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Haa Valley

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Best Time: October - November Read More

Ideal duration: 1 - 2 days

"Hidden-Land Rice Valley of Bhutan"

Haa Valley Tourism

Known as the smallest Dzongkhang (district) of Bhutan, Haa Valley is one of the most picturesque places located at the south-west of Paro. 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).

Although a little isolated, with hardly any attractions; the Valley offers the most surreal views in the entire of Bhutan. It is home to nomadic herders and houses a very small population of Bhutan. As the majority of crops grown in the region are rice, barley and wheat, Haa valley is also known as the "Hidden-Land Rice Valley".

Connecting the districts of Paro, Samtse and Chhukha, the Valley covers an area of 1706 sq.kms. It was only made available to tourists in the year 2002 and has been a hub for trekkers and nature enthusiasts ever since. Strategically located at a distance of 30kms from Paro, Haa Valley can be reached through the Chele La Pass.

Bhutan's choicest trekking trails and mountain biking trails are organised around this region. The people of Haa Valley follow the teachings of the 8th Guru Padmasambhava, which are noticeable in the traditions and the festivals held in the region. One of the most popular festivals celebrated by the Haa tribal and Nomads is the Haa Summer Festival that is usually held in July. Apart from the festival season, the best time to visit the region is from October to November.

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Ap Chundu - The Guardian Deity of Haa

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 practised 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 challenges 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.

Things To Do

1. Chele-La Pass

Chele La Pass
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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.

2. Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo

Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo
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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

Haa Monastery
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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

Gyechu Lakhang
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This is dedicated to the vicious guardian deity of the Haa Valley and contains statues of Ap Chundu and Joya. 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.

5. Yangthong and Katsho Goempa

Yangthong and Katsho Goemba
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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.

6. Haa Samarpudung

Haa samarpudung Bridge
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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.

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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