A Walk in the Clouds: Hike to Kila Nunnery From Chelela Pass

Kila Nunnery

Kila Goenpa or Kila Nunnery hike begins from Chele La (Pass), the highest motor-able road in Bhutan set at an altitude of 3810 meters. It is one of the most beautiful day hikes that you can take while in your Bhutan Tour.

Distance between Paro to Chelela Pass

It takes about one and half hour (65 Km) drive from Paro town to reach Chelela (Pass). The drive from Paro to Chelela would be through a winding road over the dense pine forest, the view is spectacular.

Chelela Pass
Chelela Pass

As we ascend further to higher elevation the vegetation changes to conifer such as spruce, juniper, hemlock, silver fir and finally at the summit, the vegetation is all open alpine meadows

This was our second attempt to hike to Kila Goenpa Nunnery. The first time we could not hike due to heavy rainfall & fog.

Chelela Pass

It is one of the most beautiful pass in Bhutan . Chelela Pass  is decorated with colorful prayer flags. If the weather cooperates you can also get a beautiful view of Paro valley. And if you wish you all can also hang some prayer flags or offer incense before heading for a hike. But here in Bhutan we do not hang prayer flag on any days; we check the astrology before hanging the prayer flags.

Chelela to Kila Goenpa Hike

This hike is marvelously beautiful. April, May, September, October and November is ideal time to take up this hike. In summer due to rainfall and fog the hike is not comfortable on all days, but on sunny days you will be greeted by thousands of wild flowers .The winter will be too cold.

Hike to Kila Goenpa Nunnery

The hike is not strenuous. You will be hiking through the forest of rhododendron and wild flowers. This is also a good place to hunt for blue poppy, the national flower of Bhutan.  If we are lucky we will also encounter various species of birds. The most common one would be monal pheasant, blood pheasants, spotted laughing thrushes, Blue Magpies and white throated red starts.

After one and half hour of hike we could finally get the glimpse of Kila nunnery, hanging on the edge of mountain cliff. It was a wonderful feeling being there, we could just see the cloud floating below our feet.

Kila Goenpa

The Kila Goenpa , nestled in a craggy patch on the mountainside precariously sits along rock face. All the while we were of the impression that we were visiting the temple of Kila (Phurba) in connotation to the temple name. But ironically the primary deity there was Avalokitesvara (Chenreyzig). And the name Kila meant (Ki-Peaceful; La: Mountain).

The monastery was founded by Chogyel Norbu in 9th century and it is one of the oldest nunneries in Bhutan. Surrounding the monastery we will see several retreat houses.

Kila Goenpa

Just few years back the Kila Goenpa served as the school for Buddhist study but now they have moved the school to Paro town owing to the harsh winter and rainy monsoon. Now the monastery is set exclusively for Buddhist practitioner who wants to go on retreat. And currently they are setting more numbers of retreat houses as this place is conducive to meditation practice. There are about 20-25 nuns taking care of the monastery and attending to the practitioner.

They have 2 major Altar Room. One room is dedicated to their prime deity Avalokitesvara, they also have many statues of great lamas hailing Drukpa Kagyu lineage. Kila Dorji Draktsen and Tashi Tsheringma are the local protective deity.

Well if you do not want to hike to Kila Goenpa then you can choose to drive 2Km of dirt road from main highway and visit the temple.

Contributed By: Namgyelma

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