Dochu la Pass
Dochu la Pass of Bhutan is located on the top of a mountain on the road from Thimphu to Punaka, It is 45 minutes drive from Thimphu. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountains ranges. The view is especially scenic on clear winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass. It contains of 108 chortens (stupas) built in memory of Bhutanese soldiers killed in the 2003 war against insurgents from India. The Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, built the stupa after King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was victorious in the struggle to dislodge the rebels who were using Bhutan as a base to raid India. For tourists as well as local travelers this is an ideal location to capture beautiful pictures of the Himalayan mountain range during clear day.
These 108 chortens are built in three steps. The first and lowest has forty five chortens, the second has thirty six and top has twenty seven built in an around the main chorten. The construction of this chorterns was done as per religious procedures. The height of the chortens 1m a pit was excavated in the ground in the centre and offering of grains and bronze utensil filled with butter were placed. As the height of chortens increased, images of Buddhist gods made of clay stuffed with papers inscribed with prayers were interred. . In the next stage, which is considered the “vital stage”, in erecting a chorten was the fixing of the sokshing meaning “the life tree of the chorten”. The sokshing, which is believed to provide a link between heaven and earth within a chorten, is in the form of a long square wooden pole made from a juniper tree made by an individual who has appropriate qualities from an astrological point of view. The pole was painted in red colour and inscribed with sacred hymns and banded with religious paraphernalia such as gilded images of gods, prayer bells, small clay stupas, and also precious stones and jewellery. The sokshing was then wrapped around by silk cloth and then fixed in the partly built chorten on an auspicious day.
The Dochula Druk Wangyel Tsechu (Festival or Tsechu) is held annually on December 13, at Druk Wangyel Festival ground located at Dochula pass. This festival was established in 2011 to celebrate victory of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the Armed Forces in 2003 war. A special Tsechu was composed for the occasion by Dasho Karma Ura which involved costumed mask dances. The Druk Wangyel Tshechu is a unique festival performed by the Royal Bhutan Army rather than monks or lay people. It is a tribute to the wise leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the Fourth king of Bhutan. It also celebrates the continuous efforts of the Royal Bhutan Army in protecting the sovereignty and the stability of the country.