Highway to Dorokha

Yesterday, I was at Dorokha. We drove from Samtse to Yabala, and walked the rest of the way.

The trail to Dorokha is broad. And, its alignment is comfortable – the path hugs the mountainside and gradually descends to Dorokha. But, because of the heavy traffic at this time of the year, the trail can get rough. The migrating cattle, work horses and constant stream of people marching on the “highway” to Dorokha and back takes a toll on the road. There are pebbles, mud, dust and loose stone over the rocky outcrop that is the trail.

Still, the road bears a busy, almost festive, look. Farmers seem rush to sell their cardamom and mandarin oranges. And then they rush back home with provisions for the year – rice, cooking oil, soap, tea, sugar, salt and clothes. Only to rush back transporting more of their cash crops. Shopkeepers in Dorokha and beyond stock up on goods for the year. Petty contractors transport construction material. Semi nomadic farmers tend their cattle and transport butter and cheese. And, enterprising locals set up temporary tea shops to cash in on the seasonal traffic.

Next year, however, at this time of the year, the trail will not be as busy. In fact, most of it will not be around. The motor road which is being constructed, much of it on the trail itself, will have been completed, and a lot of today’s transactions will be aided by vehicular traffic.

So as I walked to Dorokha, I did so deliberately, fully aware that that would probably be the last time I get to tread on the old highway, one that has quietly borne witness to the unfolding of Bhutan’s remarkable history.


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