their lives fighting insurgents during a 2003 military operation, it is also a place of historical and religious importance.

On a clear day, the stupas, also known as “Druk Wangyal Chortens” are visible from a distance. Colorful religious flags on the hills set the tone for an unforgettable visit & the snow covered mountains offer a picturesque backdrop. Moreover, during winter months, tourists often get to experience a light snowfall at Dochula Pass.

Built by the eldest Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the stupas honor brave Bhutanese soldiers that died fighting Assamese insurgents. Plan a 30 minute break here to soak in the beautiful sights & the serene atmosphere. However, a visit to the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang temple nearby shall require more time. Roughly, Dochula Pass to Punakha distance is about 50 kms, so plan your itinerary accordingly. 

Best Time to Visit Dochula Pass:

The winter months of September till February offer picturesque views of the majestic Himalayas. Located at high altitude, this mountain pass usually has cold temperatures through the year. The minimum temperature can drop down to 2°C too so dress accordingly. Furthermore, do check the weather before you plan a trip here to avoid low visibility days. Every year on December 13th, the Dochu La Wangyal Festival is held here. In addition to being a colorful spectacle, this one day festival is a great way to witness local traditions & celebrations.  

How to Reach:

Adventure enthusiasts love to enjoy the Dochula Pass trek due to it's easy accessibility & beautiful views. Do consider that Dochula Pass is located at an altitude of 3,100m. By car, you can easily reach from Thimpu in approximately one hour. En-route, enjoy stunning vistas & vendors selling local produce. We stopped by & bought a few apples along the way.

What More Should I Know:

Do keep in mind that the stupas are a place of historical and religious importance to local people. Kindly avoid making too much noise, littering & sitting/climbing any place of worship. A cafe nearby offers light eats, hot beverages & use of restroom to customers. Moreover, for INR/BTN 10 visitors can also use clean public washrooms.