It was a weekend. My friends (two are monks) came up with an idea to go for a day’s hiking. There are many trails in Thimphu for nature and cultural hikes. But this time we agreed on Dhrolung Sangacholing Dubdey – a personal meditation centre of late Je Khenpo of Bhutan, Geshe Gedhen Rinchen.
One of the friends in the group has a cousin monk at Drolung Goemba. The cousin is under 3 years retreat since last year. So to make this hike more purposeful, we agreed to take some cooking oil, vegetables, rice and other edibles to his cousin monk.
We started our journey from Thimphu at around 8 a.m. We gathered near my residence at Taba and stopped a taxi that would take us till Tango-Cheri Base; starting point of our hike to Dhrolung Sangacholing Dubdey. Our aim was to make there before noon as to avoid summer heat along the trail.
However, we made there before noon. The weather was bit cloudy – indeed a favourable weather for hikers. People at Tango-Cheri Base say that the trail is of 4 hours for tourists. We took less than 4 hours.
Dhrolung Sangacholing Dubdey Nature Trail
The trail is through thick forest of hemlock and oaks with occasional scenic views of Tango Monastery and Cheri Goemba. We also got to enjoy enchanting natural grandeur created by blooming of seasonal wild flowers and rhododendrons.
The trail has sloppy gradient. And wherever the trail is bit steep, there are few good resting canopies. Occasionally we get to stop for drinking cold drinks and short chit-chat.
Our hiking through pristine and silent forest was enjoyable as much as it was meditative. We didn’t feel tired as we expected. Trees along the trail appear so fresh and lively. Birds seem to enjoy their habitats and sing their unfathomable songs. Clean mountain streams seem to have long stories to share with us.
We were literally immersed in nature. The distant view of Thimphu valley from hilltop is as wonderful as a work of an artistic painter. Ribbons of clean and white clouds along distant mountains make views breathtaking.
Dhrolung Sangacholing Dubdey
This temple is located at a hilltop overlooking Thimphu town. I was told that it was a personal meditation centre of Geshe Gedhen Rinchen, 69th Je Khenpo of Bhutan. There are two temples but only the first is open for public.
We got to see personal belongings of Geshe Gedhen Rinchen starting from his walking staff to pillow and mattress. And the purba (spiritual daggers) and ceramic statues made by him are on display for public. And other temple is main temple of offering for monks who are in retreat. Therefore, it’s not open for public.
My friend called his cousin monk again to confirm where we have to drop the things. We were then taken to a small shingles house which is basically a compartment to receive guests and host lunch for them.
The cousin has prepared lunch with hot spicy Ema Datshi for us. It was such a welcoming sight after 2-3 hours of hike uphill. His cousin in another room (without showing his face), we talked on many things for about an hour.
When we were done and were about to leave, he suggested us to visit Tango Monastery on our return journey. He verbally gave us a travel route to Tango Monastery. So we trusted our memory and left Dhrolung Sangacholing Dubdey wishing him good health.
Dhrolung Dubdey – Tango Goemba Trail
We made a few meters’ descend from main temple. As instructed by the monk, we searched for a junction with signboard indicating a way towards Tango Monastery. It didn’t take us too long – the signboard was put well. I wondered how we missed during our ascends.
We took the trail. So much it was wonderful experience climbing to Dhrolung Sangacholing Dubdey from Tango Base, so is descending to Tango Monastery from there. The trail is gradual descend through thick forest of oak, hemlocks and rhododendrons.
When we were done crossing a stream between two monasteries, the view of Dhrolung Sangacholing Dubdey becomes visible once more but this time from another angle. It’s one of the things of going places in Bhutan; the place you just visited can be seen from the place you visit.
We have walked for about an hour from Dhrolung Sangacholing Dubdey when we reached at the viewpoint of Tango Monastery. From there, the view of fort-like Tango Monastery is as wonderful as it’s tempting to visit. We rested for about 15 mins and went to Tango Monastery temples to make our offerings and say our prayers.
Tango Goemba – College of Buddhist Studies
Tango Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Thimphu which still holds many aspects of ancient Bhutan. It was started as early as 12th century by Lam Gyelwa Lhanangpa, who also started Thimphu Tashicho Dzong.
However, the present structure was built by Lam Drukpa Kuenley (1455-1529), a saint who possessed crazy wisdom putting them into his teachings and bringing out follies of mankind. Later it was made bigger by Desi Tenzin Rabgay, 4th secular ruler of Bhutan from 1680 for 15 years.
We made few rounds and then went inside the temple. There are big statues of Zhabdrung, Buddha and also future Buddha. From the monk who explained about those statues, I came to know that the painting which Lam Drukpa Kuenley urinated and later turned into gold is inside the main statue of the temple along with his folded sword.
The main shrine room is under renovation. So all the religious antiques are in another hall; which are on display for public. There are ranges of items starting from kitchen utensils to 700+ years old statues of various religious figures on display. It took us about an hour to visit all the temples at Tango Monastery.
We finally called a day and started our hike down to Tango Base at around 5 p.m. We then started a vehicular journey from the base at 6.30. So now when I look back, I feel it was one of the few spiritually satisfying and physically benefiting hikes I have taken in Thimphu. I got a zeal to visit more such similar temples and monasteries in Bhutan.
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