Haa Valley : The Well Kept Secret of Bhutan

The prayer flags were fluttering in the air. The sound of the breeze was ringing through my ears. As I took the turn up in the eastern Himalayan ranges, the curvaceous road was suddenly engulfed in the ascending mist. I felt as if the wind was whispering, announcing the arrival of this compelling, yet hidden valley of Bhutan.

IMG_5031

This valley was a well-kept secret of the country and was off the tourist map till 2002. The pristine valley is the second least populated dzongkhag (District) in the country and popularly known as “Hidden-Land Rice Valley.”

Nestled on the western most edge of Bhutan, Haa Valley is one of the most picturesque valleys in the country. The isolated valley lies behind the mountain ridge of Chele La and it borders with the northern boundaries of the Chumbi Valley of Tibet on one side. The verdant, quaint and the remote valley spread across an area of roughly 1706.8 sq. km, will undoubtedly leave you speechless with its splendid beauty and compel you to fall in love with it.  Haa is one of the 20 dzongkhag or districts comprising Bhutan and apparently the smallest one in the country.

P_20160810_130031-2

By the time, I entered the valley, darkness had fallen over. It was drizzling. The tiny light of the scattered houses from the distant villages was visible. As I walked on the muddy trails, the earthy fragrance welcomed me to the hundred year old farm house.

IMG_5029

The restored old property left me awestruck as I climbed the wooden stairs to my designated room. The restored farm house with rich interiors, wooden furniture, painting, and the intricate details on the walls was overwhelming.

P_20160816_085759

Moreover,experiencing the warm hospitality of the Bhutanese family floored me completely. And I could not wait till dawn to explore this gorgeous hidden valley of Bhutan.

1

As I peeped out of that small wooden window, early in the morning, my eyes were blessed seeing the sun-kissed valley beyond the horizon. I walked through the narrow village trail, following the sound of the prayer wheel, which was ringing constantly in my ears since last night.

IMG_4914

The sound became louder as I inched forward. With the chirping sound of the birds, twittering in the trees, the rustling leaves on my path, I landed on the bank of a gushing water stream. The tryst with nature in the mysterious terrain was blissful.

IMG_4983

Seeing the villagers starting their day, the rising smoke from the backdrop of traditional kitchen and the rising sun above the alpine forest was one of those moments which I will treasure forever. Life takes its own time to react here.

IMG_4956

As you walk through the valley, it feels as if nature is unfolding its beauty layer after layer. The green meadows with yellow flowers surely remind you of the countryside of the Alps in Switzerland.

mn

Apart from the picturesque locations, there are a few temples and monasteries, which are a must visit. Lhakhang Karpo (White ) and Lhakhang Nagpo ( Black ) temples stand out while the hundred year old monastery of Tagchu Goemba adds to the scenic beauty of the valley.

As I was strolling around, the symmetrical and gorgeous architectures of those scattered houses drew my attention instantly.Those small traditional houses in the lush green meadows looked like a painting.

IMG_5046

I was impressed by the uniformity of the architectural style in Bhutan.From the capital city to the remote corner, you will come across the same pattern, colour and shape, which gives you the perfect example of maintaining the cultural legacy throughout the country.

IMG_5106

The intricate details and the exquisite Bhutanese painting on the wall make it unique in the world. The architectural style of Bhutan is one of the most celebrated cultural identities of this Himalayan kingdom.

IMG_5234

I was more than happy when I visited an old (more than 100 years old) traditional house in Haa Valley. The house belonged to our guide Karma’s Grandparents, where they are still living a traditional lifestyle.

3

Climbing up the steep wooden ladder to reach the first floor was like a task. The door opens up to a large kitchen and hall area which is basically used for both purposes. The aluminium utensils, the traditional stove with chimney, those rugged walls made me realize that time had frozen in this part of the region. The rawness of the lifestyle of people is obvious in every corner of this valley.

IMG_5216

The livelihood of the people of the Haa valley mainly depends on the agriculture. In its fertile valleys, people grow mostly high altitude crops like wheat, potatoes, barley and millet. The yak is considered a significant contributor to the economy of this region.

IMG_4989

A dried variety of Yak Cheese called the “Habi Ruto” is a speciality of this region. Most of the people of this region raise domestic animals such as yak, cattle, chicken, pigs and horses.

People of Haa valley are commonly known as “Haap”. The smiling faces and the warm personalities of the people make this part of Bhutan a desired land.

IMG_5224

A set of unique cultural practices of this valley sets it apart from the rest of Bhutan.

2

IMG_5011

I got to know that “Haap”, unlike the rest of the world, celebrate New Year much earlier. They celebrate New Year on the 29th day of the 10th Month of the Bhutanese calendar (early November). The “Haap” New Year is known as “Lomba”, that means “To carry the year”. Apart from that, they also celebrate the famous summer festivals where you will get a glimpse of their nomadic lifestyle and culture .

IMG_5262

As I was getting ready to leave this amazing quiet corner, I fell in love with its rawness. The stillness in the air and happiness in the faces of the people floored me completely. That unpretentious nature of the people was so overwhelming that it left me wondering about other parts of the world, where I find most of them are so mechanical. I don’t wonder anymore, why Bhutan is called the Kingdom of Happiness.

