Chokhortse and Wangditse, two mini hikes in Thimphu
January 25, 2020
If you are looking for a light hike in Thimphu, a trip to Chokhortse and Wangditse are your best bet. Located at about a 40 min and 30 min walk respectively from the base point, Sangaygang; they are the perfect place for those wanting a short trip with magnificent views of the capital city. Even if you’re not a regular hiker, these places are easy to reach and makes a good place for beginners to visit.
Side note about Sangaygang: apart from being a tower point for Bhutan Telecom, it is a common hangout place for people to enjoy night views of Thimphu city. So if you’re bored of hanging out at bars, then just enjoy the cool breeze of nature with a drink and your friends to keep you company.
There are multiple routes to these locations, but the relatively easier route is to start the hike from Sangaygang, hike till Chokhortse then walk down till Wangditse and back to the base. The route till Chokhortse is a steep, uphill hike with less vegetation to provide shade from the sun, so it is better to complete this in the morning when the energy level is higher. Also, the walk down till Chokhortse provides lots of photo spots for capturing your memories of the hike and you can take the biking trail back to the base. The biking trail provides a relaxing stroll between the woods and perfectly showcases the beauty of nature. I know it sounds cliche, but nothing like a calm walk in the woods to free your mind of any stress.
After a steep hike for about half an hour, we reached the peak of the hill overlooking Thimphu city, with a huge prayer wheel (Mani Dungkhor) built inside a shed providing a perfect resting place from the scorching sun. There are prayer flags hoisted on the sides of the hill, fluttering in the wind as we felt a cool breeze of fresh air. After walking for about 10 more minutes, we saw the first glimpse of Chokhortse Lhakhang, at the top of a hill with apple trees surrounding it.
From there, we took the same route back till the prayer wheel, took a diversion and walked downwards till Wangditse. Founded in 1750, the goempa has recently been renovated. However, it was not completed during our visit. We went inside the lower part of the goempa, into a dusty, dimly lit room with huge statues. Most of the other relics and religious artifacts were moved to a small house near the construction area. There was a large golden mahseer carcass encased in glass that was almost the size of a human being. One can get splendid views of the Tashichho Dzong and the golf course from outside the goempa.
There is an urban legend that a cannibal resided at Wangditse and killed monks to eat their heads. A stone pot of the cannibal is believed to be kept under lock and key to this date. There is another story that the temporal ruler Desi Druk Rabgay was the cannibal. Others argue that the Desi only killed monks born in the Dragon year due to a prophecy that a Buddhist master born in the dragon year would overthrow him and take his throne.
If you don’t want to visit both the places in one go, just choose one of the locations and plan a trip there. If it’s just till Wangditse, take the biking route directly or take the other route from Dechen Phodrang, but the latter is a relatively steep hike. Whether you’re a beginner or a regular hiker, if you haven’t been to these places, it’s a must in your to-go list. Even if you’re not a religious person, the views along the way are a reason as good as any for visiting these sites.