108 chortens at Dochula Pass (Also known as Druk Wangyal Khang Zhang Chortens) are a wonderful example of the way Bhutanese culture cherishes the humanitarian values. These chortens have been built on a hillock right in the center of Dochula Pass to honour the Royal Bhutan Army soldiers who were killed in Dec 2003 battle against Assamese insurgents from India (Operation All Clear). As Bhutan did not want to glorify the war by constructing a war memorial, they constructed 108 chortens as atonement for the loss of life in war and also to honour the martyred soldiers.
Dochula Pass is the highest highway point (3140 m) on way from Thimphu to Punakaha. As road from Thimphu to Punakaha ascends up through the forests, it gets windy with pleasant drop in temperature as you reach Dochula Pass. Road at the pass looks like a flat ground with chortens right in the center. Bhutanese drivers follow the ritual of driving a circle around the chortens to pay tribute to their martyrs every time they drive through the pass.
Just opposite to chortens, is the temple Druk Wangyal Lhakhang. This temple was built in 2008 to celebrate the centenary of the king’s rule in Bhutan and is famous for its unique cartoon style modern murals.
Standing at Dochula Pass, you get to observe beautiful lush green forests all around with Bhutan Himalayas at the horizon covered with snow. Do stand for a while on side of the road enjoying panoramic views as cold winds soothe your face and soul.
You will love your stop over at Dochula pass as you walk through the chortens surrounded with lush green forests and beautiful mountains.
How to reach Dochula Pass
Please click here for directions. Docula Pass is 23 kms (45 minute drive) away from Thimphu towards Punakaha. 108 Chortens are built on a hillock right in the center of the road. You can take an hour stop over at the pass while going to Punakaha. We took a shared cab from Thimphu to Punakaha (Nu. 300 per person). Our driver agreed for a quick stop over at Dochula on our request. You may also book full cab from Thimphu to Punakaha with a stop over at Dochula Pass (~Nu. 1200 one way).
Permit Extension Requirement: Very Important
The permit issued at Phuentsholing is applicable only for Thimphu and Paro and you need to get it extended at Thimphu Immigration Office in case you are planning to visit Dochula Pass, Punakaha and beyond to Central and Eastern Bhutan. There is an Immigration Check Post at Hongtsho village just before Dochula Pass and you will not be allowed entry without proper extension.
Also, please ensure to get your permit stamped both at entry and return. Failing this, you may be fined or your extension may be cancelled by immigration authorities. At times taxi drivers do not stop for the stamp, so please take care to stop as soon as you see any Immigration Check Post.