Bhutan is full of mountainous landscapes that are connected by numerous passes. The highest motorable pass of all the passes in Bhutan is Chelela Pass which connects Paro and Ha valley. It is famous for trekking and hiking trips. Here is a detailed guide to know more about visiting Chelela Pass in Bhutan.
How to reach Chelala Pass
The path to the pass through Paro or Ha valley passes through dense dense forests which provides a wonderful adventure. On days when the surroundings are particularly clear, one can have spectacular views of Mount Jumolhari, Jichu Drake, other northern peaks, and the Paro and Ha valleys.
Best time to visit Chelala Pass
Between April and June, one can enjoy a pleasant weather along with blooming rhododendrons in the vibrant landscape of the valleys surrounding the pass. This is the ideal time for picnics and camping with friends and family. From October to March, the region experiences winter season and one can witness spectacular views of high snow-capped mountains. But, one should be careful in this season because it can be unbearable cold.
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Chelela Pass: Special Features
1. Chelela Pass has an elevation of 3,988 metres, making it the highest motorable road in Bhutan. From this place, Bhutan’s most sacred peak Mount Jomolhari at an altitude of 22,000 feet can be clearly seen.
2. The distance from Paro to Chelela Pass is approximately 39.8 km, it takes approximately one and a half hour to reach the pass by car. The drive from Paro to Chelela Pass offers spectacular views of the rich flora and fauna.
3. There are many ancient paths and many untouched forest areas in the vicinity of this pass making this place an ideal spot for all hikers.
4. The slopes of the mountains in the landscape are covered with white poppies found nowhere else in the world. You can also explore the region’s vast lakes which are home to many rainbow trout.
Things to do at Chelala Pass
Most of the activities around Chelela Pass are aimed at exploring Bhutan’s natural landscape. Here are the top 6 things that must be done at Chelala Pass:
1. Check Pass: Hiking
The pleasant weather coupled with the breathtaking surroundings makes the trek between Chelela Pass and Paro one of the best activities one can partake in. During the walking tour, one can visit various religious sites and ancient architectural wonders that lie along the way. Hikers also meet many other locals along the way and can thus interact with them and learn more about the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle. The best time to hike here would be in the months between May and November when the weather and surrounding landscapes are at their best possible. If they are hiking alone, they should carry the Chela Pass Map.
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2. Ha Festival: Join in the fun
The Ha Festival is a popular event among Bhutanese locals during the summer season. It is a very lively event showcasing Bhutanese traditions. It includes numerous religious performances, delicious choices of various dishes of Bhutanese cuisine, traditional games and nomadic culture celebrations. The whole area is filled with exhibits celebrating the traditional lifestyle of the local people, natural alpine flowers and many other ancient artefacts created by talented curators. Tourists can also plan to stay the night at one of the popular Haa Valley homestays and experience the hospitality.
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3. Chellela Pass: Enjoy bird watching
Early morning is the best time to see the many different species of birds in the area around the winding roads from Chelela Pass to Paro. It is a famous area for spotting the beautiful pheasants whose squawking sounds echo throughout the valley. Tits can be seen flying through the canopy of conifer trees. Other birds that can be seen here are White-winged Grosbeak, Long-crested Monal, Laughing Thrush, White-browed Rosefinch, Mountain Finches, Nutcrackers and many others. The snow covered mountains along with the many birds flying around make for a spectacular sight.
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4. Paro Takhtsang: Ask for blessings
Paro Takhtsang or Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a famous ancient Buddhist monastery located in the Upper Paro Valley with a spectacular valley view. It is a major Himalayan holy place which is one of the most popular places to visit in Bhutan for all. It is said that the “Second Buddha” meditated at this place. It is a two-hour climb to this monastery. The journey to this place is very difficult with steep slopes and the high altitude increases the feeling of discomfort. But, the magnificent monastery makes the effort worth it to reach this place.
5. Rinpung Dzong: Marvel at the architectural marvel
The real name of this famous monastery of Paro is Rinchen Pung Dzong which is shortened to Rinpung Dzong which means “Fort on a Pile of Gems”. This fort was earlier used to protect the Paro valley from invasions from Tibet. It is built on a steep hill and the view from here is absolutely mesmerizing. It perfectly highlights the traditional Bhutanese architecture with its high walls and wooden carvings. It is considered to be one of the top places to visit in Bhutan.
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6. National Museum: Discover the History of Bhutan
This conch-shaped round museum is situated above Paro Dzong. A unique variety of modern and ancient thangkas, scary face masks used in Tsechu dances, an egg that was laid by a mule, the horse horns of Guru Rinpoche and some of the original links of the Tamchog bridge are beautifully displayed here . The only sad thing is that no cameras are allowed inside this museum and hence one cannot capture the beautiful pieces of art displayed here.
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Chela Pass should be on the bucket list of every travel lover. One can enjoy an interesting road trip which offers a 35 km drive to Chellela. We advise you to book a trip to Bhutan immediately and visit this incredible place.
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