Chelela Pass (Day 5)
We started off the day with breakfast at Peljorling hotel (given that we found the food to be good on the previous day) ; The french toast is recommended.
On the previous day, we had already negotiated with the driver to take us to Chelela Pass. The original plan was to go to Haa valley as well but he insisted that there really wasn’t much to see at Haa. Not that we fully agreed with him but in the interest of time, decided to skip Haa and only visit Chelela Pass. Before leaving for chelela in the morning, we had already planned to leave for Thimpu at evening and therefore booked the tickets at the Bus stop counter first thing in the morning by 9 a.m. The last bus to Thimpu from Paro leaves at 5.30 p.m. It was suitable since chelala pass can be covered in ~4-5 hours(Including travel time) and we would return to Paro on time.
About Chelela Pass
Chele la (pass) at an elevation 13000 ft asl is considered to be one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan. About an hour’s drive from Paro as it passes through lush valleys, pine and rhododendron forest. The pass provides stunning views of the sacred mountain Jomolhari and Jichu Drake.
The road to Chelela Pass is quite scenic. As you gradually gain altitude, you pass through small isolated villages. Blue flowers lined both sides of the road.
Our taxi driver was an interesting person and we ended up conversing on Politics, democracy, Bollywood movies, human greed and even Karma.:). 1.5 hours passed and we reached chelela Pass. It was sunny outside but the temperature was in vicinity of 10 degrees Celsius or so. Although bright, we did not get the view we were hoping for, the far off mountains were covered in mist. (July to October is the best season to visit the Himalayan Range).
Ah well; so we decided to climb the hillock next to the main road to go higher.
We spotted a couple of people high up on the hillock ; searching for a route we located the markings of track frequently used to go up and followed it.
As we climbed, it was getting quite windy and chilly; but due to the sunshine overall it was quite pleasant. It will take about 15 mins to reach the top of the hillock. Enroute, there is a location with a concentration of colorful prayer flags.
Keep following the track to reach the point from where the entire valley is visible. You can go further but it gets precariously steep. (Unless you actually intend to trek with proper gear of course)
The view from the top
The view would have been wonderful if not for the mist in mountains. Anyways one can easily spend about an hour here, taking in the scenic beauty before going back down to the main road.
On our way back to Paro, we recalled that we had not taken shots of the beautiful Paro airport. There is a specific viewpoint on the main road enroute to Paro which is custom built to view the entirety of Paro airport.
The Paro airport is a very “cosy airport” to say the least. Nestled in the mountains with a very short runway and with a glacial stream flowing right next to the airport. It must be a beautiful sight in the winters. We spent about 15 mins enjoying the cool wind.
It was 2 p.m by the time we were back in Paro city and we have about 3 hours to kill. It was lunch time and time to try out another restaurant in Paro. This time it was the “Rangjung” restaurant located in the Paro market.We asked for menu, which was not available. The owner narrated the available dishes and we ordered the Ema Dashi, the national dish of bhutan along with rotis. Ema dashi is essentially “chillies in cheese curry”.
The dish itself will vary between spicy to extremely spicy depending on how spicy the chillies are. We enjoyed the dish and it was one time try only for us :). As far the restaurant is concerned , I recommend not visiting it. Remember I mentioned that we were not given the menu card; we were charged a significantly higher amount for Ema dashi as compared to many other restaurents. It was too late by then obviously.
- A lot of restaurants in Bhutan do not have menu card; under the circumstances ensure to ask the prices of dishes before ordering. Most are honest but you will obviously find some dishonest ones as well.
Pissed off and with 2 hours to spend, we decided to visit champaca cafe to get some pastries and well..just chill in the cafe. It is located opposite to Rangjung restaurant. On our first day in Paro, we had not visited the seating area located on the first floor. The pastries at Champaca are decently priced and tasty. In addition, you are given two hours of free internet as well.
Next two hours were spent catching up on current affairs via the Bhutanese newspaper.
We caught the bus from Paro to Thimpu at 5.30 p.m and reached thimpu by 6.30 p.m and checked into “The New grand” again. There really wasn’t much to do for the day as such since the plan was to visit Dochula & Punakha the next day. So post taking some rest, we decided to try out another restaurant. The “New seasons” restaurant was rated quite highly on travel guides; so we paid that a visit. It is next to “The Zombala restaurant”; you shouldn’t have problems finding it. The Pizza especially is very tasty here; one of the best I have ever had and is therefore highly recommended. The ambiance too is great as compared to other restaurents in Bhutan but it is slightly more expensive; but overall worth it. Overall a good ending to the night.