I was invited to Bhutan on a press trip by Bhutan Bookings .


Remote Travel Tip: While exploring the adventures of Haa Valley there are times when you simply have to work, now you can remotely access your online private workstation from anywhere on any device with innovative cloud solutions by Apps4Rent.com. If you want to boost your organization`s IT performance while you are on a long trip then switch to IT infrastructure and network management services by Katalyst Partners.


 Disclaimer :

The Watermarked photographs are owned by the copywriters. Reproduction of any of the contents, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the writer, is strictly prohibited and a violation of the same will attract legal action.

Did you like the post? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and stay updated and notified about latest posts.

40 Replies to “Haa Valley : The Well Kept Secret of Bhutan”

  1. Haa Valley is truly blessed

    1. Absolutely. I can’t wait to visit again 🙂

  2. We have just started to research Bhutan and this post is helpful and makes us quite excited to visit.

    1. Hey Matt, Thank you . I can help you out in case if you want to plan your itinerary for Bhutan.

  3. I had no idea Bhutan had so many fir trees and looked like this at all! The first image made me think of Switzerland. It is definitely beautiful and amazing how kind and welcoming the locals were. Now on my travel wish list. 🙂

    1. Thanks Anne. The landscape looks like the countryside of Switzerland. Its amazing country and you should visit it soon 🙂

  4. Haa Valley is beautiful and really a well kept secret of Bhutan.

    1. Thank you Dipanshu. I can’t wait to go back again 🙂

  5. Your photos really capture the serenity and color of Bhutan. Nice work.

    1. Thank you Paige. Bhutan is simply stunning in real sense.

  6. Wow, what gorgeous blue skies and open landscapes. I wouldn’t have seen these photos and thought it was this part of the world. It looks like a real escape 🙂
    Monica recently posted…Mt. Misen, the highest point on Japan’s holiest islandMy Profile

    1. Thank you Monica. You will be left speechless once you visit this amazing country. The richness of its cultural heritage , scenic surrounding and the humble people makes it a Happy country. A must visit place.

  7. Bhutan is definitely in our list! These pictures are just amazing!

    1. Thank you Laura. A must visit country undoubtedly

  8. This wonderful post inspires me to take a trip to Bhutan very soon . It’s so wonderfully written and presented . The pictures are too good . Keep up the good work .
    Cheers !

    1. Thank you so much Rijul.

  9. The Bhutan countryside looks so peaceful & picturesque. Bhutan has been on my list for a long time, I’m definitely going to remember the Haa Valley when I eventually start planning a trip there! 🙂

    1. Bhutan is an amazing country. Do visit Haa Valley whenever you are in Bhutan. The culture, people and the countryside makes this country a Happy Country.

  10. It brought back beautiful memories of the trip. Haa valley was indeed the surprise package..I loved the farmhouse for it neat rooms and state-of-the-art facilities..
    Manjulika Pramod recently posted…Its time for Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart 2016My Profile

    1. Absolutely loved the experience . Would love go back to the valley again.

  11. Not many go to Haa valley. It is the ‘open secret’ of Bhutan!
    Abhinav Singh recently posted…Offbeat Activities to do in Mussoorie with Mosaic HotelMy Profile

    1. Loved that remote corner of Bhutan.

  12. Great post! Love those opening few lines, they really set the scene 🙂 Haa Valley looks gorgeous, and I love an off the beaten track place like this!

    1. Thank you Emily. You will love Haa Valley if you like offbeat places . Its a remote corner of Bhutan.

  13. Gorgeous photos. You’ve really captured the beauty of Haa Valley. Will have to add this to my bucket list.

    1. Thank you Debra. Bhutan is a must visit country and Haa valley should be in your itinerary for sure.

  14. After reading the post I am convinced I must go there. It is the sort of place I long to be in. Thanks for the great descriptions and the tips.

    1. Thank you Sir. This country is photographer’s delight 🙂

  15. I woսld like to thank the website author. Ꮐood article.
    Tɦanks for sharing.
    Halina recently posted…HalinaMy Profile

  16. Bhutan is indeed a land where the currency is happiness. The natural environs, the culture of the people and the peace that envelops the place makes it the happiness capital of the world.

    1. Bhutan is a place where i don’t mind settling for life.

  17. I would like to thanks, author of this post for sharing such a most attractive images and information about Bhutan. My girlfriend and I had a fantastic seven days tour to Bhutan. Bhutan Mahayana Tours was a wonderful travel agency; guide us every time with all new spot we had about local geography and history. I would like to plan again to visit this wonderfull place.

  18. Great post and as usual awesome captures!! 🙂

  19. Hello Parnashree.. I am planning to go to Bhutan.. Could you help me with the iternary

    1. Hi Payal, Yes I can help you.

  20. Well written !!
    Keep going ..

  21. Hi All

    We run Bhutan’s first online travel website for direct hotel bookings called http://www.bhutanbookings.com

    It is also integrated with Tripadvisor which means you can run a search on Tripadvisor for Bhutan Hotels and book directly with a credit card.

    Please write back if you need any help with this!

  22. hello. have been searching for a photo of tagchu goemba. can you pl share one if you have

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge