There is a legend about a lake in Punakha that never overflows as it is continuously drained through an opening created by the deity residing in it; believed to have been created as a result of a demon threatening to flood the place. Appropriately called the “Hoka tsho” (lake with a hole), it is located at around two and a half hours walk from Chorten Nyingpo in Kabisa, Punakha. The Chorten was built in the 17th century and is currently the winter residence of Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye. You can choose to visit this temple before proceeding to the lake. Unfortunately, we were short on time and had to give it a miss.
The path to the lake starts at a road which diverges just before reaching Chorten Nyingpo. Taking this route, you will come across a small irrigation canal, which you can follow all the way up to the lake. Although we visited in the month of January, the path was slightly muddy and slippery. It would be a challenge to walk this path during the monsoon, so it’s better to go during dry seasons.
Initially we walked beside the canal but we somehow managed to leave it behind. Later we realized that we had taken a different path that led us to a wide clearing half way to our destination. The path abruptly gave way to a glade which threw back echoes of our loud voices and it had a certain eeriness to it. The sudden opening gave us a majestic view of the clear blue sky (lucky for us, the weather that day was great). If you need to rest, this is definitely the place to pause.
In case you decide to go the same way we did, be prepared for the first part of the trek, especially if you are a novice hiker. The entire hike is relatively easy with gradual slopes but at some areas, there is a very steep climb which will require a bit of effort. However, every step will bring you closer to the beautiful lake, as cheesy as it may sound.
After exactly two and a half hours of trudging through the woods, we got our first view of Hokatsho. The still lake lay in the hollowness of the valley, quietly reflecting the sky and fluffy clouds. There are some big fish in it, one of which caused a sudden disturbance in the calm water, taking us by surprise. At an elevation of about 1800 metres and considered to be one of the biggest lakes in Bhutan, Hokatsho is quite a pretty sight. Also, the wide expanse of ground nearby is the perfect place for you to enjoy your meal, all the while admiring the tranquil lake.
You should definitely take a day off from your everyday routine to visit this beautiful lake. Away from the bustles of life, this peaceful lake is the perfect get-away for both nature and photography buffs.