Worshippers breathe heavily in the thin air as they leave snowy footprints in clockwise circles around each chorten. Rooks caw from the eaves and Thimphu’s suburbs – tiny at this distance – sit far below, separated by steep and silent slopes covered in pines.
Ever since a Buddhist saint stopped here to meditate in the thirteenth century, Phajoding has been a place of refuge. A three-hour hike from the nearest road, high in the hills west of the capital, the monastery contains an unwalled collection of lhakhangs and meditation halls. The monastery houses sixty monks, many of whom first came here as orphaned children or from impoverished families.
The monastery is worth seeing not only for the beautiful hike to get here (the route is the last day of the Druk Path Trek in reverse) and the stunning views, but also to enjoy the atmosphere of peace that permeates this sacred spot.