The journey towards the most popular Druk Path Trek starts with a short climb up to Jela Dzong. Jela Dzong is perch on top of the mountain and it’s isolated from Paro Valley. The iconic dzong has become many local and tourist favorite landmarks. There is no road to the fortress, one will either need to hike or take a pony ride. The trail ascends to the Dzong taking 2 hours The trail continues steeply up through the forest. When the weather is clear Paro valley can be seen with snow-capped mountains behind from the vicinity of the Dzong.
History of Jela dzong
Drela Samten Choekhor or Jela was built by Drukpa Kuenley’s brother Lam Ngawang Choegyal (1464-1540) the 14th holder of Druk Ralung in 15th century A.D when great Ngawang Choegyal arrived in Paro. He built the first Drukpa Kagyu place in Paro Tshongdu in 1525 A.D. Then after he built Dobi Chokorgang and Dolpa Shar Samtentsemo.
Drela Samten Choekhor in ancient times was the important monastic centre for the dual system of Governance in Bhutan. When Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal was 24 years old he came to Paro on pilgrimage and stayed at Druk Kagyu Choeding and he was not allowed to stay there because of the Tsangpas war. Suddenly Zhabdrung left the place via Hungrel Dzong and Damchenthang Stupa through the highway of Thimphu and arrived at Drela (JELA).
When he was staying in the Dukhang of Drela Samten Choekhor, he encountered Bhutan’s protective deity Palden Yeshey Goenpo face to face. He received a prophecy in the temple that he would win from the Tsangpas war. Because of this, even today, the Parops call Drela Samten Choekhor as Jela, the meeting of the place of Pal Yeshey Goenpo and Zhabdrung Rinpoche. The temple was quite small when Zhabdrung Rinpoche visited. The temple was extended from the front by 16th Je Khenpo Sherub Singye in the first quarter of the 18th century A.D.
Highlight of the Jela dzong
The treasure of the temple is Buddha Shakyamuni in the center, Maitreya Buddha in the right, and Buddha of the light on the left which is a huge statue. To the right of Buddha is the standing Manjushri and to the left are two armed Avalokiteshvara. Both these statues were made by Je Khenpo Sherub Singye. There are also small old statues of Guru Padmasambhava and Ngawang Chogyal to be seen.
In this temple, if we worship the protector of Dharma Yeshey Goenpo, we are protected and safeguarded. From ancient times onwards, the Bhutanese people and the Dharma protector Yeshey Goenpo had a special Dharmic bond. There are stories that from time immemorial the Yeshey Goenpo has protected Bhutanese and got victory from others. The lamas say that even today each Bhutanese has one re-incarnate Choechong Yeshey Goenpo. Today there is a monastic school in this temple which is affiliated with Paro Rinpung Dzong.
Camp Site at Jela Dzong
The first day of the trek begins from Paro Taa dzong to Jele Dzong. The altitude of the Jela dzong is you climb 3,280ft/1000m to your campsite just below Jela Dzong (11,480 ft/3,500 m).