An early start to the day (early for us at least!) was needed if we were to reach Punakha before sunset. We had a couple of sites to see before reaching our riverside hotel in Punakha, Damchen Resort.
Our first stop was the famed Dochula Pass and Café. It is said that on a clear day with absolutely no clouds, from the Dochula Pass, one can see the eastern range of the Himalayas, complete with snow capped peaks and all. But unfortunately when we reached the pass, there were clouds covering the range. We were then pacified by the 108 stupas that were created as a victory memorial for the war won by Bhutan against the indian army in 2003. When we climbed the steps to reach the arch amongst the stupas, the clouds started to clear and we were then able to make out the lower mountains of the eastern Himalayan range. It was truly a breathtaking sight to behold. I couldn’t believe my eyes that I was able to see some part of the Himalayas, albeit a small part, without having to trek at all. The Dochula Pass is at around 3,300 feet, which made my heart jump and did not rest until the clouds cleared.
We then were taken to the Chimi Lhakhang restaurant that was near the Chimi Lhakhang temple, a temple dedicated to fertility. In the restaurant itself there was a phallic symbol of the penis that gave us an idea of what to expect when we visit the temple. The trek to the temple was around 20 minutes from the restaurant. We walked through lush green fields with green emerald water to our right. The wind was literally pushing us towards the temple, its speeds being that fast and force being that strong. When we reached the temple and entered it, the idols and offering was similar to previous temples and monasteries that we had visited. When the monk came forward to bless us, we were respectful while receiving the blessings but when we looked up to see what he was blessing us with, my sister and I were unable to control our laughter. The monk has three wooden figures in his hand – one stick and two penis shaped figures. We were confused but then we realized – in a temple dedicated to the phallic symbol and fertility would have such items for blessing.
After the fruitful and interesting day, we were then taken to our beautiful riverside resort – Damchen Resort. It was around evening when we reached and the river was beginning to get the colour of the sky. After dinner, which was completely Indian to our surprise (courtesy of the Indian chef at the restaurant), we treated ourselves to drinking in the night sky, its stars and the river in darkness. Sitting outside, we were reminded what we generally miss while living in the city. The fresh air, the quiet night, the glittering stars in the sky and best of all, great views always from your window!