The Dochula Pass is a historical landmark built to honor the bravery and sacrifices of the fourth king and the soldiers who perished during the battle against Assamese insurgents in 2003. It particularly marks the victory of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck who dislodged the rebels from their camps (there were 30 camps) in Bhutanese territory from where they raided the Indian territory of Assam. After the war, the King went back to Thimphu on 28 December 2003. Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck commanded for the 108 chortens to be built. The construction of the chortens was completed in mid-June 2004 and formally consecrated and sanctified with religious rites on 19–20 June 2004.
The pass is located at an elevation of 3,100 metres (10,200 ft) (3,140 metres (10,300 ft) and 3,150 metres (10,330 ft) also mentioned) on the East-West Road from Thimphu to Punakha and further east in the Himalayas amidst the Eastern Himalayan snow-covered mountains. To the east of the pass, the snow-clad mountain peaks of the Himalayas are seen prominently and among them is Mt. Masanggang at 7,158 metres (23,484 ft) which is the highest peak in Bhutan, known in the local language as Mt. Gangkar Puensum. The road east of the pass runs steeply for some distance and then takes a left turn towards Punakha Valley to the Punakha Dzong, in Punakha (the old capital of Bhutan), which is located at the confluence of two rivers. Further east the road reaches Wangdi Phodrong where there is a 7th-century monastery on the ridge, and the valley is drained by the Punatsangchu River. The pass was part of ancient trails or tracks between Thimphu and Punakha, such as the Dochu La Nature Trail (1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi)) which begins at the Dochu La cafe and meets the present road at Lamperi, and the Lumitsawa Ancient Trail (4.7 kilometres (2.9 mi)) that joins the main road at Lumitsawa. Both trails are sections of the original route.
The Best Time to Visit Dochula Pass
The weather at the pass generally remains foggy and chilly. However, between October and February, panoramic views of the Bhutan Himalayas can be seen.
The forest cover on the slopes of the pass consists of cypress trees. The hill slopes around the pass are festooned with a profusion of colourful religious flags fixed by the Buddhist people as a mark of veneration. The flags, made in five colours representing the natural forces, — “blue (sky), white (clouds), red (fire), green (water) and yellow (earth)” – are inscribed with Buddhist scriptural prayers to usher prosperity and peace around the country. After the Losar festival in February, which marks the Bhutanese New Year, and as the snow melts, the pass provides a spectacle of many species of flowers such as the Primula denticulata, Primula bracteosa and in the subsequent month rhododendrons bloom in profusion. Magnolia campbellii also bloom in the past during this period. Another fragrant plant, which people come to enjoy, is the Daphne which is a small shrub which blooms with white flowers amidst an array of prayer flags that are fixed on the slopes. The bark of this plant is used to make paper which is a traditional paper used for writing religious scriptures as it is termite free.