When Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel came to Bhutan in 1616, he entered Bhutan via Gasa. But before he actually proceeded to Punakha, Bhutan history has that he remained at Damji for few days with Goensa Lam who actually invited him to Bhutan.
During his stay at Damji, he visited Gasa Tsachu (Gasa Hot springs) to have relaxation moments with his Bhutanese followers and patrons. When Gasa Tsachu could relieve Zhabdrung from immense joint pain and fatigues in several parts of his body, it’s said that he personally blessed Gasa Tsachu to remain forever.
Therefore, today Gasa Tsachu is one of the highly respected and most visited hot springs in Bhutan. People across Bhutan visit Gasa Tsachu to enjoy its mineral rich warm water for relaxation and other anointing benefits.
Tourists also visit Gasa hot springs and its excursions. Its secluded location with extraordinary landscape beauty and travel conveniences have made it one of the best tourist attractions of Gasa.
Travel to Gasa Tsachu
Gasa Tsachu is at a distance of about 42 Km from Punakha and 2 Km from Gasa Dzong. It’s at the base of Gasa Dzong valley on Mochu (Female River) bank. It takes about 7 hours if you travel from Thimphu to Gasa directly without a night-hold at Punakha.
However road condition isn’t very good during my last visit. Indeed many parts of Punakha-Gasa road are rough strewn with annoying pebbles. During monsoon season, loose top soil and erosion could disturb normal vehicular traffics along this road.
There is no public transport service to Gasa Tsachu from Punakha or Thimphu. So an option could be either to hire taxi from Punakha to drop you till the hot spring or take your own car.
If you take your own car and you are the driver, make sure you are a good driver. The road that leads to hot springs is through precarious rough gradients. It’ll test your driving skills and courage.
Hotels at Gasa Hot Springs
There are no commercial hotels at Gasa Tsachu for tourists. Bhutanese who visit Gasa Tsachu either stay near hot springs pitching their private tents or in guesthouse rooms. There are 4 guesthouses.
Single rooms that can accommodate 5-6 people cost Nu.200 per night. Double rooms with attached indoor toilets cost Nu.500 per night.
All rooms have electricity connections that can meet your cooking purposes. Therefore, I am of the view that taking of LPG cylinders and stoves aren’t necessary if you’re with your rice cooker and curry cooker.
All rooms have wooden flooring. So it isn’t as cold as you think would be at a place of 3000m. However, you need to take your own carpets and mattresses as guesthouse don’t provide them.
You can either go to hot springs from guesthouse room by walking or driving. I have seen many people walking as the distance is just about 300m. In case of old people and people who nauseate after remaining in hot spring water for quite a while, driving would be better.
Gasa Hot springs & Facilities
There are 4 sheds having two square wooden bath vats. Each of these vats has hot spring water at varying temperature acclaimed to having numerous curative capabilities. If we want to fill up a vat fully, each can accommodate at least 30 adults.
There is freely flowing water outside for taking bath before actually getting in a vat. Some people also take bath here after getting out of a vat.
All those 4 sheds remain open to public for 24×7 unless there is some mass cleaning campaigns by Gasa Dzongkhag. Therefore, we can walk in anytime in any vat to bathe. There is good compound lighting. Taking bath even during night isn’t a problem.
And if you are someone who is so much into protecting your privacy and don’t want to bathe in crowd, there is another shed. But you have to pay Nu.500 per day to use that shed and bathe in its vats.
Curative benefits of Gasa Tsachu
Gasa Hot spring is said to have capabilities of healing many health problems. Just above Tsachu shed is a place from where pungent smell of nauseating gas comes out. It’s known to heal sinusitis inflammation when inhaled few times.
There is another water flowing which is acclaimed of healing gastrointestinal ulcers if drunk frequently especially before meals. Bhutanese visiting Gasa Tsachu would be seen taking containers and containers of this water.
Its surrounding has muddy and pungent smelling clay which is proven to cure acenes, sunburn, facial sores and other dermatological diseases. People also say it heals nasal sores and injuries.
Gasa Tsachu & other Hot springs in Bhutan
There are many hot springs in Bhutan that people visit and are said to have similar curative benefits. Some of them besides Gasa Tsachu are Dunmang Tsachu in Zhemgang, Dhur Tsachu in Bumthang, Koma Tsachu in Punakha and Gelephu Tsachu in Sarpang.
Gelephu Tsachu is near populated town of Gelephu. Therefore, we cannot take bath freely just like in Gasa. And hot spring water down there is also very small. You cannot expect its surrounding to be so clean.
Dunmang Tsachu of Zhemgang, Dhur Tsachu of Bumthang and Koma Tsachu of Punakha maybe as clean as Gasa Tsachu but travelling to them is hard. They’re in one day or two days’ walking distance from the nearest motor-able road.
But Gasa Tsachu is connected with road. Its compound is clean and has good amount of free flowing hot springs. Security isn’t a concern at Gasa; nobody cares whether your baggage is open. Therefore, Gasa Tsachu is one of the best hot springs in Bhutan.
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