So here it is.
If you travel Bhutan in winter, and especially sometimes at the start of the second week of December, you’ll get an opportunity to attend Dochula Tshechu in Thimphu. This tshechu is the only festival that celebrates bravery and victory of Bhutanese soldiers over Indian insurgents in 2003.
All the dances are enactments of the bravery of some Buddhist principal figures to relate their bravery with that of Bhutanese soldiers. All dances are unique starting from the masks and outfits they wear to the manner of dancing. And almost all mask dancers are Bhutanese soldiers.
Dochula Tshechu was started in 2011. Since then it has been declared as an annual event scheduled on 13th December every year. It happens on a hilltop of Dochula Pass and behind the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang.
The festival spot itself provides great panoramic wintry views of Bhutan which blend quite well with the eccentricity of the festival. You can also see distant views of some hamlets of Wangdue and Punakha.
Dochula Festival – Location
If you drive for about 40 minutes from Thimphu towards Punakha, you will reach Dochula Pass. This pass is popular among tourists for being one of the best viewpoints offering great views of the natural beauty around and the grandeur of the 108 chortens of Dochula.
The actual festival spot is just behind Druk Wangyel Lhakhang. But it’s just a matter of about 10 minutes’ walk from Dochula Pass’s vehicle parking to get at festival ground. There is a paved walking trail till the ground.
It’ll be a bit cold in Thimphu during December. And since Dochula is at higher altitude compared to Thimphu town, you can expect to be colder at Festival Ground. However, when the weather is good, the place becomes warmly pleasant in no time.
Dochula Tshechu Dates and How to Travel To Dochula
Dochula Tshechu is a one-day festival. Your travel plan must be accurate. To attend all events of it, you must be in Thimphu on 12th December. Dochula Tshechu happens on 13th December every year.
If you haven’t booked a car or your hotel in Thimphu doesn’t have vehicular services, you can get on a shared taxi and hit the road. Till Dochula, taxi fare is Nu.100 per person. If you are on tight budget travel, be near a tri-junction of Semtokha and try your luck at hitchhiking. During my last visit, I got it and I paid taxi only on my return journey.
You can also travel from Paro or Punakha on the day of this festival i.e 13th December. But you can expect some rush so you should preferably plan to start your journey early. If you are late, you might not be able to see all events of the Tshechu.
Things you can Do at Dochula Tshechu – Bhutan
Just like any festival in Bhutan, Dochula Tshechu also doesn’t fail to provide a great opportunity for photographers. Unlike in other festivals, photos of Dochula Tshechu will turn out good. Clean snow-capped mountaintops and picturesque Himalayan ranges become good backdrops for photography.
If the sky is clear and the sun is shining well, you will have a great time going trigger-happy. But sometimes, weather also has its own ways to test our passion. So, don’t be disappointed if you are not able to get a lot of good photos. At least you can still enjoy the celebrations!
You can also expect the crowd to be smaller, unlike in other festivals of Bhutan. All people residing in Thimphu or nearby places won’t be attending it provided it doesn’t fall on a weekend. Dochula Tshechu isn’t a government holiday.
There is a tourist restaurant near parking. You can go in it for suja (buttered and salted Bhutanese tea) or other snacks if you want to. They also serve meals of both domestic and international cuisines. Moreover, temporary shops are getting set up. You can purchase basic edible items.
Do you wish to travel Bhutan and attend Dochula Tshechu? What do you expect different from it compare to other Bhutanese Festivals?