When I was at Sarpang for the first time, I was asking my friends again and again the whereabouts of it though someone in the group already told we were there. Because the town is small that even a village like Bumthang Ura could easily beat in number of houses and also people.
However, it’s not size but the simplicity, humbleness and inclusiveness of it that attract many tourists. People in Sarpang district almost know each other. And if you travel there, it’s quite an expected thing that shopkeepers would ask, ‘where are you coming from’ and ‘how long you’ll stay’. They know you are a new face!
My first travel to Sarpang in 2015 was very short. Therefore, I couldn’t explore much of it and gather experiences. So in 2017 August, I traveled once more. This time, I was there for 3 days. It was at that time, I could explore few tourist places of Sarpang and had good experiences with various tourist attractions of Sarpang Dzongkhag.
Tourist attractions of Sarpang or Places to visit in Sarpang
#1 Sarpang Town
Sarpang town as I said is small. But its line of general shops and pan shops provide a good platform for exploration. The town used to be at riverside adjacent to Gelephu to Tsirang road. But after it was razed by fire twice in 2016 and risk of getting affected by flood, it is now shifted at Shechamthang.
The new town hasn’t gained its face yet. However, town nearby Sarpang Dzong and Sarpang Higher Secondary School is worth your time. You can hangout with children and locals enjoying warm momos and tea as you ponder over simplicity of the town and its people.
#2 Outdoor Park
When I was done walking across town, I then headed down towards Sarpang Dzong and Sarpang Dzongda residential area. On the way, there is a small roadside children park or outdoor park adorned with various flowers and plants popular in hot places.
During weekend, you’ll see innocent children having fun as they play with various open gym equipment. This park is among well-trimmed trees that provide good shade. There are also few traditional architecture canopies providing good resting points.
#3 ZangdoPelri Lhakhang
If you are on your way to the Dzong, Zangdopelri Lhakhang is a landmark that you won’t fail to notice. Its unique architectural design and beauty makes it one of popular places to visit in Sarpang Dzongkhag.
Zangdopelri Lhakhang means paradise of Guru Padmasambhava. Zangdopelri Lhakhang, like design of Guru’s Paradise, as seen in various Thangkas is simply towering and beautiful. Inside the temple, there are statues of Zhabdrung, Jetsum Drolma and Guru Padmasambhava.
#4 Sarpang Dzong
If you compare Sarpang Dzong with other big dzongs like that of Trongsa, Thimphu and Paro, Sarpang Dzong simply doesn’t qualify to be a Dzong. It’s a small structure just like Dzongs of Samtse and Samdrup Jongkhar.
I saw Sarpang Dzong just from its gate. I didn’t go inside the compound because I wasn’t in formal dress (gho). If it looks grand and towering, I would have gone. Instead I walked away to circumambulate Zangdopelri Lhakhang. However, it was quite an experience listening what locals have to say on history of Sarpang Dzong.
#5 Gelephu Town
When you are at Gelephu, you’ll have an impression that it should be the district administration centre of the district. In many aspects, Gelephu town would look better than Sarpang. However, if we look Sarpang Dzongkhag Map given in Sarpang Dzongkhag website, Gelephu is just a separate administration unit (Dungkhag) of the Dzongkhag.
Gelephu is about 32 kilometers from Sarpang towards east. Since Sarpang town has good forest nearby to absorb heat, average temperature would be comparatively higher at Gelephu. If you refer Gelephu Bhutan map, you’ll know that it’s a gateway to central Bhutan and also Royal Manas Park of Zhemgang.
#6 Tsachu (Hot springs)
Gelephu Tsachu (Hot springs) is one of the most popular places to visit in Gelephu Sarpang Bhutan. This group of springs is about 10km away from Gelephu town. Located in a deep gorge among forest, it ensure good place to reward your sore body with good stream bath.
However, due to convenience of transportation and closeness Gelephu Tsachu will be packed with people across Bhutan in winter. I also went there one winter just to return without getting inside the hot spring bath tank. You could visit Gelephu Tsachu in summer to have almost all its tank for yourself.
#7 Army Welfare Distillery
If you wonder where Bhutan’s popular drinks like K5, Rum, Black Mountain and Gin are made, it’s at Army Welfare Factory in Gelephu. It is just within walking distance from Gelephu and above Gelephu to Thimphu National Highway Road.
Your visit to Army Welfare Distillery will be a nice experience. You get first-hand experience of observing how various liquor products of Bhutan are made. There are many large distillery and water treatment plants in the compound.
#8 Serzhong Lhakhang
If you walk for about 20 mins from popular Gelephu Bridge, you’ll be at Serzhong Lhakhang, one of the best places to visit in Gelephu. This community temple is located on a hilltop providing best viewpoint of Gelephu town and Chuzegang and Norbuling villages. It’s also best Gelephu picnic spot.
During auspicious days, there will be series of events. People from nearby places gather to make their offerings and say prayers. There are also few monks who study Buddhist scriptures. The temple houses statues of Zhabdrung, Guru and also Tara.
#10 Dathgari Market
Gelephu is an entry point for Indians traveling to central Bhutan districts like Zhemgang, Trongsa and Tsirang. It’s also an inland entry point for Bhutanese in doing business with people from Assam state. You get to see how people of these two countries interact and do business at Dathgari-Gelephu border cross road.
Dathgari Thursday Market is the main weekly event that attracts maximum crowd from Assam as well as from Gelephu. People coming from Trongsa, Tsirang and Zhemgang also do shopping during this event as prices of commodities are said to be cheaper on Thursday.
How to Travel?
Gelephu Domestic Airport connects this Dzongkhag with Paro directly. If you don’t like traveling in a car from Thimphu or from other districts, you can travel by air. Indian tourists can enter from Gelephu Bhutan Gate. There is a regional Immigration office where permits are also issued.
There are public buses from Gelephu to Phuentsholing, Thimphu, Dagana, Tsirang, Wangdue Phodrang and Zhemgang. Except to Thimphu, bus services to other districts aren’t daily.
Though there are not many places to visit in Gelephu Sarpang, it’s an important place of transit. It’s from here travel to Zhemgang’s popular Manas Park, Buli Cultural Heritage Village, Trongsa Tadzong and Tsirang Dzong are made. It’s however recommended to stay for a day in one of the Gelephu Hotels to enjoy tropical climate of southern Bhutan. You’ll enjoy the stay in winter with moderate temperature.
Time to Visit?
This part of Bhutan will be hot during winter and cool in spring, autumn and winter. Therefore, if you cannot bear hot climate, you can travel during seasons other than summer.
During summer, heavy rainfall and frequent road blocks will take away ease of your travel and charm of your trip in other districts of central Bhutan. Moreover, Royal Manas Park and other tourist attractions of central Bhutan will be at best only during Spring and Autumn.
Recommend to read following travel experiences and exciting travel stories from Bhutan:
- Bhutan Travel Guide : Tips on How to Travel Bhutan Kingdom from India.
- Bumthang Travel – Experiences and Stories of a Traveler.
- Travel to Gasa Bhutan – Land of Unnatural Peaks and Hot Springs.
- 15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Thimphu Bhutan.
- Thimphu Lampelri Botanical Park – Is it worth to Visit in Winter.
- 65 Tourist Attractions of Paro Other than Popular Taktsang Monastery.
- Travel to Samtse Bhutan – Places to visit in Samtse Dzongkhag.
- Khoma: The Birthplace of Traditional Weaving Culture in Bhutan.
- Phaktshoding Lake – An Oasis for Fishes in Gedu Jungle Hills.
- Trekking to Chele La Pass – The Best ViewPoint of Paro and Haa Valleys.