Jomolhari Trek: Loop around the Mountain of the Goddess

4 December, 2020 | Reccy Guide

At an altitude of 7326 m, Mt. Jomolhari is known as the Mountain of the Goddess. The mythology of the region mentions that this peak is a divine residence of the ‘five Tsheringma sisters’. Apparently, under the commanding oath of Guru Padmasambhava, they have been protecting the land and locals of Bhutan. The Jomolhari trek in Bhutan offers mesmerizing views of Mt. Jomolhari when you arrive at the Jangothang Basecamp. Situated at a height of 4050m, Jangothang Basecamp is the common campsite for many treks that follow the initial route from Drukgyel Dzong in Paro. Offering stunning views of multiple peaks of Bhutan, the Jangothang base arrives, surpassing grassy meadows, juniper, and rhododendron flowers.

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Just like the Snowman Trek, the Jomolhari trek also initiates from Drukgyel Dzong, the popular fortress in the list of Bhutanese tourist points. The trail initially follows the Paro Chu river valley across the farmlands. This topography later transforms into stupefying dense forests. While you cross rice fields and grassy meadows, the Jomolhari trail under vast clear skies is a moderate hike. After having crossed the campsites of Sharna Zampa and Soi Thangkha villages, you will finally land at scenic Jangothang basecamp. Acclimatizing and exploring the gleaming topography of the base camp, you will be refreshed to start the arduous sojourn towards Lingshi, the next day. Lingshi is the highest settlement of the Jomolhari trek Bhutan. 

When you explore the Basecamp, you will trek a considerable height for an acclimatization hike. En route, you might observe the lovely Blue Poppy, the national flower of Bhutan. Do not miss out on spotting marvelous birds of Golden eagle, Rhubarb, Blue sheep, and Griffon Vulture. Besides, Jangothang also grants you with snow-capped landscapes of two peaks, Mt Jichu drake (6989 m) and Tshering Gang (6789 m).

Campsite in the Jomolhari trek

Moving around the region of the Lingshi settlement, check out the mighty fortress of Lingshi Dzong. Situated at a higher altitude than the campsite, and overlooking the Lingshi village, in the past, it had served as a defense fortress from the invasions of Tibet and Mongolia. Also, it is a junction wherein you would depart from your Laya Gasa trek mates. While you descend towards Thimphu, they will step ahead to Laya.

From Lingshi, the route consistently follows a frequent uphill and downhill terrain.  With a few higher passes, it will be a steeper climb further, which will provide you with incredibly hair-raising descents. For some adventure boost, you can run down while you race with your trek mates!

After having crossed Chorten (stupa) to Mo chu valley, the steep climb will alight you at the highest pass of the Jomolhari Loop trek. This pass is known as Yelela pass at 4820 m. The Yelela pass presents more peak-views than what Basecamp provides! Gangchen ta, Tshering Gang, Masang Gang are a few of the peaks viewed from this pass of the Jomolhari trek. After the campsite of Shodu village, you will descend to reach the banks of the gushing Thimphu river. At the same time, the trek finally arrives at the tree line route, too. Before reaching Domshisha, you will cross Barshong Dzong. This dzong (fortress) is a dilapidated structure, which served as a resting point for the Buddhist monks between Linghshi and Thimphu, especially during winters.

Leaving past the conifers, birch and rhododendron forests, you will continue your descent to Domshisha, from where you will arrive at Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.

A pristine Bhutanese lake in the Jomolhari Trek

The lower valley of Thimphu boasts exemplary gorges formed by the majestic rock cliffs and Thimphu river. Growing a myriad of vegetation, the fertile valley is extremely colorful during summers and delivers some of the fabulous sights for landscape photography.

The Jomolhari loop trek forms an engaging loop, starting from Paro until Thimphu. En route, there are grazing lands where yak herders bring their yaks for feeding nature. Not only the trek gives you an adrenaline rush while climbing passes but also an exhilarating thrill to be in woods and dense forests for ten long days.  

The Bhutan government follows strict rules towards the permit of trekking. Indians are allowed to trek only in the Paro and Thimphu region. However, a special permit can be obtained to trek Haa valley, Bumthang, Gasa, Laya, and other protected regions of Bhutan. The permit could be applied at Thimphu’s immigration office or a trekker can get in touch with a local Bhutanese agent.

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