Haa Valley in Bhutan, not so frequented by tourists is a real gem. This is an ideal place to spend your time in peace, take a river side walk and go out for hiking. You will certainly enjoy your hikes as you walk on the mud trails spiraling around mountains and passing through Bhutanese villages to reach peaceful Goembas (Buddhist Monastery) on the top.
From Haa Taxi Stand, a small walk up along the river and you will find a big iron bridge. If you turn right before the bridge (without crossing), you will get on your trail to Katsho Goemba. If you turn left and continue on the road by crossing the bridge, you will be on your way to Ingo Village from where you will get on your trail to Jana Dingkha.
Hike to Katsho Goemba
After taking right before the bridge (without crossing), just walk few hundred meters and you will reach Two Sisters Hotel. A very next left turn will take you to beautiful Katsho village. You will get innocent smiles and curious eyes as you will walk through this tiny happy village.
You can take either a shortcut from the hill bottom (as soon as the village ends) or a spiral trail (longer but less steep). We chose the spiral trail and were engrossed with the scenic beauty as we walked up through the mud-stone path across paddy fields and wooden huts.
Trails leads to the mountain top where you will find the peaceful Katsho Goemba. Monastery is usually locked and can be opened on request by monks who stay in the same compound. Katsho Goemba is an old monastery dedicated to Lord Buddha, Guru Rinponche and local deities and is highly revered in the region.
However we did not attempt (as it was getting dark) but there is also a lovely trail to Juneydrak Hermitage that you can take either on your way up or while coming back.
Hike to Jana Dingkha
If you cross the bridge and walk straight on the road, you will reach to Ingo village. A trail to the left from the village goes up to to Jana Dingkha. Walking through the village is a treat by itself as you happen to catch a glimpse of rural Bhutan.
Trail goes spiral around the mountain and is really treacherous. However, a road was being constructed during our visit which will make it easy to reach up to the top with your own vehicle. Jana Dingkha is a small Goemba with temple on second floor. Temple remains locked and can be opened by monks who stay in temple compound only.
Views from the top (for both Goemba) too are stunning as you get panoramic views of Haa Valley sprawling all across down there.
There are also few other day hikes in Haa Valley (around Haa Dratshang) that you can attempt even during a short stay in the valley.
- Katsho Goemba: Easy to Moderate. It took us around 1.5 hours to reach to the top. While coming back, we got lift from a Bhutanese Gentleman.
- Jana Dingkha: Moderate to Difficult: It is a long spiral way to the top and in morning, we even could not find anyone to ask directions and thus lost 1 hour to find the trail. It took us 5 hours both ways while we were continously walking.
Things to take care
- Beware of dogs!! They are in the villages, on the trail and then also on the top at Goemba. They bark ferociously and can even bite.
- Do carry water and something to eat for sure as you will not find anything midway.
- Get the directions beforehand as you will come to diversions where you will find no one to guide you.