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Haa Valley

3.0 / 5 10 votes

Country rank: 10 out of 14 Places To Visit In Bhutan

Sub-Region: North-Western Bhutan


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Ideal duration: 1 - 2 days

Best time: October - November (Read More)

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Haa Valley Tourism

Located in the smallest out of the dzongkhags in Bhutan, Haa Valley finds a way to stand out as one of the most beautiful and picturesque valleys in Bhutan. Surrounded by rich forests and grasslands and home to interesting traditional practices,this valley is not just a visual, but also a cultural treat.

The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is not a country that one would say has been fully exposed to the world. The people are simple and so is their lifestyle. The Government lays emphasis on the happiness of its citizens as opposed to generic indicators of well-being and their way of life is deeply in harmony with nature and the other living beings they share it with. Being nestled in the Himalayas, this country boasts of a wonderful landscape with dense forests, picturesque mountains with rivers that flow past majestic Dzongs and Goempas. The Land of the Thunder Dragon is a nature-lover's paradise. If you've made it as far as Bhutan, might as well make your way to the heaven that is Haa Valley. This would be a dream come true for nature enthusiasts (not to mention a gala time for photography buffs as well) and also those looking to do some some soul-searching which is very well complemented by the serene atmosphere coupled with the existence of many religious and spiritual spots. Having opened its doors to tourists only in 2002, what Haa Valley has to offer you is a surrounding so surprisingly untarnished by the outside world, a place where people are happy and content with their simplistic ways of living and beliefs. To immerse oneself in this kind of a living, homestays provide an experience like no other. A trip to this region may not be recommended to those in want of luxury.

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Out of the twenty Dzongkhags in Bhutan, Haa is the smallest. It opened up to tourism only in 2002 because of its strategic position close to the Indo-Tibetan border. It is home to nomadic herders and houses a very small population which is spread over roughly 1706 sq.km. But it is known for its pristine and serene surroundings and rich culture. Haa Valley hasn't had much interaction with the outside world which is what has kept it so untarnished. The idyllic wooded forests and paths are ideal for enthusiastic hikers and trekkers. This is also the only place in the world where one can find the cream coloured bloom of Blue Poppy (Meconopsis superba).

Haa Valley was home to some gruesome animistic rituals done to appease the guardian deity, the beliefs of which are still reflected in their rituals and celebrations Shamanistic rituals were practiced widely before the 8th century.The region also has a presence of tantric culture. However, with the influence of Guru Rinpoche who reduced the power of the deity, the region now follows Buddhist practices and traditions alongside some old practices. The Gyechu Lhakhang is dedicated to that very deity ( Ap Chundu) and is believed to have tantric connections. The Haaps (people living in Haa) believe in living in a manner that does not upset or challenge the deity who is said to cause earthquakes,landslides,floods and other disasters. A number of legends are also associated with Ap Chundu whose presence locals say they feel in their lives and hence hold the deity in very high regard.

1. Chele-La Pass
On the drive to Haa Valley through lush forests, one shall cross the Chele-La Pass, one of the highest motorable roads in Bhutan located at 3988m above sea level where one can get a clear view of Mt. Chomolhari and Jichu Drake. A sight of utmost and stunning beauty, it is a perfect spot to enjoy the view with a short walk and maybe a hot beverage. Many stop by for about half an hour or so to take in the visual (some even go for a picnic). In winters, one could come across frozen rivers, waterfalls and snow capped mountains. One will also be able to see many prayer flags fluttering in the wind.

2. Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo
A trip here might prove fruitful for the spritually-inclined.Also known as the White Temple and Black Temple, these are the two prominent spots for tourists in the valley. According to legend, King Sonsten Gampo had released two pigeons for making the temples. the Black Temple was constructed where the Black pigeon landed and the White Temple was made where the White pigeon landed. Both the temples are considered highly auspicious.There is also a chorten nearby with the imprint of Guru Rinpoche's body and hat. A word of caution: Tourists are expected to dress respectably and modestly while visiting temples and other religious institutions. Shoulders must also be covered inside religious establishments. Since shoes are to be removed before entering a religious building, it is advisable to wear socks.

3. Haa Goempa
Situated close to the Black and White temples, the Haa Monastery is said to have been the result of some mystical celestial event. It was constructed at the site where Buddha in the avatar of a pigeon, lured local farmers to the spot with strange, mystical sounds and visions of fires.

4. Gyechu Lakhang/Chundu Lhakang
This is dedicated to the vicious guardian deity of the Haa Valley and contains statues of Ap Chundu and Jowya. It is said to have Tantric connections. Visitors are advised not to stare too long due to tantric repercussions. It is a very popular pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese people. It signifies the traditions that existed prior to the 8th century.
Yangthong and Katsho Goempa Located 7 km from Haa, the Yangthong monastery contains beautiful murals of Guru Padmasambhava's paradise and of mermaid deities. Katsho Goempa is a small monastery is in Katsho Village and is better visited for the trail that leads up to it than the actual monastery itself.

5. Has Samarpudung
This is a bridge linking the Haa Valley to the Samarpudung Valley and is believed to have magical powers. One could make a wish in the wishing cow lake below where the stone udders of the cow are said to be visible.

6. Other Activities
Haa Valley is a highly recommended spot for all nature enthusiasts and trekkers because it has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty with thick forest cover and mesmerising rivers to walk along. Hiking, cycling and trekking are popular activities in this region. The route to Chele La Pass is particularly popular for cycling and motorcycling tours. During the Summer festival, apart from devouring the delicacies, one could ride on horses and yaks and take part in games of archery, Khuru and Soksum.



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